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Scalar’s new path + context navigation system

 

We’ve added a few navigational features to the Scalar reading interface this week. We hope you like them. We’d like to thank the generous folks at the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities for making work on these features possible.  

New Path Navigation

First, we’ve updated the ways readers can navigate backwards and forwards along a path. In addition to path navigation buttons located at the bottom of pages, readers can now access arrows in the wings that will direct them to content immediately preceding or following the current page in a path. Rolling over these arrows will also reveal the title and thumbnail for the content to which it links. Readers can, on a path of media, for instance, now get a preview of what’s next without leaving the current page.

New Context Navigation

Whether for research, collection building or some other purpose, Scalar books can be as expansive, complex and richly interconnected as one requires. Individual items in Scalar projects -pages, media, and annotations, among others- can, for instance, sit at the nexus of several pathways through a project. They can live in multiple contexts. A single page can reside on numerous paths, be tagged by multiple items, or both. Scalar is developed to make these complex interconnections legible to readers by offering a number of built-in visualizations for a book’s content.

Today we’re launching an interface element that makes these interconnections even more visible to readers: a new “Context” button. Clicking this button, located in the top-right of the page, reveals all paths within which the current item resides as well as all items that tag it. Links are provided to those tags as well as to the current page within other paths, allowing readers to treat those pages as akin to subway stations, getting on/off distinct, but related, narratives, arguments or collections (see figure below). The  new “Context” button thus allows readers to better understand the multiple contexts within which the author has situated the current item and makes it easier for them to switch those contexts.
A representation of intersecting paths in Scalar. Left: red pages are the same page residing on multiple paths, as are the brown pages. Right: our new “Context” button allows readers to link to and from the same page on multiple paths.

These new navigation features will not, by default, be turned “on” for already existing Scalar books. To enable the new features, simply head to the “Book properties” tab in your dashboard and set “Display navigation buttons in margins?” to “Yes.”

As always, please feel free to send us feedback on these new features or just drop us a note about how you’re putting them to use.

Scalar Webinars: Announcing Our Summer 2017 Schedule

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture will offer another series of free online webinars this fall.

All webinars will feature our new interface, Scalar 2. Our “Introduction to Scalar” webinars will cover basic features of the platform: a review of existing Scalar books and a hands-on introduction to paths, tags, annotations and importing media. Our “Intermediate Scalar” webinars will delve into more advanced topics including the effective use of visualizations, annotating with media and a primer on customizing appearances in Scalar.

Our summer schedule will include four dates:

Introduction to Scalar: July 6, 4-6pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: July 27, 4-6pm (PST)

Register here.

Scalar just got widgetized!

Scalar’s Grid Visualization Widget.

For those who have used our Google Map, Timeline, Media Carousel or Visualization layouts and thought to yourself “I’d love to have these interactive components smaller, further down the page and I’d like to reference them in my text just like I do with media”…we have a new feature for you: Scalar Widgets.

Generously funded by the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities, widgets constitute our most substantial interface upgrade since the release of Scalar 2. Widgets allow one to add maps, timelines, visualizations, click-through media galleries, and stylish summaries of related content to Scalar pages using the same formatting options as with media. One can add each of these interactive components anywhere on a page; above, below or within any paragraph. One can also choose to link a widget to text in the main body, that is, to reference a map or timeline the same way one would reference an image or video in Scalar.
 
Click below to see each of our new widgets in action in our User’s Guide.

Map Widget
Timeline Widget

Visualization Widget
Carousel Widget

Card Widget
Summary Widget


 
Just as with our layouts options, the maps, timelines, media carousels, visualizations and summaries all plot, arrange or otherwise display additional content from one’s Scalar project. So one can add a visualization of all the paths in a Scalar project just to the right of a paragraph discussing how best to navigate its structure. One can analyze the geographic dimensions of a video collection just above a map that plots the entire series according to shot location. Or, instead of referencing and analyzing a single image of an object, one can reference a click-through media gallery containing multiple images (and video) of that object from contrasting angles or within varying contexts. 

Finally, we’ve not only widgetized the functionality of our most popular layouts we’ve also added some new features with our Card and Summary widgets. These two widgets allow one to insert descriptive sidebars or lists of items in a Scalar project. Both widgets display a thumbnail, description of, and link to those items with varying styles.

For step-by-step instructions see the new widgets in our User’s Guide.

We value your feedback as you begin to use these new features and would love to hear from you about the innovative ways you put them to use.

More updates

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture was created with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.