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Reading in Scalar
The types of content in a Scalar book and how they work together.
Finding your way in ScalarAt the top-left of the Scalar header, you'll find a series of icons. Rolling over the compass icon reveals a number of options for readers to orient themselves in the current book, including recently viewed items and a set of global visualizations.
Recent Items. Recently viewed pages in the current Scalar book items are stored in the "Recent" menu in reverse chronological order.
Global Visualizations. Unlike visualizations for individual pages, visualizations accessed via the Scalar header display content and connections for an entire book, based on critera set by the reader. Readers can choose the "Format" for the visualization, that is, how the connections between content is visualized (choices include: Grid, Tree, Radial and Force-directed); the type of content to be visualized (choices include: All content, Table of contents, All pages, All paths, All tags, All annotations, All media, All comments, or Current page); and the type of connections or relationships to be visualized (choices include: All relationships, Parents and children or No relationships).
Index. Rolling over the menu icon in the Scalar header will reveal the Index icon, located just below the main table of contents. The index contains a hyperlinked catalog of all content in the current book. The content is divided up, for the reader's convenience, into tabbed categories (Paths, Pages, Media, Tags, Annotations and Comments).
While text itself needs no introduction, its appearance in Scalar bears mentioning a few items of note:Media Links. Each media link is preceded by an icon for the type of media it references; clicking a link to a time-based media file causes it to start (and subsequently to stop) playing.
Notes links. These links are preceded by a note icon and serve a similar function as footnotes, displaying additional content when clicked.
Embedded media files have a few extra features that go beyond simple playback and viewing. The Details button in the lower left corner of the media opens an expanded view in which all aspects of the media file, from annotations to metadata, can be examined. Clicking "Permalink" will take you to the media's dedicated page, and clicking "Popout" will open the media file itself in a new window.
If a media file has annotations, they will be available in different ways depending on the media type and display method. In some cases, an "Annotations" link will toggle the display of all of the file's annotations, which can be individually clicked; in others, you'll need to click the "Details" link to access them. For text and time-based media, pop-up "live annotations" will be displayed when the media is cued up to an annotated region.
Paths are sequences of pages--like chapters in a book, but more flexible. You'll know you're about to embark on a path when you see a "Begin this path" button at the bottom of a page, with a table of contents beneath. Clicking the button (or on any of the listed pages) will take you into the path. Once you're on a path, additional navigation at the top and bottom of the page identifies the name of the path you're on, how far you've traveled, and provides links to move stepwise along the path. Sometimes paths lead to other paths; other times they lead back to the "Home" page of the book.
If you want to get a better sense of the structure of all of the paths in a book, try the Path Visualization.
Tags are markers that are applied to pages that have something in common. If the page you're looking at has been tagged, you'll see a "Tagged by" at the bottom of the page, followed by the name of the tag (or tags) which act as links to other pieces of content that share the same tag (or tags).
If you want to see how tags in a book are interrelated, try the Tag Visualization.
Any reader is free to submit a comment on any page or media file in a Scalar book by clicking the "Comment on" link at the bottom of the content, whether or not they have a Scalar account. It's even possible to add a comment to another comment in threaded fashion. New comments, however, will not be visible within the book until approved to go live by an author user for the book.
Creating relationships between whole pieces of content.
There are three ways to create relationships between whole pieces of content in Scalar: paths, tags, and comments.
A path is a linear sequence of content. You can turn any page or media file into a path simply by specifying the pieces of content it contains and their order. Any time you want your reader to experience content in a specific order, use a path. Paths can intersect (i.e. they may share pages) and they can contain any kind of Scalar content, even other paths, enabling you to create hierarchical structures.
Readers who arrive at the path will see its own content (either text or media) first, and then below that, a numbered list of its contents, along with a "Begin" button that takes the reader to the first item on the path. Content items which are contained by a path get navigation options at the top and bottom which show the enclosing path and provide navigation to the next and previous steps of the path.
To create a path, either make a new page or edit an existing page or media file using the "New" or "Edit" buttons at the bottom. Then, click the Relationships tab of the page editor and select "Path". Look for the text "To make this page a path," and click "specify the items that it contains." A pop-up window will appear containing a list of all content in the book; select all of the items you want to add to the path and click "Add selected." You will see the newly added items in the Relationships area. You can drag and drop individual items to reorder them, or click the "remove" links to remove them.
Note: It's best to keep paths to 100 items or less—consider breaking long paths into smaller sub-paths.
A tag is a non-linear grouping of content. Many websites use tags as content descriptors; ways to identify commonalities amongst heterogeneous items. Scalar tags function in a similar way, with a key difference being that the tag itself is not just a bit of text but its own full-fledged piece of content. Any page or media file can be used to tag other Scalar content, opening up a wide range of possibilities, including using media as tags, modeling relationships between objects of study, and more.
Readers who arrive at the tag will see its own content (either text or media) first, and then below that, a list of the items it tags. Content items which have been tagged display their tag relationships at the bottom of the page.
To create a tag, either make a new page or edit an existing page or media file using the "New" or "Edit" buttons at the bottom. Then, click the Relationships tab and select "Tag". Look for the text "To make this page a tag," and click "specify the items that it tags." A pop-up window will appear containing a list of all content in the book; select all of the items you want to tag and click "Add selected." You will see the newly added items in the Relationships area. You can remove an item by clicking its "remove" link.
To add tags to a page or media file, edit it using the "Edit" button at the bottom. Then, in the Relationships section of the page editor, look for the text "To tag this page," and click "specify items that tag it." A pop-up window will appear containing a list of all the tags in the book; select the ones you want to apply and click "Add selected." You will see the newly added items in the Relationships area. You can remove an item by clicking its "remove" link.
A comment is content which is explicitly identified as a response to other content. Comments are created by readers who use the "Comment on" link that appears beneath all Scalar content, but authors can also turn any content into a comment simply by editing it and specifying the page or media it comments on. As with the other relationships, any piece of Scalar content can be a comment, including media files--and even comments themselves can have their own comments. A single comment can also be applied to multiple pieces of content simultaneously.
Readers who arrive at the comment will see its own content (either text or media) first, and then below that, a list of the items it comments on. Content items with comments get a "Join this page's discussion" link at the bottom which opens a pop-up window containing all of the comments added to date.