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Category: Rich PDF

the dream. update

(Semi-personal diary note/update, written to a friend)

As you know, my dream is to build a thinking and presentation space which really starts to set the written word from the constraints of the past, free for rich interaction and deep visualisation. I really believe that this has serious potential to augment our ability to interact with knowledge in powerful ways.

I have just spent another $10,000 on Author though, and that is of course not sustainable. Most of this went to support import and export of Word, of which we are only partly done; we can’t export links or headings or images. Ugh, Microsoft has made this very hard…

The Dynamic View

I am looking at adding a major feature to Author, which would also be part of my PhD (yes, I’m hanging in there, barely): We already have the ability to pinch in to collapse the document into an outline and now it will be possible to pinch out to ‘explode’ it into a ‘dynamic’ view.

This is the view we have been thinking about, discussing and testing to an extent tested in collaboration with Chris as the Webleau/Liquid Space: and which I made video demo tests for way back when: and today, to show an early transition from word processing view into the dynamic view. This is live software BTW, not a mockup:

I have written a list of basic capabilities here:

Glossary Terms

The crucial difference between the initial dynamic view tests and what I am looking at now is that it is not the headings which become the nodes, but terms which the user has defined in their personal glossary, as either a concept, a person, an institution or a document. These terms have been defined using Liquid | Flow which makes it easy to create a structured entry which then have relationships in them. I put up a few screenshots here for you: and I have of course blogged about the process on the same blog in general:

Promoting Author

I am not standing completely still with promoting Author, though I desperately need support:

In order to promote Author I am adding the Rich PDF export, so that a full, original copy of the Author document is embedded into the PDF. This means of course that anyone with only a PDF reader can read it but if opened into Author you get all the interactions of a full Author document. I hope this will make Author documents more ‘viral’ since they will make it clear opening the document into Author gives the reader a better experience.

I also think it would be a great way to send the proposal document to Apple, with a top sentence in the ‘PDF’, saying ‘Please open this document in Author’

I am also sponsoring (only £1,000) a JATS conference 20th of May. JATS is the up and coming academic document format we are working on supporting:$x7oUDJUT4


So what to do now? The goal is to get Apple to consistently feature Author on the App Store, that should generate enough revenue to make it self-sustaining. I need $5,000 for the next few months to add JATS, rich PDF, smaller myriads of issues like making import and export work with all attributes, and most importantly add the Dynamic View feature.

Dynamic Views

I hope to have something more impressive and real to share with you for the Dynamic Views over the next few days…

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Supporting Systems

The Liquid View is part of a wider workflow which is as least as important as the visualisations since if the user cannot comfortably add to the system, interact with it and publish in a useful way, it simply will not be of more than ‘academic’ interest.

Liquid | Flow

The user can use the application Liquid | Flow to create HyperGlossary entries for concepts from any point in their workflow.

HyperGlossary on WordPress/Blog/HTML

A significant part of the system is the use of WordPress to store what will be the nodes in the view, using the  HyperGlossary system which is a means of using basic formatting for systems to parse. The information stored as WordPress posts uses the Header tags to specify attributes like ‘Short Definition’, ‘Long Definition’ and how they refer to other HyperGlossary Terms/Nodes.

Liquid | Browser Plugin

The user can import PDF documents from download sites and have them automatically converted to Rich PDF documents through the Liquid Browser Plugin. This has the benefit that when the user downloads the PDF document it gets all the useful Citation information appended so that the user can simply copy text from that document into their work and it will automatically be pasted as a Citation, and that the Liquid View will be able to open the full PDF when the user requests.

Liquid | Author

Liquid | Author is the base application for this and is an active, successful application on the macOS App Store. It’s function is as the word processor the student will be authoring their Literature Review in.



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