An approach to make document’s meta machine and human readable by adding it visually at the end of the document as a series of appendices to allow for a rich reader experience.
Adding human readable appendices to a PDF document which usefully describe the semantics of the document and also making it machine readable offers many benefits and workflow improvements in the academic document space, while adding no document overhead beyond a few plain text pages at the end of the document. This approach keeps compatibility with legacy PDF software Readers while opening up rich opportunities for augmented Readers; Legacy Readers will simply show a normal PDF with an appendix with BibTeX style information.
Visible-Meta Augmented Readers can provide the user with as rich interactions as can be provided in a custom authoring environment–the publishing and freezing onto PDF is no longer a limitation. Advanced interactions can include:
- Copy As Citation using a simple copy command, with all citation information added to the clipboard payload for use by Visible-Meta aware applications on Paste.
- Instant Outline based on the document specifying heading formatting.
- Dynamic Views, such as the one implemented in Liquid | Author could be stored as data not only images.
- Server Access. Repositories can extract information for large scale analysis.
- Glossary Support. Glossary terms could be added to the appendix.
- High Resolution, Document Based Addressing. The Name of the document is not the same as the Title and this can be be used to address by document and not location and support High-Resolution Addressing.
- & more, to be discovered.
For an author this approach means that they can embed more rich information in their document with a minimum of effort and be sure of the robustness of the information.
It allows the reader a much faster way to cite with a higher degree of accuracy and more access to the original data and interactions.
Augmented textual communication. Using the appendices to describe the document content, such as the formatting of headings and citations as well as the use of glossaries, can allow the reading software to present the document to the readers preference without loosing the creator’s semantics.
Server Friendly which allows for large scale citation and other document element analysis.
Institutions can worry less about the cosmetics of citations and benefit from more documents cited being checked and read.
This could put an end to the absurd academic time-waste of nit-picking how citations should be displayed: Let the teacher/examiner/reader specify how the citations should be displayed, based on the document having described in the appendix how they are used and therefore the reader can re-format the the readers tastes.
Universities still get to dictate the default handing-in formatting but the same document could be displayed in any format the reader chooses.
I am putting my money where my mouth is by demonstrating this interaction via my commercially available macOS word processor Liquid | Author, which was built during my PhD work, and the prototype test application Liquid | Reader.
This is but one implementation as the approach is as open as possibly can be. This demonstration is less than 2 minutes:
Examples and description of the format is posted: Visible-Meta Examples
Note that the ‘document_name’ is distinct from the title and can be set automatically by the authoring software to help identify the document through search later. The unique name will be the first 10 characters of the title, author’s name, the time in condensed form and a random 4 digit number. For example:
- 1962 | 10 | 21 | 23 | 15 | 32
- year | month | date | hour | min | seconds
Document Based Addressability
This approach allows the user to click on a citation and have the PDF open if it is available to the user, not simply to load a download page. If the document is not found, an opportunity to search for it will be presented.
High Resolution Addressing
Enacting a linking in this style is an active process initiated by the Reader software so adding an internal ‘search’ to the processes will allow the software to not only load the document but to open it at the section cited..
The first implementations will include links to actual code for how to add this into other developer’s projects, dramatically reducing the implementation overhead.
When using a supported Reader, the user can download a PDF and copy the BibTeX export format on the download page, then open the PDF in Reader and click to ‘Assign BibTeX’ and it will be applied as an appendix and saved, same as if it was natively exported with Visual-Meta. Only the citation information will be provided in this way–formatting etc. will not be available.
This work grew out of work on Liquid | Author: Visible-Meta Origins.
How This Relates To My PhD
This work has grown out of my PhD work at the University of Southampton under Dame Wendy Hall and Les Carr. It aims to solve infrastructure issues which hamper citation interaction and visualisations: Visual-Meta & my PhD.