Manifold v0.2.0 Released

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On behalf of the entire Manifold team, I’m super excited to announce the release of Manifold v0.2.0! The release is up on Github now, and we’ll be rolling it out to our staging site later today. This release contains a number of new features and bugfixes, listed below. For the full list of revisions and pull requests, please consult the changelog.

Remember, Manifold is open source and freely available to all who are interested. While we have plans to build docker containers and OS packages, we’ve also written up installation instructions for all you early adopters out there. Take it for a spin and let us know how it goes.

As always, we appreciate any feedback. To support our effort and motivate our development team, please take a moment to watch or star our repository on Github!

Features

  • All ingestion strategies can support a .zip or a directory #398
  • Backend users can edit text stylesheets #367
  • Manifold can ingest a single HTML file as a text #360
  • Manifold supports Node 6.10.x #343
  • Render a consistently styled confirmation box when leaving unsaved forms #309
  • Add keyboard inputs to all modal dialogs #302
  • Backend users can create, update, edit, and delete resource collections #281
  • Youtube and Vimeo resources import thumbnails from providers #278
  • React-router updated from 2.x to 4.x #276
  • Manifold renders sensible fallback fonts when Typekit is not enabled #274
  • Backend text ingestion user interface is more user friendly #273
  • Texts can be re-ingested #272
  • Readers can comment on resources #271
  • Backend users can configure a generic project avatar or upload a thumbnail #270
  • Readers can generate a citation (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) for the selected passage #269
  • Manifold utilizes Postgres JSONB field for storing text section content #258
  • Installation instructions are included in manifold/manifold-docs #245

Bugs

  • Markdown ingestion fails if there’s no stylesheet #399
  • HTML ingestion fails if there is no <style> tag in the document head. #397
  • If an API request triggers a fatal error (500 or 404), client app should return the correct status code. #396
  • Following page crashes when not logged in #391
  • Link to resource detail from activity feed is incorrect and 404s #380
  • Deleting a resource should trigger deletion of associated resource annotations #379
  • Project thumbnail is stretched on frontend #378
  • Removing text should destroy “TEXT_CREATED” event #374
  • Removing a resource annotation doesn’t remove it from margin until page reload. #373
  • Missing margin in backend project detail form #370
  • Project avatar thumbnail field is missing margin #369
  • Text in google doc ingestion is too small and not responsive #368
  • Manifold reader appears to apply default paragraph margin of 0 #366
  • Press logo doesn’t show in backend after its set. #365
  • Metadata header on project page should not appear if a project has no metadata. #364
  • Unable to update text title in backend #362
  • SSR mismatch when enabling download link in Slide.Caption #354
  • Empty collections slideshow should be adjusted or hidden #353
  • Inconsistent scale of social icons on project hero #341
  • Ingestion builder does not remove text sections during reingestion #338
  • ProjectDetail.Texts reordering isn’t working #336
  • Project images are converted to jpegs, don’t allow transparent backgrounds #335
  • Move annotation and resource fetching to refactored Section container #331
  • Improve responsive behavior of backend header delete/preview buttons #327
  • Improve responsive behavior of backend date field #326
  • Entering an invalid project or text URL should 404 #319
  • Updating metadata on texts (in backend) doesn’t save #317
  • Managing contributors on texts seems not to work. #316
  • Style issues on users list #313
  • Investigate why Manifold can’t ingest this google doc #311
  • Typekit fonts should load (if configured) when SSR is absent #310
  • Footer text nav has incorrect top margin #308
  • Tags in dropdowns should be sorted alphabetically #307
  • Component FetchData methods should not be triggered by URL hash changes #304
  • Vertical alignment of mobile backend secondary nav is off by a few pixels #303
  • Model filter loses scope after validating paginated results #299
  • Variance in backend resource icon size #294
  • Backend project nav clips on smaller screens #293
  • Modal dialog buttons are missing a hover state #291
  • Changing pages in resources list breaks filters #288
  • Collection resource count shows all resources in project #287
  • Visibility nav overlaps TOC in reader (on mobile screen) #284
  • Form upload component does not remove attachment #266
  • Improve scroll behavior on route change #264
  • Filtering resource collections doesn’t update URL params #257
  • Resource preview doesn’t update when resource cube is highlighted in Firefox #256
  • Remove excess left margin in backend entity header #254
  • Add &rel=0 to Youtube video URLs to prevent related videos from displaying #253
  • Marginal resource thumbnails aren’t displaying until hovering over the icon #252
  • Backend resource search input submit does not preventDefault #251
  • Issues parsing Manifold-Docs TOC #248
  • Ingesting Markdown Files fails if the sources include a zero k file. #247
  • CSS Validator throws an exception with invalid CSS #246

Manifold Preview!

Manifold is excited to announce the public launch of our in-progress demo next Tuesday, April 4th! In advance of that launch, we’re happy to offer a brief preview of some of the features of this intuitive, collaborative publishing platform for scholars, made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Manifold provides an online, mobile-ready interface for reading and responding to texts. The demo version will be populated by University of Minnesota Press books and projects, but any press or other organization can install the open-source platform and upload their own texts for interactive reading and annotation. For technical details about the build, check out posts by our lead developer, Zach Davis of Cast Iron Coding.

Read on for your first sneak peek!

browse-splash_manifold-devices-1

Manifold

The Manifold homepage shows the Press’s library — the books and projects that it is offering through Manifold. Featured projects (those you have selected) stand beside the rest of the available titles, which you can browse or sort by category.

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Projects

Manifold organizes around the idea of projects — a project includes both the text of the book and the array of materials the author chooses to publish with it. In addition to providing access to the reading interface and allowing readers to add projects to their reading lists, each project page links you to the Press’s print book, the project’s social media, and supplemental material.

Reading

The interface is made for readability and usability. You can change colors for higher-contrast, and adjust the margins of the text:

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Or adjust the typography.

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While reading a text, you also have the option to access supplementary materials and annotate both the text and ancillary materials, as well as add comments to other reader’s annotations that haven’t been made private. When you select text, a menu pops up with options for highlighting, annotation, citing, and sharing.

Annotating

You have the opportunity to comment on text in the reader interface right in your browser. While designing the platform, the Manifold team considered the expectations scholars have of digital texts. Blending personal reading habits, scholars’ wishlists, and successful aspects of comments in projects like the previous collaboration between the CUNY Graduate Center, Cast Iron Coding, the University of Minnesota Press — Debates in the Digital Humanities the team developed a user-centered annotation system. Moving beyond the sentence-level annotation of Debates in the Digital Humanities, Manifold lets you leave comments on any selection of text.

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Highlighting

As you read, you have the option to highlight passages with your cursor.highlight01-optimized

Sharing

Manifold also helps you share passages from the text via social media. Choosing “Share” from the dropdown links the passage in a post to your Facebook or Twitter accounts.

 

 share01-edited

These are only a few of the features of Manifold — get ready for filtering by categories, favorites, search, and more. We look forward to sharing the fruits of collaborative effort, thoughtful design, and hard work. 

Please check it out for yourself next Tuesday, April 4th! Stay tuned to the Manifold blog, sign up for our mailing list, and catch updates @ManifoldScholar.

 

 

Reading with Zach Davis

Zach Davis

Zach Davis

Last week, calling Portland from the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Graduate Center, I had the pleasure of speaking with Manifold’s lead developer, Zach Davis at Cast Iron Coding. Yet again, my attempts to record the call came to naught, but I will conjure some of the conversation from my notes.

Zach is Principal Chief Technologist at Cast Iron Coding. His previous CIC projects include sites for the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Jersey Give-Back Guide (check out the animation on the “generosity generator”) and Debates in Digital Humanities, a collaboration with The University of Minnesota Press and Matt Gold that served as a prototype for the Manifold project.

Zach has been working steadily and seems rejuvenated by the team’s recent Portland meeting. Talking through the next steps and considerations about how university presses will be able to customize Manifold installations seems to have crystallized the work that everyone has been doing in exciting ways.

First, I asked Zach what matters most to him about Manifold. He noted the two most important things to him at this stage, made even more clear after the meeting.

  1. That Manifold is open and open source. Zach says, “it is a pleasure to work on software that has to be open source, where it’s written into the very project.”
  2. That they are building something that solves a problem for a good number of people. He recognizes the audience, but beyond Manifold’s immediate uses for the press, the software has the potential to serve an even wider segment.

After that we spoke about ideal reading experiences. While his habits have changed since the days when he was a Ph.D. student in English at the CUNY Graduate Center, Zach says it’s “still a book most of the time. It depends on what kind of text. I don’t read theory and criticism the way I used to. For short forms, I will read on the web or my phone, but for reading, I still like the physical artifact.” We talked a bit about the different demands of different types of reading. When he was working on his dissertation, Zach categorized himself as a transcriber. He would cite passages as a way of thinking through the content. Now while working on Manifold, he imagines the sort of tools that would have facilitated this sort of reading. He says he also spent much of his academic life reading digital texts, which were often easier to track down. He thinks about the ways Manifold could simplify the lives of scholars.

What is he reading right now?

  1. A collection of Leonard Cohen poetry
  2. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

Both seem rather timely.

Lastly, I asked who inspires his work. Zach says lately he has been particularly inspired by the work of Dan Abramov, a JavaScript developer. He finds inspiration in Abramov’s career and particularly appreciates Abramov’s attitude about open source software and towards the community around his work. Now that he has transitioned to his developer role, he finds his book-world inspirations are much the same as they were ten years ago. He says he hopes he in any way resembles the thoughtful, careful, kind approach to work and students that he saw in Milton scholar and mentor Joseph Wittreich at the Graduate Center.

As the project moves on, I’m interested in the ways the underlying experience of the Manifold team influences the way they craft the reading experience.

Thanks, Zach!

Follow @zdavis

Reading with Susan Doerr

While the seismic ruptures of the election have unsettled the ground beneath us, it feels necessary to continue working on projects that look beyond the next four years, that address the possibility of connecting people through ideas and through constructive debate. Last week, in the midst of national turmoil, I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Doerr, University of Minnesota Press Assistant Director, Digital Publishing and Operations. During our phone call, I asked Susan a number of questions about her thoughts on reading and the Manifold platform.

I started by asking Susan what matters most to her about Manifold. She talked about the process of collaborating with the Manifold team on writing the grant proposal, and thinking about publishing books in the browser. Susan believes the real revolution of an epub or pdf ebook is the speed of distribution — instant access for a reader. Susan said, “ebook reading devices are siloed — a reader is stuck in an app or device.” What the Manifold team wanted to do was “break free from that constraint. Ebooks today are replications of print — active media that don’t do much more than the print edition of a book. And we wanted to do more.”

Publishing a book in the browser allows it to be dynamic — vs static. The more they thought about it, the more opportunity they saw for readers to follow a project as it evolve because Manifold can publish a project iteratively, that is, in pieces over time.

We could transform the process of how the author might publish. We started our work with definitions: What is a version? What is an iteration? What is a resource? We broke from the word “book” and moved to the broader term “project,” which we define as a work that is a combination of texts and resources.

Susan noted that other publishing tools offer these features — but Manifold also aims to “create an efficient workflow process available to be replicated by other publishers.”

Next I asked, what’s your ideal reading experience? This one took a moment. Susan said she had no single answer. It all depends on “What is it that you’re reading for? Why are you coming to the text?” For leisure reading, Susan reads paperbacks or on her ebook reader. Reading for work, though–she’s a note taker–means reading reading parts of a work over time and marking up a text. Her reading demands “different interactions depending on why I’m reading this text. Reading for information, you want the apparatus for notes and asking questions and linking to other pieces.” For her, when reading for escapism she wants to lose herself in the story. Manifold is not meant to serve all the reasons you read, rather “it is addressing something specific. It’s not meant to be a panacea of all publishing.” Susan went on,

Print is a funny thing — we’re used to it historically being the solution for sharing and distributing published work. The book object — front cover, open it and read, turn the page, is familiar, and that medium for a mode of expressing text and images to share information is really sophisticated — it evolved over hundreds of years. Manifold is a baby — we’re developing its first version. A book, the object, meets so many needs — and we’ve had years to adapt it to meet so many needs — it feels perfect, but it may just be familiar.

When asked what she is reading now, Susan described a reading practice that spans formats. The books she reads circle around subjects she never studied in school, such as medieval central Asia. She is currently reading Empires of the Silk Road, by Christopher Beckwith, after finishing The Lost Enlightenment by S. Frederick Starr and Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor. She also listens to audiobooks of cultural histories while she paints; she just finished The Art of Rivalry by Sebastian Smee, which she found after enjoying In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and Modernism in Paris 1900-1910, by Susan Roe. On her ebook reader, she says she reads mostly fiction — recently N. K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate.

For the last question — who inspires your work? — Susan had quite an inspiring list.

  • Other university presses. She mentioned frontrunner work of National Academies Press. She follows publishing evolution — how they are adapting practices, not just around issues of open access. She appreciates learning from what works for others and what doesn’t.
  • Librarians. She mentioned the conversations and collaborations of librarians and publishers at the Charleston Conference.
  • Authors. By watching and talking to authors on social media, she sees how they figure out how to self-publish and work with publishers.

Ultimately, she finds inspiration in the process of art making.

Art – the process of art-making, creating and making; manifesting ideas as a physical thing — into text, fiber — if you’re making an art object — I find that riveting — that process, seeing the evolution of ideas through a work of art. If I’m able to go read about the ideas behind the artist’s work it changes my engagement with the art. Music is the same — one day while listening to Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue while in line at the bank in my car — I pulled out the pamphlet in the CD case and read about how the album was recorded, their process. It changed how I hear the music!

Throughout our conversation, I heard Susan’s excitement about the work she does and an attention to the ways she works and thinks. Susan gave me some good book recommendations, and we had the chance to discuss our hopes for scholarly communication and monographs. She generously shared her own experience, yet made clear that what matters most to her is serving her audience. A reassuring commitment in an unsteady time.

Thank you, Susan! 

 

Follow Susan @susanmpls.

Joining Manifold

Happy Halloween!

My name is Jojo Karlin and I am an English doctoral student and Digital Fellow at the Graduate Center, CUNY. I’ve joined Manifold this fall to help get the word out about what the team has been up to, and I am excited to investigate the generative potential built into this iterative, collaborative platform. I love the ways Manifold seeks to enrich scholarly publication by building communities of researchers engaged in collective annotation and networked reading.

When friends and acquaintances unfamiliar with the field hear I work in “digital humanities,” they often react with anxieties about the death of print. Skeptical bibliophiles lament the impact of screens on humanity as they cite popular science articles about babies swiping pages of print books.  Yet I remain a stalwart defender of books in their many forms. I grew up in a house lined with books and have a categorical weakness for library book sales and department book swaps; I also depend on my computer and smartphone as part of my reading practice.

Books, even print-only, are not single-use — people come to them and at them from different angles and at different times. I believe that the many ways we read books should be simultaneously available and that ideas deserve the full range of available outlets and expression. What I particularly love about Manifold is the way it bridges print and digital forms, giving presses and authors the opportunity to benefit from affordances of both — utilizing digital features while reinforcing the value of print-based scholarship.

Since joining Manifold, I have begun to see how the team approaches the transformations of text in recent years, the influx (sometimes numbing inundation) of social media, and the existing endeavors of numerous presses to engage scholarship digitally. “Building Manifold” gives me a sense of Manifold’s dual purpose– platform construction and conceptual restructuring — and Zach’s updates describe incremental decisions of development. By taking pains to publicly share the process of creating the tool, the Manifold team participates in the kind of transparent teamwork that the tool itself proposes. I look forward to sharing my perspective as well.

In the coming months, I will help to surface some of the exciting progress that the team has been making. I will post updates about design, interviews with team members, and reflections on some of the trickier conceptual decisions. Even jumping in now, I have found the whole team — Susan, Zach, Matt, Doug, Terence, Naomi, everyone!– to be wonderfully welcoming and warm. I am looking forward to learning more, and I hope you will share in my excitement.

If you have questions about Manifold, sign up for our newsletter, follow/star/love our git repository, follow @ManifoldScholar on Twitter, and feel free to get in touch.

Thanks and be well,

Jojo