Code Editor in Wax 2

Christos has been working on our new web based word processor -Wax 2. It is based on the best of breed ProseMirror open source libs. A week or two ago Christos integrated a code editor (CodeMirror) with it and sent me the following vid…looks great (see below). We also have a similar feature in Wax 1, but the integration isn’t as nice… check out the last bit of the video where Christos is ‘undoing’ items. It works seemlessly. In Wax 1 the code editor is a separate embedded object to the parent page so the ‘undo’ history does not integrate as nicely as it does here..

Paged.js workshops pretty popular!

Paged.js is the open source pagination engine we are developing to support CSS pagedmedia specifications. The development has progressed pretty fast, we only started it in Feb of this year. So far we know of one commercial product that has integrated it and several really interesting open source projects. It has also been used to make its first print book (the Editoria manual made in a Book Sprint last month). We don’t consider it near a 1.0 yet so this is pretty impressive!

We are now moving into planning workshops to train people in how to use paged.js to make books (and other things) in the browser, and to extend paged.js with JavaScript to do new cool things.

We had one workshop in San Francisco last month. It was more of a paged.js core team meet really as it was a day after the Editoria community meeting and we didn’t really advertise it.

At the end of this month there is a workshop (2 days) in Paris and one in Brussels(1 day). We have 46 people enlisted. It is close to our max. There might be a few seats left (it is a free workshop), so if you want to go then sign up here –

Demand seems pretty high as we have had several people that can’t make either date asking us to keep their names for the next one. We also have folks coming from the Netherlands and the US to attend. Pretty cool!

But stay tuned… we will have more workshops including NYC sometime in March and a few surprise other countries on the list… I’ll keep you posted!

The Beatles of Platform Dev

Every month I go to Athens to work with the Coko platform dev team. We talk through platform issues and set the months roadmap. I just met with them a few days ago. They are an awesome team. It deserves mention that pictured below are four folks and between them develop and maintain no less than four publishing platforms – Editoria, xpub-collabra, Micropubs and Wax. Incredible.

Highly productive and also amazing to work with.


Editoria Community Roadmap #1

36 Feature Proposals and a lot of discussion and here we have it..

The first Editoria Community Roadmap consists of the following Feature Proposals (this list also available here with progress indicators –
3 categories of effort:
    1. a few days development
    2. between a few days to a week (or so)
    3. more than a week
Category (1)
  1. Color code tracked changes by user
  2. Configure book builder to omit blue buttons
  3. Indenting chapters in book builder
  4. Error message when uploading incorrect file format
    We will not use an error message, rather we will constrain the upload dialog to display only available docx files.
  5. Author Style
  6. Provide a larger text box for inputting figure captions

    Category (2)

  7. enable “read only” chapter mode
  8. Autocomplete for adding book team roles
  9. Always show chapter name
  10. Book-level (and perhaps chapter-level) metadata
    We will start this off as a simplified version of the proposal with book-level metadata. At this moment we will provide a mechanism to store and edit this metadata, but the list will not be comphrensive, nor will it export (yet) to any formats. We essentially wish to get this in place so we can all try it and add further sophistication in a future road map process.
  11. Configurable archive options for completed / abandoned books
    We will focus on basic archiving options. No integrations yet, this will come in later roadmaps.
  12. Toolbar button to change case
    This will be implement as a drop down (add to existing drop down semantic styles) as there are multiple options hence a single button is not sufficient.
  13. Usernames allowed with special characters
  14. Ask for first name and surname on sign up
  15. Kill automatic numbering in numbered list style
    This might turn out to be harder than expected. We will try and fix this by working on a few fixes in the importer (XSweet) and then see where we are.

    Category (3)

  16. Allow components to move from body to front- or backmatter and vice versa
    Harder than you might first imagine as it requires quite some reworking of the Book Builder code.
  17. Add more information to the “Books” dashboard and make it sortable
    Will be built to extend the existing Dashboard components (making it more useful for other PubSweet projects).

Time is Relative, unless its not

The craziest thing just happened. I went to Morocco and the weekend I traveled the Moroccan government decided to cancel daylight savings. It was apparently at short notice. Consequently my phone was outa whack with the local time and I had to switch off the auto timezone and fix it manually…y’know, like the old days.

Then my watch, where I can set the cities and it auto updates was also outa whack and I had to do the same. I didn’t bother changing the time on my laptop because I don’t rely on that clock too much – it takes more than the absolute minimum amount of effort to update and when I am traversing many timezones in a short time its just a hassle.

Then a week goes by and I travel to Athens. My watch I can’t work out cause I turned the auto daylight savings off when i was in Morocco and then I couldnt work out why it was showing (what I thought) was the wrong time in Athens. Im only here for a day and a half, I didn’t care. So my laptop and my watch times can’t be trusted, no worries….I’ll go by my phone. I turned it to auto but it seemed wrong…sometimes when you land the phone networks take a while to update so I just turned it back to manual and updated it to what I thought the time was. But I was, for some crazy reason, an hour out. I don’t know how it happened… maybe it was cause I landed at 1am (or was it midnight?) or something. I don’t know…but I thought it was right.

So… no problems … I have a few meetings online from the hotel…no worries, when you travel a lot it doesn’t actually matter what timezone your calendar is set to – you just check the red line for the time now, and see when in the near future the meeting will be. No problems..I can work fine that way. Time being a relative thing and all when on the move, its not so much what time is it now but how much time to X (boarding…the hotel…sleep…a meeting) that is important.

Until… I sorta make a big deal, jokingly, about meeting later that day with the Coko Athens team… like, I traveled 17000 km and can make it to a cafe on time, but Yannis says he will be 20 minutes late going across town…or something like that…so I kinda give him a bit of a ribbing and make a big deal out of it…

I turn up to the cafe and everyone is there…I thought I was 10 mins late so I apologize… we have our meeting and all is good. The next day I have another meeting with them and they are all there on time (or so I thought) and we go through some more stuff, have some coffee…etc…

Then its time to go to the airport. I order a taxi and in the taxi see a clock on the dash… wait a minute…. its an hour later than what my phone says…I ping Yannis and ask him if I was 10 mins late for that first meeting…or if I was an hour late (horror!) … an hour late he says…both days….

oh my… can’t believe it. I hate being late and I turned up late twice. BY an hour! Worse that the very kind Greek team didn’t even mention it even though i had hassled them about getting there on time… I still can’t quite believe this happened….amazing…

Workflow Sprints

Some years ago I came up with a methodology called Book Sprints. It is a facilitated process that takes a group of people to collaborate on producing a book in 5 days. Zero to book in 5 days as we say.

There has much I have learned from this methodology which can be re-purposed. After 10 years working with Book Sprints (10th anniversary this year!) I now know a lot more about why it works and what kind of situations would fit this kind of process. For example, facilitated methods like this don’t work when there is just one person that has the knowledge that is needed in a book. For help with this one author approach, you need either a coach or a ghostwriter. Ironically, when I started Book Sprints I was in exactly this situation…I couldn’t Book Sprint about Book Sprints because I was the only one doing them.

But when you get two or more people …it starts to get interesting…. this is because Book Sprints are very good at developing a shared mental model of the problem very fast. The more minds with the right domain knowledge that come at this together, the better the result… with a few caveats… For example, it seems a natural limit for the number of minds to share the process is about 15 max. That’s because too many minds go too far too fast and you might end up with quite a lot of fragmentation. However, if you have the right people, the right methodology, and (most importantly) an experienced facilitator that knows how to wield the methodology – then magic can happen.

Anyway… I am now applying myself to taking these lessons and developing a new methodology, working title ‘Workflow Sprints’….what is it? Well… I have seen similar problems with the speed of production for books in the software world… The problem is – how do you redesign a (much) better workflow, and then design a platform to meet those needs quickly? What I see happening is that organisations will employ someone external, or re-deploy internal staff, to do a workflow audit, interviewing all parties, create a report with flow diagrams, and then use this as a basis for the developers to imagine a better way of doing things. It is a very linear and disconnected process, and it takes a very long time.

I believe that I can facilitate a group to do this in 2 days. In fact, I’ve already done it. Recently I went to EBI (Europe PMC folks) to do a workshop on their workflow. In a day we had redesigned it and had mocks ready to go. I was curious to see how much this remained true over time, and it appears that they are sticking to this design. They will fill it out, to be sure, but they had the starting point in a day.

It’s not the first time I’ve facilitated workflow development in a couple of days; there have been a lot of workshops I facilitated with various publishing entities on the way, but this was the first time I felt confident enough to go in boots and all. Now that I see how the process  can work ,I’m going to try and make this a thing. I have thought about the workflow I want in order for this to happen, and I’ll be trying it as a full-blown method and workflow in the next few months with an org or two. The aim is to produce a summary of the current workflow (this takes a long time if using a legacy ‘interview’ process and much nuance is missed and I’m confident we can get a better result), a summary of the optimised / improved workflow, and wireframes of the new platform. All in 2 days. Which also means I can make this very cost-effective, a whole lot faster than legacy processes, with better results and internal buy-in since it’s the internal staff that design the new workflow and platform for themselves.

It is quite an efficiency. I’m hoping it will be something publishers can consider doing in the early phase of deciding whether they want to migrate to better workflows.

Quite possibly, you think this is a big call. But I’ve done this before. When I started Book Sprints I didn’t come across anyone that thought it was possible… this feels very similar.

I think it is going to work very well. There will always be challenges as you can’t anticipate how all the variables at play will come together on the day. But I have been there before with Book Sprints, and I’m pretty confident in my facilitation skills… So here goes….

Once I’ve proven this out with a few orgs I think this could prove to be extremely beneficial to any publishing org that is pondering how they can improve their workflow – with or without new technology. It could be useful for any org, for that matter. Interesting days.

Some photos below of some of the orgs I worked with to help define this process…








img_9414 b8e8b1c7df4a5fb2a6c58ac05b294280 0d97bd808c1dcb881f974082ebc7882f


Kate and Cindy (UCP production staff) designing their system (Editoria)