Working on xpub

Much is going on in the Coko world at the moment and a lot of news coming out soon about various collaborations. Much of the attention has been around xpub, the journal system we have been working on built on top of PubSweet.

PubSweet is, of course, a component based system so you can ‘roll your own’ journal or book platform from existing components. We are making a lot of components for both Editoria and xpub and publishing them for reuse with an open source (MIT) license.

Some of the components we are generating for xpub are coming out of the work we are doing with Collabra, the UCP Psychology Journal. Today the Managing Editor, Dan Morgan, and I met for another session working out the logic of the components and how they fit together.

dan2

We started by working through the flow from the perspectives of each of the major stakeholders – Managing Editor, Senior Editor, Handling Editor, Author, Reviewer. We worked out what they each needed to see on the dashboard and then went through their workflow and what they needed from each component.

List of what each actor sees on their dashboard
List of what each actor sees on their dashboard
Mapping out the flow across components.
Mapping out the flow across components.
Sketches of components
Sketches of components

We then took each of these small mappings and transferred them to larger pieces of paper. Drawing the interfaces in basic form.

Drawing out the components in detail
Drawing out the components in detail

Each of the diagrams are detailed below.

dash

sub

managereview

review

decision

We had already worked out this structure. Today was about running through the logic from each actor’s point of view. Good news is, the logic held up and validated the architecture. Good news! So, what you see in these pics is more or less what we will build. It is a thin horizontal slice that covers the complete lifecycle of a manuscript going through the Collabra process. We’ll build it and test it, and then layer on additional functionality.

Next I’ll recreate these in digital graphics and add a page of bullet points for explanation. We will then meet with the Coko team and talk it through and start building! It’s a good way to design systems, way better than endless months gathering pages and pages of product requirements. It’s a lightweight and fun process. Software is a conversation after all!

Being in Competition with Yourself

With Coko, I am involved in producing book (Editoria) and journal platforms (xpub). As it happens, two of the main competitors for these platforms are a book platform I founded (Booktype, about 8 years ago or so) and a journal platform I designed (Aperta, about 5 years ago or so).

Booktype and aperta are good platforms. However, what I’m involved with now -Editoria and xpub – are just so much more rockn 🙂 Turns out you learn something (a lot!) each time you make a platform and the next one is always better. But competition is a great thing. It helps us all do better. It’s just …it is a little existentially weird to think I’m in competition with past versions of myself 🙂

Coko Products

I am currently planning how to keep all the Coko projects balanced and moving forward. It gave me a moment to reflect on just how productive we have been. At present we have 6 major products, all moving forward at an excellent pace, they include :

  1. PubSweet  – the API toolkit for building publishing workflows (website coming soon).
  2. INK – the file prosessing (conversion, extraction, enrichment etc) framework.
  3. Editoria – the monograph production platform for publishers
  4. XSweet – the XSLT production for converting MS Word to HTML (HTML Typescript)
  5. Wax – the web based word processor built on top of Substance.io libs
  6. xpub – the (early stage) journal platform.

All this in less than 18 months, which is amazing enough but also consider that Coko was only 3 people (with Jure being the only developer) until 12 months ago. Its kind of astonishing to me.

Onto Journals…

We (at Coko) have been working with Collabra Psychology to develop a Manuscript Submission System with them. The cool thing is, we can re-use a lot of work that we put into Editoria since we built PubSweet with the notion of highly reusable components (on the frontend and backend)…

I find it so satisfying to see our ideas and hard work put into building systems with the ‘right level of abstraction’ paying off. We are pretty much putting together a cluster of tech that can be re-assembled to meet a huge variety of publishing workflows very quickly…

The platform is called ‘xpub’ for now and it’s looking pretty good. We were able to assemble a basic dashboard, submission page, and editor plus link it up to INK for MS Word -> HTML conversion in a matter of days. All still in early days but looking great.

Login page for our first Journal platform.
Login page for our first Journal platform.

You knew the day was coming … 🙂