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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Scalar: An Introduction: Building Pages and Paths

This is a short introductory guide to using the Scalar publishing platform.

Structure of a Scalar Book

Content in Scalar is comprised of three main units: Media, Pages, and Paths.

Media plus Pages plus Paths equal Book

Media are the uploaded items themselves, which all have their own unique URLs. These are only displayed in the book when they are linked through pages. The Pages of your book are where you build your content, combining media, text, and visualizations. Paths are the ways users navigate your book, putting pages in sequence.

 

Have More Questions?

Have more questions? Contact Scholarly Communication and Publishing at scpub@library.illinois.edu for more information and guidance or visit our website. 

Scholarly Communication and Publishing

Pages

Pages are managed in Scalar's page editor. To make a new page, press the New page button at the top right of the book toolbar. To edit a page, press the Edit button while viewing that page in your book.

The new page button on the book toolbar.

Every page must have a unique title. Uniqueness is important for the searchability of your page as well as providing descriptive information about your page. To help with further specificity, each page has the option to enter a description of the content found on the page. These descriptions may appear in multiple places in Scalar. Content can be added to pages much like adding content to a blog platform like "Wordpress." Visual and HTML views are available and the content editor allows for editing styles, alignments, headings, bullet points, etc. A single page can belong to multiple paths.

**Note on pasting text: Always use the Paste as plain text button, because this will remove all pre-existing styles. If the text editor tries to interpret and preserve a surplus of style code, it could slow down your book and make editing tricky in the future.

Format & Style

Scalar allow you to customize the page in terms of layout, relationships, styling, page properties, and metadata. These tools are located beneath the text editor.

The page tools.

The Layout tab provides a few select page layouts, some of which are interactive visualizations. The Relationships tab allows you to link items together as paths, comments, annotations, or tags. The Style tab allows more customization with places for CSS and JavaScript. This is also where you’ll set the thumbnail and key image for a page, elements which are needed for certain layouts and widgets. Note: key images must be uploaded, not linked from a URL on the web. 

The Properties tab allows you to edit the URL for the page. The URLs of each page are automatically generated based on the title the page had when it was created. For a clean publication, review the URLs of each page and uploaded item before making your book public. From here, you can also manage the book’s content type—book, commentary, review, or term—and whether a page is visible or hidden. To manage page visibility in batches, use the Content tab of the book dashboard. 

Last in the row is the Metadata tab. Here, you can add metadata about the page using vocabulary from the Dublin Core Metadata standard as well as ART Metadata terms.

Paths

Paths represent a linear sequence of content much like the chapters of a book. Paths can lead to other paths, other steps, and back to the home page. Any page or media file can be turned into a path by specifying the content it contains and the order in which it belongs in the linear sequence. Any time you want a reader to experience content in a specific order, use a path. When a reader arrives at a "path" they will see the content on the page as well as a list of its contents. The user can click "Begin Path" to continue to the first page of the path, or the user can click the hyperlink attached to any page on the path.

Paths create linear sequences of content.

Image Credit: Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, “Flexible Structure

To create a path: You can either make a new page or edit existing pages or media files to determine their type. From the page editor in your dashboard, click the "Relationships" tab. From the list of options, select path.

The Relationships tab is located in the toolbar below the text editor.

Select “To make this page a path, choose the items that it contains.

A pop-up window will appear. Here, you should select the items you want to add to this path and then click "Add Selected." Use the drop-down list to specify whether you are adding pages, media, tags, annotations, etc. and the search field to retrieve a specific item. 

The content selector allows the user to add multiple items at a time.

You can then drag and drop those items in order to reorder them or remove them from the path as you wish.

Tags

Tags represent a non-linear grouping of content. Tags are often used as content descriptors and in Scalar they are used in much that same way, however, the tag itself is not just a bit of text, but a full-fledged piece of content. Any page or media file can act as a tag for other Scalar content. When your reader arrives at a tag they will see the information contained in the tag plus a list of items that share that same tag. 

The media, “Roses,” has been tagged by three other pieces of content, “Irises,” “van Gogh,” and “Wheat Field with Cypresses,” listed below the media. Each word is a hyperlink.

The media, “Roses,” has been tagged by three other pieces of content, “Irises,” “van Gogh,” and “Wheat Field with Cypresses,” listed below the media. Each word is a hyperlink.

   To create a tag: You can either make a new page, edit existing pages, or even existing media items.

From the page editor in your dashboard, click the "Relationships" tab. From the options choose tag. Select “To make this page a tag, choose the items that it contains.

A pop-up window will appear. From the pop-up window designate the items you want to appear as tags and then click "Add Selected."