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Digital Scholarship - Online Tools & Resources

An Introduction to Scalar

Scalar is an open source publishing tool that is designed for authors to publish born-digital scholarship online. Authors can use Scalar as a tool that brings structural flexibility to various types of materials. It allows for users to easily take media from multiple sources and integrate them into their writing as they please. All types of media can be annotated by combining other types of media.

Scalar considers a book to be more than just a collection of information or individual pages, but rather a body of related pages.  Scalar’s ways of creating relationships between pages and media certainly can be daunting at first glance as there are endless options but ultimately Scalar aims to be comprehensive for the user.

The following are key features and functions of creating relationships between whole pieces of content, as well as examples of what they look like on Scalar.


Paths provide a linear sequence of content. A page or media file becomes a path when its content and order are specified. Paths are best used for displaying content in a specific order. 


Tags, as they are used throughout the internet, are content descriptors or ways to identify commonalities amongst differing items, but Scalar allows tags to also link any page or media file to any other Scalar content.


Comments are content identified as responses to other content. Comments are created by users but authors can also make any content a comment by specifying the page or media that it comments on. Any type of content can be a comment (including media files), and comments can be made on comments.


Collaborations  Scalar permits for multiple authors to work on the same project- with options for different authors to have their own home page or for a library of media to be delegated to certain contributors.

Metadata  Scalar provides plenty of options for creating robust metadata on items. Within the “Metadata” tab, the “Add additional metadata” selection allows for a variety of dcterms, bibo, and iptc (International Press Telecommunications Council) fields to choose from. Clicking on a photo or another media file brings up its descriptive data.


Scalar provides various layouts that can dramatically alter and enhance the viewing experience for your users; among them are:

  1. Basic
  2. Image Header
  3. Media Gallery
  4. Timeline
  5. Google Maps


Making a book with Google Maps layout : the basics

It’s a widely used page layout- and for good reason, as it can effectively visualize data and stories as they relate geographically.

1.Start by creating pages for each of the locations you would like to map.

2.Gather the correct metadata for this location. For example the coordinates of La Carreta restaurant are (25.7645° N, -80.2538° W). It is important to remember to add the coordinate symbol as well as the  “-“  sign when appropriate.


3.Add the metadata by going to Edit on the page you wish to edit, clicking on Metadata, clicking Add additional metadata, selecting the box “dcterms” for either spatial or coverage, clicking “Add fields”, and then entering the coordinates. Repeat the same steps for all the pages you want to include in a map


4.Create a page that will feature the map (this can be an index,homepage,or "parent" page). Next, select the Google map layout for this page. To connect this page to the rest of the map pages, you can either:

       a.Tag that page to all the individual map pages ,or

       b.Make the  page a path and select all the individual map pages as items in that path.

Scalar allows for most anything to be embedded on a page, as it is a HTML platform. However, the following formats are accepted for native support:

Maps: KML
Audio: MPEG-3, Ogg, WAV
Text: HTML, JavaScript, Java, TXT, XML, PDF
Video: FLV, M4V, MPEG-4, Ogg, WebM, QuickTime            



Adding media to a page:

Various icons on the menu bar in edit mode allow for media links to be inserted in the body of your site. External media cannot be uploaded directly to the editor- media must first be uploaded to your site's gallery before you can select it and upload it to your editor. Media can also be uploaded directly from the Internet with a link to that photo or video content.