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Tinderbox for online bibliographies (Read 11934 times)
Alex Strick van Linschoten
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Posts: 61
Tinderbox for online bibliographies
Feb 03rd, 2009, 9:24pm
I have been enjoying bibliographies which take their cues from Tinderbox.  I think Mark posted this one (http://undead.metonym.net/bibliography/) recently as an example.

While I understand a lot about using tinderbox as a stand-alone application, I still haven't really got the hang of exporting etc (i.e. to be able to make a site like the one listed above).  Is there somewhere I might start to get to learn how to do this?  I'd like to do something pretty similar to what the Zombie author has done for his bibliography.  Any pointers?

Thanks in advance.
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Mark Anderson
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Re: Tinderbox for online bibliographies
Reply #1 - Feb 4th, 2009, 7:33am
The answer partly depends on how much HTML/JavaScript/CSS you understand - certainly for the visual 'pretty' effects. The best learning technique - starting from scratch is to leave the visual part until last and start with fairly basic templates. As Importantly, time spent thinking through Prototypes and user Attributes will help your output significantly. The attributes will ensure the correct 'atoms' of information can be called to your expert pages as required. Prototypes can automatically assign an export template - and the prototype (and template of children)...and so on down the structure of your bibliography.

For each cited reference, consider having a sub-container for notes. Why, when this pushes individual notes down a level? If, as in the example web bibliography you cited, you want to display all notes as a single page/piece of content then the citation's child can be exported using a page that incorporates all the child's children (the page notes). you could do the same with agents, but it's more work overall.

This screengrab shows this initial prototyping process:

The titles of some prototypes look odd, because they use the DisplayExpression to customise the title.  Thus a page note for print citations shows "Page " + $PageNumber + ":- " + $ShortTitle; that's just an idea - you'd use your own setup according to taste - and note the video notes use a different title as 'page' isn't appropriate. The idea is you make a page note and don't bother about the title as it's auto-created by filling in some user attributes that are set as key attributes for that template type. The whole concept is to avoid you having to enter structural type settings once the documents been designed (though occasionally emergent structure may lead yo to re-edit the design).

Note how the structural stuff - template, prototypes, etc. - is hidden away in a top level container called 'Admin' whereas all the real content is in 'Bibliography'. This makes it easy to exclude the former when setting up agents to look at content related issues; a 'descendedFrom(Bibiography)' query argument automatically excludes all the admin stuff. I find I start with the design (admin) stuff at the top and once the majority of the structure's hammered out I then drag it to the bottom where it can live out of site or viewed through a separate view window). I've also demonstrated use of a separator to add a visual delimiter in this outline view.

My sketch doesn't show any export templates but you can see how the emergent structure will allow you to attach generic templates. Thus the notes container prototype might use a template like (using simplified overall HTML page code):
^justChildren(note export)^

Now we could set the page note prototype to use the template "note export" but actually it's set by the call in the parent container's template, ^justChildren(note export)^ which will include the output of each child (in container sort order) using the "note export" template. The latter might look like this:
<p>^get($Page)^. ^text^ 

...and we'd set the page note's prototype's HTMLFirstParagraphStart to nothing so the ^text^ ouptput doesn't start with a <p> tag.

Moving up the Print container would export a list of all print citations with a link to their page notes page (this is the bit the zombie list makes clever using JavaScript trickery , though that's not for the web novice to try on their first effort).  The bibliography note would export a complete HTML page whose contents would be made up of the Print and Video note's output.

Well, there's one quick take on things. The TBX discussed above can be downloaded from here to help you get a quick start. My area of work doesn't involve citations so that's why I've not gone into the detail of that side, but is should be easy to add user attributes for things like Author, Publication, etc. and make those key attributes where needed** and use them in your export templates. ** remember to make best use of prototypes - set the key attribute in the appropriate prototype and them all notes using it will get updated accordingly. Much quicker than lots of per-note layout edits.
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« Last Edit: Feb 4th, 2009, 7:38am by Mark Anderson »  

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Johnnie Wilcox - mistersquid
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San Francisco, CA
Re: Tinderbox for online bibliographies
Reply #2 - Feb 4th, 2009, 9:00am
Howdy Alex,

I'm the author of the online bibliography you cite and I want to say thank you for visiting my bibliography and mentioning it at all.

The other thing I want to say is that Mark Anderson's pointers are absolutely-to-be-studied given your question. The details of Mark A.'s post reflect the general structure of the Tinderbox document I built for my zombie bib. The tips about separating the content from the prototyping structure are especially important.

In particular, once you have a small sample of bibliography content notes, develop prototypes for these items and apply these prototypes to existing (and subsequent) content notes. That way, when you want to change the way a particular bib type exports, displays, or processes, you can change just the prototype and your typed instances will inherit your changes all at once.

Mark A.'s post has also given me an idea about how I might improve the performance and structure of my own Tinderbox bibliography document (thx Mark), especially by how it uses $DisplayExpression as the basis for export. It will take some time before I can say for sure, but I'm quite hopeful.

I do intend to produce a set of screencasts and web-accessible tips about how to make such bibliographies, but I'm on an academic's schedule (and budget) so the pieces of this may be some time in development. When I do have some potentially useful posts, I'll make sure to mention it in these forums.

While this post may be of limited help, I think Mark A.'s post touches on the major issues you should consider as you develop your own bibliography.

Happy Tinderboxing!

Johnnie Wilcox
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