Category Archives: Mediawiki

Statistics for Humanities now in PDF format plus some reflections

The Statistics for Hcoverumanities book is now available in a much nicer PDF format. The mediawiki built website is still up there though it doesn't look great. The PDF is not perfect by any means but it’s time to move onto other projects now.

The book is published under a non-commercial Sharealike Creative Commons licence. I am thinking of trying an e-book version (I have software which technically supports this)  but I fear that with all the images and mathematics this could end up being a big mess.

The first versions of the book (previously available for public consultation and rejected by the British Academy on the advice of their reviewers) were written in LaTeX. I actually learnt LaTeX for the specific purpose of producing the book. I liked the idea of programmatic control but it all got a bit difficult to control where graphs and images landed. GNU plot which integrates with LaTeX was great for making the graphs and I'll continue to use it in the future if and when the need arises.

The first website version has been written using mediawiki software (the same software behind wikipedia). Wiki markup is easy to learn and plugins mean that LaTeX can be integrated for the mathematical parts. One of the issues with websites is that appearance in browsers can vary, but it is still not as nice looking as wikipedia.  The great advantage of wikis of course is that they are social tools in which people can collaborate to produce a finished product. I floated the idea with a couple of others of making this an open wiki, but was advised I could face problems of vandalism and spam. Although I like running websites it’s not a big part of my 'day job' and I don't want a troublesome hobby.

As I mentioned before the PDF version is available under a creative commons licence which allows people to modify it. This is all very well, but modifying a pdf document is not easy (that is sometimes the actual point), so I do need to think about whether I want to make the source files available. The book was produced using a combination of Serif Page Plus X7 (the full version) and MathType V6.9.

PagePlusX7 (I paid just under £64 including VAT) is not unlike MS Publisher though I much prefer it. I experimented with other desktop publishing software such as Scribus (free/ open source)*, but felt the learning curve was too steep at the present time. (High level DTPs run into hundreds of pounds so I'm not even going there).

Mathtype 6.9 (£43.20) was a worthwhile investment. I used it to type equations in LaTeX then copy and paste into PagePlus, but it can also be used to 'build' equations like the MS Equation Editor and even has a 'handwriting' feature. It can also be used in hundreds of other software applications. This was not totally plain sailing and for some reason equations using square root signs look a bit strange when posted into PagePlus. (If future editions of PagePlus have LaTeX Math integration that would be delightful).

Despite all the software used to produce the book, no software is necessary to use the book!

*Scribus does have LaTeX integration.

 

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Making your own e-book from websites using Grabmybooks

Added: 30th October 2013: The failure of the LaTeX rendering mentioned below is because I have been using the mark-up  Latex code instead of using the tags <math> Latex code </math> .

Yesterday I came across Grabmybooks, a free Firefox plugin that enables the webuser to create ebooks from webpages.

The resulting output is a .epub file which should be useable on most e-readers (This can be converted to .mobi to use on a kindle).

As an experiment I attempted to covert the statistics for humanities website into an ebook. I was very impressed with the plugins rendering of text and tables. The images have not come out that well, but its main drawback from my point of view is that is doesn’t seem to cope with the more complex math code very well, which limits its use ‘out of the box’ for my purposes. However for purely text conversion it is excellent.

It is possible to edit the hard code whilst putting the e-book together. I haven’t tried this out yet.

Conversion to text and tables works well
Conversion to text and tables works well

 

 

Varying success with images, but these have undergone numerous conversions and reformatting over the past few months.
Varying success with images, but these have undergone numerous conversions and reformatting over the past few months.
The conversion from the LaTex plugin in Mediawiki has not worked out.
The conversion from the LaTex plugin in Mediawiki has not worked out.

 

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(Soft) launch of first Statistics for the Humanities website

stats in hums web shotI have spent the past couple of months putting the Statistics for the Humanities book into an online format. After much deliberation I have used the MediaWiki software to do this. They is still a lot of tidying up to do and its not quite finished but comments are very welcome.

It is not a collaborative wiki  a là Wikipedia , but I am open to the idea of setting it up so logged in members can amend, add and improve content.  At the same time I would not wish the character and level of the material to change in such a way as to  do against the actual point of the website.

Please do let me know what you think about the site itself and ways in which others might contribute.

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