Mirroring ‘Oxford Scholarship Online’ on your mac using Bookends


Oxford publications started up a sort of revolution on how printed books are accessed online.

Most other publishers put the exact same book, in a single PDF or Epub format, online for sale. Oxford makes an important change that seems to start a revolution on how we consume books online. In Oxford’s system, each of the chapters of the books stand by themselves as published articles. Each of the chapters of the collection gets their own DOI that they can be read, downloaded or referred independently of the main book.

Look at this video how it works.

Now, we are in a position to have the cake and eat it at the same time. The old conflicts on whether to keep books broke into their chapters and sections (as such a system facilitates searching and discovery on each of the chapters), or, keep it together to be able to see the work as a whole immediately disappears. We have both the whole and the individuals at the same time.

So, I have been wondering on how to mirror that system in Bookends. I experimented on how each of these independent chapters could be managed. Bookends has a mechanism to manage Chapters separately; while still linked to the main book.  Bookends is such a well-thought application: each of the chapters are able to live by themselves just exactly like they are presented in Oxford Scholarship Online. I am so impressed. I haven’t seen any other offline reference manager that is able to manage chapters like Bookends (Oxford).

The more I use each of the features, the more appreciate how well-designed Bookends is.

For me, I used to split PDF books into specific page ranges (page 1-50; 51-100 etc) just to keep the large pdf books easier for my searching tools like Foxtrot. I have already explained the system before.

Now, with Oxford Scholarship online and Bookends, I don’t need to split. I simply download each of the chapters and attach them as chapters into a single reference entry in Bookends. The pdf files of each of the chapters are attached to their corresponding entries. It is much better system because I won’t have duplication of information. I only hope that all other publishers offer books in the same way to the Oxford Scholarship online.



One fundamental problem with Docear

I have been watching the developments of Docear for a long time. I like the whole idea of research suite where you drop everything related with your research; and get things done without much distraction. There are a few applications which promise to give such a functionality both in the windows and Mac. Docear seems one of the most promising of these apps, specially given that the suite is an open source, any university/huge project pick it up and pushing it to perfection. The other advantage of docear is its integration of one of the best open source reference managers in existence. The idea of integrating mind-mapping into the research is also good. But, there is one serious issue that makes the application unusable to me for a long time; its poor capabilities to directly edit files. Since it is build on top of a mind-mapping application (Freeplane), editing even the most basic TXT files is currently impossible. If you want to write a text, you have to write it on the nodes of the maps and export it finally. That is the idea. But, personally I hate exporting and importing. If an app can index a folder from the explorer (Finder), what is the point of exporting and importing. Why couldn’t they give the chance for us to directly edit our files as they are stored in their folder, as Devonthink does, without the hassle of exporting and importing? To make the point clear: I have more than a thousand notes saved in TXT format in my dropbox folder. I can directly index that folder into Docear, which is great. But, I can not open these text files inside the application (I have to run another application to view them) which is unfortunately debilitating task for organizing the notes and finally write a draft.  The developer are probably thinking about short texts when they develop Docear. But, a serious writing is not about few pages; rather hundreds and thousands of pages of text. Write a hundreds of paragraphs, let alone pages on a node is a crazy idea in the first place. Even for a short text, mind-nodes are very ugly.  If docear has to be a true research suite, it has  get a good internal text editor. That is mandator.  Until this problem of text editing is solved, I find Docear useless to my workflow. I hope the developers will incorporate a good text editor into the app soon, and we will  enjoy the app.  

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