New Publishing Tool

I have been working on public access to public health law materials for
quite a while, but have not found a really satisfactory way to present
the materials on the WWW. I am now working with Mindjet, a
organizational tool for large information sets. Mindjet allows me to
publish a structured document on the WWW and also generate traditional
books in Word format, which can then be converted to PDF. I now have a
stable beta on the WWW, which has about 1000 pages, plus some links out
to cases and primary documents:

http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/map/index.htm

http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/map/ConstitutionalTorts-BivensActions.html
(sample page with links)

Take a look and let me know what you think.

Ed

Edward P. Richards
Director, Program in Law, Science, and Public Health
Harvey A. Peltier Professor of Law
Paul M. Hebert Law Center
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-1000
richards@lsu.edu
http://biotech.law.lsu.edu
Phone: 225/578-7595
Fax: 225/578-5935
_______________________________________________
You are currently subscribed to teknoids as: tekarchive@host2.teknoids.net.
To unsubscribe send a blank email to teknoids-leave@ruckus.law.cornell.edu
--
See the web interface at http://ruckus.law.cornell.edu/mailman/listinfo/teknoids to get your list password, unsubscribe, and view your list settings.

New Publishing Tool

Pretty cool.

I can't tell what Mindjet is auto-generating and what work you had to
do with HTML formatting et al. So, tells us how hard this was -
from a standing start of 1000 pages of Word docs, edited cases
downloaded from various places, etc. - how hard/long/difficult for a
non-techie law faculty type person to create what you created?

John

On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 4:04 PM, Richards, Ed<richards@law.lsu.edu> wrote:
> I have been working on public access to public health law materials for
> quite a while, but have not found a really satisfactory way to present
> the materials on the WWW. I am now working with Mindjet, a
> organizational tool for large information sets. Mindjet allows me to
> publish a structured document on the WWW and also generate traditional
> books in Word format, which can then be converted to PDF. I now have a
> stable beta on the WWW, which has about 1000 pages, plus some links out
> to cases and primary documents:
>
> http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/map/index.htm
>
> http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/map/ConstitutionalTorts-BivensActions.html
> (sample page with links)
>
> Take a look and let me know what you think.
>
> Ed
>
> Edward P. Richards
> Director, Program in Law, Science, and Public Health
> Harvey A. Peltier Professor of Law
> Paul M. Hebert Law Center
> Louisiana State University
> Baton Rouge, LA 70803-1000
> richards@lsu.edu
> http://biotech.law.lsu.edu
> Phone: 225/578-7595
> Fax: 225/578-5935
> _______________________________________________
> You are currently subscribed to teknoids as: jmayer@cali.org.
> To unsubscribe send a blank email to teknoids-leave@ruckus.law.cornell.edu
> --
> See the web interface at http://ruckus.law.cornell.edu/mailman/listinfo/teknoids to get your list password, unsubscribe, and view your list settings.
>

RE: New Publishing Tool

> So, tell us how hard this was -
> from a standing start of 1000 pages of Word docs, edited
> cases downloaded from various places, etc. - how
> hard/long/difficult for a non-techie law faculty type person
> to create what you created?

The key is developing the original structure in the document. I use word
styles (heading 1, heading 2, heading n) to structure all my documents.
This has immediate benefits in word - automatic generation of tables of
contents, and better document navigation. Mindjet will then import the
word document and use those styles to break the document into levels and
create the basic structure of the outline. At this point there will be
no crosslinks between topics - if you have used those in word, they are
lost. Hyperlinks in the word document will be preserved.

Mindjet has templates for formatting the HTML output. At the simplest,
you select one of those, set up the parameters in the settings menu -
how many levels to output, numbering format, and a few other global
variables - and you can output a nice looking HTML document with the
structure without knowing anything about HTML or mark up.

Of course life is never so simple. There are bound to be formatting
inconsistencies in that 1000 page document, which will result in topics
at the wrong levels of the outline. You have to fix those in the Mindjet
document, which is not hard, but it takes time to get through the whole
thing. More annoying, Mindjet seems to get confused by long documents
and can lose an occasional topic. This means you need to do top to
bottom review of the Mindjet TOC as compared to the Word TOC. Again, not
rocket science, and it is easy to port in the missing topics, but it
takes time. Because of this, you to work but directly in Mindjet for
maintaining the database.

You never need to edit HTML code unless you need something the template
does not address. In my case, I wanted to widen the display line for the
tree and I wanted to embed Google analytics code. I am not a CSS whiz,
so this was painful.

If you do not use structure in your word documents, then someone is
going to need to do a lot of value-added editing to put in the styles.

The big stylistic issue is that Mindjet does not import or do footnotes.
If you have used footnotes, you do need to do a macro and pull the
footnote text into the document, then edit it so it makes sense. This
may mean using interlinear cites or even adding HTML pages outside of
Mindjet, with hyperlinks in Mindjet. This is how I handle the links out
to cases.

Cross references to other sections of the map are easy to make and they
then allow you to jump from one section of the HTML to another.

Except for editing the template, which I really did not need to do,
nothing requires any knowledge of HTML, and Mindjet itself is pretty
simple, having limited formatting options.

The hard part is that a lot of people do not think about documents in
terms of structure and chunking. Niels Larson of Maxthink got me
thinking about the presentation of text on screens back in the 1980s,
and I have written that way since. I find that it works pretty well on
paper as well. If the input document resembles Finnegan's Wake, then
there is going to be a lot of work to make them useful as a structured
outline.

An important part of this project is the alternative paper output:

http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cphl/slides/beta5.7.pdf (this link will
change)

This is a simple export from the map to Word, with editing just to
remove the map intro, then published from Word to PDF. The next step of
the project will be to have each chapter available as a PDF for folks
who prefer paper. The output from Mindjet can be tied to a Word style
sheet and generates clean text that can be used without further editing.
The Word output is probably the best insurance against FolioView
syndrome - having a lot of work in a proprietary system that dies. If
the Word import were perfect, and could handle crosslinks, working in
Word would be the safest way to protect the work from obsolescence.

Mindjet has a simple editor, with spelling checking, and basic
formatting. You can create text in it easily, but I think it is better
to create longer pieces in Word and then port them into the outline.
There is simple bridge between Word and Mindjet that installs with
Mindjet, so that you can select text in Word and move it to an open
outline, or have it created as a new outline.

Bottom-line - not much technical skill needed, but then I am amazed at
how many law professors never really learn to use Word well enough to be
efficient. If you do not know Word, then you will need to do that first.
A lot of tedious prep work could be done by an administrative assistant
with Word skills, if you lucky enough to have one of those. The real
work is editing the work to be structured and chunked and organized for
presentation, and getting the big picture in your mind to make the
outline work. I put in several hundred hours getting to this point, some
of which was funded by the Department of Education. Most of that was no
in Mindjet but on the primary Word documents. I have a lot of material
that is not up yet and will continue with that.

BTW, links to the index page are appreciated:

http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/map/index.htm

Ed
_______________________________________________
You are currently subscribed to teknoids as: tekarchive@host2.teknoids.net.
To unsubscribe send a blank email to teknoids-leave@ruckus.law.cornell.edu
--
See the web interface at http://ruckus.law.cornell.edu/mailman/listinfo/teknoids to get your list password, unsubscribe, and view your list settings.