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HIST 291: Food History

This guide supports Prof. Rees' Food History seminar.

About Scalar

Scalar is an open-source, web-based publishing software from the University of Southern California's Alliance for Networking Visual Culture that allows you to create networked, multi-media online publications. Scalar is a non-linear format that allows authors and readers to explore a research topic through various paths. This guide will show you how to begin building a Scalar "book."

Start a Scalar project

  1. Start by creating an account
  2. Open your Scalar Dashboard
  3. Click on the My Account tab
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find Create New Book. Enter your book title and click create
  5. The next screen you see is the Dashboard for your new book.
    Note: You cannot delete books in Scalar—email Scalar admin to request deletion of a book

Pages, paths, and tags

Pages are managed in the page editor. Start on the Index page and click on the title of your book. Click Edit at the bottom to begin adding text. Here you will add a title (every page must have a unique title). You also have the option of adding a description of the page's content. Beneath the text box is a drop-down window that allows you to choose the page layout, create relationships, and identify the page as path, annotation, tag, or comment.

Paths represent a linear sequence of content, like the chapters of a book. Paths can lead to other baths, other steps, and back to the homepage. Any page or media file can be added to a path: From the page editor in your dashboard, click the "Relationships" tab. Click "Make this page a path" then "specify the items that it contains." A pop-up window will appear, where you can select the items you want  to add. Then, drag and drop those items to reorder.  

Tags represent a non-linear grouping of content. In Scalar, pages and media files can act as tags for other content. To create: under "Relationships" tab, click "make this page a tag" and designate the items you want to appear as tags in the pop-up window. To add this tag to other items, click "Edit" at the bottom of the page, click "Relationships," and then "to tag this page." Select the tag(s) that apply in the pop-up window.

Media and content

Media is an integral part of Scalar, and is done through linking (not embedding). As an author, you can upload your own media (<2 MB) or link to a private media server.

Scalar supports linking to Critical Commons, Play!, Hypercities, Internet Archive, USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, Cuban Theater Digital Archive and Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library. You can also link to content on third-party websites like Prezi, SoundCloud, Vimeo, and YouTube. Be conscious of "link-rot" when using these and other non-affiliated websites. 

To add media, you must first add text to the page, either by writing in the Text Editor box, or copying and pasting content from another document. If copying and pasting results in unwanted style/formatting, click the red X in the top right [Visual Mode] to remove it.

Link to media already uploaded to Scalar, embedded on the page.
Links to media annotations, meaning the media is cued to play a particular section. 
Inserts an inline citation to a media file, embedded at the selected location on the page.
Inserts an inline citation to a cued media file, embedded at the selected location on the page.
Inserts a "note-style" link to Scalar content. Link, when hovered over, produces a small pop-up window preview.
Link to Scalar content. No media embedded on page, but when hovered over, produces pop-up of title and description of media.
Inserts a hyperlink to a URL.

Publish a Scalar book

Scalar projects can be published in sections. Starting in your Dashboard, navigate to the element that is ready to be published (i.e., Pages, Media, Paths, Tags, Annotations, Comments). Click edit at the beginning of the row of the item you wish to publish. Use the drop-down menu under the "Live?" section to select Yes. Save to finalize your edits, and all items made live will now be visible. 

Remember to publish both page and all linked media to ensure the page displays properly. 


The content of this page is based on "Scalar: An Introduction" by Harriett Green at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.