Seeking: Junior Front-end Designer/Developer for 2 month+ contract

We’re looking for a junior front-end web designer/developer for a 2 month contract (in Montreal) that could lead into a full-time job with for Pressbooks, an open source web-based book publishing platform.

Ideally, you’ve worked with WordPress, know your way around CSS and SASS, and have a particular interest in books, reading, & writing. We hope you’ve got some good design sense, and think designing real print and web books using HTML & CSS sounds pretty cool. We are a small, diverse team, and you’ll be working closely with the product manager, dev team, and marketing and comms team. We have one of the best views of Montreal, from our 12th floor windows in Mile End, Montreal.

Deets:

  • Experience: 2yrs of WordPress, CSS + HTML (SASS a bonus)
  • Rate: ask us!
  • Make it happen: send us an email with some info about yourself here: jobs@pressbooks.com

Can you “clone” a Pressbooks book? You can now*!

Here at Pressbooks HQ we’ve been doing a whole lot more development work for the Open Textbook world, in our opinion the most exciting space in the world of publishing. For the uninitiated, an Open Textbook is an openly licensed (i.e. free) book that supports the “5Rs,” defined by David Wiley as the rights to: remix, revise, reuse, retain, and redistribute.

Open Textbooks are powerful not just because they are free for students, but also because teachers and profs (or even students) can easily improve them and modify them for the particular needs of their students.

Theory vs. Practice

In theory, at least.

In practice, all that 5R-y stuff can be difficult: How do you revise a PDF? How do you remix an EPUB? How do you redistribute a print book?

Clone me, please!

The new answer — at least for Open Textbooks built on Pressbooks as of now is: You clone them!

That is, you can now, with the click of a button, clone/copy a complete Pressbooks book (including all metadata, image and media, and content) from one Pressbooks account or instance to another, as long as the original book is:

  • Openly licensed (i.e. licensed with a Creative Commons license)
  • Publicly available on the web

And this means, once you’ve cloned that book, you can 5R it to your heart’s content!

Wait, does this mean anyone can just copy my book?

No. No. No! … No, cloning is only possible in the case that:

  • Your book is openly licensed (with a Creative Commons license)
  • You book privacy setting is: public on the web

So for any books that have standard copyright, or are not available on the web — this doesn’t apply.

Why would you clone a book?

This is, we think, a very exciting development for the Open Textbook ecosystem.

Here are just some of the ways we expect the new feature to be utilized:

  • A community college wants to make changes to the level of subject matter in an open textbook that was originally created for upper-division undergraduates.
  • A faculty member wants to adapt an open textbook to reflect the way they personally teach the subject matter.
  • A university department wants to copy the books contained in a catalogue at a similar department in another university.
  • An instructor wants to make a copy in order to have their class expand an existing open textbook as part of a classroom project.

Cloning ultimately allows books built in Pressbooks to become more modular and easily adaptable for more courses.

Pressbooks, Ryerson University & eCampus Ontario

Have you heard about the exciting Open Textbook work happening in Ontario?

This cloning feature was developed as part of a project Pressbooks is doing with Ryerson University, funded by a grant from eCampusOntario, developing infrastructure for Open Resource Publishing in Ontario.

Also under this project, Pressbooks is getting a full design refresh, including redesigns of the book home page, the webbook reading interface, and, for Pressbooks systems, updates to the landing page and Pressbooks’ built-in catalog page.

So, How Do I Start Cloning?

The bad news is: This feature is not available on Pressbooks.com. Cloning is an educational feature only available in standalone Pressbooks systems (Pressbooks EDU client systems and Pressbooks open source). (Contact us if you’re interested in us hosting a Pressbooks EDU system for you.)

Pressbooks.com also supports replicating books. However, the process of copying a book is more labour intensive, and requires users to reach out to original creators for the book’s XML files. This new cloning feature omits these steps for enterprise users, making duplication possible with only a few clicks of a button.

Learn more about how to use the new cloning feature.

Pressbooks working with Ryerson University on eCampusOntario grant: “Open Publishing Infrastructure”

We are very very excited to announce that we’re working with eCampusOntario and Ryerson University to improve Pressbooks as an Open Textbook authoring tool, under the just-announced eCampusOntario project: “Open Publishing Infrastructure for Ontario Post-Secondary Educators, Learners.”

Most of the development work we undertake under this grant will be released as open source improvements to the Pressbooks GPL codebase — so anyone using Pressbooks will benefit.

Pressbooks as we’ve dreamed since, well, 2010

This project is going to allow us to develop some of the most exciting capabilities of Pressbooks, something we have been dreaming of since, well, since I started working on Pressbooks way back in 2011.

In particular, we will be making some very visible improvements, including a redesign of the “webbook” interface (for reading Pressbooks books online) and a refresh of the standard catalog page for dedicated Pressbooks instances (such as this one, hosted by BCcampus).

APIs and Cloning

But the more exciting work is going on under the hood, where we’ll be migrating the Pressbooks API (built by Brad Payne from BCcampus) to the WordPress core REST API, extending the metadata capabilities, and building “cloning” of Pressbooks books into Pressbooks core (also leaning on work done by Brad).

This means that you’ll soon be able to point at any openly-licensed Pressbooks book in the universe, and pull it into your own Pressbooks environment, to enable the famous 5Rs of Open Educational Resources: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute.

An API for Books (finally!)

What does this mean? This means Pressbooks will, finally, be able to fulfill a promise I’ve been thinking about since I started Pressbooks back in 2011: an API for books.

Indeed, looking through some archives, I am gratified to see that we’ve managed to build a lot of what I laid out in my May 2010 (!!) article for O’Reilly: “An Open, Webby, Book-Publishing Platform.”

More exciting is that we are now poised to move beyond that initial set of ideas, and offer something I wrote about a year later, in September 2010 (!), An API for Books.

It’s taken a while, but we’re getting there!

The past number of years have been an exercise in patience: We have always had dedicated and faithful users—from self-publishers to academic presses—who love Pressbooks because of how easy it makes formatting books for print and ebook stores.

But the real power of Pressbooks, from my perspective, has always been hidden in the plain sight of the web: all Pressbooks books are web-native from the start.

Open Textbooks and the Web

The Open Textbook movement is really the first coherent usecase for Pressbooks that has emerged to embrace the potential in Open, webby book publishing systems. So, it’s been gratifying to see the Pressbooks open source software being adopted in the Open Textbook world, by such leading projects as: Lumen Learning, BCcampus, and OpenSUNY.

At the same time, it’s been a challenge for a small company like ours to support the exciting Open Textbook possibilities of Pressbooks with our limited resources. This new project will enable us to move much faster towards an Open Textbook future we hope for.

Working with Ryerson and eCampusOntario

We’re thrilled to be working with some great people at Ryerson University on this project: Wendy Freeman, Fangmin Wang, Ann Ludbrook, Sally Wilson, and the rest of their team. And we’re excited as well to be working on an eCampus Ontario project: David Porter and Lena Patterson have a a great vision for the future of Open Textbooks in Ontario, and we’re excited to be part of it.

If you’d like more information about Pressbooks and Open Textbooks, get in touch! hugh@pressbooks.com.

Dac is back!

Good news for Pressbooks, Dac is back! From the Pressbooks.com blog:

Big news at Pressbooks headquarters: Dac is back!

Dac Chartrand worked in the early days of Pressbooks (taking over from the also-awesome Janina Szkut), and did a huge job of re-architecting the system back in 2011, in particular moving Pressbooks from a LaTeX based PDF output system (ouch!) to an all-HTML+CSS system, including PDF. Yay, web technologies!

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