"Scalar is a free, open source publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required. Scalar also gives authors tools to structure essay- and book-length works in ways that take advantage of the unique capabilities of digital writing, including nested, recursive, and non-linear formats. The platform also supports collaborative authoring and reader commentary."
-From the Scalar User Guide
Ideally suited for long-form, even book length work
Can also accommodate shorter prose and exhibit text
Availability of templates and layouts should accommodate most needs, but may be a limitation
Integrates media as part of the structure of the project (see below)
Allows for embeddable media from third parties, or remote hosting for media
Consider copyright before you embed
Media can be annotated natively
Structure of the project can be manipulated using indexing and metadata
Widgets and plugins can make use of metadata, but it's not necessary outside of mapping and timeline functions
Choose a book-like linear structure, a chaptered structure, or go completely rhizomatic
Remain aware of Scalar's native interface and user experience for more complex structures
Possibility for customization for design and structure
One of Scalar's foremost characteristics is the ability it grants users to create projects with a range of structures, including more traditional linear structures, multichapter works, more rhizomatic structures, or some combination. In order to understand how this works, let's consider whole-whole relationships. We'll discuss some whole-part relationships in the next tab.
Type of whole-whole relationships:
You can have construct paths which guide the user to pages with textual content, multimedia, or to yet another path. Tags can bring together content from multiple paths, cutting across the linear content of a project. Paths can follow a basic table of contents from the homepage, leading into each other in a sequential order, or bring users back to the homepage to select the next path of their choosing, suggesting that they can interact with paths in any order.
Tagged content, on the other hand, will display their tag relationships at the bottom of the page. Tagged pages can be left as they are, can link to each other, or you can create a path for users to interact with all or some tagged relationships.
From University of Southern California's Ahmanson Lab: "When I Think of Home: Images from LA Archives"
Note how the homepage paths guide the user through a topical overview of the contents (focused on the idea of home), with a secondary structure of tags that allow users to view images according to the contributing archive.
Scalar is a unique digital storytelling tool in part because of the way that multimedia functions in the structure of a project. Rather than being an accessory or static entity, multimedia is integrated into the structure of the project itself, through the whole-whole relationships discussed in the previous tabs, and the whole-part relationships described below.
Aside from these special relationships, Scalar also allows for media to be used in the following ways:
Read more about working with media in the Scalar User Guide.
USC Libraries' "Japanese Book History: A View from USC Libraries"
Note the ways that book structures, binding styles, underpaintings etc. are discussed using image annotations. This page includes several images that are annotated in order to direct the user's attentions to these visual details.
Another of Scalar's most unique functionalities are visualizations, which can be used globally in any project or deployed locally as a layout template or a widget. Visualizations allow you to see the contents (and structure) of a Scalar project in a variety of ways, and let your user discover content outside of your table of content or paths.
Every project has a set of global visualizations that can be accessed using the compass icon on the top left hand corner (next to the table of contents).
Each type of visualization can be further customized using the drop downs.
Types of visualizations (click the links to read more and see an example of the visualization):
Visualization layouts are page templates that allow you to include a large visualization at the top of a page, and typically visualizes contents related to the page. Most the layouts follow the general description for their global visualization counterparts listed above. Click the link to read more about the layout and see an example.
Like other widgets (see the next table), visualization widgets allow you to embed visualizations in a more modular format, as an element on a page. You can select what type of visualization you would like to embed, then customize what content, connections, and format that the widget will display.
Unlike Scalar's more structural capacities, widgets and plugins allow you to embed modular content on individual pages, such as visualizations, maps, media displays, and more. Widgets can be added either as linked content or an inline element in the structure of the page using the widget button in the editor.
Here's a list of Scalar's widgets, with links to read more and see examples.
Plugins, on the other hand, are third party tools that can be used to supplement Scalar's out-of-the-box capabilities. Scalar has a few specific plugin types that they recommend: