2016 has been quite the year! A year that, in general, I think we are all glad to put behind us, but one that was incredibly productive for the PubFactory team. Over the course of 2016, we made substantive changes in the way we work, grew our publisher client community, and released important enhancements across the platform.
EMBRACING DIGITAL CHANGE
Looking back at 2016, there was one constant that underpinned all of our work during the year. We made a conscious decision to continue embracing digital change and to transform the way that we work to encourage both more flexibility and more automation in our processes. Core to the successful transformation of our processes was implementation of the Continuous Delivery (CD) model.
At the outset of 2016, we continued transitioning our publishers to the latest version of PubFactory having established the platform technology infrastructure and CD model processes to ensure that everyone is kept up-to-date moving forward. For some, the update to the latest version of PubFactory involved a large upgrade that brought unexpected challenges but also significant functional platform improvements. Happily, at the close of 2016, all PubFactory clients and each platform installation was successfully being updated and maintained using the CD model. Success!
To be clear, we call this “Success!” because completion of the switch to the CD model means that, moving forward, our platform updates will be smoother, happen more frequently, and introduce cost and time efficiencies.
In addition, being on the latest version of PubFactory means that our publishers have more opportunities to take advantage of new features, functions, capabilities and ongoing bug fixes, with little to no additional effort. And, as we continue to enhance and extend PubFactory, we are increasing efforts to broadcast these updates to our publishers and make clear the value gained with each update.
Key Platform Communications include:
- Quarterly webinars highlighting enhancements and newly available features. Release notes for every PubFactory release.
- Training Videos. We have created a series of quick overview videos highlighting the essential features of PubFactory’s Site Management Portal and Account Management System. These videos are another resource for training new users of the system and provide an independent refresher for existing users. Additional videos are being will be made available over the course of 2017.
- This Spotlight newsletter to share platform, company, and industry news.
In the CD model world, we split enhancement work across multiple releases which ensures platform updates will be ongoing rather than frozen until all enhancements can be fit into a single large release. The platform “hostage situation” is a thing of the past.
NOTE: Although we are continually providing new releases, this is not to the LIVE environment and each publisher chooses when to release the updates to their LIVE environment AND how and when platform updates are shared with their user communities.The CD model allows our publishers to have more control, not less.
And last but not least, we have moved or are in the process of moving our PubFactory clients to Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure. We have found that AWS allows us to be more responsive to increased hosting needs while keeping costs down because AWS is more readily scalable.
Progress Amidst Change – Highlights of 2016:
- Oxford University Press (OUP) launched 5 new sites in one day using PubFactory’s site creation module, SiteGen. Go OUP!
- The benefit of the CD model was dramatically experienced late in 2016 when the PubFactory team discovered a platform issue spanning a number of client sites. Thanks to the adopted CD development model and the automated processes now in place, the team was able to deploy a fix across six clients, on four versions of PubFactory, in three different data centers, spanning two continents in four hours. During the fix, PubFactory platform performance and PubFactory client sites were unaffected.
- And also late in 2016, the PubFactory team delivered a functioning content hosting platform prototype for a new client within 5 days of signing the platform contract. Even in PubFactory time, this was incredibly fast!
We’re very proud that the work completed in 2016 allows us and our publishers to be more nimble and to more efficiently take advantage of changes that make sense for their businesses. More selective and strategic change to come in 2017.
Edward Elgar, Bloomsbury Professional, Harvard University Press, De Gruyter, and Oxford University Press all had significant site upgrades or launched new products in Q4 of 2016.
Edward Elgar added support for responsive templates, ePubs, and the new embedded PDF viewer. Being able to show both flowable text and fixed format PDF’s for books is a user-centric feature that supports the need for online reading in a variety of form factors while still being able to support fidelity to the print text and capture PDF viewing usage. It’s the best of all worlds!
Harvard University Press launched a new version of the Loeb Classical Library that incorporates responsive templates. Loeb’s iconic two language facing page design made this transformation into a responsive design tricky, but the result is elegant and allows the reader to concentrate on one or the other language or hop back and forth between languages. And best of all, it delivers on Arthur Loeb’s original promise to “provide a digital edition in any gentleperson’s coat pocket”!
De Gruyter also launched a new responsive website design (notice a theme here?), added functionality to allow select and download of multiple citations, and a variety of alert improvements. In the background, informing a number of De Gruyter’s updates was their use of PubFactory’s A/B testing capabilities that provided valuable usage data for their platform decisions. We are also thrilled to announce that De Gruyter has extended their partnership with PubFactory through 2020!
Bloomsbury Professional switched to the latest version of the PubFactory AMS which allows them significantly increased features, additional mechanisms for Access Control, and token support.
OUP created a splash with the New Oxford Shakespeare. In addition to the controversy surrounding the attribution of some of the plays, they used SiteGen and PubFactory’s CXS Editor in a creative way, to create a distinctly different design for the new editions while still taking advantage of the underlying Oxford Scholarly Edition platform features and functions.
And highlights of some of the important platform-wide enhancements delivered at the end of 2016.
CROSS SITE SEARCH RESULTS BETWEEN TWO SITES
PubFactory supports general cross-search functionality through the use of SiteGen with a collection of subsites. One prominent example of this is the collection of University Press Scholarship Online sites. This enhancement targets a case where a publisher wants to tie sites more closely together – for instance if one site contains journals content and would like to include related books and video content from a partner publisher site also hosted on PubFactory in the the search results.
Cross Site Search is a configurable option that our publishers can utilize if/when appropriate without need for customization by PubFactory engineers.
IMPROVED ARTICLE PAGE
Journal Articles have sleek new page design templates that further emphasize the content. The journal metadata has been moved to the left column to make more room for the primary content. This also ensures compliance with Google Scholar abstract placement guidelines.
IMPROVED TOKEN REDEMPTION SUPPORT
Interface controls have been added to content pages to allow users to quickly identify how to redeem tokens. In addition, a new tabbed section for “tokens” has been added to the user’s My Library personalization page. The token tab will list all redeemed tokens and where possible provide links to the content.
NOTE: If a user is viewing content for which they do not have access but do have a credit token that could be applied, an “apply credit” button is shown which will grant access to the content. To enable token support, contact your Account Manager.
We have created a standardized version of our support for TEI encoded text for HTML content. This means that as a default the PubFactory platform can now support a particular TEI encoding. Contact your Account Manager if you would like more detail on the TEI encoding that is supported.
LAYOUT EDITOR UPDATE
Work continues on the Layout Editor which provides a UI to allow the publisher to redesign the layout of components on pages. This is a major enhancement to the way that pages are constructed in PubFactory and will allow much greater flexibility. Targeted completion date for the Layout Editor is Q1 2017.
We are just starting on a major revamp of our reporting infrastructure. Currently, PubFactory has three different forms of usage reports: COUNTER, Google Analytics and the custom metrics reports. In 2017, we will be delivering 30+ new customizable metrics reports available to all PubFactory publishers..
Everyone is starting to get more serious about security. The latest security development to affect PubFactory publishers is that browsers are starting to implement changes to prefer “https” to “http” for websites. For reference, below is the latest security notice from Google concerning how Chrome will be dealing with this issue.
NOTE: PubFactory fully supports “https” for our sites.
We held a very successful librarian focus group at the Charleston conference. You can read more about it here. We also hosted a panel at Charleston on “Content and Its Containers”. A big thanks goes out to Ove Kahler from Brill for contributing to the session at Charleston. . It was so successful that we will deliver a follow-on presentation at the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) Annual Meeting in Boston in June 2017. We hope you can make it!
We attended both the STM Innovations Seminar and the London Info International conference in London during the first week of December 2016. STM included a significant focus on security and a call for participation in the RA21 initiative. There were also some fascinating talks on how blockchain systems (the algorithmic magic behind BitCoin) could break into the mainstream and become something of interest to the publishing community.
And kicking off the 2017 conference season, MIchelle Norell attended the Academic Publishing in Europe (APE) conference in Berlin January 17-18.