What Is Scalar?

Scalar is a free and open-source authoring and publishing platform that allows users to integrate multiple media types into born-digital scholarly works. Built by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, Scalar allows users to create publications that would be the length of an essay, article, or even a book. Scalar’s flexible content management structure means that it allows users to adapt its features for their own needs.

How Can Scalar Help You?

Enhancing Written Work With Media and Visualizations

Scalar is especially useful for scholars who work with digital media, as it allows users to collect and present multiple and varied media source types in ways that integrate with the accompanied writing. Authors are able to easily annotate these media types, which may include text, source code, video, audio, or still images, and annotations can be made using embedded media or text alike.

Scalar includes built-in visualization tools to enhance a work’s written portions. Visualizations can be made at the page-level or book-level: page-level visualizations show content linked to a page, whereas book-level visualizations incorporate content across an entire work and give users increased flexibility with choosing the type of content they want to see visualized.

Collaborative Authoring

Scalar projects can have multiple authors, and Scalar allows for each author of a project to be individually represented as a creator. Examples of ways that Scalar can be used collaboratively include importing a video or audio file into a project for users to comment on, creating a media library for a set group of contributors to embed in their own published works, or allowing each author on a Scalar project to create their own page that links to items within the project or to external sources on the web.

How Do You Get It?

Scalar is open-source, and requires creating an account to access and begin using. Scalar users can work from Scalar’s server, which they recommend as being the easiest method. Users can also install it on their own servers by downloading the latest build from GitHub.

What Else Should You Know?

Here is a list of the file types that Scalar supports:

  • Text: HTML, JavaScript, Java, TXT, XML, PDF
  • Maps: KML
  • Audio: MPEG-3, Ogg, WAV
  • Image: GIF, JPEG, PNG, DZI
  • Video: FLV, M4V, MPEG-4, Ogg, WebM, QuickTime
Projects Made With Scalar

Want to explore projects made with Scalar? Check out Kate Mondloch’s Installation Archive: A Capsule Aesthetic, the Newberry’s Transcribing Faith, and Colin Gordon’s Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality.

This information was adapted from the ANVC’s ‘About Scalar‘ pages and the ANVC’s Scalar GitHub repository.