[School-of-data] Course editing on the new School of Data platform

Tony.Hirst tony.hirst at open.ac.uk
Thu Apr 24 09:43:04 UTC 2014


In terms of folk writing materials, if we are going with markdown, where
are people going to write the markdown (Are there any markdown editors

The Ipython notebook doesn’t need to have anything to do with python code
- we could just treat it as a browser based environment for writing
markdown in a single cell. I guess there is a UI issue - e.g. Something
like http://dillinger.io/ gives you a view of the markdown and the WYSIWYG
html output, whereas in a notebook you have to click the HTML output to
toggle into the md editor mode, which means you can’t easily concurrently
edit and preview a document, which may be a major stumbling block.

I’m not sure if anyone has done an editor toolbar for ipynb that lets you
highlight md text and click a button to convert to italics, bold etc.

I’m not sure but I think we may be talking at slightly cross purposes - I
think you are talking more about state of the document just before it gets
rendered to HTML (md) whereas I am considering the authoring environment;
the context for the discussion is about figuring out a new workflow, which
is to do with:
- getting the backend content representation (e.g. md) into HTML in a
required style
- storing and managing the backend content (where does the md go and how
does it get put there)
- creating the content (and representing it in md)

As an author, I would like to have:

- an editor where I can write stuff; a browser works for me but ideally
the editor should be available when I am offline as well as online (which
means in ipynb case I would have to run a local ipynb service, which is an
unnecessary overhead for many people:-( Wordpress at least let me edit
content offline in an open wordpress browser tab.
- a button that I can click to save as a draft to somewhere where an
editor can review the doc
- a button to click that will preview of how the final content will look
- a button to click to publish

If we don’t have that route, I need a clear workflow, at least from the
point of putting content in an agreed format (e.g. md) into an agreed
location (e.g. a github repo, or a dropbox/google drive folder) at which
point I can let the downstream processes that the publishing system has in
place take over.

I may or may not be interested in knowing where the content is stored,
though I may want to be able to push it to a particular bit of the site.

Noce to have: some way of managing/storing/referring to local assets
(images, code fragments etc)

The system also needs to be able to cope with (and if necessary identify)
metadata - post title, tags/categories, date published, status (in

On the content side, I also need an easy way to embed quotes, images,
videos, and syntax highlighted code fragments.

FWIW, I think this workflow thing is one of the big problems in doing data
investigations - managing data/research as an investigation takes place,
then finding ways of keeping it neatly packaged (from a
provenance/reproducibility point of view), writing a report on it that
keeps the evidence chain going, and then finally publishes the report in
the required style/format. At the moment I suspect we all tend to have
stuff everywhere...


On 24/04/2014 10:11, "Michael Bauer" <michael.bauer at okfn.org> wrote:

>On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 02:25:45PM +0100, Tony.Hirst wrote:
>> I¹ve started looking at using IPython notebooks for authoring course
>> material for web delivery that needs to blend prose with interactive
>> elements and the can also support embedded items.
>I do love iPython notebooks - but I think that they might not be the right
>vessel to transport some of the more basic courses we have.
>Nevertheless, since iPython notebooks can be exported to markdown - if we
>go to markdown that'd be a win - no?
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