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Collection Printing Feature Now Available

2008-02-01

Connexions is excited to announce the debut of its long-awaited collection printing feature. Now, in addition to generating PDF files of a individual modules, Connexions users can generate a single PDF containing all the modules in a given collection. We will give a brief introduction to these new features here.

How to Generate PDF Files from Collections

Much as Connexions modules have long sported a "Print (PDF)" option in the "Content Actions" box on their left-hand side, collection home pages will have a "Download PDF (BETA)" option to do the same. This is illustrated in Figure 1. Of course, a collection's home pages is always found at "http://cnx.org/content/colXXXXX/latest", where "XXXX" substitutes for the number of the collection in question. The "(BETA)" remark is added to remind Connexions users that this feature is currently being beta-tested, so there may be a few kinks that need to be worked out. When users do happen to run into troubles, we request that they report their problems using the bug-reporting procedure below.

Figure 1: New "Download PDF" option in collection homepage Content Actions pane.

Features of the New Print System

When a collection editor publishes a new collection or a new version of an existing collection, the collection PDF will be available for download within the hour. When modules in the collection change, those changes will appear in the collection PDF within the hour.

A collection PDF contains much more than just the content of the individual modules gathered into the collection. It begins with a title page giving the name(s) of the editor(s) who assembled the collection, followed by the name(s) of the author(s) who created the modules in the collection. Next you will find a table of contents listing all the sections of the collection and the names of modules gathered into those sections along with their page numbers in the printed collection. Following this, the contents of modules will be presented inside of the sections and chapters. References to other modules in the collection will be displayed using a chapter/section numbering system that is consistent across the document. Similarly, references to figures, tables, equations, and references will also have a numbering system that is consistent throughout. Solutions to exercises presented in a chapter will appear at the end of that chapter, rather than immediately following each exercise. At the end of the document, you will find a glossary section of defined terms whose definitions are specified in the markup of each module in the collection. Following this is an index built from the keywords in the metadata and the terms marked up in the body of each module. The printed collection concludes with a list of all the modules used in the collection, displaying the title, authorship, URL, and licensing information for each.

Known Issues with Collection Printing

As the collection print tool is in its beta-testing phase, it still has a few unresolved issues. If you should encounter these problems, please know that we are working hard to fix them. Some of the more common problems are as follows:

  • large tables may flow off the printed page
  • tables within tables are not currently supported
  • tables with cells spanning rows are not currently supported
  • some long equations may flow off the page
  • some long equations may flow outside table cells containing them
  • autoscaling of images to fit the printed page may not always yield an optimal image size
  • some collections will fail to build PDF files; these collections will not have the "Download PDF (BETA)" link

How to Fix Some Problems Yourself

Interested authors can, in certain cases, edit their CNXML to resolve a few of the issues above. For instructions on particular fixes, please click on the links below:

How to Report Problems

If you encounter problems in the print collection process other than those mentioned above, please take a moment to let us know. You can use the "Report a Bug" link in the upper-right corner of any collection homepage (Figure 2), or you can go directly to the bug report form by clicking here. When you do so, please provide us with as detailed a description of the problem as possible.

Figure 2: The "Report a Bug" link in the top right corner of a collection homepage.

Planned Print Enhancements

As discussed, this announcement represents the initial release of a Connexions collection printing tool. In time, we will not only release fixes for some of the issues mentioned above, but we will also introduce a number of enhancements to the printing pipeline. These improvements include:

  • Single module printing incorporating the improvements seen in the collection print tool.
  • A downloadable .zip file containing all the supplemental media for a collection (those non-printable items that currently display with the message "This is an unsupported media type" and a link pointing to an online file).