Possible edu content format standards

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Introduction

The question we continue to debate is over developing one or a set of possible recommended standards for OSGeo education content storage format. Generally, the policy should be that educational content in any format should be accepted. We want to make it as easy as possible for authors to contribute. At the same time, it makes some sense for us to be moving toward a common recommended format, as we build the OSGeo edu content repository. Several options have been proposed (listed below).

FOLKS: Please add any pros or cons and list your name if you intend to develop something in the future following this format, and note if you prefer this format.

Latex

  1. Pros for this format as a recommended standard
    1. Handles complex equations and graphics very well
    2. Authors can store a copy of the work on their own machines
  2. Cons against this format as a recommended standard
  3. Add your name here if you have educational material already in this format:
  4. Add your name here if you prefer this format:
  5. Other comments/notes

Docbook

  1. Pros for this format as a recommended standard
    1. Content stored in XML (neutral format capturing logical structure of content).
    2. Content can be published in a variety of formats, including HTML and PDF without requiring users to make any changes to the source.
    3. Authors can store a copy of the work on their own machines
    4. The team at UMass and American Museum of Natural History have already developed a proposed XML structure
    5. Metadata moves us one step closer to having content that can be searched via a database platform
    6. Output (e.g., pdf) and XML source can be stored in OSGeo Subversion system and the pdf modules can be linked to the wiki. An example already exists for this on our Educational Content Inventory page.
  2. Cons against this format as a recommended standard
    1. Requires the installation of Docbook and processing software
    2. Learning curve for authors; may be a real barrier for authors
    3. Learning curve for people who might want to derive new work from existing material.
  3. Add your name here if you have educational material already in this format:
    1. Schweik
    2. Horning (at this point only user guides)
  4. Add your name here if you prefer this format:
    1. Schweik (although I also have a preference for Open Office Writer)
    2. Horning
  5. Other comments/notes
    1. An original proposal from January 2008 is at Media:A_Proposal_for_OSGEO_Edu_Authoring_Summary.pdf. An example of one tutorial (pdf format, 845KB) built through this process is here: Media:db_foss_m1.pdf.

Open Office Writer

  1. Pros for this format as a recommended standard
    1. This is a very user friendly format for many potential contributors
    2. Easy for other authors to derive new work using this format
    3. Source could be stored in our subversion system
    4. Could potentially be linked to in an online searchable database
    5. Authors can store a copy of the work on their own machines
    6. New derivatives could be created without needing constant Internet access (a benefit for many in developing countries)
  2. Cons against this format as a recommended standard
    1. Not as flexible as DocBook
    2. May be more difficult for material requiring fancy equations or graphics?
    3. Portability -- Arnulf noted that they have had big problems moving documents in even the same OO version across various operating systems (e.g., Kubunut, Windows and Apple)
  3. Add your name here if you have educational material already in this format:
  4. Add your name here if you prefer this format:
  5. Other comments/notes
    1. Ideally, Schweik would like to see an Open Office XML template that would be compatible with the Docbook strategy above.

Wiki page

  1. Pros for this format as a recommended standard
    1. OSGeo already has a wiki
    2. Would allow us to connect better with other larger open access educational content groups like the wikieducator.org group who recently contacted us. This would potentially increase our project's visibility while at the same time helping them
    3. New derivatives can be made using this format with wiki editing knowledge, although there may need to be a system developed for maintaining both a "release" version and an "in development" version
    4. Wikieducator group has educational material already on creating tutorials and have other resources that we might be able to capitalize on (such as perhaps developing searching mechanisms, or Open Office templates?)
  2. Cons against this format as a recommended standard
    1. Currently not easily searchable as we grow in content. Can't do a search like "show me all the modules that use GRASS" easily.
    2. Content stored on a server that isn't controlled by the author. That is, in other formats (Docbook, Latex, Open Office) the author can store a version on his/her own system.
    3. Slightly tiedious when writing in the processing of graphics files
  1. Add your name here if you have educational material already in this format:
  2. Add your name here if you prefer this format:
  3. Other comments/notes

Other format (please list)

Should we consider joining the [Wikieducator.org wikieducator] effort? (list your name and yes/no/don't know)

  1. Pros
    1. We could create a page on their wiki about our group (good marketing), like Otago has done.
    2. If people think wiki format is a probable educational format they will use this might be worth doing.
    3. They have tutorials on how to write educational material in a wiki, and possibly other resources available for needed wiki tools (like searching for modules which is an issue I think)
  2. Cons
    1. Forces us to a wiki format, unless they have an open office conversion tool. Not sure they can handle Docbook, etc.
  3. Questions we should ask them? (Add here)

Tally from Format Inventory Email