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Fall 2021 Accessibility Sprint!

At Manifold, we treat accessibility as a top-tier concern. Our developers at Cast Iron Coding are accessibility experts who design and develop the application with accessible functionality foremost in mind. In addition to the extensive testing they do in-house using screen-readers and browser add-ons, we’ve had the benefit of collaborating with the University of Washington’s library, press, and accessibility office over the past three years. The Washington team has performed an ongoing audit of Manifold over that time, and our two groups meet regularly to discuss new ideas and strategies for making the application even more performant for readers and content creators using assistive technologies.

Born out of this collaboration, we have recently been engaged in an accessibility sprint that has involved the following:

  1. We reworked the user notification preferences interface for better screen reader UX. Dana’s extended commit message on this issue is indicative the care and expertise we bring to accessibility concerns.
  2. We refactored all collapsible content on the site to follow the correct ARIA design pattern. These are commonly used in the backend to add search filters and sorting options, so this was a widespread change. This will resolve issue #2755.
  3. We added missing keyboard interactions to the Reading Group homepage editor. This is an improvement to the OER work, which currently exists in our main branch.
  4. We added missing keyboard interactions to project text sorting. We already had keyboard interactions on our drag and drop lists in the backend in most cases. However, for the specific case where an entity can be dragged and dropped between two distinct lists (such as moving a text from one text category to another rather than within a category), we did not have keyboard controls. These lists, and all drag and drop lists now have full keyboard controls (including the new drag and drop lists for managing content in reading groups). This refactor resolves issue #2678.
  5. We added alt text to project resources, which resolves issue #2428.
  6. We applied accessible modal dialog patterns to all drawers and overlays in Manifold. This change resolved issue #2434. It also resolved issue #2754. Issue #2425 should also be resolved by this revision.
  7. We resolved a header hierarchy issue in the reader. This resolves issue #2757.
  8. We fixed a tab index issue in search results that made it difficult for keyboard users to navigate the content. This will resolve issue #2969
  9. We fixed a bug that had been introduced, which prevented some notifications from being rendered when certain backend forms were submitted. This error led to the problem reported in issue #2559, which was about the lack of screen reader notification when projects are saved.
  10. We added screen reader support to ingestion, which resolves issue #2743.
  11. We refactored the resource card markup with a focus on removing nested interactive buttons. We also improved link and button text for screen readers. This resolves issue #2732.
  12. We're working on supporting annotation with caret browsing. This work is currently in PR #3086. This will resolve issue #2326 when it's finished.

All of this work will eventually be part of the version 7 release. For an up-to-date look at our work on accessibility concerns, we maintain this dashboard on Github.

Hand-drawn honeycomb covered with bees. Each cell of the honeycomb names a new Manifold feature

Manifold v6.0 is available now!

The latest version includes a new analytics feature, improved Word ingestion, global stylesheets, and more.

The Manifold Team is proud to announce the release of version 6.0.

Our complete list of release notes for this version details all of the new additions, but here are some of the highlights, with links to the corresponding sections of our documentation.

Analytics. Built from the ground up, our analytics tools provide usage data at the site, project, text, and text-section levels. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy, so all reported data is anonymized.

Word Ingestion. With version 6, we’ve transitioned from PanDoc to Mammoth to power our Word to HTML conversion. The Mammoth engine produces better results and allows us to map Word styles to HTML styles. This means that if you use a custom style in Word, it will persist into Manifold, where you can assign it a specific type of rendering using a stylesheet.

Global Stylesheet. In addition to existing text-level stylesheets, Manifold now includes a global stylesheet that is applied to every new text as it is ingested. Utilizing our new Word engine and our capacity to export any text to EPUB, you can create an EPUB file from a Word document within Manifold.

Because we upgraded a number of underlying systems in v6, there are quite a few data migrations included in this upgrade. Please be sure to backup your installation prior to upgrading. If you run into problems, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Our next version, 7.0, will focus on helping teachers and students get the most out of Manifold, including OER work funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a localization feature funded by Melusina Press and the University of Luxembourg. For more on where we’re going, check out our development roadmap.

As a community-driven, open platform, we depend on our users’ feedback to improve and develop Manifold for everyone. We welcome discussion and suggestions through GithubSlack, and email.

Thank you for being part of our community,

The Manifold Team

Illustration of a colorful robot looking over a tablet device with a dinosaur. Illustration credit Jojo Karlin 2020.

Manifold Moves Toward Sustainability, Promotes Learning and Equity with Two Major Grants

The digital publication platform Manifold Scholarship will enter a new phase of its development, supported by two major grants, one from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and one from the National Endowment for the Humanities, allowing Manifold to solidify its structure for future sustainability and to expand its work as a leading provider of digital Open Educational Resources (OERs). Manifold, a collaboration between the GC Digital Scholarship Lab at the CUNY Graduate Center, Cast Iron Coding, and the University of Minnesota Press, is an open-source platform that enables publishers to create media-rich, interactive digital publications and extend the educational benefits and access of this scholarship to more communities. “Manifold is an innovative platform that exemplifies the University’s vision of integrated research and teaching,” says Chris Cramer, Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota.

sketch of a friendly cartoon robot holding palm out, which shows a Manifold logo

Access Granted: Manifold 5.0 Is Here!

We are delighted to announce the release of Manifold version 5.0, which is available for download here! The centerpiece of this release, a new Access Controls feature, will allow users to limit access to selected projects on a Manifold installation.

With this feature, publishers can switch on restricted access to any existing or new Manifold project, and can grant project access to any number of registered users on a Manifold site. The potential use cases are indeed manifold: Publishers of scholarly journals and conference proceedings can share publications with a base of subscribers or members. Teachers can create educational materials that can be shared only with students in a particular class. Works in progress can be shared with a select group of peer reviewers. Creators of collaborative projects can share drafts with a team for feedback. University presses can use Access Controls to serve exam and review copies or potentially offer paid access to course texts, opening up new revenue streams through the platform.

sketched image of multiple cartoon animals holding holiday items and a Manifold logo

Happy holidays from Manifold!

Here's to 2019! The Manifold Team sends good wishes to all as we head into the shortest day of the year and turn toward 2020. I've asked each team member to share a good memory from the year, a Manifold gift (be it moment with someone in the community, a favorite feature, a resolution). We're happy to be working together and with all of you.


I’m excited that two of the “iterative,” work-in-progress book projects we launched in 2017 on the Manifold platform — Whitney Trettien’s Cut/Copy/Paste and Darren Wershler, Lori Emerson, and Jussi Parikka’s The Lab Book — are now on the verge of being completed projects, to be launched on the platform and in print this coming year.

Illustration of a gopher reading a book in the geometric shape of the Manifold logo with a pointer superimposed on an iPad behind

Manifold Digital Services Spotlight: Affordable Learning Georgia

In the last training of the season, Terence met with Jeff Gallant, Program Manager of Affordable Learning Georgia; Joy Woodson, Assistant Director for Marketing Communications; and Lucy Harrison, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Library Services and Executive Director of GALILEO.

Great to be back in Athens this week. Really looking forward to kicking off @ManifoldScholar training and talking about open textbooks with @jeffwgallant and the @ALearningGA team.

— Terence Smyre (@tremayning) November 19, 2019

watercolor illustration of UGA Press logo and UMinn gopher holding Manifold logo

Manifold Digital Services Spotlight: University of Georgia Press

Last week, Manifold Digital Projects Editor Terence was at the University of Georgia Press—the oldest and largest publisher in Georgia—exploring new digital initiatives and publishing models with Director Lisa Bayer and Executive Editor of Scholarly and Digital Publishing Mick Gusinde-Duffy.

Brisk morning here in Athens, GA. After an enlivening run in the hotel fitness center, I'm now getting ready to head over to @UGAPress for two great days of @ManifoldScholar training. All that thanks to @Mickodopolous for setting a fantastic schedule!

— Terence Smyre (@tremayning) November 13, 2019

Terence wasn’t the only one tweeting:

@ManifoldScholar training today with @tremayning @UGAPress. We’re learning how to create iterative #OpenAccess books in the beautiful @DigiLab_UGA

— Lisa Bayer (@lisambayer) November 13, 2019

watercolor illustration by Jojo Karlin of a leopard holding a Manifold-branded mug, talking to a gopher holding a coffee mug.

Manifold Digital Services Spotlight: Black Women and Religious Cultures

This week we find Manifold Digital Projects Editor Terence in Atlanta meeting with Dr. Rosetta E. Ross. Dr. Ross, along with members of Spelman College's Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and the Daughters of the African Atlantic community, is creating a new journal entitled Black Women and Religious Cultures. The journal seeks to examine the roles of religions, positively and negatively, in the lives of Black women, transnationally. In addition to publishing meeting proceedings from the Consultation of African and African Diasporan Women in Religion and Theology, the journal will include articles from participants in their growing community, facilitating an exchange of knowledge.

Arte Público Press logo and watercolor gopher holding Manifold mug

Manifold Digital Services Spotlight: Arte Publico Press

In this post, we find our digital projects editor, Terence, traveling to Houston, Texas, to meet with the Arte Público Press digital team: Executive Editor Gabriela Baeza Ventura, Carolina Villarroel of the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, and Digital Programs Manager Lorena Gauthereau. The conversation revolved primarily around their recovery mission, the presses digital initiatives, as well as intro publications aimed at younger members of the Latino community. And, of course, all the amazing cuisine that Houston has to offer.

Watercolor illustration of raccoon and gopher imitating Lapham's logo Janus

Manifold Digital Services Spotlight: Lapham's Quarterly

This week brought Terence from one Manifold hub to another, New York City, to meet with Elizabeth Della Zazzera, Digital Producer, and Jaime Fuller, Web Editor, at Lapham’s Quarterly.

Not only did I have an awesome birthday last weekend, I'm now in NYC getting ready to meet with @ElizabethDZ and @laphamsquart to talk all things @ManifoldScholar. YES! And that's to say nothing of the impromptu team mtg. @jojokarlin and I had over dinner last night!

— Terence Smyre (@tremayning) October 9, 2019