The Full Circle Magazine Collaboration Application

DISCLAIMER: This is not in development or available, it is just a description of our dream application that would make the magazine so much easier to make. If you want to pick up the gauntlet and develop it then go ahead but it MUST be free and open source software and please give us credit for our ideas!

The application would be entirely online (ie: browser based) and consist of an email ‘catcher’, an email ‘lister’, a text editor, proofing pad, calendar and event scheduler. All of which would be intertwined to automate most tasks.

The Email Catcher

An email would be sent to articles@fullcirclemagazine.org. This email would be ‘caught’ by the email catcher and examined then the email and its attachments passed along to the email lister. If the email has an archived attachment this would be unarchived and again the items passed to the lister. The catcher would also have a set list of criteria which it would use to examine the email subject line for criteria which I will mention later.

The Email Lister

Each email (and attachments) passed from the catcher would be listed here. In this piece of the application, the administrators would examine the text attachments (.odt, .txt) in the viewer and image attachments (.png, .jpg) would be shown as preview thumbnails (see below for viewer information). Each item listed could then be ‘tagged’ as a ‘How-To’, ‘News’ and so on. Also they would be assigned to an ‘issue’ tag. So an email could be tagged as a ‘How-To’ for ‘Issue #10′. The lister should also do weekly or monthly backups automatically.

Text Editor

When an item is clicked on the lister it is viewed in the WYSIWYG text editor. This should have US spell checking by default and any images from the item would be shown at the end of the text as small thumbnail previews. Any of the team members would be able to edit this text, this is effectively step one in proof-reading. The viewer should also have an ‘archive and email’ facility to have an entire article emailed to a specified email address or team member.

Team Members

This is a list of members who can either be administrators who have access to all steps of the process or be proof-readers who only have access to the text editing and ‘proofing pad’ (see later) steps.

Administrators

Administrators should have access to all steps and configuration of the process but also have access to an ‘Event Scheduler’.

Event Scheduler

The Event Scheduler would allow administrators to assign tasks to team members and also set deadlines all done on a visual calendar. The deadline setting should email all team members (unless told otherwise) several days before deadline to remind them (with a predefined message) that the deadline is approaching. The administrator could also create a ‘To-Do’ list with each event being an article assigned to a specific team member. The email lister would check email headers against this To-Do list. If the writer emails his article in with the subject line of ‘[Q&A] here it is’ and the email lister has a criteria of ‘[Q&A]’ linked to a To-Do then upon receiving the email the Event Scheduler would automatically check the Q&A To-Do as done. The Event Scheduler would also email anyone with a To-Do when the deadline is approaching.

Proofing Pad

When an issue has reached preview status the PDF would be uploaded to the Proofing Pad. When the PDF is uploaded all the members tagged as proof-readers would be sent an email. When they click the PDF file it should be displayed in their browser but have a notepad beside the PDF. While the proof-reader examines the PDF file, they can type into the notepad any errors they see in the PDF. When they click the Send button the Proofing Pad should email the Editor (of the magazine) with their notes. This could be repeated for a second time if a second proof-reading is required.

Calendar

All of the sections above are linked to the Calendar. All Team Members have access to the calendar and can add items to the calendar so, for example, if a proof-reader is not available for two weeks in December they would add this to the calendar, the Proofing Pad should not email that person when a PDF is uploaded in that two week time span. If a writer is not available then a To-Do should not be allowed for that person in the time they are away. Same for the deadline.

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Example:

Bob decides to email in an article to full circle which he emails to articles@fullcirclemagazine.org. His attachment is a .tar file which contains an .ODT article with several images.

Solution:  The email catcher accepts the email and unarchives the attachment passing the ODT and images to the lister. An administrator logs in, looks at the article and decides to tag it as a ‘How-To’ for ‘Issue #9′. That email is marked as read and tagged. A proof-reader logs in, sees the new article, clicks it and moves to the text editor. Here they correct a few spelling mistakes and save it. On deadline the Editor logs in and does an ‘archive and email’ on all items tagged as ‘Issue #9′. He now has all the articles needed for Issue #9 and can start importing articles in to Scribus.

Initial Set Up: 

Before an issue is begun an Administrator would log in to the Event Scheduler > Calendar and set up a series of reoccurring events such as meetings, deadlines and so on and whether they apply to all Team Members and if they apply to all future issues. These settings can be turned on/off on a per issue or per person basis.

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You can only use this idea and create the software if:
a) it is free and open source software and:
b) Full Circle Magazine is given credit for the idea and full use of the software!

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About

Full Circle is a free, independent, monthly magazine dedicated to the Ubuntu family of Linux operating systems. Each month, it contains helpful how-to articles and reader submitted stories.

Full Circle also features a companion podcast, the Full Circle Podcast, which covers the magazine along with other news of interest.