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In this article, we provide a discussion of the concept of visual interactive workflows, how they relate to our previous work on structured surfaces, and how they have been adapted to experiments in managing articles for journal publication and managing biographical histories being written and tagged in XML. We conclude with a user experience study of the prototypes, which suggests that they are relatively acceptable at the level of reflective response, but might benefit from more iteration in their use of process and element metaphors.
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Visual workflow interfaces for
editorial processes
............................................................................................................................................................
Luciano Frizzera
University of Alberta, Canada
Milena Radzikowska
Mount Royal University, Canada
Geoff Roeder, Ernesto Pen
˜a and Teresa Dobson
University of British Columbia, Canada
Stan Ruecker
IIT Institute of Design, USA
Geoffrey Rockwell
University of Alberta, Canada
Susan Brown
Guelph University, Canada
The INKE Research Group
University of Victoria, Canada
.......................................................................................................................................
Abstract
In this article, we provide a discussion of the concept of visual interactive work-
flows, how they relate to our previous work on structured surfaces, and how they
have been adapted to experiments in managing articles for journal publication
and managing biographical histories being written and tagged in XML. We con-
clude with a user experience study of the prototypes, which suggests that they are
relatively acceptable at the level of reflective response, but might benefit from
more iteration in their use of process and element metaphors.
.................................................................................................................................................................................
1. Introduction
Collaborative scholarly writing and publishing
activities typically involve many different types of
documents divided across various stages. This is es-
pecially true in the case of big projects. Documents
may pile up, scattered in many folders—both real
and virtual—awaiting tagging, revision, editing,
proofreading, approval, and so on. There are work-
flow management tools available to help, but they
have often been designed with other audiences in
mind, so they can be too specialized and somewhat
complex to use. The goals of this project were there-
fore to make them less specialized and easier to use.
There are several potential advantages of im-
proved workflow management for document pro-
duction and publishing. First is the reduction in
general confusion, whether by one person or several,
about the status of various documents within the
system. Since both writing and publishing tend to
Correspondence:
Luciano dos Reis Frizzera,
Humanities Computing
Office of Interdisciplinary
Studies,
1-17 Humanities Centre,
University of Alberta,
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada, T6G 2E5.
Email:
dosreisf@ualberta.ca
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be intermittent tasks, with irregular intervals be-
tween work sessions, a considerable amount of
time can be spent just in getting back up to speed
on where the work left off. Second is the increase in
confidence, not necessarily about the status of a
document, but about its location among the various
people involved. This is particularly important in
cases where the document may be in the hands of
several people simultaneously, and it is important to
track how long it is taking in each location so that
bottlenecks can be prevented and the amalgamation
of work carried out efficiently. Finally, related to
reduced confusion, increased confidence, improved
productivity, and other factors, there are possible
benefits to the mental and emotional well-being of
the people involved.
In terms of the visual component, it is generally
understood that visual representations of data and
processes can have the advantages of providing
an overview of the material, insights into the
underlying structure and affordances, and benefits
for non-expert or intermittent users (e.g. Ruecker
et al., 2011). However, it is also important to avoid
the many potential disadvantages of visualization.
Bresciani and Eppler (2009) provide a preliminary
taxonomy of >50 potential cognitive, emotional,
and social disadvantages, which in each case might
be designer-induced or user-induced.
There are several ways in which such improve-
ments might be subject to measurement, including
comparisons between using a visual workflow and
not using one for the following:
time to create documents
publisher hours spent per document published
cognitive and affective reports from writers and
editors.
This project falls within the larger program of
research set out by the Interface Design (ID) team
of Implementing New Knowledge Environments
(INKE), and in particular INKE’s recent work on
supporting the creation and editing of digital ma-
terials, as opposed to their access and use. We have
been exploring the concept of structured surfaces
(Radzikowska et al., 2011) to investigate both
visual and interactive methods to make workflows
more attractive, flexible, and useful for scholars. We
provide a summary of interactive visual workflows
and how they have been applied, and explain what
structured surfaces are and how the concept can be
applied to workflows.
1.1 Workflows
Many projects in the digital humanities involve
either digitization or enrichment of existing digital
materials. The process is usually similar to editorial
activity and can be understood as an ordered check-
list or sequence of events, or perhaps more accur-
ately an ordered graph of events, as some can occur
in parallel, or only after a decision point. A re-
searcher first enters the raw text, then encodes,
proofs, and tests the results. There is a process or
workflow to be followed.
Visual tools for workflow management therefore
often also take the form of what is essentially a struc-
tured checklist, composed of a collection of stages
with transitions, including occasional decision
points between them. In effect, they are flowcharts.
These tools are widely used in science and business to
describe production process models; research in this
area began as early as the 1970s (e.g. Aalst 2004).
Contemporary examples range from managing
earth sciences data at NASA (Berrick et al., 2008) to
environmental performance monitoring (Versteeg
et al., 2006) to modelling business problems
(Virine and McVean 2004). There have, however,
been criticisms both about the lack of visual stand-
ards and the poor visual decision choices that result:
‘Often, the construction of a layout for a possibly
complex workflow is left to the user or the result is
visually unsatisfying’ (Albrecht, 2010). The solution
Albrecht proposes involves better algorithms for
automatic layout (Fig. 1).
In the humanities, workflow management tools
have been used in the context of digital text produc-
tion. For example, there are workflows in the Public
Knowledge Project for its Open Journal Systems and
its Open Monograph Systems. However, they are
currently represented as a linear series of steps
rather than a visual workflow (Fig. 2).
There are different approaches to the construc-
tion, refinement, and comparison of workflows.
Some methodologies offer better expressibility
using graph-based models; others focus on the
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complexity of model checking (Lu and Sadiq, 2007).
We are interested in producing a visual interface
that combines workflow management with an ana-
lytics tool that could be used by scholars.
Based on our previous work, we began to con-
sider a visual workflow management system as a
kind of structured surface (Radzikowska et al.,
2011). A structured surface generalizes the familiar
concept of a map with pins. The map provides a
layer of information, and the pins provide another
layer, which might be used for simple purposes such
as finding restaurants in a city, or for more complex
ones such as making a visual argument or providing
evidence for an argument made elsewhere. If the
map layer is replaced with any other form of data
visualization, we refer to it as a structured surface.
In a workflow manager, the structured surface rep-
resents the flowchart, while the documents are
shown as pins. Once the pins are combined with
the structured surface, the conditions are met for
even further analysis or data visualizations.
The resulting interfaces seek to retain the modular-
ity and flexibility associated with workflow systems,
while offering a rich-prospect visualization of the col-
lection being managed (Ruecker et al., 2011). We pro-
posed that visual workflows designed as structured
surfaces could offer an easy tool to track information
during the processes of production and publication,
providing means for people to gain insight into their
material while also supporting them with some ways
of formulating an argument about the data.
2. Editorial Workflow
In the pilot stage of this project, we used a generic
workflow based on the processes involved in journal
editorship. We did not work with any real con-
tent—just placeholders, and our model of the work-
flow was developed based solely on our own
experiences in publishing in journals. Articulating
workflows is also a non-trivial task, and journal edi-
tors are typically quite busy. The goal was therefore
to get a prototype started, so that it could be used at
a later stage to elicit iterative improvements from
working editors.
2.1 Technology
We chose to use web standards technologies such as
HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. We begin with D3.js,
an open source JavaScript library for creating data
visualizations. The goal was to launch the workflow
from JiTR, a collection management prototype in-
tended to support experiments of this kind
(Organisciak et al., 2009).
2.2 Design
We began with the conventional understanding of a
workflow as a kind of flowchart, with the surface for
organizing the status of documents showing a pipe-
and-flow diagram (see Fig. 3). The process is read
from the left side, where each document must be
accepted before it begins traversing the workflow.
Fig. 1 Algorithmic improvement of workflow layout (from left to right). From Albrecht et al. 2010, p. 176
Visual workflow interfaces for editorial processes
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Each stage of the process, represented by a rectangle,
is an activity such as a decision point, in-progress
work, or even a standby moment. The colours re-
flect the status inside the workflow: work in progress
(dark grey); needs revision (yellow); rejected (red);
accepted (green).
The articles are represented by tokens in the
shape of bubbles. The token’s position within
the workflow indicates where, along the process,
the article is located; the size of the bubble roughly
suggests length of the document in words. Moving
the mouse pointer over the token shows detailed
information about the article: title, abstract, name
and contact information of the reviewer, and the
date when the article went to the reviewer.
2.3 Development results
What we found with this experiment was that too
much information is contained in the structured
surface. The result is a display that is fine for
small workflows, but can quickly become cluttered
and difficult both to design and to subsequently
understand and use. As an alternative, it is possible
to move some of the information out of the
Fig. 2 This screenshot shows a typical workflow in the Open Journal Systems interface
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underling structured surface and into the pins. In
our next iteration, we therefore explored placing
more information in the tokens, which allowed us
to de-clutter our surface.
In terms of technology, we also identified a limi-
tation. Whereas D3.js is a good option to create
visualizations using web standards, it was not a
good fit to create a fully interactive environment
for our experiment. The main limitation has to do
with line breaks. As described on the W3C recom-
mendation website, an ‘SVG (Scalable Vector
Graphic) performs no automatic line breaking or
word wrapping’ (W3C, 2011). Since D3.js uses
SVG to render graphics on the screen and we
want to show multiple lines of information, we
decided to look for other options.
3. Orlando Workflow
We hoped for this iteration to produce an experi-
ment with more meaningful data, so we partnered
with Susan Brown and The Orlando Project. One
advantage of this choice was that Orlando had re-
cently been going through the process of formally
defining its various production workflows using
Unified Modeling Language (UML) (see Fig. 4).
Although these are at a level of abstraction that
still requires translation into a particular instance,
their existence did mean that the Orlando team
members had been giving recent thought to their
own workflows. These had in any case previously
been quite well articulated, as they were used fre-
quently and also formed part of the annual training
of new Orlando research assistants. In discussing the
possibilities, we were also able to show the pilot
prototype to the Orlando team members, which
provided them with a sense of the direction we
were heading. In the end, the structured checklist
we used was provided to us by the Orlando Textbase
Manager, Mariana Paredes-Olea. Another advantage
of Orlando is that their workflows are predicated on
well-defined roles within the project, so that it is
only possible for some people, for example, to
move a token to the next stage. In terms of data
for the tokens, we used some of the previous
Fig. 3 The first version of the structured surface editorial workflow used D3.js to build the interface
Visual workflow interfaces for editorial processes
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Orlando document production jobs, which involved
the writing of XML-encoded original material for
Orlando biocritical entries on women writers.
Fifty-four biographical entries were used as a
sample for the purposes of this prototype.
3.1 Design
Since we moved from a hypothetical workflow to a
workflow predefined by the Orlando Project, we had
to redesign both the process and the structured sur-
face. The sample workflow supplied by Orlando has
some interesting and useful features. For example,
some stages are non-sequential, but are required at
some point before the document is completed. To
illustrate this characteristic, we grouped these steps
in clusters with a light grey background. Another
feature is the existence of optional stages, which
can occur independently of the document’s stage.
These are represented in the top of the screen, dis-
connected from the main stream (see Fig. 5). One
feature we did not explicitly address is the restric-
tion of certain actions to particular roles; this affor-
dance would most likely be provided in future
iterations through the development of rules that
govern constraints on the system.
The workflow loads the collection of documents
and retrieves the metadata. Based on this informa-
tion, the documents, represented by tokens, are pos-
itioned in the workflow. To save space, the position
of tokens inside a stage is random, so they can be
placed one on the top of the other. They are colour-
coded to show status information: Starting a stage
(White); Work in progress (Blue); Incomplete
(Red); Completed (Green). A counter box shows
the number of documents held by each stage.
As in the first prototype, a balloon showing the
title of the document pops up when the user clicks
on it. However, we believed that this information
would not be sufficient for project managers. So, we
decided to make available more details about each
document. A double click makes the token bigger,
revealing a circular control panel and general infor-
mation such as title, collection and current stage
and status of the document.
The control panel gives three options to the user:
(1) Access the History Log, which shows the
document progress in the workflow. The
logs are displayed in reverse chronological
order, showing when someone performed a
modification and providing the name of that
person.
(2) Access the Status Switcher, enabling the user
to change the status information of the
document.
(3) Tag Mark, which turns on a star icon, making
it easier to follow a particular token through
the workflow.
In this version, the user can also drag the token
to any stage in the workflow, regardless of the se-
quence. By doing that, the user automatically
changes both the stage and the status of the docu-
ment. Every modification performed in the work-
flow is auto-saved and generates a new log entry in
the history. The system also prevents tokens from
being released outside the stages by automatically
Fig. 4 The Orlando Workflow for research, writing, and tagging shown as a UML diagram
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moving them back to their former position. This
constraint means that every token needs to be ac-
counted for within the workflow, hopefully fore-
stalling disruption and confusion.
3.2 Development results
Some issues arose during the process of develop-
ment of this version. The most important was
how to deal with the high density of tokens inside
a stage. Whereas it was easy to access one document
in a lightly populated stage, in those with a high
density the fact that the tokens overlap one another
challenge the user to find or access the information.
Another issue is that the distribution of stages in
a linear sequence seems to be a poor representation
of all but the most simple workflows. In digital text
production, it is common to have parallel actions
occurring at the same time. That is, more than one
person may be working on different stages of the
same article. We needed to accommodate, for ex-
ample, a situation where one person is doing the
literature review at the same time that another
person is digitalizing the data for analysis, and a
third is writing the methodology section.
4. Evaluation
To confirm or refute our assumptions and the inter-
face’s effectiveness, a user experience study of the
two workflow prototypes was done. The following
section provides a preliminary report on data col-
lected from phase I of a two-phase study. In phase I,
we recruited participants who had experience
(either as editors or writers) with the editorial pro-
cess in academic settings. One reason for this ap-
proach is that we are hoping that the strategies we
design might be of use in the general context of large
infrastructure projects, such as the Canadian
Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC), where
users will have a good knowledge of their own
work but may have had little or no prior training
with the visual workflow system. These participants
engaged with both the Editorial Workflow and
Orlando Workflow; in phase II, which is underway,
Fig. 5 The Orlando Workflow is the second version of structured surface workflow
Visual workflow interfaces for editorial processes
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we are recruiting participants who are involved in
XML tagging with the Orlando project. Results of
the full study will be presented at a workflow panel
at JADH2013 in Tokyo.
4.1 Procedure
During phase I, the prototype was tested with nine
participants at the University of British Columbia.
Participants engaged with the two prototypes on a
MacBook Pro running the OSX 10.7.4 operating
system. The users were first shown brief video tu-
torials that demonstrated and explained the func-
tions of the prototype. After viewing the tutorials,
the participants completed a short task list for each
prototype. The task list provided a set of brief nar-
rative statements followed by imperative sentences
asking the participant to use the interface in a way
responding to the narrative, as shown by the follow-
ing sample task list item:
SETUP: The author has sent the article back
and you’ve reviewed it. The article requires
further revision.
INSTRUCTION: Please move the article to the
appropriate box.
A different set of version-specific narrative state-
ments was provided for each version of the
prototype.
Participants were encouraged to talk aloud about
their process as they completed tasks. A standard
think-aloud protocol was modified in the following
manner: researchers observed and interjected at
times to invite participants to clarify particular
comments or actions. This approach has been
described as a side-shadowing interview (Luce-
Kapler, 1996). All interactions during the sessions
were recorded using the screen capture software
ScreenFlow (Telestream, 2013). After completing
each set of tasks, participants filled out an online
survey that included Likert-scale questions such as
the following: ‘In your experience as an editor, do
you feel that the option to track and view the work
history of a document in Orlando Workflow would
enhance your ability to track a document through to
completion?’ Finally, participants were invited to
imagine and draw their own visual workflow process
using a blank sheet of 8.5’’ by 11’’ printer paper. The
study took 1 hour to complete.
4.2 Data analysis
The audio-visual recordings were reviewed once in
full by the investigators to delimit the shared areas
of interest and concern among the participants. On
the basis of these commonalities, partial transcripts
of the areas of interest were produced. These tran-
scripts and the survey data form the basis for a
number of general findings from phase I of the
study. We report these below.
4.3 Results
The majority of participants found the structured
surface workflow a pleasant interface. 46.2% of re-
spondents to the online survey answered ‘Yes’ and
23.1% ‘Mostly’ to the question ‘Do you like the col-
ours in this interface?’ To the question, ‘Do you like
the layout of the boxes’, 30.8% of respondents an-
swered ‘Yes’ and 38.5% answered ‘Mostly’. To the
question, ‘In your experience as an editor, do you
feel Workflow would enable you to track the progress
of academic articles from submission through pub-
lication?’ 46.2% of participants answered ‘Yes’ and
30.8% answered ‘Mostly’. From this we conclude that
Workflow provides an effective visualization of the
progress of articles towards publication.
However, there was dissatisfaction among the
participant group with the smaller details of
moving and tracking the details of texts. In an
open-ended question asking, ‘What progress-track-
ing feature did you like least and why?’ participants
raised a number of issues including the following:
‘It’s a bit odd that it’s being done manually.
While the ability to move things manually
would be incredibly helpful, being attached
to a system that automates the workflow
based on feedback from the editor/submitter
would make more sense to me’ (Response #3).
‘The bubbles do not clearly distinguish which
article / author they represent from an over-
view’ (Response #6).
‘I would like more information in the bubbles
themselves, without having to double click on
them’ (Response #17).
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Such problems are difficult to explore in detail
using only survey responses. However, the side-sha-
dowing interview procedure provided much data.
These data, less structured than the survey responses,
can be effectively sorted and contextualized by draw-
ing on Barr et al. (2002), who proposed a taxonomy
of interface metaphors based on Lakoff and Johnson
(1980). Barr et al.’s taxonomy can form an effective
theoretical basis for both further commentary on and
mobilization of the user experience results.
Investigators noted that the participants tended to
adopt one of two stances in their engagement with
the prototypes. The first was that of a critical viewer,
a ‘reflective’ style of response; the second was that of
an active user, a ‘directive’ style of response. These
styles of response are pertinent to two distinct levels
of the Workflow prototypes. Commentary in a re-
flective style informs the underlying structure and
metaphor of the interface, whereas commentary in
a directive style informs the moment-to-moment
practicality and functionality of the prototype.
Reflective styles of response occurred when a par-
ticipant did not actively operate the prototype or
seek for functionality, but instead held back and
provided rich descriptions of the underlying process
that the interface represents. Participant 6342, for
example, does just this at [02:55] when he remarks:
‘It looks extremely simple on the one hand
and useful on the other, because it is visually
there. Like a rather complicated index card
system but I think having the cards all laid
out in front of me like in a flow chart way
makes things look quite a lot simpler, and I
do like organizing these kinds of things. Over
the years, I’ve edited a bunch of books and I
edited a journal for a few years as well, so I’ve
had a fair amount of experience with the com-
plexity of even getting people to review, to
respond, to return revised manuscripts and
all that kind of thing’ (Participant 6342).
The directive style of response, on the other
hand, occurred when a user put him or herself in
the role of an actual user of the prototype. At these
moments, users entered into the particular task-list
items or sections of the interface as if they were
active users of the software. They probed whether
the movement and communication functionalities
made sense on a logical level and tasks could be
achieved as described in the task list. An example
of this style of response arose from participant 2751
at [06:25]:
‘So, sometimes I am getting a mouse-over,
sometimes I’m not, so you’ll notice there’s a
nice little pulse when I go over, and if a hover
for a very long time ...nothing. Oh, actually
no I can see that now. And actually I think it is
happening there, but because the background
is so dark I can’t actually view it. And, let’s
see, and the red one ...Okay, yeah. So some-
times, visually ...the size of the bubble and
the darkness of the background is making it
less likely to see the effect. So the interesting
about that is as a user, I saw that effect initially
that reaction, and then I didn’t here, so I
thought I was stuck’ (Participant 2751).
Barr et al.’s model provides a means to distin-
guish what features of the prototype’s set of meta-
phoric meanings the two different styles of
participant response are addressing. The reflective
users contributed information related to what Barr
et al. (2002) defines as the structural metaphor of
the interface. Following Barr et al.’s (2002) model,
we can interpret such responses as implicit compari-
sons the users are making on the basis of similarity
between preexisting models for managing a work-
flow (such as other programs like Open Journal
Systems or paper-based workflows) and the appar-
ent functionality of the prototypes themselves.
On the other hand, the active users provided
feedback on what Barr et al. (2002) defines as pro-
cess and element metaphors:
‘A process metaphor is used to explain some
aspect of system functionality works [sic]. An
element metaphor is a perceivable aspect of
the user interface that is designed to aid the
user in understanding what process meta-
phors are applicable’ (p. 28).
Participant 2751’s remarks above on the bubble’s
behavior can be accounted for as engagement with
an element metaphor (the pulse) that was meant to
cue a user’s understanding of the process of clicking
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on and finding greater information about a given
text (represented as a bubble).
Within such a framework, we can draw add-
itional general conclusions about the workflow
prototypes. The reflective styles of response tended
towards acceptance of and a favorable attitude to-
wards the underlying structural metaphor of the
workflow prototype. There were many mentions of
attributes like ‘simple’ or ‘a good overview of the
process’. However, much of the commentaries
around the process and element metaphors were
less positive. The process and element metaphors
are an area of concern moving forward with new
versions of the prototype.
5. Conclusion and Future
Directions
In summary, we have been using the concept of
structured surfaces to investigate both visual and
interactive methods to make workflows more at-
tractive, flexible, and useful for scholars. The work
has resulted so far in a series of sketches and two
prototypes of different workflow interfaces. The
purpose is to offer an easy way to track information
during the processes of document production and
publication, while at the same time providing means
to gain insight about the data.
For the next versions, we are planning to address
the issues that arose in the user tests, and also to im-
plement additional new features to enhance the user
experience and the awareness of the system. We chose
these features through a combination of user experi-
ence results, reflecting on the appropriate literature,
discussing the system with our collaborators, and
experiencing the shortcomings of the first two iter-
ations of the prototype. The enhancements are:
a Zooming User Interface (ZUI)
connection to text analysis tools
dependency control of workflow stages
tangible interactions, and
affordances for customization and collaboration.
One serious problem we identified is the high
density of tokens within a stage. There are several
possible ways to address this problem, including
reliance on a larger display, resizing stages automat-
ically to reduce token overlap, and implementing a
ZUI. Mandating a large display size is the simplest
solution from the developer point of view, but the
least useful from the perspective of the user.
Automatic resizing of components would require a
much more robust automated layout mechanism.
We therefore settled on the choice of using some
sort of semantic zoom or ZUI. A ZUI is a form of
intuitive interaction in which varying degrees of
detail are displayed on screen depending on the
zoom level defined by the user. ZUIs are common
in map applications such as Google Maps, and they
have started to be implemented as navigation func-
tionality in mobile operating systems, as well as in
Microsoft Windows 8. With a ZUI, the user could
zoom in on a particular densely populated stage of
the workflow to see more clearly. Zooming would
also make room for other functionality, such as fil-
ters and sort options.
On the analytics side we are planning to connect
the workflow with Voyant, a collection of text ana-
lysis tools. We feel that having analytics ready to
hand could introduce some important changes for
editors, making tasks that are currently not even
within consideration a simple matter to carry out.
An editor might decide, for example, to take a look
at a KWIC concordance for a term in every accepted
article in the current edition, or run a word
cloud on all the articles that have been accepted or
rejected (see Fig. 6). The word cloud of acceptances
might provide some guidance in writing an intro-
ductory editorial, for instance, while the cloud
of rejections might help the editor see whether
there is a possible gap in reviewer expertise at
work. Support for these sorts of curiosity-driven
activities within the editorial process itself has the
potential to change the nature of the task in a var-
iety of ways.
Comments and questions from collaborators
also suggested some future directions for this pro-
ject. One of the basic features in workflows is the
dependency between stages. For example, the pub-
lisher might intend that an article should automat-
ically be published after a final peer-review phase was
done, and this could be accomplished by a rule that
guides the workflow, without manual intervention.
L. Frizzera et al.
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Without rules to govern the workflow, the system is
less useful as a guideline and could even potentially
confuse the users, for instance by implying that some
additional task is required after final clearance by
reviewers and before publication. With the correct
rules in place, this automatic adjustment can be pos-
sible. Similarly, the system might prevent the tokens
from being reallocated to stages that have dependen-
cies if the prerequisite stage is not done (see Fig. 7).
Customization and automatic layouts could help
users to produce and organize their own workflows
(see Fig. 8). In the current version, the workflow is
prebuilt in the system. However, ultimately we want
to let the users create workflows for dealing with their
own data. A supervising professor, for instance,
could create a workflow to manage papers, confer-
ence presentations and student thesis proposals in
their different stages. Thus, the stages, status, and
metadata could vary according to the use of the
workflow. For this reason, automatic layouts may
be useful to enhance the readability by organizing
the stages and reducing crossover in the pathways.
Shared workflows could improve the collabora-
tive work in digital humanities. By sharing
workflows, partners and collaborators could follow
the jobs’ progress and get a sense of how the projects
are moving (see Fig. 9). However, sharing workflows
poses questions about authority to move tokens
around the workflow, as well as the information
synchronization.
Finally, we also intend to extend the experiment
to different devices—in particular multi-touch plat-
forms such as smartphones, tablets, tables, and
walls. On one hand the mobility of some of these
devices could help project managers to keep up on
projects and take actions whenever necessary (see
Fig. 10). On the other hand, big displays on
multi-touch tables and walls may provide a better
way to see and manipulate the documents.
At this point, we have some experience with two
prototypes and quite a few ideas for an improved
third. However, one issue where we have not yet
made much headway is the one perennially faced
by software developers, and also by researchers
creating experimental systems in the digital huma-
nities. The issue is the socio-cultural one of technol-
ogy acceptance and the diffusion of innovation.
Scholarly writers and academic publishers are not
Fig. 6 Connection between Voyant and workflows could help users identify issues during the editorial process
Visual workflow interfaces for editorial processes
Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol. 28, No. 4, 2013 625
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Fig. 7 Stage dependency is a fundamental feature that involves rules to control information through the workflow
Fig. 8 Sketch showing how to deal with workflow authoring and customization
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Fig. 10 Multi-touch devices could help project managers to keep workflows updated
Fig. 9 The sharing feature could improve collaborative work by indicating work progress
Visual workflow interfaces for editorial processes
Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol. 28, No. 4, 2013 627
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necessarily early adopters of technology, and even if
we were able to produce a system that is generally
applicable and easy to use, it is not likely that this
will be enough to gain widespread acceptance and
adoption. Of particular significance in this respect is
the collaborative work with stakeholders in the
community, which needs to be broadened and dee-
pened. Revisiting our decisions concerning the core
process and element metaphors, as suggested by the
user study, will also be an essential aspect of the next
phase of the project.
Acknowledgments
This work was supported by a Major Collaborative
Research Initiative (MCRI) grant for the
Implementing New Knowledge Environments
(INKE) project, received from the Social Sciences
and Humanities Research Council of Canada
(SSHRC), and led by Ray Siemens at the University
of Victoria. Additional support was received from
the University of Alberta, University of British
Columbia, the IIT Institute of Design, and Mount
Royal University.
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... It aims to support and improve the document editing and publication process. Designed by Milena Radzikowska and Downloaded by [179.61.167.29] at 09:51 13 December 2017 programmed by Luciano Frizzera, it is derived from the flowchart of activities that an editor can use to manage the movement of a submitted article or other item of text through the stages from acquisition to publication (Frizzera et al. 2013). We worked also with Workflow Orlando Edition, a customization for the document writing and markup process in The Orlando Project, an online cultural history of women's writers in the British Isles. ...
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