sophie is coming! 03.09.2006, 5:09 PM
posted by dan visel
Though we haven't talked much about it here, the Institute is dedicated to practice in addition to the theory we regularly spout here. In July, the Institute will release Sophie, our first piece of software. Sophie is an open-source platform for creating and reading electronic books for the networked environment. It will facilitate the construction of documents that use multimedia and time in ways that are currently difficult, if not impossible, with today's software. We spend a fair amount of time talking about what electronic books and documents should do on this blog. Hopefully, many of these ideas will be realized in Sophie.
A beta release for Sophie will be upon us before we know it, and readers of this blog will be hearing (and seeing) more about it in the future. We're excited about what we've seen Sophie do so far; soon you'll be able to see too. Until then, we can offer you this 13-page PDF that attempts to explain exactly what Sophie is, the problems that it was created to solve, and what it will do. An HTML version of this will be arriving shortly, and there will soon be a Sophie version. There's also, should you be especially curious, a second 5-page PDF that explains Sophie's pedigree: a quick history of some of the ideas and software that informed Sophie's design.
bowerbird on March 9, 2006 6:54 PM:
yay! i look forward to seeing it!
and this means i'll have to finally
take my own e-book viewer-app
out of beta for "official" release...
those origami machines had me
wondering if now was the time,
but this announcement seals it.
my viewer-program can kick
your viewer-program's ass... ;+)
"gentleman, start your engines!"
Daniel Anderson on March 9, 2006 11:59 PM:
Can't wait to get a look at it. Count me in if you need Beta guinnea pigs.
K.G. Schneider on March 10, 2006 2:26 AM:
Ok, read the PDF, look forward to seeing Sophie. Interesting ideas.
emullah on March 10, 2006 12:15 PM:
Well! one should not edit someone else's book. Pdf does allow all those features if you have a professional version and authorization to edit those documents.
alex itin on March 10, 2006 12:57 PM:
Yeah but pdfs look like shit and feel like shit
alex itin on March 10, 2006 12:58 PM:
yeah but Pdfs look awful and feel awful and don't do multi media.
dave munger on March 10, 2006 3:51 PM:
"Well! one should not edit someone else's book." Why not? Isn't that what Wikipedia's all about? OTOH, I do recall that someone tried to start a wikibook based on Strunk's original "Elements of Style," which is now out of copyright. No one wanted to touch it -- it was like tampering with hallowed ground or something.
Robert Martinengo on March 11, 2006 5:34 PM:
Maybe Sophie can be used to host Sophie...
virginia kuhn on March 11, 2006 9:35 PM:
As a HEAVY TK3 user, I have been waiting for Sophie with baited breath -- seeing an early, early version was incredible. I can't wait to start working in it. Congrats y'all!
Jon Jermey on March 14, 2006 4:33 PM:
Sorry, but I can't help doubting the literary credentials of anyone who uses 'a plethora' when they mean 'too many' (PDF page 3). A plethora is a GOOD thing; it means we have lots of what we want. We don't want lots of ebook readers.
dan visel on March 14, 2006 4:46 PM:
Explain? The Oxford English Dictionary would beg to differ:
1. Path. A morbid condition, characterized, according to the older writers, by over-fullness of blood or of any other humour (or of juices in a plant); according to later writers, by an excess of red corpuscles in the blood.
1541 R. COPLAND Galyen's Terap. Civ, The superhaboundaunce of humours..that the Grekes cal Plethora. Ibid. Giv, Of cacomye yt is coniunct wt the vlcere, or of Pletore, or of phlegmon. 1671 SALMON Syn. Med. I. xliv. 99 The Antecedent Cause of Diseases is twofold, the one is called a Plethor or Plenitude. 1673 GREW Anat. Roots II. 16 Lest the Barque, being spongy, should suck it up too fast, and so the Root should be, as it were, surcharged by a Plethora. 1777 SHERIDAN Sch. Scand. IV. iii, Your character at present is like a person in a plethora, absolutely dying from too much health. 1851 CARPENTER Man. Phys. (ed. 2) 317 When they [red corpuscles] are present in an amount much above the average, they seem concerned in producing the condition termed Plethora..which borders upon various diseases. 1877 ROBERTS Handbk. Med. I. 17 The redness and turgidity of plethora.
2. fig. Over-fullness in any respect, superabundance; any unhealthy repletion or excess.
[1597 HOWSON Serm. 24 Dec. 44 That , fulnes of blood in our Bishopricks. a1640 JACKSON Creed XI. xxxiv. 4 We are all subject to that whereof the Lord so often forewarned Israel.] 1700 BP. PATRICK Comm. Deut. xxxii. 15 This was the lamentable effect of their plethora or fullness. 1835 MARRYAT Olla Podr. xvii, We are..suffering under a plethora of capital. 1868 FARRAR Seekers I. ii. (1875) 27 A plethora of words.
bowerbird on March 14, 2006 5:02 PM:
as i rarely find myself in disagreement
with jon jermey, this is interesting...
why wouldn't we want a lot of reader-apps?
i think that would give end-users options!
i think what jon probably _meant_ to say is
"we don't want lots of uninteroperable formats."
because i _can_ agree with that...
dub on March 30, 2006 7:15 PM:
OK, I read the PDF's. All hail our multimedia hyperlinked networked future. But, in the short term, will Sophie allow me to organize/search/annotatemy PDF&CHM format ebooks? Something that works with existing formats is preferable to a "boil the ocean approach".. the scope of Sophie sounds ambitious. (Don't forget Xanadu...best to deliver value early and often).
Jesse Wilbur on March 31, 2006 10:32 PM:
Sophie will not be able to help you with that, dub. Annotating your PDF & CHM books will have to come from readers meant for that. But with all things Sophie, there is the future promise of plugins to do what you want. Regarding 'boil the ocean', we've got to take the lonely road into the wilderness first (Sophie 1.0). When we return, enlightened by our journey we'll see what we can do.
pond on April 28, 2006 10:27 AM:
What about 4th World's Sophie?
You might want to doublecheck your name as far as trademarks, etc. 4th world has Sophie, an ebook reading and authoring product for the Mac, out for a while.
I don't think you guys are talking about the same thing, since 4th World had Sophie 1.02k version out a year ago, mid-2005.
sull on April 29, 2006 3:03 PM:
funny, i just emailed bob last night asking if the two sophies were the same project, though i couldnt find any evidence of that beyond the name and similar technology.
frederick bowie on May 7, 2006 6:28 AM:
great! at last!
do we have a timeline for sophie server? we are in the process of setting up an internet 'magazine', and what sophie server offers sounds very like what we are looking for....
Jon on June 7, 2006 8:55 PM:
I am looking forward to the release of the Sophie program. I'm also wondering why there are two ebook reading programs called "Sophie."
bowerbird on September 8, 2006 2:48 PM:
any new news about sophie?
Gary Frost on September 9, 2006 1:35 PM:
Sophie, appears to use the old e-book tagline of changing the nature of reading. What we really need is not more fluid organization of screen books, but more structured organization. If screen reading and screen writing is to cross over into book format conveyance we will need the assistance of structuring software, another StorySpace.
One of the immature aspects of screen reading is its reliance on search resolution. The comprehension of conceptual works occurs well down stream of search results. The screen search results not only proliferate tangents, but pose as resolutions of research questions. The book author and book reader first need a map, not resolutions. The needed screen-book software would assist to compile that map, both across component topics and across book media.
The other deficiencies of screen reading are legibility (not resolution, but transmission and default screen drawing interruptions), lack of persistence and crippled haptic assimilation. Now we can add to the list pre-emptive focus on search, link and trans-media features with an over emphasis on fluid organization at the expensive of structural mapping. The book is a structural map.
bowerbird on September 10, 2006 2:00 PM:
how about if we review the software
_after_ it actually comes out, eh?
bob stein on September 10, 2006 5:32 PM:
Sophie really is coming. Barring significant setbacks we're hoping to do a first release in the first half of october to people who have expressed an interest.
gary Frost on September 10, 2006 9:37 PM:
>how about if we review the software
>_after_ it actually comes out, eh?
thats what futurists do.
bowerbird on September 11, 2006 7:49 PM:
> thats what futurists do.
now where's my flying car?
p.s. bob, i'd like to see it
as soon as i may, if i may...
sull on October 5, 2006 10:44 AM:
yes, i am have been eager to learn more and see sophie. please ping me when ready this month.
Bill Kershner on October 15, 2006 6:17 PM:
Please include me on the list of folks who will receive the release code for Sophie 1.0 when it is released this month. Thanks!
Bill Kershner on October 15, 2006 6:21 PM:
By the way, this is what drew me here:
Joe Bender on October 15, 2006 7:39 PM:
I've been scouring the site in eager anticipation of news of an already accomplished release a beta Sophie ~ here are my desires for immediate gratification deferred with the suggestion above of an October release. That said (confusingly), I (along with the others here, it seems) am eager to see the functionality embodied in a release! If I may presume to ask, might I be included in a beta test when the program becomes available?
As for my credentials (needed or not), I've made some experiments in publishing instructional material designed to be worked through in a somewhat linear fashion, but integrating multiple sets of course materials simultaneously, and have more recently been working to flesh out concepts for a hybrid instructional material/workbook format for e-learning (O hideous term!). That said, I'll be eagerly awaiting further developments.
Jeff D. Horton on October 19, 2006 3:14 PM:
Please include me in your first release of Sophie. I purchased TK3 several months ago. I contacted you about a new version and you told me of Sophie. Sophie will be the best tool for my work at the University of Idaho.
Nuno Portela on December 11, 2006 7:33 AM:
I finally read something about the way our faculty sees the future of eBooks... and the Faculty of Enginneeting of University of Oporto is very interested in this project. Are there any news about the release date of sophie? I read it should be released on the summer of 2006, but havent read anything about the delay. can anyone update this information?
bob stein on December 11, 2006 9:51 AM:
Sophie is late, very late. About a year into the project we decided on a big change that in the long run will make Sophie a much more interesting application. It's a bit hard to explain here in a comment, but basically we decided to allow for a non-linear mechanism of organizing material, in addition to the traditional page-based form. This change plus the usual sort of software delays has set us back. We are now aiming for what we are calling "Sophie Early Release" in March and Sophie 1.0 next fall.
bowerbird on December 11, 2006 1:01 PM:
1.0 next fall?
gee bob, i wish you had told us that sooner.
not only would i have tempered my excitement,
i might have started on some work i've been
holding back until i saw what sophie did...
oh well, my bad, for suspending my typical
disbelief about as-yet-unreleased software...
ros on March 2, 2007 3:05 PM:
so is march still on?
bob stein on March 3, 2007 8:50 AM:
yes, we still expect to release an early version of Sophie at the end of this month. stay tuned.
Serge Goldstein on March 22, 2007 3:52 PM:
Ok, it's March. Where's Sophie?
bowerbird on March 22, 2007 4:33 PM:
"in march" means march 31st, in software lingo.
which -- in actuality -- means april 1st.
patience, grasshopper, patience... :+)
Sloggerbum on August 22, 2007 4:28 PM:
Hey! I saw one of your demos at Monkey Town last fall; I should have dropped by in the winter to get that early beta version you guys said you might have up. You know, it seemed like it was working pretty well then; if you plan on releasing it as freeware, then none of us would mind some funky bugs in the beginning; might make your patching process faster, eh? If you are selling it, though, I understand the caution.
but seriously! Toss us any version at all, your beta-testers are anxious! And helpful!!
bob stein on August 27, 2007 8:02 PM:
you can download a pre-release version of sophie from this site:
sophie's not finished, but it's stable enough to do real work with.