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Interactive Publications: Creation and Usage
As envisioned here, an 'interactive publication' has similarities to multimedia documents that have been in existence for a decade or more, but possesses specific differentiating characteristics. In common usage, the latter refers to online entities that, in addition to text, consist of files of images and video clips residing separately in databases, rarely providing immediate context to the document text. While an interactive publication has many media objects as does the 'traditional' multimedia document, it is a self-contained document, either as a single file with media files embedded within it, or as a 'folder' containing tightly linked media files. The main characteristic that differentiates an interactive publication from a traditional multimedia document is that the reader would be able to reuse the media content for analysis and presentation, and to check the underlying data and possibly derive alternative conclusions leading, for example, to more in-depth peer reviews. We have created prototype publications containing paginated text and several media types encountered in the biomedical literature: 3D animations of anatomic structures; graphs, charts and tabular data; cell development images (video sequences); and clinical images such as CT, MRI and ultrasound in the DICOM format. This paper presents developments to date including: a tool to convert static tables or graphs into interactive entities, authoring procedures followed to create prototypes, and advantages and drawbacks of each of these platforms. It also outlines future work including meeting the challenge of network distribution for these large files.