Saturday, July 06, 2013

National Library of Medicine adds PubReader - Instapaper for medical literature fans

I became a fan of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) when "Grateful Med" [2] augmented the old telnet interface to what was then MEDLARS/MEDLINE, and once was Index Medicus. Rose Marie Woodsmall recruited me to teach rural docs how to use Grateful Med --  which was kind of excruciating in the days before error correcting modems [1].

I loved it when the NLM added RSS feeds to PubMed results, so I could track research topics in my feed reader (still works in Feedbin/Reeder). That's where most of my | [3] medical posts come from.

Most recently, in the post-2007 age of full text access, NLM has added an HTML5/CSS3 Instapaper-like view for reading articles on mobile or desktop. It's known as PubReader™ (emphases mine):

... view is available for any article that is available in full-text HTML form in PMC. It is not available for older content that is available only in PDF form or as scanned images of the original print pages. You can get to the PubReader view directly from an article citation in a search result list or an issue table of contents:

Or from the Formats links in the top right corner of an article page in PMC...

...  PMC now automatically directs certain users to the PubReader view:

- everyone using PMC on a tablet or mobile device, and
- a small, randomly selected sample of people using PMC on a desktop or laptop....

.. We start with the XML version of an article and use XSLT to convert it into an HTML document. We then add CSS and Javascript (JS) to implement the formatting, paging, navigation, text reflowing and other dynamic features. This, essentially, is the way we have created the traditional article display in PMC for years. The difference now is that we are able to take advantage of features and functions that are available only in the latest versions of the underlying technologies (HTML5 and CSS3).

The CSS and JS code used to create a PubReader presentation is available at the GitHub repository NCBITools/PubReader. Anyone can use or adapt it to display journal articles or other content that is structured as an HTML5 document.

Great service, neat technology.


- fn -

[1] In response I reinvented software error correction in the early 80s. That seems stupid now as the work had been done decades before, but it's hard to remember what life was like before we could discover knowledge in seconds -- assuming we know the magic words.  We really don't understand, yet, how much that has changed our world.

[2] Rose Marie was a deadhead (probably still is), which was how the DOS, later MacOS, app got its name. In 1996 Internet Grateful Med, an early web app, displaced it. In the 00s we got today's PubMed.

[3] All of which have, I'm happy to say, RSS feeds -- even which started out without. is probably the best to follow with a feed reader.

See also:

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