New PubReader View For Full-Text Articles

NCBI’s new PubReader display format in PubMed Central (PMC) makes full-text research papers not only more readable but also more portable.

Whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone, PubReader adapts to your device, displaying full-text articles in a user-friendly format that minimizes scrolling and maximizes intuitive navigation and portability (see Figure 1).

NCBI’s new PubReader display format in PubMed Central (PMC) makes full-text research papers not only more readable but also more portable.  Whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone, PubReader adapts to your device, displaying full-text articles in a user-friendly format that minimizes scrolling and maximizes intuitive navigation and portability (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The PubReader format as seen in three common displays (widescreen desktop, smart phone and tablet).

NCBI developed this new presentation format to address some common obstacles in perusing research articles via the web, as well as to keep pace with the increasing prevalence of mobile devices. Any article that is available in full-text HTML in PubMed Central is viewable in the PubReader format. Furthermore, PubReader works with the latest browsers without the need to download an app or any additional software.

One of the most common issues encountered when reading literature online is that you can lose your place when referring back to an earlier section of a paper, for example to view a figure or table. As with a printed paper, PubReader breaks an article into multiple columns and pages, which improves readability and provides visual cues for navigation. In addition, PubReader makes the article’s figures and tables available as thumbnails at the bottom of the screen (see Figure 2). This allows you to view an earlier figure or table and then close it without losing your place. This feature also works with inline figures, tables and citations.

Figure 2. PubReader display of the first screen of PMC3396517 as seen on a desktop PC display. One of the figures in the image strip (C) is selected, popping up an enlarged version. Clicking the right margin (A) advances to the next screen. Clicking on the icon (B) toggles between the image strip (C) and a linear progress bar (not shown).

Figure 2. PubReader display of the first screen of PMC3396517 as seen on a desktop PC display. One of the figures in the image strip (C) is selected, popping up an enlarged version. Clicking the right margin (A) advances to the next screen. Clicking on the icon (B) toggles between the image strip (C) and a linear progress bar (not shown).

Another key aspect of the PubReader is its adaptive formatting, which allows you to flip through a paper in the same way you would a novel on an E-reader. PubReader automatically senses whether a tablet is in vertical or landscape view, and adds additional columns accordingly. You can also set your preferred font size using the typography configuration dialog in the upper right corner; page boundaries and columns will adjust accordingly.

PubReader offers a variety of common options for moving between pages. You can use the PageUp, PageDown, RightArrow, LeftArrow keys on a keyboard, tap or click in the right or left margin, use finger swipes on a touch screen device, or use the progress bar at the bottom of the screen to jump across the page range. The article navigation dialog is another useful feature that allows you to quickly jump to any given section of a paper (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Article navigation dialog.

Figure 3. Article navigation dialog.

From a technical standpoint, the PubReader format is assembled using the XML version of an article. We use XSLT to convert it into an HTML document. CSS and JavaScript are then added to implement the formatting, paging, navigation, text reflowing and other dynamic features. Notably, this is essentially how we have created the traditional full-text article display in PMC for years. The difference now is that we are able to leverage the features of the latest web technologies (HTML5 and CSS3).

The CSS and JavaScript code used to create the PubReader display are freely available from NCBITools on the public code repository GitHub. Anyone can use or adapt this code to display journal articles or other content that is structured as an HTML5 document.

You can read more about the PubReader view on the PubReader about page. You can try it directly with an example record (PMCID: 3396517) or by clicking on the “PubReader” link for an article in a PMC search result list or in the article itself.

References:

2 thoughts on “New PubReader View For Full-Text Articles

  1. Awesome article and use of web development across mobile technology. In regards to NCBI’s new PubReader display format being in PubMed Central (PMC), is there any limitations among various text editors in recognizing this format without using NCBITools?

    Thanks,
    Kayol Hope

  2. Awesome article and use of web development by clicking on the “PubReader” link for an article in a PMC search result list or in the article itself.From a technical standpoint, the PubReader format is assembled using the XML version of an article

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