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From ToolCenter Building on the TK3 model, the institute has begun work on an entirely new set of authoring tools, retaining the proven assets of the current version, but in many ways starting from scratch. The new program, SOPHIE, will offer greater flexibility and a host of powerful new capabilities not available in TK3. Most significantly, its file structure will be open, unlike TK3, which operated on a proprietary model - closed to the outside and non-extensible.

As in TK3, a completed SOPHIE book can be distributed on discrete media such as thumb drives, DVD or CD-ROM, or downloaded from the Internet. Unlike TK3, SOPHIE will allow books to be streamed over the Internet, and eventually, to be accessed directly through the plug-in architecture of a web browser. SOPHIE will contain the same (though improved) drag-and-drop media assembly system developed in TK3, the same reader mark-up capabilities, as well as integrated true-type fonts and style sheets unavailable in the current version.

The user will be able to enter text and build simple graphic elements directly in the document; import images, video, or sound from multiple sources; and create time-based annotations that will allow a text window or illustration to open at a specified moment. More sophisticated users will be able to arrange the materials in much more complex ways - for example, by making a film or piece of music the "spine" of the book, and then annotating the presentation with text or other media types. Most important, SOPHIE will be completely open-source, with the expectation that users will add to it and improve upon it.

The target of the project is higher education, with the intent that the SOPHIE system will be fully integrated into the digital infrastructure currently being developed under the auspices of the Mellon Foundation's programs in Research in Information Technology and Scholarly Communications. As low-cost, low-weight, high-resolution, tablet-like computing devices become widely available, reading on a screen will become as comfortable as reading from a printed book. Once it is possible for students and teachers to produce electronic documents that are as easy to use as printed books, paper will have few advantages over electronic media, and the switch to digital will be rapid and decisive.

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