[View this page as PDF](/blog/2007/08/10/09-25-10.681066/100.pdf)
My [last post continuing the conversation about why online journals
don't accept HTML, only
PDF,](http://ptsefton.com/blog/2007/08/09/09-23-19.208941) has been
picked up in a couple of people. One is Dorothea Salo, who seems to
generally [approve of the idea of the ICE content management system, but
> But from what I can tell, it looks generally to be the right idea class="spCh spChx2014">—word-processing templates that, if used
> properly, do the right thing. (The big caveat is class="spCh spChx201c">“if used properly. class="spCh spChx201d">” Authors do horrible things with
> word-processors. You really can’t
> imagine until you’ve seen it.
> Unless it sharply restricts the host program class="spCh spChx2019">’s functionality, no template on this
> earth will get decent results from all or even most authors.)
We hear this all the time. “Tried
that. Didn't work. People do silly things and ignore the template.”
So I thought I'd talk a little bit about why
[ICE](http://ice.usq.edu.au/) works, when thousands of template systems
1. Most important reason ICE works? There's a rapid feedback loop. You
can write in the word processor, switch to your browser and hit
refresh to see the results. This helps keep people on track. “Where's my table of contents? Oh, I
see I need to use headings!”
(We're adding ATOM Publishing Protocol Support too, which should
really open things up.)
2. We have also targeted ICE at people who are used to working in a
structured environment. We have 100+ users at USQ using it for
courseware, some of which you can [see at our open courseware
site](http://ocw.usq.edu.au/). These people know what USQ course
looks like on paper and on the web, they're not there to muck
The ICE-RS project is working with Research and Scholarship, where
I'd expect the same attitude. If you're writing a paper or a thesis
you know that there are guidelines and rules for publication.
3. ICE, so far at least, **hasn't got where it is by severely
restricting** anything. We prefer to add useful tools and empower
let the users use them. We're still considering turning off all the
unwanted buttons and so on, but it is all too easy to lose users by
offending them. “Look how the
university wants to limit my freedom by taking away the paintbrush
tool in Word!”
4. We try to make the ICE interface more useful than the alternative.
See the first screencast from ICE, put together by the project
manager, Daniel de Byl. He [shows how to use our new
The toolbar has familiar looking buttons for bullets, numbers,
promote (un-indent) and demote (indent), but instead of applying
direct formatting they apply styles, and they do so in a pretty
smart and satisfying way.
Then there's this bit.
> Plus, such templates tend to be designed by someone with all the
> design sense of an eight-year-old.
Well maybe, I wouldn't know about that. I mean, look at my website.
The ICE templates used at USQ were designed by Electronic Publishing
Services, to match the USQ house style. They're good enough for us to
print course books from. On the other hand, some of the ICE templates
floating around may be a bit rougher, like the one I use for the blog
here, which tends to get experimented on a bit.
To make design easier, we're just putting the finishing touches on code
that allow you to create an ICE-ready template by designing one or two
styles, then you click a button, and ICE generates all the rest for you
based on your starting point. This will be enough for people to switch
over to ICE and get free HTML for everything, while maintaining their
house style. Even my seven year old could it. We had a eight year old,
but she turned nine.
We will also show, by the end of the ICE-RS project in December 2007,
how to set up a template where you can work in ICE, then export to
something appropriate for a journal, which may want its own styles.
If anyone out there is hearing about ICE for the first time, via
Dorothea or [Peter
or [Peter Murray-Rust](http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=476)
we'd be happy to help you try it out for your research and/or
scholarship. [Drop me a line](mailto:email@example.com).
We know that ICE is a bit daunting to install at the moment and we're
working on that but we have resources to help you help us make it
(And this is my first ever post from a moving vehicle – somwhere near Goodna, on the way to UQ
for a workshop on PDF)