User:Whiteknight/New Book Guide/Child Versions

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What is a Child Version?

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A typical wikibook is going to have a large number of pages, not all of which are needed for a single course of study. Consider the Calculus book: Calculus is typically broken up into multiple semesters of study. Students only need to learn about certain sections in each course, and any additional materials (even if they fall under the umbrella of "calculus") are just wasted in a printed book.

A child version, in essence, is a reuse of existing book pages in a second printable version. The pages in the primary printed version are rearranged, and unnecessary chapters are removed, in order to put the focus on a particular subset of the available information.

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Print versioning is a verb that I use to describe the act of creating multiple print versions (child versions) of a book to suit different needs of the target audience. Consider the Control Systems book. The topic of Control Systems (or, more generally, "Control Engineering") is typically broken down into sub-sections based on the length of the class (semester, trimester, year), and the level of the students. For instance, in my university, this topic was broken down into 3 semesters, and each semester used a different textbook!

Textbooks also need to follow certain standards. At the university level, things are a little more lax, but at the grade school level, there are clear standards in place that need to be met for a textbook to be considered as an acceptable text. Unfortunately for Wikibooks, these standards vary from place to place, and it would be impossible to write separate books on the same topic for different localized sets of standards. However, There are some good alternatives:

  1. Break material down into atomic chunks, and list a "suggested reading order" for each different localized set of standards.
  2. Create separate Tables of Contents (TOC) and separate print versions for each new localization, transcluding pages from a "master work" containing all pages.

The second option is the best, and makes the best use of the wiki software. In this way, we only need to write all the content of the book once, and people can then prepare individual TOCs and print versions to suit their specific needs.

Creating Child Versions

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Creating a child version is typically as easy as copying your existing printable version to a new page, and rearranging the pages as necessary. Sometimes it is useful to create some meta-content pages for the child version, to specify what kinds of materials do and don't belong in that child version. Occasionally, it can be a good idea to create a separate TOC for the child version, although any inter-page navigation that your book uses (forward and back links) won't function properly in your child versions.

Reading and Writing Versions

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For a book that is sufficiently old and established, it might be worthwhile to create versions of the book that are specifically designed to be read, but not edited. The raw content pages can be transcluded into a "formatting page", which contains necessary formatting to make the content more aesthetically appealing. To my knowledge there are currently no books that use this practice, although Several books attempted it in the past.