1. médialab Sciences Po
  2. Productions
  3. Ovide

Ovidemade by the médialab

a scholarly writing and publishing software in web and desktop versions

Tools – Software

Robin de Mourat

Ovide is an experimental single-user writing and publishing software. It has been built in the context of a design research about  publication formats in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and is  therefore particularly adapted to this particular field, although it  could probably be useful to others.

It allows to build high quality static websites and printed documents, and work files aimed at being edited in other environments (markdown, HTML, XML-TEI). 

The project

Writing as close as possible to research materials

Ovide is built according to the Peritext data model, which authorizes diverse writing strategies which are grounded in a close relationship with the materials gathered during a research process. The tool allows to document very precisely the images, videos, data files, places, dates, persons ... encountered in the frame of an enquiry.

Besides, it allows authors to interweave closely their "text" and "figures" by allowing them to specify numerous parameters for the embedding of research materials in their contents (e.g. a start and end timecode for a video, visualization parameters for a table, etc.).

Therefore it allows researchers to do things such as comparing data files through their visualization, mobilizing interview excerpts, or staging the analysis of videos and images, etc.

Some examples of writing practices allowed by Ovide
Some examples of writing practices allowed by Ovide

Publishing for the multitude

Ovide allows to structure content writing according to traditional methods (chapters and other parts) but also to use any research's "resources" as a starting point for writing. One can write from a bibliographic reference to produce reading notes, start from an image to develop an analysis of it, produce a detailed exploration of a data file in a notebook style, etc.

On this decentralized basis, Ovide allows to produce several "editions" from the same set of contents, depending on goals, audiences and advancement of research.

Example of publishing strategies
Example of publishing strategies

The software

Ovide is freely available online and as a desktop application.


Ovid  is organized through a series of "productions". Each of them  corresponds to a set of materials and texts dealing with a common  subject. The productions can be duplicated, imported and exported for  use by other users or other tools.


Ovide  offers to manipulate and edit "materials" which can be of several  types: notes, glossary entries, images, videos and other audiovisual  media, bibliographic references, code excerpts, hyperlinks to web pages,  tabular data. Each of the materials can be the subject of writing and  annotation.

Each  of the materials can be tagged in order to facilitate work organization  and to produce editions displaying the contents associated with certain  tags.

Contents editor

Ovide offers a visual text edition interface 1 which  is specifically designed for scholarly writing, and allows notably to  write footnotes and to manage bibliographical references:

Within  the contents of a material, it is possible to "mention" another  material according to its type and the author's choices about to how to  "stage" the material at that particular place in the contents, and  according to the different available publishing formats. In this sense,  Ovid allows, for example, to develop, in conjunction with the text,  practices for exploring and visualizing information from "table" type  materials, by means of the vega description grammar that gives access to a wide range of techniques and modes of data representation:

In  the same way, it is possible to call up video and audio materials very  finely within the contents, by punctuating the text with precisely  chosen excerpts :

Glossary management

Ovide  allows the management and enrichment of a glossary made of concepts,  people, places, and dates. The "glossary" page allows to annotate the  text with these elements, which will possibly be as many entry points in  the text when reading it via the editions.


Based  on the writing work done with the materials, Ovide makes it possible to  create, duplicate and delete a set of editions that are composing and  "staging" materials for particular editorial purposes and formats:

It is possible, for each edition, to specify a set of parameters and to  define a particular "summary". These can be conventional components of  the edition (e.g. front cover, table of contents, glossary) or more  specific elements (e.g. resource selection, geographical map, network of  mentions). The contents are assembled and previewed in the same  interface:

In this frame, Ovide allows building websites but also high quality print editions (thanks to the paged.js technology). The  tool also offers an interface for editing CSS styles specific to each  edition. It allows to modify the default styles of the edition or to  start from scratch to produce a graphic design entirely specific to the  edition:

In  addition, the tool offers export options directly specific to the  publication (print or web) but also exports in editable file formats  (HTML, markdown, XML-TEI). The publication-ready exports are intended to  be "semi-finished" exports for further work with other development,  design and editing tools:

A reconfigurable tool

In  addition to its appearance and functionality as such, Ovide has been  designed to allow the production of more specialized editors for  particular research or editorial contexts. For example, one could  imagine adding a type of material related to the contents of a  particular social network, use another technology for data  visualization, or introduce a new or modified edition's templates, etc.


all audiences