Collaborative tools for zines

Continuing the discussion from The OSR PIT Zine is ALIVE! Now open for submissions:

After re-reading this post, I’ve decided to reopen the conversation arount this idea because I’ve been thinking at something similar for quite some time and thought that it might be useful to share my conclusions with more people.

I’ve been considering something similar for quite some time (I remembered reading somewhere about a similar idea but only started searching for the source last couple of days), because I like the idea of a forever soup of a zine. I’ve also been thinkering for quite some time around ideas for PDF generation pipelines (for the more devops oriented: some kind of text CI/CD pipeline), which would work well alongside some kind of text that everybody could edit.

I’ve discarded a wiki early in my consideration because wikis have complex and interlinked structures, which don’t translate well to the sequential structure of a zine. A zine in the form of one (or more? maybe one per issue?) wiki(s) would certainly be interesting and allow the exploration of some nice things, design-wise, but I think it would become a poor PDF document. Definetely something to keep in mind (also, I have a very limited experience in hosting wikis, but am willing to share it with anybody who wants to try something like that).

Another option could be a simple Google Document. Everybody with write access could edit the document, while everybody with read access could download the zine in their favoured format (word, PDF, epub…). The downside is that you have to typeset as you write, meaning that you might break everything for everybody. And it doesn’t scale well for the number of editing users.

In the end, I think the best way to handle this is create a git repository and handle the whole thing as an open source project. You could use anything from the humble Markdown (such as you do here) to the more complex LaTeX and then use a tool like pandoc to build the PDF (which can then be hosted somewhere for the download). @yochaigal has already started on this path with his handling of Cairn, but I think this approach will do wonders on a zine. Obviously you’ll need to know git (and some open source etiquette) in order to participate. I’ve some degree of experience with git and open source projects (nothing big, but I’ve handled many things with the same approach) and, again, I’m willing to share it with anybody who wants to start such a project.

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I’m doing a graphic novel at the moment and my WHITEFRANK system (3d6) is not too similar to the rest of OSR, but anything in terms of art or generic charts that are wanted, let me know :slight_smile: