Nature online digital edition, with 3 month trial

By Grant Jacobs 23/09/2010

Today Nature has presented it’s new online digital edition.

There is an introductory blog post by Editor-in-Chief Dr. Campbell, a press release (which discusses wider changes), and some independent commentary from GrrlScientist. Videos are available which present the new changes. (I have to admit the American presenter was a surprise – it’s British publication, so I was anticipating a British presenter.)


I recommend using full-screen mode, click on the icon to the lower left (shown to left). If you are using a laptop, as I currently am, you will probably still find it a challenge to read the text. If you click on the text, it will zoom in. While zoomed-in, moving the mouse will move the page. Clicking the mouse again will return you to viewing the two-page layout.


As you can see the concept, like other digital magazines, is to present the user with the magazine as they might read it physically (via a Flash application).

The Editor-in-Chief’s introductory articles says it comes with a three-month free trial, if you register.


This is can be hard to spot, especially if your screen is small and you need to zoom in to read the text. Open the first page. Zoom in. To the bottom-left you’ll find the text ‘Trial the digital edition’. Click on this and you’ll be presented with the registration page. (This has taken me way too long to discover…)

While I am awaiting confirmation of my trial registration, let me review what I can in the meantime. Bear in mind I am using an Apple machine, viewing the magazine with the Safari web browser.


The options to print and download articles, shown in the online help (click on the question mark to the top-right), don’t appear: I presume you need to register or subscribe for these to be available.

I like the idea of being able to read the text before downloading a PDF copy: too often I find having to deciding if to download a paper from only the abstract or a leader of a few hundred words a bit hit-and-miss.

Those with trackpads on Apple computers will find that they can zoom in and out seamlessly using a two-finger gesture, which I find very nice. An equivalent should be possible on the smart mouse, which has a trackpad surface.

Because the Safari web browser gives the web page priority over the keyboard shortcuts (at least under Mac OS X), the magazine’s browser effectively ‘takes over’ some of the short-cuts. For example, usually shift-command+left-arrow will take you to the web browser tab to the left. If you’re in the Nature online page, it’ll interpret that as ‘go to first page’. Likewise, right and left-arrow will turn pages in the expected direction.

This I find (so far) a mixed blessing. On one hand you get paging shortcuts, which is very nice while you are reading the magazine, but on the other hand you’re forced to ’manually’ leave their page by using the mouse or trackpad. (This feature seems a little quirky: so far I have to ‘activate’ the keyboard shortcuts it by first clicking on one of the paging arrows. Each time I leave and return to their page, I have to re-activate it. Bear in mind this is a trial of their effort: this is a tiny quirk in an excellent effort.)

Note zoom icon near lower-right.
(Note zoom icon near lower-right.)

Have a browse and see what you think!

Other articles on Code for life:

Career paths, redux — the academic research career is the exception (Commercial science careers are the ‘rule’ for science Ph.D. graduate.)

The best places to read (Grand, spectacular, libraries.)

Autism – looking for parent-of-origin effects (Reviewing a genetic screen for parent-of-origin effects as a potential genetic contribution to autism.)

Coiling bacterial DNA (Looking at a macromolecular assembly that compacts bacterial DNA.)

0 Responses to “Nature online digital edition, with 3 month trial”

  • Grant, thanks for your helpful feedback and for the helpful explanation of how to access the free trial link for the digital edition. You’re right, it is too hard to find and we’re working now to make that obvious on Our apologies.

    In the meantime, the direct link to register for the free trial of the digital edition is here: and there is no obligation to subscribe.

    Grace Baynes, from Nature Publishing Group

    P.S. Although is Nature is perceived as British, it is international, with staff in NY, D.C. and elsewhere around the world. Hopefully that international perspective comes across in the articles, as well as the video presenter’s accent!

  • Good to see the prompt feedback! It’s fine, I only had trouble because of the small size of the screen I happened to be trialling it on.

    Thanks for providing the direct link. (I would have myself, but I wasn’t sure if the URL I was directed to had been personalised with a session ID.)

    You are right that Nature is (now) international. My error.

    I suspect I tend to view it as a British publication that has expanded, rather than viewing it for what it is now, through being a little older and having first read Nature when it was much more a UK publication, and having studied in England. (What I get for being old enough to have past…?!) Younger readers might see it more for what it is now – ?