Web Enhancement Project Progress: May 1997
by Chris Peterson
Foresight Update 27, I described HyperWave, a
web-based software program that appeared to fulfill all the
requirements Foresight has been trying to fill for years:
fine-grained extrinsic (i.e. unapproved, third party)
bi-directional links in hypertext publishing.
We've run into a glitch with HyperWave. It does indeed have
fine-grained, extrinsic, bi-directional links; however, these
links are not visible in the original document. Instead,
alongside the original document, one gets a list of URLs to
visit. If the reader follows that list of coarse-grained
extrinsic links to the commenting document, and then follows
links back from that commenting document to the original
document, then the fine-grained nature of the commenting links
becomes apparent. That is, the commented-on section is
highlighted in the original document, when visited from the
commenting document. This may sound a bit confusing, but the
upshot of it all is that when you're looking at a document and
you want to see embedded commenting links, they aren't there.
Our plans had included joining the Hyper-G Consortium in order to
obtain the source code, so that we could fix any glitches that
came up, such as this one; however, in the last few months the
open Hyper-G code has been commercialized into HyperWave and
source code can no longer be obtained, so our plans to alter it
will no longer work.
One of IMM's Senior
Associates, Dave Forrest, is communicating with the HyperWave
company to see whether this needed feature can be added. However,
we have very little influence with this company, and we can't
depend on this as a solution.
When we hit this roadblock with HyperWave we looked back at our
previous options -- the options we considered prior to selecting
HyperWave as our first choice -- and found that our preferred
solution involved extending some public domain annotation code
originally written by Wayne Gramlich.
(The term "annotation" is frequently used to describe
what we've been calling comments, extrinsic links, or third-party
comments.) Although Wayne now works for a startup company and
cannot take the Annotator project
further, Foresight is fortunate to have located a programmer who
is very interested in completing the project, and who has
immediately started work on this full-time. This is Terry
Stanley, who has a long-time interest in argumentation
visualization. She is being assisted by Ka-Ping Yee, a summer
intern at Xerox PARC.
So not only do we expect that the Annotator code will be taken to
a useable state and installed on our server, but also that Terry
will continue to develop this code to make some really useful and
unique graphical methods for argumentation visualization, which
should be of great use when we get into having real debates on
complex issues, and find ourselves needing all the support we can
get in figuring out difficult, complex issues.