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© copyright 2004
by Marc Barrot.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

As We May Outline...

Dave's outline rendering howto, posted earlier this week, was the final piece of information I was missing to indulge my long restrained outlining mania. The temporary result is activeRenderer, a UserTalk / CSS / Javascript combo which translates OPML outlines created with Radio's outliner into HTML pages that keep some 'outlinerish' features.

  • activeRenderer preserves the outline indentation by using a CSS style sheet to define the way each level of the outline is laid out.
  • It also renders elision by some rather intricate interweaving of HTML divs to reflect the nodes hierarchy, plus a little javascript to collapse or expand subnodes when clicking on the outline wedges.
  • I've also thrown in a collapse all / expand all feature.

In my opinion, a web browser is not an ideal outliner. It is difficult to edit nodes in a seamless way. Reordering the nodes hierarchy in an HTML page, though not impossible, is not an easy prospect.

Nevertheless, elision and its cousin, transclusion, are extremely useful for presenting the complex textual information that s l a m will publish.

The most interesting feature of outlining is not the clever use of paragraph and section titles to structure and enhance a textual content.

It is the ability to present a complex whole in interleaved layers of simplicity.

The full meaning should reveal itself as the reader goes deeper into the outline layers, yet each level of the outline should be easy to grasp on its own.

The entwinment of functional parts is also at the center of all computer languages, which makes outlines ideal to present source code.

I'll work part of next week to find a way to render transclusion, or the ability to expand in place a remote outline linked to the currently rendered outline, preserving the context around the link.

I will then adapt one of my former Perl projects, an HTML filter for source code, to produce hypertext enhanced OPML versions of the source code I will publish on s l a m.

Ok, the title of this post is a little on the catchy side, but I couldn't resist :-)

4:36:14 PM  Permalink    Google It!  

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last updated: 3/20/04; 5:22:22 PM.