Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

An Experiment in On-Line Outlining

Author:Bernie DeKoven
Posted:3/30/1999; 12:12:50 PM
Topic:An Experiment in On-Line Outlining
Msg #:4695
Prev/Next:4694 / 4696

In the message about "On-line Outline?" I invited this discussion group to develop approaches to making on-line technography work on the web.

Yesterday, Dave and I conducted one of the first experiments with this technology. Dave had, with a few moments of programming, created a tool that would allow him to broadcast an outline that was capable of expanding and collapsing.

He directed me to a page that he had set up. There was a clock and a welcome message on it. He then asked me to babble a bit, and he began to enter some of my rambling babbles. He then asked me to refresh the screen, and behold, there were my words. Can you "collapse?" I asked. "Oh, collapse," he responded, "just a minute." And then he told me to refresh the screen, and behold and low, the lines of babble were reduced to a couple of headers. (He hated having to do this without a headset. It was too hard to hold the phone on his shoulder and type at the same time.)

I didn't like having to refresh the screen manually, so he coded an auto-refresh of 4 seconds. This was starting to get cool. Unfortunately, I was connected via a 56K modem and perhaps some questionable technology. Every now and then, my page wouldn't refresh at all, and I couldn't get the page back even when I tried to refresh it manually, so I had to use the back function. Other times, however my page would refresh almost as quickly as his (because he had programmed in the clock, I was able to read to him the time that I saw on the refreshed page and verbally determine the delay).

Then we explored some constructive silliness, Dave changing the background color to add emphasis.

All in all, it was a partial success. It proved that we could actually do outlining on the web, which means that, yes, we're on the right track. And the delay of 4 seconds was almost tolerable. The major failure was in the refresh scheme. For some reason, it didn't work reliably.

We're clearly not ready to use this to support a paying customer, but the proof of concept is undeniable. All that we need is a few more moments of techno-brilliance from this discussion group.

We await your glimmers.

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