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Monday, December 11, 2006

ANN: HyperScope 1.1 Released!

Hi everyone! I'm proud to announce the release of HyperScope 1.1.

What is HyperScope?

The HyperScope is a high-performance thought processor that enables you to navigate, view, and link to documents in sophisticated ways. It's the brainchild of Doug Engelbart, the inventor of hypertext and the mouse, and is the first step towards his larger vision for an Open Hyperdocument System.

The HyperScope is written in JavaScript using the Dojo toolkit and works in Firefox (recommended) and Internet Explorer. It uses OPML as its base file format. It is open source and available under the GPL.

Who Has Contributed to HyperScope?

The team responsible for the HyperScope vision, architecture,
and overall implementation (including supplementary code) includes:
with many additional contributions from our great community .

What is New in the 1.1 Release?

The 1.1 release had three primary goals:

HTML Transformer

The goal of the HTML Transformer is for users to be able to apply HyperScope's advanced addressing and studying abilities to normal HTML documents, without having to mark them up into OPML . This transformer can dynamically take HTML documents and bring them into the HyperScope.

Please note that the focus of this release of the HTML transformer is to predominantly work with the W3C's web site; it is written in a generic way and should work with any relatively well marked up HTML document, but you will sometimes see errors for arbitrary web sites.

There is a bookmarklet available (see this page for the bookmarklet); when browsing the web, you can press this button on your links toolbar to suck the page into the HyperScope. There is also a web-based form that you can plug a URL into to transform.

The focus of the HTML transformer are technical specifications, in particular the ones at the W3C's site. Here are some example specs sucked into the HyperScope dynamically:

The XML Specification

The XSLT Specification

The XHTML Specification

You can now apply HyperScope's tools to these documents, including studying tools and advanced addressing and hyperlinks.

Note that the focus of the transformer for this release are the W3C documents at their website; I wrote the HTML transformer to be generic, so it will work well with many 'document' oriented web pages. However, some pages will not work, and some pages will give errors.

Here is an example of a 'normal' web page being pulled into the transformer and HyperScope; this is the Paper Airplane research report.

The HTML Transformer is written in Java as a servlet that internally uses Apache HTTP-Client to fetch the resource; JTidy to clean it up and turn it into XHTML; and Saxon to format the results into OPML.

You can download the WAR file yourself for the transformer if you want to install a local version on your web server. You must have Tomcat 5, Java 1.4, and Apache 1 or 2. Simply drop the xhtml_transformer.war file into your Tomcat's webapps directory. You should also have Tomcat and Apache integrated so that Apache delegates to Tomcat when it needs to load a resource, rather than having you directly contact Tomcat such as (where 8080 is Tomcat's port).

Bugs and Documentation

There are a number of important small bugs, documentation, and usability items 1.1 addresses.

The first is that the default viewspecs have changed. In the past, when you went to a HyperScope document, you would see the document completely collapsed, showing just the 'table of contents', or the top-most part of the outline. Purple numbers were also off by default. We decided to change this to make it easier to start working with HyperScope. We now default to showing the entire outline of a document (viewspec 'w') rather than just show the top-level (viewspec 'x'). We also turn on purple
numbers/node numbers by default (viewspec 'm'). Both of these are meant to make working with HyperScope easier if you are entering the system for the first time. We have a longer list of things we want to do to increase first-time usability, but were not able to hit them on this dev cycle.

The HyperScope architecture document is now fully up to date with all public classes, objects, and methods documented. This document went out
of date about a month before I released the initial 1.0 release in September; it now fully documents HyperScope's
architecture. There is also a more high-level description of the architecture available as a separate document .

Debugging output regressed and was broken on Internet Explorer and Firefox; this has been fixed.

Where Can I Download and Play with HyperScope?

There are a bunch of example HyperScope demo documents you can play with here. Since we now have the HTML transformer, you don't have to install HyperScope yourself and can just point the HTML transformer at one of your own docs .

If you want to download the HyperScope, play with the source code, and install it on your own web server, you can download the 1.1 release here.

Make sure to check out the HyperScope web site as well.

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