Title: Future Developments - Hypertext Editing System (HES)

Chris Braun at the HES console [IBM 2250 Mod 4] circa Oct 1969 (photo by Greg Lloyd)

The immediate future of this system will be concerned with its improvement and adapation for increased convenience. These capabilities include a number of subprograms for acting on various features of a hypertext, and for adding new features to this hypertext editing system.

1) The problems of file management for mutiple interactive users will be tackled.

2) Within the contained text it will be possible for the user to designate string attributes, either by lightpenning or typing. Through existing programs, the user may have the text searched on Boolean retrieval functions of attributes or in-line key words (such as "all sections of text concerned with or mentioning dogs or cats, but not hamsters"). Indices and KWIC indices of these keywords and their positions may then be produced automatically (also through existing programs).

3) Attributes may also be assigned by the user to annotations and to labels. Attributes assigned to tags will either be permanently defined within the system -- such as "bibliography" and "this text is a quotation" tags" -- or defined by the user. The system-defined tag attributes may communicate with other programs such as a "set up bibliography" program). All tags may be listed and indexed by attributes.

New facilities will be added to provide automatic steering or routing through a hypertext on the screen, or automatic sequence selection during printout. The user would specify which alternative is to be taken by instructions such as "take the happy alternative, when it exists." This would correspond to Bush's trails, and Enbelbart's trail markers.

4) A number of other facilities will simplify and clarify the user's work. Multiple "windows" may be created on the screen, permitting the user to see and work on several parts of his text complex at once, for example letting him copy a text string from one area to another, with both in view.

Since it is rather easy to get lost in a complex hypertext, we plan to look into displaying its graph structure in a variety of ways. A parts graph may be drawn for the simple case, but how does one display several hundred cross links in one area?

5) Since an increasing number of user-specified modes of operation will exist, a facility will be created for returning to activity layouts in progress. The exact window layout and display in each window may be placed in a stack and popped on return.

6) An extensive graphics capability will be added to the system by coupling it to a "sketchpad" program already developed at Brown University.

7) A facility will be created for retaining a complete, or a user specified, chronological trail of editorial changes, and reconstituting any previous state of the textual content for them. This is desirable both for reference to previous drafts, and for return to document states deemed to have been preferable to some present condition.

8) We are, of course, keenly interested in finding devices better suited to these uses than the light pen. Such mechanisms as the data tablet, SRI mouse, or finger-pointable transparent screen will probably improve performance and feel; further design of special purpose text editing hardware is a fertile area.

9) In the long term, the prospect is that systems like ours and SRI's and their successors will be of growing use in all forms of text handling. Whether such systems will replace the printed word, as asserted by Nelson (Nelson, 1967) is a matter on which we need not speculate. But their usefulness and practicability has been clearly demonstrated.

A Hypertext Editing System for the /360
Steven Carmody, Walter Gross, Theodor H. Nelson, David Rice, Andries van Dam
Center for Computer & Information Sciences
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
File Number HES360-0
Form AVD-6903-0
4 April 1969
Pages 26-27

Hardcopy and original photo from grl archive. See attachment @4 for medium size .jpg copy of photo; See attachment @3 for full resolution Photoshop .psd file as scanned (after dust and scratch removal).

See also:
Traction871: The Writing and Editing Aspects of the System - Hypertext Editing System (HES)
Traction867: First Banner Ad - October 1968, Hypertext Editing System (HES)
Traction868: Mysterious Glitches - Hypertext Editing System (HES)

hesconsole full.PSD
Related Articles
Article: Traction872 (permalink)
Categories: :Doc:grl
Date: February 16, 1998; 3:48:30 PM Eastern Standard Time

Author Name: Greg Lloyd
Author ID: grl