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Re: What should hyperlinks do? What attributes should they have?

On Fri, 15 Mar 1996, Art Pollard wrote:

> I've been giving a fair amount of thought lately to allowing hyperlinks 
> to have attributes.  This of course, also implies that they have the 
> ability to do other things besides "link".  For example in HTML, it is 
> possible to link to an image.  (i.e., the link in this case had an 
> "action" associated with it -- start up the GIF viewer and display image 
> X) 

Very glad to know that you are thinking about this topic. I am also 
doing some works regarding hyperlinks. Hyperlinks so far are *static*, 
since their destinations are *pre-defined*. My intention is to create 
*Dynamic Links*, using these object-oriented features of links.

After Hyper-G separated links from the nodes, making them `objects', it is 
now possible to give them features like having properties(attributes), 
methods and  events, to make *dynamic links*. What you are mentioning with 
`action' is actually methods in OO term. There could also be many events 
that links will be notified by the system, for example, clicking or 
double-clicking on it, visiting the link etc.

Let me more clarify the idea regarding Dynamic Links. Links can respond 
to mouse-click event to launch a script(or a program) which can return 
a *destination anchor* or a *descriptor* of destination anchor. That means 
the link could lead you to some destination which is defined *on the 
spot* -- in other words, links can be dynamic and *intelligent*. In many 
applications, such as a stock-share database, the destination of a link 
might not be known beforewards. It could vary depending on the 
current data, date/time, user identity etc. The script associated with 
the links can perform some computing to determine where, *this time*, a 
link should lead you to. This gives more flexibility to the hypermedia 
systems' navigation technique, and careful implementation of the feature 
will definitely lead to a *intelligent linking* in hypermedia.

(The necessity of Dynamic Links will be discussed with examples at my 
Hyper-G HomePage addressed below).

I propose that the new-generation hypermedia servers (like Hyper-G) 
should support this Dynamic Linking concept, and a Client/Server protocol 
should be worked out enabling this feature. Howevere, more thoughts are 

> Some of the attributes I have come up with for links are as follows:
> Author
> Creation Date
> Title
> Comments
> etc.
> Some actions associated with links I can think of are as follows:
> Launch a script (or other program)
> Highlight a phrase.
> Perform a query.
> Simply jump.
> What other attributes and actions might/should links posess? I envision
> that links should have a fair amount of structural information to them
> (much in the same way a document would).  Some might argue that links
> should be fairly minimalest and only link.  However, I disagree as the
> links themselves in many ways become part of the document and thus (like
> different parts of a document) need to serve a wide variety of functions.
> How robust should links be?  What attributes should they have?  What 
> actions should be associated with them?
> -Art

Hope to share more ideas about Dynamic Links in near future.

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