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

> ----------
> From: 	KIRTO[SMTP:Kholson@xxxxxxxx]
> Sent: 	Friday, March 15, 1996 12:16 PM
> To: 	xanadu@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: 	Re: What should hyperlinks do? What attributes should they have?
> On Tue, 12 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) 
> This language alone should give us pause because links that do more than 
> link will confuse our thinking. I'll unilaterally call the multiple 
> function thingies "chains."

I'm not so sure that explicit actions are really needed. An action certainly IS taken based on the link, but the action is a matter of implementation. To me, the link is a primitive transclusion that the individual browser realises by starting up the GIF viewer. If one chooses, the browser can be set up to just display a link to the image. 

That is not to say that there is no need for link attributes, just that we need to be very careful in differentiating between a genuine attribute and an implementation or rendering detail.

IMHO, a good example of a transclusion attribute would be "latest version" or a specific version.
> > Some of the attributes I have come up with for links are as follows:
> > 
> > Author
> > Creation Date
> > Title
> > Comments
> > etc.

I would tend to view the above as attributes of the transcluded material rather than of the link itself.
> These are the ones I want to call chains.
> > Launch a script (or other program)
> > Highlight a phrase.
> > Perform a query.

The above really only need to indicate the availability and type of materials to render. The browser should know what to do with them (perhaps based on preferances set by the user).

> I believe that changing text properties (italic, underlined, green) 
> differs from a stylized phrase in many ways. People learn to ignore the 
> "links" in printed text. Can they learn to ignore the multiple word 
> colors and type properties as well?

>From my own experiance with HTML, I'd say yes.

Steve J.