The Road to Hyperwise!

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by Cathy Longenberger

Creating online documentation is traditionally the last piece of any software product. Developers seem to hate writing the documentation. To help ease the pain, IBM (in 1989) introduced the Information Presentation Facility (IPF). IPF is a component of OS/2 that displays hypertext helps and books online. But, still, the authoring remained complex; thereby, allowing the author to seldem realize the incredible flexibility and power of IPF.

So, we tried again. Six months ago, IBM introduced an internal product called HyperWrite on The Developer Connection for OS/2 CD-ROM and to several Beta customers. HyperWrite is now a product and is called Hyperwise, announced and shipped in April, 1994.

Hyperwise Version 1.0 is a productivity tool for application and title developers. It enables what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) authoring of hypertext online information and application help for OS/2 and Microsoft Windows.

With Hyperwise, developers use simple drag-and-drop techniques to link text, audio, video and graphics. With a click of the mouse, developers can link to audio (.WAV and .MID) and video (.AVI) extension files supported in OS/2 2.1. Hyperwise also enables developers to link to and start other applications. Because Hyperwise enables the use of application-controlled viewports and gives ownership of those viewports to other applications, new technologies and media integration is always present.

IPF for Windows is packaged with Hyperwise, so the same information compiled for OS/2 IPF is viewable on Windows 3.1. This single sourcing increases productivity and enables developers to use OS/2 for their development platform, regardless of the platform on which their applications run. Another benefit of Hyperwise is the limited disk space it requires to store output. When Hyperwise exports a readable format, it compresses text and graphics up to 80%.

Before and After Hyperwise

Before Hyperwise, text was marked-up with tags. which tell a printer or compiler what the information type is and how to format it. For example, to show a graphic with two parts of the graphic linked to two panels, the tagging might be:

:xmp.
:h1 id=ID@287 group=80.Graphics Links
:artwork  align=center name='USALINK'.
:artlink.
:link reftype=hd refid=ID@289 group=80 x=246 y=10 cx=65 cy=68.
:link reftype=hd refid=ID@288 group=80 x=136 y=0 cx=57 cy=62.
:eartlink.
:h1 id=ID@288 group=80.The State of Texas
:h1 id=ID@289 group=80.The State of Florida
:exmp.

Though the tagging is concise, specifying the correct coordinates for the two graphics links requires a considerable amount of trial and error. This can be a truly painful experience.

However, Hyperwisse alleviates all of that pain. All you need do is m ark the source and drag and drop it onto the target. Much easier!

Before Hyperwise, testing links was only possible after the document was compiled. With Hyperwise, you are always in test and build mode. What this means is that you can create a text, graphics, audio or video link, and test it immediately. You also can view graphics integrated with your text, as well as split-screen windows before you compile your document.

Before Hyperwise, linking to audio and video was done through ACViewports and required considerable programming to write the .DLL that would interface with IPF and a device driver. With Hyperwise, no programming is required; linking is a matter of marking the beginning link and dragging and dropping it onto the audio or video-file ICON.

With the help of the SUPEROBJ.DLL, which is shipped with Hyperwise, the first panel of a .INF file can be a single graphic or multiple graphics with several links that go off to other panels.

Features and Function

The power of Hyperwise and IPF is in linking, designing panels, and accessing design function.

Linking

Hypertext linking, that is, branching from text to text, is commonplace in most online systems. With Hyperwise, you can link text to many other media such as graphics, video, and audio. You can also use text to start up other applications. Whatever you can do with text, you can do with graphics and parts of graphics. Extend the linking power to autolinking, which is starting one action when another is initiated. For example, if you want music to play when a particular panel is displayed, autolink the panel to the music.

Panel Design

Standard panel size is full size, positioned in the middle, or in the case of help, to the right or left of the field being described. Panel features are system menu, title bar, min/max icon and scroll bars. Size, position and any feature, such as horizontal or vertical scroll bars, can be altered. In addition, any number of panels can be placed inside another panel, creating split-screen designs. Copying any panel design is easily done through the panel template function.

Access Design

Quick retrieval of data is the reason online information has become so popular. The standard ways to get to information in hardcopy books are through indexes and table of contents. Those concepts were brought over to online information, but, in addition, the computer allowed us to add search and linking to the retrieval methods. Hyperwise expands those functions to include online titles (often called online books by the press), context-sensitive help, access through push buttons, and advanced-function linking (ACViewports, Dynamic Data Formatting and Inform messaging).

Conclusion

Although documentation might never be a favorite task of developers; IBM hopes to help by providing an easy-to-use, powerful tool - Hyperwise. Look forward to hints and tips in coming months, as well as more "related" applications.

Reprint Courtesy of International Business Machines Corporation, © International Business Machines Corporation