"View Structure"

Jon Bosak bosak at atlantic-83.Eng.Sun.COM
Fri Apr 18 20:01:51 BST 1997

Jumbo's ability to show *any* XML document based purely on its tree
structure leads me to propose a convention among those who are
developing XML browsers.

All common Web broswers today have a "View Source" option that lets
you look at the HTML source file.  We all know how useful this is.
Future XML browsers will presumably have a similar option.

Because every well-formed XML document describes a tree, however, it's
also possible to have a "View Structure" option that would give you a
default navigable view of the document as a tree -- like the default
Jumbo behavior.  This view would allow you to expand and collapse the
structure and it would show attribute nodes that could be opened to
see the attributes on each element.  It could use a file manager
metaphor, like Jumbo, or it could use the plus-button/minus-button
interface used for most dynamic browser TOCs, or it could use
something else; the point is that it would be trivially autogenerated
on request, show the document in XML terms, and provide a commonly
understood base view independent of the application interface supplied
for a given document type that would always be available to people
trying to understand or debug an XML document.  "View Structure" would
presumably *not* use different type sizes, etc., but concentrate
instead on exposing the guts of the document, so I would expect the
display generated by character-mode browsers to look roughly the same
as the display generated by the fancy graphics-mode browsers.

This would just be an informal convention, like the inclusion of "View
Source," but I think that it would be an extremely useful one.


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