Geoff Chappell - Software Analyst
This website is constructed around the premise that although each page may know of other pages, and naturally will link to other pages, it need know only of itself. The place of a page within the site is not a property of that page but of the site. The navigational support provided at this site is therefore external to all the document pages. Being one of those computer users who finds a directory tree entirely natural for depicting the storage of files, I have chosen to present the navigational support as a table of contents (TOC) that looks very much like a directory tree from a file system.
Much of the merit of a tree-view lies in being able to expand and collapse branches according to one’s changing interests while browsing the tree. Such interactivity is surely not possible without support from the browser. The least that seems needed is to run scripts, and many web-based TOCs require much more. All the document pages at this site include scripts that would load the document into a viewer to show the table of contents with the document, side by side in one window. This is the preferred user interface, but it simply cannot be available to you if those scripts do not run, whether you choose not to run them or because I have not written them well enough for your browser.
A solution of sorts is to browse the site using two windows. Some browsers handle this as two tabs in the one window.
In one window, the first, follow a link to the Table of Contents. There is one at the top of this page, if scripts haven’t run. Once you have the TOC, if you follow a link to a document page, the browser will open a new window for the document page. The two windows become respectively a TOC window and a document window.
Whenever you follow a link in the document window, you will just load another document page into that same window. If you want to navigate the site more widely, return to the TOC window without closing the document window. When you follow another link from the TOC to a document page, you will load the document page in that same document window. The browser’s own navigation buttons in the document window will take you forwards and backwards through the document pages that you have viewed, without being affected by your switching to and from the TOC window.
As it happens, there are several TOCs. The site has several subwebs, which are very nearly disjoint, in the sense that few pages in one subweb link naturally to any pages in any other subweb. Add that some of these subwebs run to several hundred pages (already) and it makes sense, if only to me, that each subweb should have its own table of contents.
When a TOC is loaded without the viewer, it shows some additional links at its end, as a footer. These link to the other TOCs. When you follow one of these links, you load another TOC into the TOC window. The browser’s own navigation buttons in the TOC window will take you forwards and backwards through the various TOCs that you have accessed, independently of the history in the document window.
When you do not run the scripts, the TOCs are always and necessarily fully expanded. On the document pages, you will miss a few refinements, the most notable of which is that almost everything that is coloured, weighted, italicised or has pretty much any in-line formatting has a tooltip to explain why. Mostly however, you should not miss any text, at least not without a warning that there is more to see.