Chapter 7. Docbase Navigation

Docbases are rich with implied interconnectedness. For example, a report about Internet Explorer in the ProductAnalysis docbase might prompt a reader to explore the docbase along several dimensions:

  • More reports about Internet Explorer

  • The previous report about Internet Explorer

  • More reports by the author of this report

  • The next report by the author of this report

  • More reports about Microsoft products

  • More reports due around the same time as this one

In the relational database discipline, we satisfy the “More reports about...” kind of request with an SQL query, such as:

select * from docbase where product = 'Internet Explorer'

To handle a “Next report by author...” kind of request, we fetch and then navigate within a result set. These mechanisms enable users to explore the interconnectedness of a data set. But they don’t reveal it explicitly. That’s our goal in this chapter.

I’ve said that a docbase marries two disciplines: data management and publishing. From a data-management perspective, it might be enough to just bolt a web interface onto standard database query mechanisms. But a docbase isn’t just a database; it’s a hypertextual publication. The interface to that publication is distributed across every page of the docbase. A docbase works best when every piece of its distributed interface answers two basic questions: “Where am I?” and “Where can I go from here?”

The answers to these questions can take many shapes and styles. ...

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