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Practical Internet Groupware by Jon Udell

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Exploiting URL Namespaces and Doctitle Namespaces

We’ve seen how a docbase’s URL namespace can encode a lot of information that can enable both programs and people to categorize the subsets of that namespace that search engines return. There’s also a complementary namespace that can carry an additional information load. The <TITLE> tag enclosed by an HTML document’s <HEAD> is an invaluable but often underutilized resource. Text placed there doesn’t appear in a web page. It becomes the title of the window in which the browser displays the page. As I mentioned in Chapter 5, you may be disappointed if you rely on the window title to display information that is essential to users. I’ve found that people don’t regard the window title as part of a web page, so you have to recapitulate it in the body of web pages in order to get people to notice it. But while this doctitle namespace may not be very interesting to people, it’s enormously useful to search-results scripts. Figure 8.2 shows what a search-results page looked like on the BYTE site.

Multidocbase search results

Figure 8-2. Multidocbase search results

The result set draws from three different docbases, but everything fits into a common abstract pattern:

DATE
  TYPE SUBTYPE TITLE
  ABSTRACT

When you control both the search engine and the docbase, you can always achieve this effect. The question is: With how much effort? Careful design of the URL and doctitle ...

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