Flexibility in document preparation systems is important in many ways.
Typographical convention directs one to format information in different
ways to account for different display hardware capabilities, intended
purposes, user preferences and presentation style standards.
The advent of interactive computer-mediated viewing of text suggests
broadening the concept of "document" to include dynamic and static
information from any source, including animated graphics, interactive
program dialogues, optional linkages to other data sources and many
other possibilities. Despite performance constraints which tend to favour
the fastest, simplest display formats, rising user expectations and
increased hardware and software capabilities encourage consideration of
traditional typography in on-line documents.
Flexibility is enhanced by separating specification of form from that of
content; this can be achieved to a great degree through object-oriented data
representation and programming. Efficiency and speed questions are
raised by the prospect of interactive viewing with on-the-fly formatting.
These questions are addressed by JOT, a prototype distributed document
formatting and viewing system that is flexible and extensible. JOT is
intended as a framework or testbed for investigating mechanisms for
computer-mediated typography, not as an end-user application system
itself. Its implementation, though imcomplete, is suggestive of the merits
of this approach.
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