HCIL-90-11

Structural analysis of hypertexts: identifying hierarchies and useful metrics
Botafogo, R., Rivlin, E., Shneiderman, B.
Dec. 1990
ACM Transactions on Information Systems, vol. 10, 2, April 1992, 142-180.
HCIL-90-11, CS-TR-2574, CAR-TR-526
In hypertext databases users often suffer from the well known problem of getting "lost in hyperspace." An approach to solve this problem consists of improving authoring. This paper proposes several authoring tools, based on database structure analysis. In many hypertext systems authors are encouraged to create hierarchiacal structures, but when writing, the hierarchy is lost becouse of the inclusion of cross-reference links. The first part of this paper will look at ways of recovering lost hierarchies and finding new ones, offering authors different views of the same database. The second part helps authors by identifying properties of the database. Multilple metrics are developed: among them the compactness and stratum. The compactness indicates th e intrinsic complexity of the databse and the stratum reveals to what degree the database is organized so that some nodes should be read before others. Several from existing databases are used to illustrate the benefits of each tool. The collection of th ese tools provides a multifaceted view of the database and should allow authors to identify weaknesses in their database's structure and create better documents which users will be able to traverse more easily.
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