HCIL-93-22, CS-TR-3090, CAR-TR-675
The most important factor determining the usability of electronic documents (e.g. hypertexts) is neither the set of links within the material nor the structure of the database but the availability "hypertools" defined as a vast range of electronic tools to support a diversity of reading activities. To illustrate this point, an analysis is undertaken of reading done for the purpose of using the information within a document to assist in tasks involving planning, decision making, and problem solving. Secondly, many readers start with the goals of finding, comparing, and evaluating information. Tools can help them realize these goals by supporting the activities of searching, collecting, and manipulating information. Other tools help people explore task requirements, enable them to preplan details of their interaction with the text, enhance their use of other tools, and optimize their screen-based working environment. It is argued that the support available for people working with electronic texts will not only offer many of of the functions available to readers of printed text, but electronic tools will also offer functionality that has no close counterpart in printed media. Consequently, hypertools will change the way readers do familiar tasks and facilitate tasks which are exceedingly difficult to accomplish when working with information on paper.