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Visual Representation of Nodes

When the reader views a node, they are looking at both the contents of that node, and the way in which those contents are presented. The latter is usually referred to as the UI, or User Interface. Software reviewers, advertisers, and lawyers also use the phrase "look and feel," a rather vague term covering the entire user/software interaction process.

The contents of the node include such factors as typeface, point size, and ink colour. The UI includes page size, headers and other structural conventions. On a computer screen, such attributes are bound to the underlying structural paradigm. For example, a card-based hypertext will not allow scrolling of text or multiple windows per screen.

Interface considerations for hyperbooks include:

  • window header and footer information--what should be included?
  • window colour--what information (if any) should this convey?
  • window border
  • window size
  • customization--which features are set by the system, the author, the reader?

UI options become greater when considering what happens when a link is traversed. There are three main choices:

  • Paging: the new node completely replaces the old.
  • Tiling: the new node appears elsewhere on the screen in some designated fashion. For instance, Bush's Memex had two screens so that the second node could appear alongside the first.
  • Windowing: the new node overlaps the old so that the relationship between the two is implicitly illustrated.

These three display options lead to a great variety of user interfaces. As an example, imagine we have a monitor large enough that it can be divided into quadrants, each displaying a node. When a new node is displayed it replaces the oldest currently visible. The windows would not be resizable or movable. This simple interface would suffice to present a great deal of contextual information efficiently.