A particularly elegant and effective use of graphic presentations of folder structure appears in Dynamic Diagrams' MAPA software for the Web. "Composed of a Java applet, a Web walker, and a database," MAPA first automatically creates hierarchical relationships among all the documents on a website and then visualizes them in two ways, first "as an animated three- dimensional site map" and then as a list of all links into and out of a particular lexia ("Introducing MAPA"). Moving one's mouse over the icons representing individual documents on the site map reveals both their URLs and titles in a pop-up window. Clicking once on any icon representing a lexia in the site map makes that document the center of a newly generated sitemap. Clicking twice opens the lexia represented by the icon, thereby permitting users to obtain lexias that exist several or -- even dozens of -- links away from the current one. By permitting readers first to gain an idea of the overall organization of an entire website and then move rapidly between distant portions of it, MAPA fulfills much of hyperetext's potential to recognfigure our experience of distance and separation in information space. By permitting users to locate and then open lexias widely separated in the document or file structure, Dynamic Diagrams' software makes needed information just one jump away.
Last updated: 13 August 2000