[unrev-II] Re: Tuesday's meeting

From: Eric Armstrong (eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com)
Date: Wed Nov 15 2000 - 14:28:13 PST

  • Next message: Adam Cheyer: "RE: [unrev-II] Re: Tuesday's meeting"

    In a continuation of Saturday's meeting, Ken Holman
    met again with several members of the OHS design

    As a result of that meeting, the design focus is
    shifting away from "lets transcode every document into a
    common XML form" and towards "lets define the functional
    interfaces and only after that is done done figure out
    what XML is needed for data interchange."

    As part of that shift, rather than conceptualizing the
    OHS as XML-versions of documents, we're thinking of it
    as a repository that contains pointers to legacy-documents
    plus whatever additional data is required to provide OHS

    This focus strikes me as very promising. The strategy
    wins on several levels:
      1. As Ken mentioned, it allows others to differentiate
         and innovate on the implementation, using different
         internal representations to provide the requisite
         functionality in a way that preserves interoperability.

      2. It lets us think in terms of defining an abstract
         "viewer" for legacy documents. (E.g. word documents
         spreadsheets, diagrams, etc.) People who are close
         to those formats can build specific viewers, while
         the OHS provides a common ground for the additional
         data necessary to use them effectively.

      3. As more interesting views are constructued, they are
         stored in the OHS. Over time, the OHS becomes more
         and more central, and legacy documents become
         secondary, the OHS therefore grows "organically" from
         its legacy-document beginnings.

      4. As we discovered at Tuesday's meeting, the process
         of defining the requisite functionality and structures
         is tantamount to a specification (or anthropolical
         rediscovery) of Augment's "ontology". (It turns out
         that the "ontology" defines the functional interactions,
         as well as an abstraction-tree that leads naturally
         to an object hierarchy.) Casting the problem in these
         terms lets us use our ontology gurus (Jack and Howard)
         to advantage. They intend to start mining Augment
         documents in order to extract that ontology. (Eugene
         will use his Augment to HTML converter to make sure
         they get what they need.)

    Ken also pointed us towards a better use of the terms
    "HyperScope", "HyperDocument", and "OHS". He intuitively
    (mis)undestood them to mean the viewing engine (HyperScope),
    the repository (OHS), and the thing viewed (HyperDocument).

    The original meanings of the terms had been something more
    along the lines of HyperScope is a mini-OHS that works
    with legacy documents, while the OHS was the full monty,
    or words to that effect. But the meanings that the terms
    intrinsically suggested to Ken make a lot of sense. They
    suggest an appropriate division into viewers, entities, and

    And rather than having a "HyperScope" that one day
    evolves into a "OHS" (how do we know when it has happened?)
    we have both a HyperScope and an OHS on day one -- where the
    OHS starts small and grows larger, containing more flavors
    of HyperDocuments over time.

    At the moment, we seem to have factored the problem in a way
    that lets everyone bring their skills to bear simultaneously
    on different aspects of the problem. Odds are good that
    we'll be able to continue down this road for awhile, and
    potentially make substantial progress as a result.

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