Interface for link adding

Francis Heylighen (
Thu, 6 May 1993 16:16:57 +0100 (Marc Andreessen):
>Just a note: transparent addition of hyperlinks is one of my top
>priorities for Mosaic this summer (they will initially be handled the
>same way as personal annotations are now, and then extended along with
>personal annotations into group/community/world sharing and
>collaboration). I'm planning on using the same user interface
>Intermedia uses/used, btw (select the text of the hyperlink in one
>window/document, choose "Start Link" from the menubar, select the text
>for the target of the hyperlink in another window/document, choose
>"Complete Link" from the menubar). Anyone have better ideas?
>(Something drag'n'drop might be nice...)

It might be simpler if you don't have to select "Complete link" from the
menubar, since the default expectation is that, apart from navigation
commands, the command following "Start Link" will anyway be "Complete
Link". Why not simply let the user press "return" or "enter" or something
like that once the destination has been selected? Something similar is used
in HyperCard: when you choose "Start Link" a little dialog window appears
on your screen which remains there while you navigate to the destination
(in the same or another window), and then you choose "Link" or "Cancel"
from the dialog. It does not make much difference with the scheme Marc
proposes, but slightly decreases the complexity of remembering and
selecting the "Complete link" command.

Drag and drop would also be nice, but the problem is that you would first
have to select the destination anchor on which the source anchor should be
dropped. Otherwise the system would not know whether you want to link to
the whole document, window, section, sentence, or word... Having to make
the selection beforehand would obviate the advantage of drag and drop
editing. You might avoid this by proposing a default selection for the
destination, e.g. the sentence in which you drop, but that would make the
default system rather inflexible.

A perhaps simpler possibility is that the text being selected as a source
anchor S would be highlighted in a particular way (e.g. selecting with the
mouse by double-clicking or by clicking with the shift key), indicating the
entering of the "link mode". When another text chunk D somewhere else would
be selected the system would by default assume that you want to link the
former to the latter, and propose the dialog "Link S to D?" with "OK" or
"Cancel". Graphically this might also be represented by an arrow or line
starting from the source text and moving with the mouse to the destination
text being selected. The presence of the arrow would denote "link mode",
and as long as that mode is on, any selection would automatically be
interpreted as a destination anchor.

Dr. Francis Heylighen Systems Researcher
PO, Free University of Brussels, Pleinlaan 2, B -1050 Brussels, Belgium
Phone:+32-2-6412525; Fax:+32-2-6412489; Email: