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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Project: WebPath Domino: Guided tours of the Web

Researchers: Paul Moody

A Collaborative User Experience Project:

Lotus WebPath Domino allows you to create narrated paths through any HTML pages, letting you guide other users through the vast amount of information available on the Web and in Domino-based intranets. Based on an idea first described as "trails" by Vannavar Bush in 1945 in his Memex system, WebPath acts as a collaborative filter, steering users to the pages the author wishes them to view.

WebPath works by adding to a Web browser the ability to create and publish narrated paths. This commentary explains why the author wants you to see a particular page. In that way, a WebPath serves as a coherence document, grouping unconnected pages from the Web into a meaningful, ordered experience. WebPath also helps keep browsing on track; when users leave the path to browse other pages, WebPath requires just a single-click to return to the path.

The WebPath Domino reader, a browser-based path following tool

WebPath Uses
As a new personal and business document type - Want to share the documents you put or browse on the Web? WebPath offers a convenient way to let others see what you saw on the Web.

As workflow on the Web - When the path contains forms for processing work (such as new employee forms), WebPath can guide the worker through the work with customized instructions.

As task oriented Help - Now that on-line Help is produced as HTML, WebPath can pull together multiple Help "How Do I" topics to document large, complex tasks.

As tours through web sites - When a Web site contains information for multiple audiences, WebPath makes it easy to create audience-specific tours without duplicating content in the site.

As a publishing opportunity - Wouldn't you like to see the Web sites Esther Dyson (editor of the industry newsletter, Release 1.0) thinks are interesting and why? WebPath can let you subscribe to paths created by respected authors.

As personalized teaching aids - Imagine taking a class in which the instruction materials are on-line, and your instructor's comments to you are included as the WebPath narrative.

WebPath Domino
WebPath Domino was built using JavaScript and does not require special client software to edit or read paths with a standard browser. The Lotus Domino server is used to deliver the client software (both reader and editor) as well as to store the paths.

The WebPath Domino editor - a complete client-side editor using JavaScript served from the Domino server

As an editor, WebPath Domino is a full function client-side application. WebPath can create a path from scratch, import parts of other paths, or edit existing paths. Each page in the path can have its own title, comment, and icon. The path reader, also built totally with JavaScript, replays the author's comment while displaying the accompanying Web page.
The WebPath Library database, a customized version of the Notes R4.6 Document Library Template, is the only file needed to deploy pathing on a Lotus Domino server. WebPath uses Domino's security capabilities to provide access control. Access to the path can be controlled, allowing editing, reading or no access to the paths stored in the library.