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3 Hypertext Templates

Hypermedia templates are defined as sets of pre-linked documents that can be duplicated [Catlin et al., 1991]. Another definition of a hypertext template states that it “is a partially-created, properly formatted collection of document skeletons that can be filled in by the user” [Rao & Turoff, 1990].

Templates automate the process of creating hypermedia collections by creating the “skeletons” of documents and linking them. They facilitate the design, organization, and presentation of a collection of knowledge in the form of hypertext.

The template can be considered as a composite object comprised of other objects such as nodes and links. The usage of a template will definitely speed up the process of an average user’s understanding of the underlying hypertext model or the metaphor. Without a template, a hypertext author will have to start constructing the hypertext collection of ideas from the beginning. Many applications such as collaborative writing, teaching aids etc., have some common basis that can be transformed into a hypertext template.

Note that these templates have certain requirements and features.

Researchers at Brown University believe that the ability to duplicate collections of linked material can be extended to other hypertext environments. Research is required in the area of propagating editing changes to documents that were created using a particular template. The concept of class-based templates needs exploration – templates should be able to inherit characteristics from other templates (similar to the concept of inheritance in object-oriented systems). With inheritance, when an author changes a parent template, all of its sub-classed templates would change accordingly.