GECI International SA, the Paris-based privately-owned consultancy service multinational, has launched a hypertext product called Hyperdoc, claiming an advantage over Apple’s Hypercard both because it is a colour system, as well as being designed to run on standard MS-DOS micros. Hyperdoc is a toolkit that enables the user to access information through the hypertext approach, […]
GECI International SA, the Paris-based privately-owned consultancy service multinational, has launched a hypertext product called Hyperdoc, claiming an advantage over Apple’s Hypercard both because it is a colour system, as well as being designed to run on standard MS-DOS micros. Hyperdoc is a toolkit that enables the user to access information through the hypertext approach, that is by making associative links between pieces of information. At full capacity it uses a multimedia interactive and unstructured database comprising video, sound, high resolution graphics, text, scanned images and animation. It currently supports 16 colours, four monochrome tones and an image size up to 6,000 by 4,000 pixels. The user can browse through the information using windows, pointers, questions and drop-down menus to get around the database. As soon as the user wants to find another level of static information beyond that represented on the screen he clicks onto the part of the text or graphics he wants to find more out about, and that calls up a menu asking what detail is required and then routes him to the reference point he needs – we’re assuming here that the program was created by a woman and the user is a man. For example, if the query was to do with a car clutch, then the user would click onto the the graphic representation of the clutch on a diagram of a type of car. A menu would pop up asking him what he wanted to find out about the clutch. If it was how to change a clutch he would be routed to various static levels of explanation; if he wanted to find out how many clutches he had in stock he would, for this kind of dynamic information, be routed to the database. To prevent the user getting lost among all these levels of operation, the Hyperdoc features an audit trail that is activated by pressing the F2 button on the keyboard. This presents a flow chart indicating the route the user has taken, and he can then click back to any stage of that route. Flow charts can also be used for problem solving, enabling the user to move through a variety of solutions in pursuit of the answer to his problem. In terms of its use for training people, Hyperdoc can, of course, also be used with interactive video disk. Naturally, none of this would be possible without the ingenuity of the programmer, and GECI claims that Hyperdoc applications are not at all difficult to create. Textual information can be imported and structured using text editors, which come as part of the package, or a standard word processor that outputs in generic ASCII format that the editor then converts to the hard disk format can be used, or the programmer can scan information on a scanner using Autoread OCR to recognise the information. Entrepreneurial ideas Graphics can be created via PaintBrush, which Hyperdoc’s graphic editors convert on to the hard disk format. Diagrams are a liitle harder to create and require computer-aided software engineering tools. Yet GECI believes that anybody with a little knowledge of Basic can develop simple applications easily using a word processor or the text editor to create the macro code, with menus facilitating the setting up of links between raw information and graphics, and a glossary is provided to help route text links throughout the application. The minimum configuration required for Hyperdoc is an AT-compatible micro with 640Kb RAM, MS-DOS and CGA graphics – it will even run slowly on an Amstrad 1512 or 1640! The software also supports CD-ROM, and a variety of screens and graphics cards. Hyperdoc has as many applications as there are entrepreneurial ideas for its use, but it is particularly suitable for presenting pub.cw 8 lic information, reference manuals and so forth. The product starts shipping this month, with prices starting at UKP1,000 for which the user gets the basic authoring tools and consultation software.