Readers of TidBITS apperceive of my apparent attraction with the accumulator and retrieval of information, abnormally the free-form textual advice an bookish charge clue and dispense in adjustment to address lectures, books, and articles. So aback a new allotment of software, Palimpsest, angry out to be created abnormally for bodies like me, it didn’t booty Nostradamus to adumbrate I’d be intrigued. And aback Palimpsest angry out to amalgamate word-processing elements with appearance of air-conditioned accoutrement like HyperCard, Storyspace (see TidBITS-095), Conc, and FreeText – and written, to top it all off, application Prograph (see TidBITS-312) – I was absolute interested.
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Palimpsest comes from Western Civilisation, an Australian company. It started as a clandestine way of managing bags of pages of acknowledged documents; now it’s arise to the apple for managing, investigating, and apropos cyberbanking abstracts generally. (A palimpsest is a arrangement that has been rubbed out and accounting over, and no, I didn’t accept to attending it up; I acclimated to be a classicist, remember?) You can apprentice added about Palimpsest at their Web site, or download a audience from Info-Mac.
The Basic Milieu — You use Palimpsest to read, create, navigate, and investigate Palimpsest documents. If your abstracts aren’t initially Palimpsest documents, you can actualize a Palimpsest certificate and either adhesive (or annoyance & drop) absolute into it, or acceptation absolute as styled argument from SimpleText.
Using Palimpsest looks and feels rather like application HyperCard. You apparently will accept several windows that attending like HyperCard stacks, anniversary consisting of one agenda bedeviled by a scrolling acreage of styled, editable text. Anniversary “stack” is absolutely alleged a Section, and Sections are apprenticed calm abaft the scenes into a Document. Anniversary Area can itself be subdivided by Headings. Here’s how Documents, Sections, and Headings are related:
A Branch is alone a allotment of argument to which you accept activated the Accomplish Branch command. Application a amphibian windoid alleged the Branch Browser (which displays the Headings in whatever Area is frontmost) you can accord anniversary Branch a level, so that they arise in a hierarchical, outline-like accord to one another. (This bureaucracy is absolutely conceptual; it has no arresting alternation aural the argument of the Area itself.) Double-clicking a branch in the Branch Browser all-overs you to that abode in the Section.
Similarly, a Table of Capacity window lists the Sections of the Certificate in a allusive order, like capacity in a book. You can change the adjustment by boring the Area listings, and anniversary Area advertisement can aggrandize to appearance the Headings it contains. Again, you can double-click a Area or Branch advertisement in the Table of Capacity to go there.
You can additionally cross from Area to Area calmly with a pop-up card in the lower larboard bend of anniversary Area window, which lists all Sections of the Document.
Section Types and Certificate Types — Sections arise in Types, which are like HyperCard backgrounds: for instance, if a archetypal Area of a accurate Certificate is of the “Chapter” type, again the concrete blueprint of anniversary Chapter Area is identical, differing alone in the capacity of its fields. Abstracts arise in Types too, anniversary consisting of the Area types it can contain. At any time, you can adapt a Certificate by abacus a new Area of any blazon which that blazon of Certificate can contain.
There are additionally automated Area types: the Table of Capacity is itself a Area type, but you can’t actualize a new one; every certificate automatically contains absolutely one Table of Contents, as able-bodied as one Title Page and one Cover. You can, however, adapt these Sections – for instance, you can adhesive a account on the Cover.
A Certificate Blazon and the Area Types that aggregate it anatomy a arrangement instantly affecting all Abstracts of that type. You can adapt an absolute Certificate type, or actualize a new Certificate type. To do so, you draw the blueprint of its Area types, possibly by modifying absolute Area types to accomplish the activity faster. You can change the admeasurement of a Section’s window (its “card” size); you can add or resize Area fields (like “card fields”, their capacity are altered to anniversary Section) or Certificate fields (like “background fields”, their capacity are aggregate amid all Sections in which they appear). You can additionally accord a acreage a name, a appearance (e.g. scrolling or not), an antecedent text, antecedent text-style attributes, and so on. All this can be done intuitively, as in HyperCard or FileMaker.
Slicing the Cake — What I’ve declared appropriately far is a acceptable adjustment of dividing, formatting, and abyssal a document, but it isn’t all that altered from what you ability do with a chat processor. The absorbing allotment comes aback you alpha to allotment through the Document’s divisions, to appraise and cross your Certificate in new ways.
For example, you ability do a Search on a accurate chat or set of words you’re absorbed in. The after-effects arise as a new window assuming every analogous occurrence, one per line, anniversary with some ambience about it – in effect, a customized acceding to a Document. If you double-click a band of context, you jump to that atom in the absolute Document.
You ability additionally actualize a hypertext articulation amid two places in a Document. Such links are accurate in a Cross-Reference Details window, assuming you all links appearing from the alleged text, and absolution you specify a comment, an author, and a characterization for anniversary link. So, you’re not alone bond to addition area but annotating and allocation the articulation as well. Later, accepting alleged some affiliated passage, you can either chase the articulation or accessible the Details window. Thus, hypertext links aren’t aloof abyssal shortcuts; they’re additionally discussions of your acumen in advertence assorted passages.
Palimpsest additionally has Annotations, which are like the comments absorbed to hypertext links but after bond to any added passage. Opening a passage’s Annotation window is like account a hidden animadversion about it.
You can additionally get three sorts of “live” summaries of hypertext links (by “live” I beggarly you bang a articulation to jump there):
A amphibian windoid alleged the Cross Reference Browser lists all passages in the accepted area from which hypertext links emanate. (Similarly, there is an Annotation Browser.)
You can access a account of all passages at the far end of links which arise from the accepted Area or Document; this is alleged a Web View.
The Big, Big Account — So far, I’ve talked as if you assignment with alone one Palimpsest Certificate at a time. But Palimpsest is advised to administer and chronicle assorted Documents. Hypertext links can run amid Documents, and searches are performed over assorted Documents. What’s more, there are two added commodity types to advice you.
First, there’s the Paper. A Paper is a distinct window with one ample scrolling argument acreage in it, annihilation more. It’s meant in allotment as a abode to booty addendum while you work. A Paper can additionally accept Headings, hypertext links, and Annotations. The hypertext bond lets the Paper serve additionally as a athenaeum for references to assorted passages in Documents, and assertive appropriate appearance abetment with this. For instance, you can adhesive a access affected from a Certificate into a Paper and accept the pasted absolute be a hypertext articulation aback to the Certificate passage, all in a distinct move. And the after-effects of Searches, as able-bodied as Web Views and Paths, can be adored into a Paper as hypertext links, absolution you apprenticed accumulate alive references to accompanying material.
Second, there’s the Study. A Study is a clickable account of Abstracts (and Papers) with a accessible abrupt animadversion on anniversary one. (There is additionally commodity alleged the Archive – there’s alone one – which lists all Studies.) Studies acquiesce you to appoint aloft a ample accumulating of Abstracts as abounding altered categorizations as desired. Again, you can construe Search results, Web Views, and Paths into Studies to save time, and comments can advice explain why you’ve brought these Abstracts calm in this configuration.
So, for example, if I were autograph an commodity on Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, and I had all the scholarship on the accountable over the accomplished 40 years angry into Palimpsest Documents, again I ability accumulate clue of the scholarship in Studies – one Study advertisement all accessories ambidextrous with the Anger of Artemis, addition advertisement all accessories ambidextrous with the Hymn to Zeus, and so on. Meanwhile, I could address my own commodity as a Paper, application hypertext links to advice administer references and application the articulation comments to admonish myself of the relationships amidst the assorted referenced passages.
Teething Pains — In any software’s aboriginal canicule there are apprenticed to be shortcomings, and I acquainted there was affluence of allowance for baby improvements in the adaptation I saw. Some behaviors were slow. Windows didn’t bethink their sizes and positions. Windoids couldn’t be resized, and were too baby to be useful. Hypertext articulation labels couldn’t be edited. It was difficult to apperceive area the end of a hypertextually affiliated access was, so you could calmly extend it accidentally. Wider import/export capabilities (using XTND, perhaps) were needed.
However, these quibbles are accessory – and temporary. Western Civilisation is a acknowledging company, and absolutely expects to absorb fixes and user suggestions. A faster PowerPC-native adaptation has aloof been released, and best of the credibility I accession aloft are slated for fixing.
Granted, Palimpsest apparently doesn’t do any one of its assorted functions as able-bodied as a affairs committed to that activity alone: it doesn’t activity words as able-bodied as a absolute chat processor, or administer hypertext with the affluence of Eastgate’s Storyspace, or body its concordances with the adaptability of Conc. The important thing, however, is that it recognizes the charge to juggle, analyze, relate, read, and address about ample numbers of cyberbanking argument documents. Once you’ve apparent the Search (concordance) and hypertext accoutrement in action, it becomes accessible how abominably bare they’ve consistently been. For $50 you get a absolutely alive archetype and chargeless updates for a year – a actual appropriate price. If you anticipate Palimpsest ability accept a abode in your cyberbanking world, you owe it to yourself to download and try the chargeless demo.
Western Civilisation Pty. Ltd. — 61 2 9130 1731 (Australia)<[email protected]>
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