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New feature today
By Dave Winer on Wednesday, December 07, 2011 at 11:27 AM.

Let's try some open development here on Scripting News. #

I'm rolling out a new feature today. Almost everyone who reads this will lack the context to understand the feature. It's like opening a novel to page one and finding strange characters you don't understand. But you keep reading anyway, hoping that the author will give you a page-turner plot. #

I'm going to write this blog post the way I write my worknotes. It's where I think out loud. Or narrate my work. Either way is a valid way to look at it. I basically don't worry about who is listening in. Or when they're listening. Perhaps these notes will be useful someday when someone is trying to understand my code. Or perhaps to someone who is cloning my work. Either way.  #

Anyway, today's new feature is the beginning of a transition of the world outline to actually being viewed like an outline. How about that. #

For years, it's been viewed as a directory structure. That's because my Javascript and CSS skills were almost non-existent. I had my head full of object databases and RSS and XML-RPC and such. This year I made room for JS and CSS. Now I understand them well enough to ship some relatively complex code that has a future (I hope) based on features implemented in the browser. #

The feature #

Here's a howto that shows how an author would create one of these web-browsable outlines in the OPML Editor. #

The demo #

Here's a demo of the feature. An outline of the Major League Baseball teams. #

You can link from nodes in the outline to any other type of node, so it has all the power of OPML directories. This is important because I hope to transition the non-expandable directories to the new outline nodetype.  #

I've linked to a photo from a Mets game, from the Mets node in the outline. Look at the crumb trail above the picture. See how it travels through the outline. So not only is it a display structure, it's also a navigation structure. If you click any of those links, you'll go back to the outline. It's so natural it almost doesn't seem like a discrete feature (the best kind of feature). #

The architecture #

See how URLs can be used to drill into an outline. This URL points to the Eastern Division of the National League. #

The OPML file #

This is the OPML file for the MLB outline. #

Observation -- the Set Nodetype command is your portal to happy hacking in the World Outline. It's how I got the Mets node to be a photo instead of just some text. I had to convert a copy of a thumbList node to be of type include so I could access its sub-nodes in the outliner. It blew me away when it worked, and the outline was connected to the photo from the Mets game in July.  #

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