Client-side highlighting; tag proposal

Nick Arnett (narnett@verity.com)
Thu, 9 Mar 1995 19:25:51 -0700


Message-Id: <ab8564ae04021004a16a@[192.187.143.12]>
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 1995 19:25:51 -0700
To: www-talk@www10.w3.org, www-html@www10.w3.org
From: narnett@verity.com (Nick Arnett)
Subject: Client-side highlighting; tag proposal

As some know, we're being rather aggressive at Verity in developing Web
products that use our search and retrieval engine, the Topic Developer
Kernel (or Kit, if you prefer).  We've joined the W3C created various
relationships with browser and server companies and we're close to
releasing the 1.0 version of the Web search server that we've been showing
(and shipping in pre-release) for a few months.  I say all of this because
I've been a bit invisible lately as far as these lists are concerned.  Of
course, the lists themselves were invisible for a while...

A couple of times lately, I've brought up the notion that clients should
handle highlights (the terms that match a search query) better.  It's
rather inefficient to force the search server to proxy documents just so
that it can add highlights.  Worse, it takes the decision about *how* to
highlight (bold?  underline?  surround with asterisks?) out of the user's
hands (barring some sort of ugly protocol for telling the server).

We'd like to suggest a very simple approach -- a highlight tag.  This way,
our server could add the highlight tag in the appropriate places, but it
would be up to the browser (under the user's control, presumably) to decide
how to identify highlights in the text (turn them red, underline,
whatever).  An appropriate UI enhancement would be the addition of a "next
highlight" button or menu item and optionally a "previous highlight"
button.

However this is done, it should have an eye toward eventually allowing a
client to receive a URL and highlight information from the search server,
so that, armed with those two smidgens of data, it can fetch the document
and add the highlights all by itself.

I'd like to hear (1) suggestions on the form of this tag (we're assuming
something terribly simple such as <hl> and </hl>) and (2) objections or
concerns.

I'm cross-posting to www-talk and www-html;let's keep the markup-specific
discussion (which may be all of it) on -html.

Nick