Proposal: Definition Popup Tag

Carsten Whimster (
Thu, 1 Aug 1996 15:23:09 -0400 (EDT)

From: Carsten Whimster <>
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Proposal: Definition Popup Tag
To: (www-html)
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 1996 15:23:09 -0400 (EDT)

Hi,                                                      Aug 1/1996

This is my first stab at this type of thing, so someone please straighten
me out by e-mail if I do something wrong.


Proposal for a Definition Popup Tag:

===== Background:

In many documents there is the need for a "quick-n-dirty" definition being
available, akin to the popup definition in the Microsoft Windows help
subsystem.  Currently, if you need to define a term, you must either
create a link to somewhere else or put it inline. This other place might
be a page of definitions, or it might be later in the same page.

In either case, the technical reader who doesn't need to see this defintion
has to wade through extra material, OR the need for an extra page arises.

The proposed tag would be useful in highly technical documents with a mix
of expertise in the readership, in multi-media HTML-based works, such as
multi-media dictionaries based on browsers, and many other places.

I have looked through the last year and a half of discussion on HTML, but
could not find anything similar to this. My apologies if I missed

===== Proposed tag:

<DP> [<DT>...<DD>...]* </DP>

example 1:

<DD>A small aquarian mammel, indigenous to Australia, and consisting of
    mostly a duck's beak, an otter's body and a beaver's tail.

which would show as:


and when the user clicks (bad ASCII art alert):

Platypus +----------------------------------------+
-------- | A small aquarian mammal, indigenous to |
         | Australia, and consisting of mostly a  |
         | duck's beak, an otter's body, and a    |
         | beaver's tail.                         |

example 2:

...famous towers are:
<DT>the Eiffel Tower
<DD>A black metal tower in Paris, France
<DT>the CN Tower
<DD>The tallest free-standing struicture in the world, located in Toronto,
    Ontario, Canada
, in addition to...

...famous towers are the Eiffel Tower, the CN Tower, in addition to...
                         ------------  ------------

which would show up as:

This would basically be identical to the current <DL>, except in that the
definition term is always visible in the document, as some type of a link,
but the definition description will only become visible while the user
holds the mouse button down over this term. DP stands for Definition Popup.

When the user presses the first mouse button down on the DT term, a little
plain border window pops up, with the DD text inside. Alternately, the
window could look like a Motif-style menu, with the term being the
"menu-item", and the text being the "menu", or many other ways. It is
desirable that the term be visible when the window appears. This could also
be accomplished by overlapping the term with the window, but starting the
text with "term: ", ie. "Platypus: A small...".

The implementation of this would likely take only a couple of afternoons
by a dedicated programmer.

===== Variations:

1) The tag might be configurable for the number of lines the DD term
   should be displayed on. This could take the form of:

   <DT>Term blah
   <DD LINES="3">Explanation blah.

   This would give the author more control over the appearance of the window

2) The link could be a different colour, to distinguish the DP link from a
   normal link. This colour would then be configurable in the browser.

3) The link could have a different pattern underscore, configurable, to allow
   black and white screens to show the difference. As an example, a dashed
   underscore versus the regular solid underscore.



Carsten Whimster             EDM Associate Editor, Book Reviewer   EDM Site:
The OS/2 API Project
My Webpage