PHD Computer Consultants Ltd
... Project Ideas and Technical Proposals
Last modified: 12 November 1996.

Page Contents On-site Links
Net Universal Form
Site Overview Generator
Web Help Index Program DONE
Browser details
HTML line numbers as name anchors
.HLP file viewer for browser
Auto uploader for Web pages to your site
Auto downloader for Web sites
FTP Agent
Plain PC Replace winhelp: look up Web pages instead
Way out Alternative to a File System!

Net Related

Site Overview Generator

Write a program to generate an HTML overview of a site, ie a contents page.

Different output styles could be supported.

Ideally this would use the proposed OUTLINE tag described below.
Most simply, the overview would just list the page title in their hierarchy, optionally with heading contents. Obviously all items would be real links.
More cleverly, use frames, with the main frame having the main contents; clicking on a main topic would show all the subsidiary topics in another frame.

Normally just specify "entry point" page, eg index.html or default.htm, and the output page to create, as well as any options. The program would then index all "local" pages from the entry point.
Optionally parse all pages in the current directory (and sub-directories).

Remember to avoid cataloging pages that are overview pages, to avoid recursion.


Have an HTML OUTLINE tag which allows sections of documents to be collapsed to just its title. Right-clicking (or something similar) will expand the hidden section. Alternatively the hidden section could pop-up as a small box, a la Windows help context pop-up.

It could be argued that ordinary links could be used instead of this. Alternatively, a frame pair could achieve the same effect. However, a contents list would be best shown using this proposed OUTLINE tag.

Web Help Index Program


Do a help index program, ie which allows you to type nex and all the topics beginning with nex are displayed.

Needs a help index data file, linking index word to link point.

Data file could be generated by the Site Overview Generator.

This would be especially useful for Web API overviews.

Work out non main heading indices either from links within pages, eg #help. Alternatively pick up new tags, eg <X-INDEX>, and link as best as possible (or insert link points).


Have an HTML PRINT PAGE BREAK tag which forces a page break (or column break) when printed out. Helpful for longer pages.

Possibly unnecessary as Netscape already keeps table rows together on a page.

HTML line numbers as name anchors

Currently any anchors within a web page have to be defined by the page author, eg <A NAME="top"> referenced as <A HREF="#top">.

Other authors may wish to link to specific line within a web page. To do this, I propose that browsers recognise <A HREF="#--lineno">, where lineno is the line number of the HTML document, starting from 1 and counting a CR, LF or CRLF as a line end, eg <A HREF="#--100">. The browser will do its best if the line number does not make sense.

The main draw back is that such links depend on the original page not changing. So perhaps just having the author's named links is better.

.HLP file viewer for browser

Unnecessary for PCs: just set up Windows winhelp or winhlp32 as a viewer.
Auto uploader for Web pages to your site

I guess that this ought to be provided by a lot of development tools.
Auto downloader for Web sites

Make it easy to view pages offline by easily downloading all pages, images, etc. to local files.
Browser details

(A) In frames, if you select a link that has a target of another frame, then please set the keyboard input focus to that frame. This means that you can use Page Up, etc. straight away.
And when a frameset is set up, set the input focus to the last frame mentioned.

(B) Please put two spaces after period, colon and semi-colon characters.

(C) Have a zoom facility to enlarge detailed pictures.

FTP Agent

We've all been online to the 'States for an hour getting that latest ftp download.

Why not have an FTP agent on your local server? Simply put in a request for the required file. That night the agent brings the file over onto the local FTP server. You download it quickly the following day.

Popular files can be cached, so your file may already be there.

Do some big access providers already do this sort of caching (for web pages)?

An alternative that will work currently is to do FTP by email, if you can cope with it.

Universal Form

Have a single Java applet/application/class-set which acts as a universal form. It takes its layout definition from a separate file on the host.

The user can fill in the form, make list box selections, etc. The results are can be

  • sent to a CGI/ISAPI program using GET or POST methods
  • sent by email (using an SMTP server on the applet's host)
  • loaded by FTP (onto an FTP server on the applet's host)
  • stored directly on disk (applications only)
  • returned to the calling Java program (class-set only)

Write a companion program, a "Wizard/Expert" to let you design forms.

As well as all the basic field types, also provide classes derived from TextField which support integers, doubles (both with ranges) string, dates, email addresses, passwords, etc.

Initially using GridBagLayout, it might need a new Layout.

This will need to reuse or write SMTP and FTP client classes.

Plain PC

Replace winhelp: look up Web pages instead

Makes it possible to have a single set of documentation in HTML form, and not have a separate versions for each platform that your software supports.

Way out

Alternative to a File System!

It's pretty grotty as a user to have to trawl round a file system all the time. Is there a better way of un-organising things?

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