Structure of the AMAT Hyperscripts


Form and Function

The fundamental philosophy behind the hyperscripts of AMAT is expressed in the following (di)lemma:


A real Hyperscript must be different from a normal textbook or script that has been converted to HTML.
A real Hyperscript must transcendent the confines of printed media and emerge as something "better" than conventional books.

A real Hyperscript for use in universities must be written by a "Professor".
There was (and still is) a big problem with this request:
It is much easier to define what is not a Hyperscript than to enumerate the criteria that must be met by a real Hyperscript.
As stated above, neither an existing book converted to HTML nor a work written in HTML from the very beginning, but with a structure very similar to a real book, meets the criteria.
A simple rule of thump: If a print-out of the HTML pages bound together would form a self-contained entity - a book - you do not have a Hyperscript.
But what exactly is a Hyperscript and what is going to make it better than a good textbook? I don't know and neither, I sincerely believe, does anybody else. The reasons for this are:
Working with Hyperscripts - and working means learning - needs not only Hyperscripts, but new modes of learning and teaching, too.
The three ingredients - teaching with Hyperscripts, learning from Hyperscripts, and the Hyperscripts themselves - depend on each other for optimal results, and since neither exists presently in a finished form, they can only come into being in an evolutionary way involving trial and error (or the survival of the fittest).
In short: When the first Hyperscript (Defekte in Kristallen) was started, we had a relatively good idea what we did not want to do; but not a very clear idea of what we wanted to do.
In other words: The contents of the Hyperscript were not so clear at the start- and this demanded an open but optimized structure meeting the following requirements:
Distinctly different from the (linear) structure of books.
Hierarchical - it should always be clear which parts constitute the hard core learning material - the "backbone" - and what is just help to learn what has to be learned.
Universal - usable for many different types of Hyperscripts.
Amenable to evolution - changes, amendments and so on should be easy.
Simple, so that typical "users" (as contrasted to "hackers"), or even Professors, can work with it or amend it, respectively
Optimized for HTML, but open to the expected evolution of the Internet.
Clear file system - in order to be able to keep track of thousands of documents.
Possibility of "automatic" functions by running suitable programs (e.g. for indexing) across the file tree.

The result, obtained after much deliberation and some trial and error, is the present structure, identical for all Hyperscripts.
For starters, it can be best described by looking at its graphical expression, the "Matrix of Modules" (accessible for all Hyperscripts from the main menu under "Project") which is the analog of the "contents" for books.
We use now a typical part of the Matrix of Modules from "Defects in Crystal" to describe the structure of the AMAT Hyperscripts:

"Matrix of Modules" as Illustration for the Key Features of the Hyperscript Structure

Basics Backbone I Backbone II Illustrations Exercises Advanced

2. Properties of Point Defects

2.1 Intrinsic Point Defects
Stirling formula
Schottky defect
Frenkel defect
Ionic crystals
Debye length
Vagaries S-Definition
Simple V and i
Frenkel defects
Schottky defects

Math "Schottky Defects"
Find the mistake
Solution to e2.1.1
Math "Sform"
Solution to e2.1.2
Calculate form
Solution to e2.1.3
Math "conc. V"
Solution to e2.1.4
Entropy in QM
2.2 Extrinsic Point Defects and Agglomerates
Phase diagrams
Arrhenius diagram
Java Arrhenius
Impurity atoms
Mixed Point Defects
Local and global Equilib.
Math "mixed PD"
Solution to e2.1.4

2.3 Point Defects in Silicon

General Remarks

Point defects in Si
2.4 Point Defects in Ionic Crystals
R and k - mol and c
Motivation and Basics
Kröger-Vink Notation
Schottky Notation and Generalization

Structure elements
Solution to e2.4.1
Chem. Potential and Equilibrium
Debye-Hückel Theory
Mass Action Law
Pitfalls of Mass Action
Use of Mass Action
Alternative Derivations of Mass Action Law
First, here is a two-dimensional organization (a matrix) and each cell in the matrix contains defined modules or pages dealing with a particular issue.
Horizontally, the different levels correspond to the chapters of a conventional book.
The Hyperscript, after all, is for learning something new, and this still requires a sequence of topics with a succession that is dictated to a large extent from the material covered.
There is, however, a certain deviation from a strictly linear sequence of chapters as evidenced in chapters 2.3 and 2.4 which are registered in a different column called "backbone II".
Vertically, three (color coded) columns can be distinguished:
"Basics" (green column), containing stuff the student is supposed to know. The basics column contains modules which repeat important issues, give definitions, tables, mathematical rules and backgrounds - it provides whatever the student may want to look up in the context of learning the "real" stuff.
"Backbones", "Illustrations" and "Exercises" (blue columns). The modules in these columns contain the stuff that should be learned and everything that may be helpful for the learning process. The detailed meaning of the four columns is:
Backbone I This is the hard core of the Hyperscript. It contains everything the student should know or be familiar with.
Backbone II provides additional chapters which may or may not be part of the required learning - this is at the discretion of the lecturer.
Illustrations contains additional visual and other help for the understanding of the subject matter. This material was not included in the backbone in order to keep the backbone uncluttered.
Exercises provides the usual exercise questions, but also formats that could not be used in conventional text books.
"Advanced" contains everything that does not belong to the learning stuff. In contrast to the name, it is not restricted to truly advanced issues of the topics to be learned, but may also contain anything that is not required learning - e.g. amusing and entertaining side-issues, biographies, and anecdotes or whole surveys of related fields.
Second, the matrix of contents represents the file structure of the Hyperscript.
Each column (except backbone II) corresponds to a file which in turn is contained in the chapter file. A representative sample of the file structure is shown below
File structure of Hyperscripts
File names follow a rigid system in order to enable automatic functions. They are listed in the matrix of modules - this is the only way to directly finding a file with a certain content.
Third, a simple color coding provides easy information concerning the status of documents. Blue documents are finished, red ones still need work. Other colors denote somewhat subtler properties.
This is important for the student who may want to know what he or she can find now and expect soon, and the writer, who sees at a glance where more work is needed.
It also helps to find special modules (e.g. animations or JAVA applets) in a direct way.

Fourth, the matrix implicitly shows that the documents are linked; mostly horizontally, but also vertically.
This is of course one of the main ingredients that make a real Hyperscript different (and hopefully better) than books.
In the (German) article about the use of Hyperscripts, a number of qualitatively different links are enumerated; suffice it to say that there are not only links between modules of the Hyperscript, but also links within one module and links to the outside world. Try the guided tour for a taste treat.

More about the Structure

If we want to dig deeper in the structure, we have to leave the matrix of modules now and look at the menu bar; which is identical in its appearance for all Hyperscripts.
Besides the direct links to the chapters of each script we find the the following buttons:
Project: This will open a menu that not only contains the important matrix of modules, but a number of other "metamodules", i.e. modules about the Hyperscript, too. Some of those modules are automatically generated and help to keep the Hyperscript in working conditions.
Indexlist provides an alphabetical list of index words with direct links to the modules (via the numbers) where the word has been marked in a special way.
Names does the same thing for all names appearing in the Hyperscript. If a name is underlined, it is contained in a headline which means that there is probably a whole module to this name - i.e. a biography.
Abbreviations lists the abbreviations with their full name and provides a link to the modules where the abbreviation has been marked.
Dictionary is the newest addition to the automatically generated lists. It gives the German translation of "special" English words which may not be part of a standard students vocabulary.
It also shows some of the potential of the "check" program (from J. Carstensen) which generates all those lists: It is relatively easy to include new functions - because the structure, especially the file structure of all Hyperscripts is identical and well-defined.
In a next step, e.g., a German to English dictionary may be implemented, or a list of all words with Greek or Latin roots and their translation, or a list of (open or hidden) quotations, Anything else useful or entertaining could be implemented.
Next we have to look at individual pages, where we will find some common styles and some special appearances.
The common style for all modules is given by the general format of the pages. This includes the use of style sheets for easy changes of all modules, the triangles and dots, and lots more formatting rules.
The differences are in the backgrounds of modules. Whereas the "hard core" stuff in the backbones is displayed without frills, the exercises, illustrations, basic and advanced parts have clear identifiers - it should always be clear what has to be learned and what only is supposed to help in learning.
There is another difference, too. The backbone modules always have pointers to the preceding or following chapter and a button for the menu, to allow easy navigation.
All other modules have pointers to the modules which have links to the module in question - you may go on a non-linear browsing expedition that may give you unexpected insights and a feeling for the connectivity of things.
All pointers are automatically generated by the check program, too.
Last, we have to look at the extra files not containing regular modules of the Hyperscript. There are several, as shown above, especially:
Metamode; containing all modules dealing with the Hyperscript itself - the matrix of modules, table of content, introduction, etc.
Check, containing the program that does all the automatic functions and the lists it generates.
Java for the source code and the compiled Java applets. Since the unavoidable mixture of MS Windows and Unix formats tends to destroy JAVA modules (Windows NT, e.g. for reasons known only to Bill Gates; changes the writing of file names by (arbitrarily, as far as we can tell) switching form upper case letters to lower case or back - which will kill any Unix program). It is thus advisable to keep the JAVA applets separate and to treat them with care.
Articles contains documents from someone else; e.g. research papers and is best kept separate.
Styles, finally, is a file included on every level in the file tree that contains all relevant style informations and the graphics needed.

Form Follows Function?

Whereas we sincerely hope that the Hyperscripts in their present state might already qualify as budding real Hyperscripts, much remains to be done to reach the goal.
Representing Math with JAVA applets and much more exercises in different formats remain to be added.
While "Basics" and "Advanced" could be enlarged indefinitely with classic text book wisdom, it is probably wiser to provide alternative views of well known subjects or alternative derivations of known formula. An example can be found for the Nernst equation in the "Electronic Materials" Hyperscript (for specific reasons contained in Backbone II, though).
More animations and especially simulations would be desirable; but this has to wait a bit longer.
Still, the present structure of the Hyperscripts will easily accommodate all these issues.
And, as a last word to anybody attempting to produce a Hyperscript: Do not start without thinking very hard about the detailed structure of you opus! Otherwise it will blow up into your face pretty soon. Look at the development of the Hyperscripts of AMAT:
  Documents (HTML and graphics) Files Megabytes of content
June 2000 7.396 536 159
May 2001 11.087 789 332
August 2001 11.092 799 324 (some cleaning-up has been done!)
Sept 2001 11 359 818 328
Nov. 2001 11 614 831 340
Oct. 2001 15.645 1.047 489
March 2007 15.955 1.007 1.530
March 2016 23.084 2.400 4.046
Without a clear structure, you will soon spend most of your time in searching things and modifying everything - instead of generating content.

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