“As a user I can easily see the structure of a document” is the 7th of 27 requirements that we studied as part of our benchmark on XML editors. This is an important requirement because having the document structure in mind is a prerequisite for composing a coherent document. The structure of a document is often used from a bird’s eye view (a list of topics) or to relate a specific part of the content to it’s ‘surroundings’.
Representation of structure
The average score on this requirement is 3,2 with EasyDITA, XMetal and oXygen scoring four out of five. Most editors make a choice between either displaying the document structure as part of the document itself, like a table of contents, or in a side panel of the application. The representation of this structure is usually hierarchic and tells us something about the type of topics and sometimes provides links to these topics.
Bridge the gap between topic-based authoring and the table of contents
In FontoXML, we try to bridge the gap between topic-based authoring and the table of contents for a conventional document. The table of contents can be shown in a side panel. This way it can be kept open while working on a document and acts as an entry point for various topic-related operations. Because of FontoXMLs representation of DITA project maps, the table of contents can also behave like what authors are used to from MS Word and other text editors. By clicking, the author jumps to a topic in the document. By dragging, a topic can be moved within the structure of the document.