Browse Prior Art Database

Using Colors As a Visual Clue to the Structure of Documents

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000101312D
Original Publication Date: 1990-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-16
Document File: 4 page(s) / 141K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Ono, K: AUTHOR

Abstract

This article describes the innovative use of colors when a document is displayed on the monitor screen of a computer. The components of a document are displayed in appropriately chosen colors so that they may be distinguished and the structural relationship among them recognized easily. The purpose of this invention is to make editing of complex documents easier by indicating and emphasizing the structure of documents visually with colors.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 50% of the total text.

Using Colors As a Visual Clue to the Structure of Documents

       This article describes the innovative use of colors when
a document is displayed on the monitor screen of a computer. The
components of a document are displayed in appropriately chosen colors
so that they may be distinguished and the structural relationship
among them recognized easily. The purpose of this invention is to
make editing of complex documents easier by indicating and
emphasizing the structure of documents visually with colors.

      In the following, we will use computer programs as examples of
documents. However, the invention can be applied to other kinds of
documents that have a well-defined syntax, such as text documents
marked up with Generalized Markup Language (GML).

      A program written in a programming language is text (a
character string) that obeys the syntax of the language. Since
meaning (semantics) is associated with each syntax construct, making
syntactic structures easier to recognize helps make programs easier
to read and comprehend.

      Systematic indentation is among the most frequently used
methods of indicating structure. Although indentation is generally
effective, there are cases where this alone is not helpful enough.
For instance, the effectiveness of an indentation system depends upon
the amount of indentation for each indented construct.  If the amount
is too small, it is difficult to line up components that are
separated far from each other within a larger construct. This is
especially so if the last component cannot be displayed at the same
time as the others because of the limited size of a display monitor.
On the other hand, if the amount of each indentation is too large,
the number of possible indentations on a line is limited.
Furthermore, a consistent indentation may cause a lot of white
(unused) space on a display, thus reducing the amount of information
seen at one time.

      This article describes a method that emphasizes syntactic
structures by changing the color in which the components of syntactic
structures are displayed on a terminal screen. For instance, consider
the program fragment shown at the end of the article.  It is part of
a window procedure extracted from a Presentation Manager application
and simplified as an example. Since window procedures receive various
kinds of messages and must handle each of them appropriately, they
often use SWITCH statements, which cause control to be transferred to
one of several alternative statements indicated by CASE prefixes,
depending on the value of an expression. Since this fragment uses
nested statements, and some CASE statements are long, it is not easy
to find out to which SWITCH statement a CASE statement belongs,
although this fragment is indented.

      Colors can be used to distinguish components of program
structures. For instance, CASE statements belonging to the same
SWITCH statement are displayed in the same color, and the beginn...