Thinker documents are not always meant to be read linearly. While this manual was created using Thinker, many uses of Thinker take more advantage of the Hypertext and Hierarchical text features. A skilled Thinker user creates documents with a definite flavor. These documents do not always read well when flattened and printed on paper and are meant to be read online.

Outline nature of Thinker documents

    If a Thinker document is viewed with a clipping level of 1, only the first level statements (often these statements are topic names or section headers) will be shown. It is rare but not impossible to have blocks of text at this level. An executive summary is presented with the clipping level set at 2. As the clipping level is increased, more and more details are revealed. If Thinker is used to design a program one would expect to find code fragments or pseudo code at the deepest levels of the document.

Hypertext features

    Information is only presented once. A reader should be able to start reading a Thinker document at the topic of most interest. All references to terms that require a definition in the context of the document should always have a link to the section of the document where the term is defined. The fact the Thinker will treat any word as a link means that a Glossary section could define all terms and contain links to the sections that provide further clarification.

    When a new term is encountered, the reader double clicks on the word to open a window over the Glossary section defining that term. If there is more information available then the Glossary entry will contain a link to the section of the document where the term is introduced and described in detail. Double clicking on the link can move the Glossary window to the detailed information.

    These links make Thinker ideal for online help where the reader can go directly to the section of interest and still be able to locate quickly all the pertinent information.

    See Through Links make it possible to automatically extract information from one document into another without double clicking on the link. A new Thinker document might summarize the information in many other documents by using See Through Links. When the information in the original documents is updated, the new summary document will display the changes.

Planning a book

    One possible use of Thinker involves coordinating all the details of a novel. One technique that might be of value is to have several major sections of a Thinker document for various aspects of the planning process. One section would have a labeled branch for each character in the book. Other sections would describe historical events of interests and descriptions of each location. Each of these sections would have labeled statements for each detail.

    The section of the document that describes the story line (plot) of the book would contain links to the sections containing detailed information. The plot can be reviewed without having to wade through details that might confuse the issues. As needed, each reference in the plot to details about characters, scenes, events, etc. could be checked by jumping to the section of the document where this information is found. Multiple windows help organize the thought process.

    Small Example:

         (Anastasia) - The heroine
             Lots of stuff about Anastasia
         (Scrully) - The hero
             Lots of stuff about Scrully
         (San Francisco) - Home of Anastasia
             Lots of stuff about SF
         (San Jose) - Home of Scrully
             Lots of stuff about SJ
         (New York) - Place of story
             Lots of stuff about New York
         Anastasia meets Scrully in <New York>
         They marry and raise a family
         The End 
Thinker documents as databases

    Labeled statements in Thinker documents are much like indexed records in a database. There is a great deal of flexibility above the typical database, however. Records are not a fixed format. Records can contain a variable number of pointers to other records. Records can be part of a document meant to be read.

    Using Thinker to write is like writing inside a database as references can be checked with the click of a mouse button. Thinker is like a completely free form database.

    A Small Example:

         (American Software)  - Address
         (Winner's Circle) - Address
         (HT Electronics)  - Address
     (Unregistered buyers)
         (Nymous-A) - Address
     (Registered buyers)
         (Huxtable-P) - Address
Screen real estate

    Thinker is designed to view and manipulate large documents on a small screen. Careful use of clipping levels and the statement lines makes it possible to "see" large portions of a document on a small screen. Selective expansion of individual branches and the use of multiple windows maximizes the use of the limited size screen.

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