Our First Tree Card

Voice Card  -  Volume 17  -  John Card Number 3  -  Sun, Nov 4, 1990 11:34 PM

The card which follows this is our first tree card. My intention is to add a new one every issue or two until the Arboretum is thick with tree cards.

The tree card is a way of looking back and summarizing old Archipelago conversations. As you know, a conversation "tree" consists of the original "root" card, all the responses to that card, all the responses to those responses, etc. I will only issue tree cards for mature trees that have stopped growing, not for trees still in progress.

At first glance the tree card looks very much like other voice cards, but it is different in several significant ways. First, notice that the text field has no scroll bar. Text on tree cards is limited to whatever will fit in the non-expandable text rectangle. However, there is quite a bit of hidden text inside a tree card.

This is where the odd diagram to the left of the text field comes in. This diagram is a representation of the tree structure of the conversation in question. The small square at the base stands for the original root card that started the whole thing (the square root ). Each circle, or "node," stands for a reply card. If you click the mouse on any node in the diagram, the volume and author of that card will appear in the "Current Node" info box above the diagram, and a synopsis of what was said in that card will appear in the text field (TRY IT!)

If you would like to see the actual card instead of just reading its synopsis, first click on the appropriate node, and then push the Jump button (click on the frog). Of course, to travel back in time you will need to have the original card's voice volume on your hard disk or on a floppy that you can insert in your drive.

This is where some magic happens. In addition to jumping to the original card as specified by the current node, the Jump button summons a special floating "palette" that holds the same tree structure diagram. This palette covers the reply box section of voice cards, but can be moved by dragging on the grey area at the top of the palette. The palette will continue to float above all voice cards until you return to the original tree card (by clicking on the "Hop Back" button) or until you click in the palette's close box in its upper left corner. As long as the tree palette is visible you can hop directly to all original cards in the tree by clicking on the appropriate node.

The floating tree palette makes it quick and easy to navigate through the original cards of a tree. Or, if you prefer, you can stay inside the tree card and read the tree synopsis. Bouncing around a conversation tree is loads of fun and gives you a nice overall impression of what transpired. Each synopsis is brief, so you can "do" a tree in no time. If you want to see the overall summary again, click on the little "intro" button in the lower right corner of the diagram.

A HIDDEN FEATURE: Click on any node other than the intro node. The volume number and author icon will appear in the Current Node info box. Now hold the mouse down over the author icon. Every node created by that author will then turn dark! As soon as you let up on the mouse the diagram will return to normal. This is a quick way to see who dominated a conversation and who was just passing through.

When you have finished examining a new tree card you will want to add it to the Arboretum. Just push the Export button. You will be asked if you want to export the entire tree to a text file or add the card to the Arboretum. Choose Arboretum. A copy of the card will then be sent to the Arboretum archive stack. It will be up to you to keep your copy of the Arboretum up to date.

As the years go by, the Arboretum will become ever more useful. All voice cards in the new format (and all the old cards as soon as I get around to re-releasing them in the new format) will be automatically linked to the appropriate tree card if one is on file in the Arboretum. This will make time travel much more convenient, since you will be able to push the card's tree button (below the menu button) to reach the tree card, and then summon the floating tree palette to explore other cards in the tree.

The Arboretum stack itself, like all new archive stacks, has an index card in the front that can be sorted by Volume, Member, or Title. If you have added new tree cards since the last sort, a message at the bottom of the index card will ask you to "Please Re-Sort." Just push the sort button and choose your sorting preference. In this case, volume and member refer to the root node of the tree.

Also notice the Arboretum button on the bottom of each tree card. This will take you directly to the index of the Arboretum stack. If you push this button from inside the Arboretum stack, you will pop back to the corresponding tree card inside whatever voice volume it first appeared.

What else? Oh yeah! If you push the Export button and choose the other option, "Export Entire Tree to Text File," the program will automatically visit every card in the tree and add the text of each card into an enormous text file that you can then edit and print out using your favorite word processor. By pushing this button on the next card, for example, you could obtain a complete printout of the entire Crab Epic! Unless you like swapping diskettes, I recommend that you have all necessary voice volumes in place on your hard disk before choosing this option.

That's probably more about tree cards than you really wanted to know. My hope is that this feature will be a way of treasuring and preserving our past accomplishments and that the Arboretum will eventually grow to become the primary gateway to our vast voice card collection.

Our first tree card covers the Great Crab Epic. Enjoy!