Linking Documents

Everything else we have discussed in this section of XHTML, we dealt only defining the structure of the document but the discussion has not yet mentioned the hypertext capability of the XHTML language. Although the language is new, the idea about using hypertext is not. In an article published in 1945, titled "As we may think" Vannevar Bush articulated the use of a nonlinear structure to find the desired information from exponentially growing information storage house. He did not call his idea "hypertext" neither he imagined the use of World Wide Web (WWW). He proposed something called Memex but many of then computer scientists could not come with an application for its use.

In the 1960's, Ted Nelson expanded on Bush's idea and created the early form of technology called hypertext. Nelson realized the technology could be used as computer-aided instruction as it allowed students to navigate through topics. To understand the early use of Nelson's approach to this technology one needs to understand the meaning of "hypertext". So what does hypertext mean? The prefix "Hyper" in Hypertext means links, and the "Text" part in Hypertext means text. So the idea is hypertext facilitates document exploration in a nonlinear fashion. Without hypertext, documents could only be accessed from top to bottom. You could not, for example, start from the middle without having accessed top (or bottom) first. With proper links in place, documents could be accessed from anywhere just like you can turn to any desired page of a book.

XHTML supports linking of documents as you may have used (activated or clicked) links prior to finding this page on the WWW. Once a link is constructed, the linked document can join the global information space of the WWW. Without links, the WWW may not be very useful because the internet would become just an information storage warehouse as we won't be able to navigate to explore internet resources. But we can with links. Links not only allow us link documents but they also help identify documents on the WWW. Because each document has a unique address (known as the uniform resource locator, or simply URL), it is possible to link to any document without any ambiguity.

Given the explosive growth of web documents, Web surfers would be lost in the hyperspace if there were no links or links that did not work!

Please access these pages for information about creating links in XHTML: