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Another week, another Space
I'm finally getting to the point where I can spend some real time on the *fun* part of this project -- moving all my personal databases over to Querki.

To that end, I spent an hour yesterday setting up my Teaching Company Space, which replaces the wiki page I used to use, and has been updated with a pile of more-recent courses. As usual, the CD and Cassette courses are potentially loanable if you promise to be careful with them and get them back to me before horribly long.

It's a good illustration of a very ordinary Querki Space -- take something that has become an unwieldy text file, and turn it into a structured Space instead, so I can keep better track of it.

(And as always, I learn from each Space. This one really wants the "Review" Type that I've promised mindways -- more incentive to get that done relatively soon...)

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The link to [[The Age of Henry VIII]] in the Description of "A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts" seems to point at a different Thing than the actual Course "The Age of Henry VIII"?

Yeah, that was another lesson, and has already been written up for my to-do list. The problem is the relationship between "Name" and "Display Name", which has proven problematic. We need both -- Name so that we have something in a restricted character set, safe for using in expressions and URLs, Display Name so that you can type and show exactly what you want -- but the fact that they are currently disconnected is causing no end of problems.

So what's happened here (and I left that bug in deliberately, as a reminder to myself) is that all of the courses have Display Names, but *not* Names. So they display just fine -- but there's no good way to explicitly link to them, since the Name is what you use in Links. (This is also why they show their OIDs in their URLs, since there is no Name.)

My plan (which will be a bit after the Alpha release, but it's high priority) is to rearrange this. My conclusion is that the Display Name is really want you *want* most of the time, so I'm going to reverse the priority. The UI currently emphasizes Name, but I'm going to put Display Name front-and-center instead, and usually *derive* Name from that, automatically, by stripping out any problematic characters.

I believe that will produce perfectly good Names 99% of the time, in a way that is sufficiently consistent and obvious for folks to use. (Indeed, is very similar to the way, eg, Wordpress deals with this problem -- the URL contains a stripped-down version of the Subject line.) And after that, this particular bug will generally go away -- you'll usually define the Display Name you want, and get a sensibly-derived Name to use in Links.

Further down the road, I may get more ambitious in the parser, and allow you to use Display Names in links, to make things more DWIMmy. But that's tricky at best (and probably not possible in all cases), since the Display Name is intentionally allowed to contain all sorts of stuff that steps all over QL syntax. So it may be more sensible to simply live with the restriction, and down the line deal with it as part of the name-completion aspect of Querki Explorer...

"It's a good illustration of a very ordinary Querki Space -- take something that has become an unwieldy text file, and turn it into a structured Space instead, so I can keep better track of it."

OMG, I've just seen *my* Killer App here. Querki is going to *rock* for the more structured sorts of Game FAQs.

Yep -- indeed, that's exactly the sort of "semi-structured" data that ProWiki was originally designed for, breaking big chunks of text down into sensible data structures. Not only is it much easier to use than a traditional database (even in its current incredibly-primitive-compared-to-the-vision state), in some ways it's actually *better* than most databases, because it's more flexible.

Really, the thing that keeps me going on this project is that almost everybody I talk to, once I get the idea across, comes up with some pet project that is well-suited to it. Now I just have to get across the freaking finish line and get Alpha opened...

And just to torture you with more potential: imagine being able to design your Timeline projects with a structured way to, eg, tag each entry with a link to the source material. Or better yet, tag each with the characters referenced in that entry, in a way that automatically generates reverse indexes. So once you've got the thing entered, you can do ad-hoc queries like, "Show me all references to Sethra, in time order".

That sort of thing isn't just easy, it's pretty much automatic by the way Querki ticks: cross-references are deliberately easy, and intended to be common. As an example, the CDs page wasn't actually planned in advance -- I simply realized (after my original post, actually) that it would be worth having, so I added a Default View to the Format Model and *poof* -- all of the Course Formats now list everything that refers to them...

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