Examples: Context:  The artifact is large or complex, and allows the user to move freely through it.  Navigable Spaces is a common pattern to find this in, as is Narrative.

Problem:  How can the artifact support the user's need to navigate through it in ways not directly supported by the artifact's structure?


Solution: Let the user make a record of their points of interest, so that they can easily go back to them later.  The user should be able to label them however they want, since users are in a better position to choose labels that are memorable to them (see also User's Annotations).  Support at least an ordered linear organization, so that a user can rank them according to whatever criteria they choose; if possible, support a grouping structure of some kind.  Save the bookmarks for later use.

Resulting Context:  You can use Editable Collection as a way to let the user modify the set of bookmarks.  If the user can group them (e.g. Small Groups of Related Things) or categorize them, consider showing them as a Hierarchical SetRemembered State can be used as a mechanism for saving the bookmarks.

Bookmarks can serve well as a set of user-defined Clear Entry Points to a large artifact.  If you provide a complex enough organizing principle for them, then someone who uses bookmarks extensively may develop something approaching a customized Map of Navigable Spaces.  This is good, because that user has now completely adapted their surroundings to their unique way of working.  Jakob Nielsen points out in his May 1, 1997Alertbox column that a user may use bookmarks to make their own "map" of the site, and not use the one provided for the site -- this may cause trouble for the designers of the site, who can no longer assume that a user has entered a site by one single prescribed path.

Notes:  The name of this pattern is stolen shamelessly from Netscape Navigator.  It seemed to fit better than any other name I could think of.

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Last modified May 17, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999 by Jenifer Tidwell.  All rights reserved.