The Electronic Labyrinth


Lotus' SmarText 2.0 ($495) differs from the other products discussed here in that it is designed to be a central organiser for a group of heterogenous files. It can read most common graphic and text formats. Operating under Microsoft Windows, SmarText prefers a 32-bit processor and 2MB RAM. It fills 5MB of disk space.

Once you have indicated which files to include, SmarText analyzes their structure and builds an outline-based table of contents, an index, and reference links. Nodes can be searched using storable queries. Wildcards, Boolean connectives, and proximity criteria are supported. A KWIC hit list is presented. Strangely, this list does not indicate the name of the file in which the occurrence was found.

It is unlikely that the first build will produce reasonable results. Authors are able to increase the accuracy of the process by specifying words to include (key words) or exclude (stop words) from the index. Manual linking will still be required, but SmarText makes this as easy as highlighting the source anchor, selecting "Create Link" on the menu, and selecting the destination anchor. Anchors can be in either text or graphics, and appear as boxes or a specified colour. Command links may be used to launch other applications.

The interface is elegant; much can be done with a simple click of the mouse. Text fonts can be customized, graphics can be shown at different scales, an index entry may be expanded to show a KWIC list, and table of contents entries act as expansion links. Lotus has included their standard button bar (the Smart Icons), which provides single-click access to common functions. Annotations and bookmarks are supported. Up to 3,500 text nodes and 3,500 graphics nodes may be included in a single book.

SmarText books may be compiled into a single file for distribution. Readers are $100; custom versions are available for prices as low as $20, depending on quantity.

Lotus Development Corp.
1000 Abernathy Rd.
Building 400, #1700
Atlanta, GA

Phone: 800-831-9679

© 1993-2000 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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