Chapter 13: Documents First


When Windows 95 was about to be released, Microsoft touted it as a document-centric operating system. With Windows 98, theyve taken the next step. To understand what theyre hyping, shift your focus to a non-computer-mediated way of dealing with a document.

If you were going to write a personal letter, perhaps to your mother, you might decide to take out a nice piece of stationery, retrieve a serviceable pen from your desk drawer, and begin the letter. Your attention would be on the letter first, the paper second, and the writing implement third.

If you want to write the letter on a computer, you have to start a letter-writing application before you start writing the letter. The letter-writing software package is the container for the letter. It
s as though the pen contains the paper and the letter.

Windows 98 lets the letter-writing application take its more
natural place as the means (perhaps one of many) of getting the words (and numbers, pictures, and sounds) into the document. The document has gained a measure of independence from the application.

This document-centric approach is reflected in a number of Windows 98 features. For example, you can place new blank documents on the Desktop or in any folder window. You can access documents via the Documents menu on the Start menu. You can click a file icon and have its associated application open it, and you can define actions to be taken on a file and display those actions as options in the context menu.

Because Windows 98 integrates the Internet Explorer into the Windows 98 user interface, this document-centric orientation is extended to include documents on the Internet as well as on your own computer or network. You experience the World Wide Web as a web of interconnected documents. The Explorer or your Desktop is just a viewing area. The documents can be active
for example, they may be forms that let you purchase something but they still look like documents and not like applications.

The Windows 98 Explorer and Desktop can display HTML documents, including ones that contain GIF and JPEG files, ActiveX objects, Java applets, and anything else that you can view in a web browser.

You can access HTML documents from the Windows 98 Desktop with a single click if you use the Web style with the Desktop. (In the Explorer, choose View, Folder Options, and mark the Web Style option button in the General tab.) If you right-click an HTML document icon in the Explorer and choose Open in Same Window, the document appears in an Internet Explorer window. Do this for another HTML document, and it will open in the same Internet Explorer window. To traverse from one HTML document to another in the Explorer, you can click hyperlinks embedded in the text.