2. Organization and Linking
3. "Look and Feel"
4. Graphics and Mathematical Expressions
5. Navigating from the Index
6. Conclusion: Which Browser?
Preparing a document for presentation on the web is not the same as putting together an ordinary hardcopy book or report. Hardcopy is linear; the reader typically goes from one page to the next in page number order. But with a web document, scrolling through screen after screen of material (as if they were pages in a book) becomes tiresome very rapidly. So web documents are usually broken up into short segments and hyperlinked so that the reader can click from one item to another without regard to normal page ordering.
The Condon Report, even in its original hardcopy, possessed some features of a web document. Being a government report, it presented its conclusions first, followed up by supporting data; these can be read in almost any order. In adapting the report to the web, we have attempted to take advantage of this built-in segmentation while preserving most elements of its original "look and feel."
The basic entry point to the report is by the Table of Contents (a clickable link from the Title Page.) Each entry in the table of contents is also a clickable link, either to:
Each case study (there are 59) is also reachable by a set of separate links from the three chapters that contain the cases.
Except for a few of the shorter ones, all chapters show a set of internal links to their numbered sub-chapters. These allow you to browse chapters in small chunks; each subchapter also has a "BACK" link that returns you to the top of the chapter, where another link will return you to the table of contents. Where you see an "Introduction" numbered 0, this is due to the fact that the original author provided no numbered introduction, and we have inserted one in the interest of "point & click" navigation.
Individual plates and figures have no links; simply use the "back-arrow" of your browser to return to the link that led you to the plate or figure.
The document we started with was the original report as submitted to the Air Force in 1968, which we obtained from the University of Colorado Library System. It consisted of just under 1400 typewritten pages interspersed with more that 100 figures and more tables than we wanted to count, plus some 65 pages of photographic plates.
We have preserved the original organization of the report, even to the point of maintaining its original pagination (page breaks show the page numbers in double square brackets, like this: [].) We have not been slavish about it, however; the text appears in whatever font you choose from your browser's option settings, and as you adjust the borders of the browser window, the text will re-wrap to adjust to the new margins. We have also taken some liberties with the original appearance of the tables, as tables prepared on a typewriter tend to be unsightly and difficult to read.
From time to time in the text, you will see editorial notes that explain significant deviations from the original appearance and/or organization of the text or graphics. Examples include:
The colored blocks on the title page are the only ones you will see; the original report had essentially no decorative elements in it whatever, and we saw no reason to deviate from that policy; the report stands or falls on its information content and its scientific methodology, not its color scheme.
As you scroll down through the chapters, you will encounter "inline" graphics; to save time in loading graphics-heavy chapters into your browser, we have rendered these graphics as small "thumbnail" images that can be clicked on to present the full-size image.
Mathematical expressions, in most cases, have been rendered as ordinary text, using the HTML "Table" capability to control their layout with some precision. Where Greek characters appear, we have usually rendered them phonetically ("alpha", "beta", etc.) One chapter (Optical Mirage, in Section VI) was heavily loaded with mathematical expressions, featuring numerous Greek characters and other special symbols. In that chapter, the math expressions are rendered as separate graphic images merged with the text. There are more than 75 such images, so the Optical Mirage chapter may require a substantial period of time to load.
While it might seem odd to include the index when adapting a hardcopy document to the web, the fact that we have included it, along with the original page numbers, provides you with another way to browse the report. Simply scroll through the entries until you spot something of possible interest, then make a note of the page number and use the Table of Contents to locate the appropriate chapter. Once in the chapter, use the "find" feature of the browser to go directly to that page. For example, if the page number is 445, the search string would be "[]."
Obviously, this works better if your system allows two separate browser windows to be active at the same time. It would work even better if each page number in the index were clickable. We will be working on that for the next release.
The HTML coding was tested with both Microsoft Explorer and Netscape Navigator, mostly under Windows 3.1 on a 486-based PC. With a few exceptions such as the chapter on optical mirage, everything loads reasonably promptly in that environment. So it should make little difference which browser you use, and if you have a Pentium with a decent Internet connection, loading and scrolling performance should be more than adequate.