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    • CommentRowNumber1.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009

    From experiments with my personal web I got the idea (now practiced there a lot) that it might be a good idea to cluster entries that belong together thematically by equipping each with a "floating table of contents" in which links to various other relevant entries are given.

    See what I did for cohomology and now at differential graded algebra to see what I mean.

    While I am enjoying this in itself, it runs into a problem when one single entry is regarded as a member of two or more different clusters -- as is certainly inevitable to happen if this procedure is applied generally -- because the corresponding floating tables of contents will then sit horizontally next to each other. On the nLab this is currently the case (after my latest edits) at rational homotopy theory.

    I am not sure yet how I feel about the layout that this entry has now this way. I started thinking that its no big deal, but after discussion with Timothy Porter I realize that maybe its a bad idea.

    What do you all think about this specific issue and about this idea of clustering entries using floating tables of contents in general?

    Does anyone know a way to ensure that in the presence of two such floating tables of contents, they will be aligned vertically beneath each other, instead of horizontally next to each other?

    • CommentRowNumber2.
    • CommentAuthorTobyBartels
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2009

    As far as that particular entry is concerned, it seems unnecessary to have Mathematics contents if you've already got Differential Graded Objects contents. But maybe this was just to show an example of what might happen.

    For that, I'll try to experiment with CSS this weekend and see what works. There certainly should be a way to make them go vertically. (That's what Wikipedia does, incidentally.)

    • CommentRowNumber3.
    • CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
    • CommentTimeSep 5th 2009

    How does rational homotopy theory look now?

    Whilst this will necessitate changes on other pages where these two sidebars are included, I'd like to suggest that it should be up to the including page as to where the sidebar goes and not the included page. I don't know how many sidebars we have scattered about the lab so implementing this might be irritating, but that's what the lab elves are paid for!

    • CommentRowNumber4.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2009


    that's the right idea, yes. Thanks for suggesting this. I now went through the affected entries and fixed it everywhere.


    I thought it would be reasonable to have both table of contents at rational homotopy theory. Because we had befopre decided that rational homotopy theory sould be one of the "top level entries" that are listed in the main math table of contents. But also it needs to be included in the context of differential and graded structures. So it does belong to (at least) two different "topic clusters", even though these are of course not independent. I am thinking that eventually we might equip every entry with floating tables of contents for each major "topic cluster" that it can be regarded to belong to.

    But let me know if that sounds like a bad idea.

    • CommentRowNumber5.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2009

    Could you give me some feedback on how you find the floating tables of conten ts that have meanwhile been added to a bunch of entries, such as entries in category theory etc.

    Do you think adding such tables more systematically is a good idea? Or do you find them a distraction?

    • CommentRowNumber6.
    • CommentAuthorEric
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2009
    Is it possible to implement an expanding/contracting tree list? I was going to send an endorsement, but the sidebar is so long that it cuts into the page significantly.

    For aesthetics, I'd suggest a sidebar menu being limited to maybe half a screen in length. I like the idea of sidebars like that, but there is too much content visible taking up too much valuable real estate. It would be great if maybe 10 or so items were displayed in the sidebar with the ability to expand any one of them to look at subtrees.
    • CommentRowNumber7.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2009

    Right. In general it seems that it would be desireable to switch these table on/off entirely.

    This is beyond the scope of CSS I'd guess. But maybe somebody knows some trick?

    • CommentRowNumber8.
    • CommentAuthorMike Shulman
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2009

    The tables of contents take up too much of my screen width. I don't have an especially wide screen, and on a page like HomePage which has two contents bars, less than half the screen is left for the actual text. I think multiple contents bars on a page, if they are necessary, should come below each other.

    There also seems to be a fair amount of superfluous spacing in the contents bars; maybe we could also pack the entries closer together?

    • CommentRowNumber9.
    • CommentAuthorUrs
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2009

    For the special case of the HomePage I considered putting everything vertically stacked, but then decided that at this particular place it is good to make the tocs take up lots of horizontal space, as there we want to get across a feeling for the scope of the available material.

    As I mentioned before somewhere, parts of my motivation of including these floating tocs was that I became aware of cases where people seriously failed to appreciate the content scope that is already available. Pointed to the HomPage for instance, they came back a minute later with the impression that there isn't much to be found at all at the nLab.

    But we can easily make the two parallel tocs at HomePage sit vertically on top of each other.