Porting from WordPress to Storyspace, 4: sidethreads and projections

In the last article, I showed how I incorporated an alternative narrative thread in my Storyspace hypertext account of the history of oil painting, and how to incorporate references using stretchtext.

One issue which I did not resolve last time was distinguishing to the reader which passages of blue text are stretchtext, and thus will not change the context, and which are text links, and will change the context when the reader clicks on them. I have had time to think this through, and I believe that in this case it is important, but that changing the colour of the text is not the best way to go about a solution.



Instead, each text link is going to be prefaced by Unicode character HEAVY ROUND-TIPPED RIGHTWARDS ARROW (U+279C), or ➜. Depending on the font and size which you use, you may prefer a different character, but I have looked at emoji and other pointer/arrow characters available, and that seems to work best here. You may well have a different opinion, and other hypertext documents may be even better without this distinction.


I am going to write several of these sidethreads running from the main thread, so to help me keep them separate, I have created two new prototypes: one for a writing space in the story of a sidethread, named Story, and the other for a dated event or period in such a sidethread, named StoryEvent and with key attributes $StartDate and $EndDate. I am also going to tuck each sidethread into its own named container, to keep the top level of the Map view as clean as possible.


This first sidethread is placed in a container named PreRenaissance, as it deals with issues up to the use of oils in the early Northern Renaissance.

Unlike the main thread, which is basically linear through time, these sidethreads will be more complex in structure. This one starts from an indented list, which projects out into details of each of the items in the list: a projection. I first create each of the writing spaces required, and paste in their content from my original WordPress source.


The Meeting the Needs writing space is the hub here, and the entry and exit point with writing spaces in the main thread. Structurally, there are three different types of writing space beyond Meeting the Needs:

  • the four items in the indented list – drying oil, pigments, ground, and solvents/diluents – the projection
  • the Treatment of oil writing space, which is an extension of Drying oils
  • the Technique writing space, which is an extension of Meeting the Needs.


The simplest to deal with are the last two: they have text links into them, and plain links back. They’re each like an appendix or annex.

The projection is more complex, because the reader may wish to enter each item from the indented list and return to that list, or they may wish to enter the first and then step through the series without returning to the indented list. I want to give them that flexibility.


So each is entered via a text link, then has two links to take them on: a plain link steps them on through the sequence of items in the projection, the other (a text link) returns them to the indented list. Of course the last writing space in the projection does not need two links – it has just a single plain link back to the indented list.


Two different writing spaces in the main thread give access to this sidethread, using text links. Because those link into a target writing space in a container, you need to use both the link parking spaces to make those links. Select the anchor text for the link, drag from the parking space at the top of the content view over to the left, to the other parking space (at the top left of the Map view), to park that link. Then open the container, and drag from the parked text above the Map view down to the target writing space.

Meeting the Needs then needs two text links – created using the same two-step process – to return the reader to the selected writing space in the main thread.

I then spend a couple of minutes adjusting the locations of the tiles for the writing spaces, and the links between them, in the Map view of the PreRenaissance container. This is to ensure that the links are laid out well, so that I can see where they go. Storyspace is getting very good at placing links smartly, but I like to leave these sidethreads looking as clean and clear as possible. I might not return to this one for some weeks, and when I do I want to be able to understand its structure quickly.

The remaining adjustments to the content are simple: a single reference, added as stretchtext to Meeting the Needs, and three images added to Technique. These sidethreads will quite often use images which are already called on in the main thread: one of the many benefits of using text includes and stretchtext rather than pasting the image in each writing space is economy when using content repeatedly.

Now that I think that my sidethread is working correctly, I spend some time checking it through properly. As none of its links are conditional in any way, this should be fairly straightforward.

The Storyspace 3 hypertext document is here: historyofoils2

Next I have to write several more sidethreads to accommodate all the material from the original blog articles. If any turn out to be of particular interest, I will write them up for following articles here.

Happy hypertexting!