Talk:Display an outline as a nested table
Why display an outline as a table ?
The current Perl6 draft expresses some helpful puzzlement about this :-)
The answer is that there are two quite different modes of outline – topic nests and propositional nests.
- Sub-topics nested inside the topics which they sub-divide – the classic serially-labelled TOC pattern which the Perl 6 entry is showing.
- Supporting points nested under the key points which they support or clarify.
(And it may well be that the task example could helpfully be replaced by a clearer example of the latter)
When the outline expresses propositional hierarchies (rather than sub-divisions of domains), indented lines ('outlines') have two disadvantages:
- Logically connected peers are visually driven further and further apart as subordinate elaboration expands, and cognitive work is required to reconnect the 'sentences' which they form when read together.
- The 'vertical' metaphor of support (evidence supporting claim, example supporting clarity etc etc) is replaced by a visually less direct horizontal convention, and, again, takes some cognitive work to reconstruct.
A potential *weakness* of tabular representations of argument/exposition structures is, of course, that some horizontal contiguities are more meaningful than others. One solution is to add more space at the margins where the edges of sub-trees meet, and another is to distinguish adjacent subtrees by color – hence the extra credit task of using color to reveal the borders between sub-trees.
In short, tabular representation can be very useful in:
- the visual presentation of nested key points and supporting points (rather than sub-divided topics)
- and the teaching of argument structure.