Usage

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This page is a tutorial walkthrough of the site’s usage. For best results, skim the material first, then try things out.

Areas

Pete’s Alley stores its curated “items” in two top-level Areas: Catalog and Content. The Catalog area contains information on disability-related resources. It contains sections for Groups, Hardware, People, Services, and Software. The Content area is a collection of long-form written material, including Essays, HowTos, and Overviews.

Each section has a detailed, alphabetical index page, providing the name and a precis of each indexed item. If you know the name of the item you want (or a plausible keyword), you should use your browser to search this page. However, if you don’t know the name of the item you want, and don’t want to scan long lists of possibilities, you may want to try our tag-based Search facility, described below.

Links

Pete’s Alley uses links in various ways:

In general, it should be possible to determine what a link will do by reading the link’s text and/or URL. That said, if you don’t know what a link does, just try it out! You won’t hurt anything and you can always go back to the original page.

Progressive Disclosure

Some of our pages contain a lot of information. In order to make this less time-consuming to work with, we use a form of progressive disclosure. The “hide” and “show” control links act as complementary disclosure widgets, controlling a single level of the page. The “hide all” and “show all” links control multiple levels, hiding or showing all subsidiary levels.

To reduce clutter, some parts of a page may start out in “hide” mode. For example, the (table of) Contents section acts in this manner. Click “show” or “show all” as needed to allow scanning, printing, and searching tasks. Certain sequences of clicks are also useful. For example, clicking “hide all” and then “show” will hide the details but allow the headings to be shown.

Navigation

Pete’s Alley makes heavy use of navigation links, both internal and external. (Internal links jump to another part of our web site; external links jump to other sites.) Our pages tend to be fairly small and our server is quite efficient, so following an internal link should be quite speedy. Of course, following an external link may take a bit longer…

Page Header

The page header contains several internal links:

Page Footer

The page footer may contain additional links, including:

Index Pages

Some of the section index pages, such as Groups, will eventually have large numbers of entries. To ease on-page navigation, there is a set of single-character “Index” links (e.g., 2, A, …). Each of these jumps to the heading for entries whose titles begin with that character. Note that links can only jump to content that is being shown.

Item Pages

Item pages in the Catalog area are intended to help you find out about organizations, products, services, etc. Along with a precis and a description, they provide whatever contact information we’ve been able to find. So, they have many types of links, including:

Item pages in the Content area have fewer fixed elements; each author gets to decide the manner and order of presentation. That said, these items will generally make use of common HTML elements such as headers, lists, and tables.

Search

Our Search facility uses a powerful and flexible approach, based on combinations of tags. However, using the facility effectively requires a bit of skill, so let’s go over the conceptual model and some of the operational details.

Each item has a set of tags, organized by value within type. So, for example, values such as immersable or speech synthesis might appear under the features type. This helps to ease specification of tags, reduce ambiguity, etc. For a detailed discussion of this topic, visit Pete’s Alley - Typed Tags.

Define a search

One or more tags may be used to define a search, using textual entry and/or interactive selection. If you know what tag(s) you’re looking for, simply type them into the “Search Text” text area, then click the Submit button. For example, you could enter algebraic or (for more precision) features:algebraic.

Note: Typeless tags are displayed with the type _. So, for example, foo is displayed as _:foo. Feel free to enter typeless tags in either format.

If you don’t know the type or value of the tag you need, try using the interactive selection approach. After opening up the features type (using the show link), click the checkboxes for algebraic and compact, adding them to the search query. Finally, click the Submit button to process the search and display the “Search Results” page.

The first section of this page, Selections, will show a set of Defined tags, labeled a. The next section, Results, will show items matching the Intersection and Union of the selections. In this example, the Intersection area will display items for which all of the a tags match and the Union area will display items for which any of the a tags match. Typically, the Union section will contain far more items than the Intersection section does.

Reuse a search

Going back to the Search page, you’ll notice that there is now a “Reuse a search” heading. This lets us combine previous queries with new selections. The query we just made (a) will be shown, along with a set of radio buttons (labeled all, any, and none). These let us specify whether and how to reuse the query.

Click the all button on query a, then specify roles: screen reader (in “Define a search”)”, and click Submit. The Selections area will now show both Defined and Reused. (e.g., b and a: all) Once again, it will display the Intersection and Union of the specified terms.

The Intersection result now includes items that match all of the tags in selections a and b. The Union result includes items that match all of the tags in selection a or any of the tags in selection b.

Selecting the version (all or any) of previously defined queries seems like a very general mechanism for composition. However, our implementation may need some polishing or added infrastructure to be really convenient. So, feedback (with use cases!) is earnestly requested.

Submissions

You are strongly encouraged to submit feedback on Pete’s Alley. If you simply want to send us a comment or suggestion, email is the recommended approach. Navigate to an appropriate page on Pete’s Alley, then click the Feedback link at the end of the page. This should open up a piece of outgoing email, complete with proper address and subject information. Put your feedback (e.g., “please add the foo:bar tag”) in the message body, then send the email off to us.

If you want to submit substantial changes to a page or entirely new content (e.g., an article or review), there are better ways to do it. However, there is a bit more of a learning curve involved. For details, visit Pete’s Alley - Submissions.