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Future Directions

In addition to the tags discussed here, the translator recognizes tags that delimit quizzes and tests as alternatives to lessons. Our plan is that these tags invoke score keeping activities in the CGI scripts and perhaps change the default behavior of <right> and <wrong> tags. For example, wrong answers would, by default in tests, go ahead to the next part rather than repeat the current part.

We are also considering implementing a Tool Command Language (TCL) back-end. Since TCL has been ported to a variety of platforms including Unix and X, the Macintosh and MS-Windows, it provides the opportunity to simplify support for multiple platforms with only one back-end. TCL also provides support for regular expressions addressing the original motivation for using Lex in the first place. Also the TCL support for regular expressions is more capable than the limited string recognition that we find in AppleScript. Finally, TCL is interpreted. The compiling time for Lex output dominates the translation time for that back-end. Compiling the AppleScript into executable form has also proved problematic. It does not appear to be possible to drive this process from the translator, so we currently force the user to manually initiate the process. Since the CGI scripts have very little computational overhead, we do not expect any detrimental effect from using interpreted scripts.

Finally, we would like to simplify the use of this language by providing an editor similar to many of the HTML editors available. We would like to have buttons or menu choices that can create lesson, part and question templates to be filled in. Similar facilities could be used to simplify specifying choices and responses to questions.

Brian L. Stuart
Fri Apr 11 11:05:45 CDT 1997