October 17, 2006
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Tinderbox Google Macro

What do links mean?

For example, in writing about Scott McCloud's new book, I mention a frame in which he draws actor Kelley Donovan. Now, even if you're a big Buffy fan you probably don't know that Donovan is the twin brother of actor Nicholas Brendon, and it's entirely possible you don't know that Nicholas Brendon is the guy who plays Xander.

Attaching a Google link (or a Wikipedia link like this) offers a definition, which readers might find useful. But it does more: it offers an acknowledgment that says, "I don't expect you to know who this is. You might need to google the name; I'll make it easy for you.

Tinderbox makes this easy. I can say, for example, ^do(google,Jo Walton) and get the appropriate link. The macro took a minute to write:

Name: google
<a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=$1">$1</a>

The Wikipedia macro takes an optional second argument, because the name of the Wikipedia article, Nicholas_Brendon, might not be precisely what we want in the text.

Name: wikipedia
^if($2)^<br> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/$1">$2</a><br>^else^<br> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/$1">$1</a><br>^endif

This is one of the simplest way to integrate Web services into your Tinderbox workflow. We'll be talking a lot more about this subject in the next few weeks -- and at the Tinderbox Summit coming up on October 28-29 in Boston. You can be part of this, whether you're a Tinderbox novice or an old hand....