Design Overhaul: Making it easier to edit collages

One of the central features of H2O is the ability to edit collages. Collages, for those new to H2O, are what we call edited cases or other texts. In H2O, users can layer, highlight, and/or annotate portions of a case or other text. Layering, in particular, allows users to decide what part of a text will be displayed by default and, conversely, which parts will be hidden by default—though even hidden text can be read by clicking the ellipses indicating what part of the text has been layered.

A key part of the design overhaul of H2O is our attempt to make it easier and more seamless to edit collages. In the current version of H2O, users have to click the beginning and end of the portion of the text they want to edit, and then click through a series of pop-up windows to make their edits. The process is not as intuitive as it could be.

To make it easier for users to edit their cases and other texts, the design overhaul will now allow users to layer, annotate, and highlight their collages with a persistent right side bar. Teachers will no longer have to click through a series of pop-up windows. Instead, they will be able to make multiple its in the side bar without the page needing to reload each edit.

Showing and (temporarily) hiding parts of a case

Learning American law requires reading a lot of cases. And cases can be long — sometimes really long.

Traditional casebooks typically include only excerpts of most of their cases. A casebook’s editors decide what parts of each case should be included in the book and, as a consequence, they also decide which parts of each case will not be shown. Students interested in reading the whole case have to track down a full version elsewhere.

One of the tools H2O provides professors is the ability to show or hide portions of a text while maintaining the ability to read the hidden parts of the text by clicking on an elision box.

For instance, in Professor Zittrain’s edited version of Carroll Towing, students automatically see only the required portions of the text.

Clicking on any of the elision boxes allows students to see those non-required portions of the text.

To revert back to see just the required portion, students can just click on either of the wedges that mark the beginning and end of the non-required text.