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Browsing is a defining characteristic of Hypermedia. Although navigational access to information network has proved to be adequate in many applications, there are many task domains where navigation access is not enough. Large hypermedia networks, with unfamiliar structure are problematic to navigate. Past experience suggest that a search mechanism could be very useful in order to complement the navigation access to information. Current query-based search mechanism in hypermedia systems are very insufficient since it is limited to string based search. This method is very slow and ineffective especially in large hypermedia networks.
Although many of navigational access problems can be eliminating by augmenting the tools supporting navigation a more substantial solution could be the supply of hypermedia with a query-based search mechanism. The user can formulate a query and rely on the system for delivering the appropriate information. Query based searching can be used also for limiting the information space under investigation by applying filters for delivering information to the user. This technique can be used in conjunction with navigational access.
There are two different types of query search mechanisms that can be applied to hypermedia. One is content search where each node and link of hypermedia network is considered to be independent. Content search is fairly typical in current generation hypermedia as a string based query. For example one can make a query like "Access all nodes containing the string 'Plato' ". Content search ignores the structure of hypermedia network. Structure search is based in identifying network structures that are matching a particular structure query. An example of a structure query can be "Create all network structures that can prove claim X". The existence of structure based search mechanism affects the target task domain and scope of a hypermedia system.