Magazine article Information Today

KnowledgePro: Expert Systems with Hypertext

Magazine article Information Today

KnowledgePro: Expert Systems with Hypertext

Article excerpt

Knowledge Pro: Expert Systems With Hypertext

Knowledge Pro is used to create expert systems applications, in which the sequence and nature of actions in the application depend upon user input. Knowledge Pro also allows the application to make use of hypertext, which allows the viewer of a document to bring in added information on various concepts as the document is perused.

Users who want to develop online tutorial, consultative systems or provide in-depth knowledge bases for handling special information needs will find Knowledge Pro an excellent tool. However, users must be prepared to invest considerably more time in learning this tool than in learning to use simple word processors or communication programs.

The blessing of KnowledgePro is that the user doesn't have to learn everything at once. Serious applications can be developed with the use of only a half dozen commands, and the user can then go on to learn more about the KnowledgePro language. The TextPro utility, itself a knowledge base, is also easy to use to create hypertext from documents already created on a word processor in ASCII format.

The package is designed so that each KnowledgePro application evaluates individual peices of knowledge, called Topics. Topic evaluation may range from a simple variable assignments such as: "Sedna ::= (is defined as) Eskimo-God" to complex chains of actions and procedures.

Operation Through Pop-ups

KnowledgePro operates through pop-up menus, prompts and editor windows, which appear as needed. For example, when KnowledgePro is started up by logging onto the GARDEN subdirectory and typing kp, the system presents a screen showing the current directory and a pop up window listing the knowledge bases available. Several sample or demonstration knowledge bases are provided, to assist users in learning the commands and in creating their own applications. The sample applications are stored in ASCII text files.

A Microsoft (or compatible) mouse can be used to select commands. While a knowledge base is running, the mouse can also be used to select to move to the next point in the application, to select highlighted "topics" on the screen, or to display the hypertext associated with a topic. Multipage topics can be paged, in their window, with the mouse or the PgDn key.

Applications can be created with the KnowledgePro built-in editor, which uses WorldStar-style commands. If desired, any editor program which writes ASCII files can be used.

From ASCII To Hypertext

One of the nice features of KnowledgePro is its ability to create a hypertext document quite easily from an ASCII text file. Ample examples are presented on the supplied disks. The original text for this review was used to try out this hypertext insertion facility. Files from the supplied tutorial knowledge bases were used as sample hypertext insertions, and these worked very well. A KnowledgePro application described in the March 20, 1989 edition of InfoWorld (v.11, no. 12) describes a system called "Regis" which automates the entire text of a regional sector survey of Africa. Regis, which is being distributed in the public domain, features pointing and clicking on the map of Africa to bring up numeric and textual data about fish farming. KnowledgePro makes this possible without any royalty per copy distributed.

Powerful, Flexible Language

KnowledgePro includes a powerful and flexible language to enable topic control and threading, window control, logic, string manipulation, list processing and other language constructs needed to create hypertext-implemented expert systems. This language has considerable flexibility. For example, if the user has a topic "BOOKSTATUS" and wants to say that its status is "AVAILABLE," any one of the following commands may be used:

make(`bookstatus', `available').

`bookstatus'= `available'.

`bookstatus' is `available'. …

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