The visual editor technology, which doesn't yet have a formal name, was designed to solve the problem of taking information from a Web page, with multiple columns and boxes, and presenting it to people who can't see or get to a full-featured browser. To reach those people, the various parts of a Web page's content -- headings, columns, tables and so on -- need to be presented in sequence.
IBM's new tool allows developers to dictate that sequence using a series of arrows, on a view of the Web page itself, that connect to form a single line around the page from the first element to the last. The company has posted a that demonstrates it. Eventually, it will automatically generate those lines, which developers will then be able to fine-tune. The system could give some developers greater control over how pages appear or sound to users, according to analyst Bill Weinberg of Linuxpundit.com.
Turning a traditional two-dimensional Web page into a single stream of content can help to get its information out to more users. Voice browsers are already available for computer users with impaired vision. Handset makers are increasingly using voice input and output for many functions on a phone. This can help consumers use their phones when it's not convenient to look at the screen or find the right buttons, though today these capabilities fall short of full Web browsing.
Meanwhile, the iPhone introduced consumers to phone browsers that are like those on a PC, but some users are getting fed up with having to manipulate the view on a small screen in order to see parts of those pages close up, Weinberg said. In addition, most of the world's cell phones are so-called "feature phones" that don't have full HTML browsers.