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Feature Idea: Settings from parent topic inherited by children

The idea

I was thinking about SecurityProblem and a few other things when the idea occurred to me that it might be useful to have topic-level settings cascade down parent-child links on topics within a single web. This would allow:

  • Hierarchical access-control within a single web, if we also integrate access-control with the preferences mechanism (we ought to).
  • Different "areas" within a web with different appearances either via WEBBGCOLOR or even skin changes, without losing autolinking among all topics.

Issues to be considered

This would not be too difficult to implement, although there are a few concerns:

  • Performance. For very deep hierarchies this could become expensive. Since most of the topics I've seen don't go to a depth greater than three or four, this probably won't be a big issue; keep in mind that the topics don't need to be rendered to extract settings.
  • Access-control Semantics. If we're going to allow this type of thing for access control, we might want to introduce some new methods for adjusting access-control settings besides "Set". For example, it might make sense to allow e.g. appending restrictions to DENYTOPICVIEW without allowing existing restrictions to be lifted. I know we could make them like FINALPREFERENCES, but I already don't like the way the "Set" mechanism is overloaded to act differently with one variable than with others. I'd rather not see that paradigm expanded.
  • More fine-grained access-control mechanisms needed. If topic-parent links are going to have significance w.r.t. security we'll have to figure out some scheme of deciding who can set them to what, and when. This could become quite involved.
  • User interface. This would make parent-child links much more significant, and so we should add better ways to visualize and edit these links. TreePlugin might be a good start.


-- WalterMundt - 07 Mar 2004


this strikes me (at first) as way too complex. I was thinking that we should reduce the amount of preferences over-riding, as its too complex to manage as it is.

I tend to seperate these zones into seperate Webs smile

(we'd need a visualisation and manipulation tool, otherwise some inherited preferences would be very hard to find)

-- SvenDowideit - 07 Mar 2004

Why do you think I suggested enhancing TreePlugin for that purpose? It can already visualize topic hierarchies within a web; all we'd need to do is add some manipulation capability and perhaps tooltips showing which topics set which settings, and we'd have a pretty powerful scheme for managing this kind of thing. And while it would introduce some (optional!) complexity, sometimes complexity is needed to do the job. After all, in SecurityProblem the whole issue is that the author doesn't want separate webs. There are real benefits to having content placed in the same web.

-- WalterMundt - 08 Mar 2004

yep, i wonder if i'll need it in future for the ISO web smile

-- SvenDowideit - 08 Mar 2004

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Topic revision: r4 - 2004-03-08 - SvenDowideit
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