[development] how to display an extremely large document

David Cohen drupal at dave-cohen.com
Mon Jan 26 19:36:40 UTC 2009

I'm building a site to support a very large outline of legal cases. 
There are thousands of nodes in the outline, each with a very small
amount of text.  The outline is about 5 or 6 levels deep.  I've written
some code to import the outline into the book module.  So the book
hierarchy reflects the outline and the node bodies contain these small
chunks of text.

I'd like to display the entire outline in a single page.  This is not
practical because of the overall size.  Still I'd like the user to feel
as if they are scrolling through the entire thing, not visiting
thousands of different pages.

My idea is to use AJAX to accomplish this.  Imagine how google maps
works (start somewhere but scroll to anywhere, use ajax to refresh the
view after the scroll).  I'd like the same thing for arbitrary HTML.  In
other words the browser starts with mostly placeholder divs and a small
amount of content.  As the user scrolls around, the placeholders get
replaced with real content.  And the real content which scrolls out of
view gets cleaned up so the browser does not run out of memory.

Has anyone encountered such a thing?  Or would be interested in
collaborating on it?  Any reason why it would not work?



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