News Flash: Transclusions Already Ubiquitous!

No, this is not an advertisement for PurpleWiki (although PurpleWiki does support Transclusions). This is a wakeup call. Transclusions already exist and have existed for a long time. No, I’m not talking about Project Xanadu. I’m talking about the World Wide Web and spreadsheets, among others.    (IDZ)

First things first. What’s a Transclusion? A transclusion is a link where the content of the link is displayed inline. For example:    (IE0)

is a link. This:    (IE2)


is the content of that link displayed inline. Which, of course, is example number one. Images on the Web are transclusions. When I include a URL in <img> tags, the content of that URL is displayed.    (IE4)

We use Transclusions all the time in spreadsheets. When I write =E27 in a cell, the spreadsheet displays the content of cell E27.    (IE5)

Transclusions are useful, and they’re ubiquitous, but not necessarily as “transclusions.” They’re not yet part of a shared conceptual framework for collaborative tools. Once we explicitly acknowledge their existence and their utility, we can think about implementing them across different applications in an interoperable way.    (IE6)