European Navigator

In looking up a judgment of the European Court of Justice I wound up in the (Luxembourgeois [delicious word]) European Navigator (ENA), which:

provides high quality research and educational material on the history of European integration on a single website:

ENA is a multilingual, multisource and multimedia knowledge base that contains more than 12,000 documents on the historical and institutional development of a united Europe from 1945 to the present day.

This “knowledge base” is acessed through an extremely sophisticated front end, the “Multimedia Content Explorer,” written in Flash. You’re presented with at least three different integrated panes, and, when following a link to a judgment, as I was, a floating window containing the case report that you can collapse or drag around to suit your needs. Menus expand or shrink, scrollbars appear everwhere, and possibilities abound. You can stack your “windows” or tile them, as you please. You can zoom in or out. And you can elect to do all of this in any one of five languages.

I have to say that I found it confusing to begin with, difficult or impossible to get a link out of. And aggressive: it decided for me that my browser window wasn’t sufficiently expanded and changed that — something I don’t care for. Flash can be like this. There’s so much you can do with it that developers have a tendency to get carried away. On the other hand, the possibilities are intriguing, and there’s no good reason to believe that interfaces will or should stay stuck in the state they’re in now.

Give it a look. Follow the link to the Pupino case and see what you make of it all.

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