Customized Views of the Data
Tree of Life pages are assembled based on instructions provided by ToL page objects, which are a special class of objects attached to nodes in the tree.
A ToL page object contains a specification of other objects to be harvested together and formatted into the page to be presented to the web browser. For example, the page object for the Beetles ToL page, specifies the harvesting of the tree structure to be displayed on the page, along with text sections and other objects that are attached to the beetles node, providing information about the group as a whole. In order to illustrate the diversity represented in the group, this material is then supplemented by additional objects harvested from descendent nodes, e.g., images, sound files, descriptions of life cycles for particular species.
By selecting different objects from the ToL database and formatting them in different ways, we can customize views of the data for different audiences. For example, we put together pages that feature content of special interest to researchers (e.g., data, in-depth discussions of morphology or phylogenetic relationships, etc.) or to children (additional images and other media, games, puzzles, etc.). ToL visitors already have some control over how they view the data, e. g., they can include and exclude certain page elements (like a dynamic glossary of terms), and they can modify the display of others (e. g. the display of trees or taxon lists). These options will soon be greatly extendend.