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Editing Text with Lightweight Structure

Lightweight Structure is the ability to recognize text structure automatically, using an extensible library of patterns and parsers. Structure can be detected in lots of ways: grammars (e.g. Java or HTML), regular expressions, even manual selections by the user. With lightweight structure, it doesn't matter how the structure was detected--whether by a regular expression, or by a grammar, or by a hand-coded parser. All that matters is the result: a region set, which is a set of intervals in the text.

LAPIS is an experimental web browser and text editor that demonstrates how lightweight structure can be useful. Its most novel and interesting features are:

A screenshot of LAPIS is shown below. Click to magnify it.

LAPIS browser



This research couldn't have been done without USENIX Student Research Grants.

Many thanks to all the people who have contributed to the development of LAPIS with ideas, code, or their precious time: Brad Myers, Laura Cassenti, John Pane, Dorothy Zabrowski, Brice Cassenti, Jean Cassenti, Dan Cassenti, Yuzo Fujishima, Rich Clingman, Monty Zukowski, Julián Jesús Martínez López, John Padula, Franklin Chen, Brian Kernighan, David Garlan, Jim Morris, Chris Long, and John Gersh.

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Send comments or questions to Rob Miller, (
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