Learn more about Transclusion

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For information about transclusion on Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Transclusion

In computer science, transclusion is the inclusion of part of a document into another document by reference. It is a feature of substitution templates.

Some hypertext systems, including Ted Nelson's Xanadu Project, support transclusion. For example, an article about a country might include a chart or a paragraph describing that country's agricultural exports from a different article about agriculture. Rather than copying the included data and storing it in two places, a transclusion embodies modular design, by allowing it to be stored only once (and perhaps corrected and updated if the link type supported that) and viewed in different contexts. The reference also serves to link both articles.

In Ted Nelson's original proposal for hypertext, where he coined the terms "transclusion", "hypertext" and "hypermedia", outlined in his 1982 book, Literary Machines, micropayments could be automatically exacted from the reader for all the text, no matter how many snippets of content are taken from various places.

Nelson has recently delivered a demonstration of Web transclusion, the Little Transquoter (programmed to Nelson's specification by Andrew Pam). It creates a new format built on portion addresses from Web pages; when dereferenced, each portion on the resulting page remains click-connected to its original context-- always a key aspect of transclusion for Nelson, but missing in most implementations of transclusion. The Little transquoter may be found at


[edit] Context neutrality

Transclusion works better when transcluded sections of text are self-contained, so that the meaning and validity of the text is independent of the context in which it appears. For example, formulations like "as explained in the previous section" are problematic, because the transcluded section may appear in a different context, causing confusion. What constitutes "context neutral" text varies, but often includes things like company information or boilerplate.

[edit] Use on the Web

[edit] In HTML

Present HTML has a limited form of transclusion. A page can transclude an image, as well as another document by including inline frames (called "iframe"); see inline linking. The web browser retrieves the inline content and draws it on the page. As of January 2002, was using this technique to build its weather forecast page from several small documents.

Future versions of HTML may support deeper transclusion of portions of documents using XML technologies such as Xpointer's document referencing and XSLT manipulations. See also Framing in websites. AJAX is another methodology that can be used to transclude content.

The practice of 'remote loading', including data from other sites, such as links to images, etc., is usually frowned upon because of the use of bandwidth (even called "bandwidth theft") and computing power required from the remote computer system. This is said to "tax" another server, and is often considered an example of leeching.

A major exception to this rule is web advertising, where advertisements supplied by an advertiser are published with other content by a publisher. An advertiser prefers to serve an advertisement and be able to detect when it was viewed, rather than have it served by the publisher and have to trust the publisher. (See also: hit counter, web bug).

A recent mechanism similar in function to transclusion is mashup.

[edit] Server-side Transclusion

Transclusion can also be accomplished on the server side, provided the server software includes this functionality. This can be done through multiple different technologies, including Server Side Includes. Client-side transclusion is generally preferable as data transcluded into several pages can be cached by the client rather than sent out again for every page.

[edit] Publications

  • Krottmaier, H.; Helic, D. (2002). "Issues of Transclusions" (PDF). Proceedings of the World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, & Higher Education (E-Learn 2002), 1730–1733.
  • Moore, A.; et al (2001). "Personally tailored teaching in WHURLE using conditional translucion". Proceedings of the Twelfth ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia, 163–164.
  • Nelson, T. H. (1981). Literary Machines. Mindful Press.
  • Wilde, E., Lowe, D. (2002). “XML Linking Language”, XPath, XLink, XPointer, and XML: A Practical Guide to Web Hyperlinking and Transclusion (PDF), Addison-Wesley Professional, 169-198.

[edit] See also

es:Transclusión no:Transklusjon pl:Transkluzja


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