Project Xanadu

Project Xanadu is a much-misunderstood initiative to create a different kind of computer world based on a different kind of electronic document. The computer world is not just technicality and razzle-dazzle. It is a continual war over software politics and paradigms. OpenXanadu continues with ideas which are still radical. website

See Alternate Vision for Mike Caulfield's SFW comparison.


We foresaw in 1960 that all document work would migrate to the interactive computer screen, so we could write in new ways.

- paper enforces sequence

- paper documents can't be connected

- this means a different form of writing

- this means a different form of publishing

- this means a different document format

We screwed up in the 1980s and missed our chance to be world wide hypertext. However, we can still compete with PDF by showing text connections.


A xanadoc is assembled from content portions and xanalinks that can be all over the internet. Our OpenXanadu program, embedded in an HTML page, opens your chosen xanadoc file.

The xanadoc file tells what portions to assemble.

The OpenXanadu program assembles those portions, and presents their connections interactively.


The Web browser is a virtual computer that runs inside everybody's real computer. Its bizarre structure was created by arbitrary initiatives of varied people and it has a terrible programming language.

The Web browser presents OpenXanadu with no further installation.

Because of Web security rules a web page cannot request pages from elsewhere so we have to package all the contents into this first program.

In the next version, OpenXanadu will send for content through a server so the content can be brought from anywhere. Meaning you or anyone can publish xanadocs.

A full Xanadu application, not in the browser, will be able to send for content from anywhere by itself.