IMS Web Tips ******** ISSUE 1 July 6 1999 *********
"Free Tips and Tricks for getting the most out of your Web Site.
This e-mail is being sent to you because you subscribed to
Virtual Mechanics, http://www.VirtualMechanics.com
In this issue:
2. How to hide your HTML code from prying eyes.
3. Search engine positioning. If you want visitors to your site this is critical to understand.
4. Our weekly IMS Tip: Publishing your project.
5. Do you have a question?
6. In next weeks issue.
Please forward this news letter on to your collegues and friends.
1. Welcome to Issue One of our "Web Tips" news letter.
We get a lot of tech. support e-mail each week. Many of the
questions relate to how to achieve a special effect with IMS Web
Spinner or IMS Web Engine, some questions relate to a particular
problem or apparent bug, and many questions relate to general
Web Management issue. We have finally got around to starting a
mail list that will hopefully help our users, affiliates and anyone else
that is interested in getting the most out of their web sites.
We have added all our customers and all subscribers to
news@VirtualMechanics.com to this mail list. If you do not wish
to continue to receive this weekly news letter, simply reply to this
e-mail with UNSUBSCRIBE as the only word on the Subject line.
We hope you will first take a look Even if you are not a regular user
of Virtual Mechanics products, we think you will find a lot of useful
WebManagement information here.
2. How to hide your HTML code.
Many web authors are extremely defensive about their HTML code,
especially if they feel that they have created something unique. A
few days ago I received an e-mail from someone asking how
another site was able to generate an error message whenever he
attempted to use the View Source button to checkout the
As an example, I have set up a page at isfig1 to generate
this special error. If you attempt to use the View Source command
in your browser the message:
<--SSI DHTML ERROR 402 - FILE NOT FOUND-->
will be generated.
So how is it done? I am sure many of you net savvy users will know
right away. The rest of you will have to read on past the next few
topics where I hope you will learn something really useful.
3. Search Engine Positioning
If you are at all interested in generating visitor traffic to your site, this
is an absolutely critical issue to learn something about. It is so
important in fact, that I will discuss it and other techniques for
generating traffic, over several issues of this news letter.
I have read from several sources that some major sites generate up
to 50% of their traffic from good Search Engine positioning.
Personally I find this hard to believe or an indication that the site is
already so popular that visitors are simply searching for the URL of
a site they already intend to visit.
(Search: DISNEY, Result: www.disney.com)
Since few of us have Disney's name recognition or our users are not
inclined to type our corporate name with a www at the front and a
.com at the end, general positioning by subject on the major search
engines can play a significant role in generating traffic.
(there are others methods to be discussed in later issues).
As of writing this newsletter, if you search for "DHTML" or "Dynamic
HTML" on Alta Vista, the Virtual Mechanics site will come up #1.
How did we do it? The fact is by the time you receive this e-mail
we may have slipped to 10, 20 or below. Hopefully our position on
Hot Bot or another search engine will mysteriously climb to help
gain some of the losses from a slip somewhere else. The fact is,
the algorithms used to position a web site probably generates a
result that is as mysterious to the techies running the search engine
as they are to anyone else. If not, I suspect that even they would
have a hard time predicting which sites are going to end up on top.
(excluding GoTo were you pay for your position)
Having stated there is no way to assure a top ranking on a search
engine, there are certainly many things you can do to give yourself
an edge and improve your position. The most important of these is
to make effective use of the HTML meta tags. These tags are placed
in the HEAD of a web page and provide many of the search
engine spiders (Spiders!!! ...a topic for another issue) with much of
the information they use to rank your web site. If you check the
main http://www.VirtualMechanics.com web page (or just about any
other page on our site) and do a View Source, you will see the Meta
Tags at the top of the page. To make it easy, we will disable the
SSI DHTML ERROR 402 system just this once.
Note that there is a TITLE tag followed by three META tags.
The TITLE tag is used to provide a title for your page. It is a bit
like the title of a book but since it is used by some search engines
as the sole description, you should probably view it more like a
banner add for your site.
The Meta Description tag is more often used to describe the
contents of your site. It is often listed by the search engines below
the Title. Since it may also be used to help rank your site, you should
probably use short descriptive phrases that will both help categorize
your site and persuade a potential visitor.
The Meta Keywords tag is probably the most important. This is a
list of words and phrases that are used to match with peoples
searches. If for example, you have entered the keywords:
"blue cheese, festival, party" and some one does a search for
"blue cheese party" then you will have a match and a possible
aromatic visitor. If you are offering a service such as Web Page
Design and you enter keywords such as "Web, Page, Design" and
a search is made for "Web Page Design" then you will also have a
probable match, but so will 250,000 other sites. Obviously getting a
good ranking will require more effort. We will also revisit these
issues in later news letters.
The last tag is Meta Generator. This is used to simply identify
the authoring program which is ignored by the search engines.
Both IMS Web Engine and IMS Web Spinner will automatically
create a Title and Meta Tags for your page. Disable your
SSI DHTML ERROR 402 - FILE NOT FOUND operation if it
is enabled and do a view source on any of your pages to see.
Unfortunately, these auto generated tags are not going to do you
much good since the program knows little about your site.
Fortunately, if you have not already discovered it, you can define
these tags from within the program. Enter the Page Dialog
(Sunset Button) and select the Title tab. If you need to you can
read the dialog Help for more info on interring Meta Tags. Every
time you Publish your project, these Meta Tags will be included
and hopefully your Search Engine positioning will start to improve.
4. Our Weekly IMS Tip: Publishing your Project
OK this a pretty dry topic. If you know how to Export to an FTP
server you may wish to skip it. If you don't, this information may
help although I admit it can be a bit like wading in syrup.
We recently released Version 1.5 of IMS Web Engine and
Version 1.15 of IMS Web Spinner. These updates included our
new Export Dialog with FTP support and multiple Publishing
profiles. Although FTP support is a great convenience when
publishing your web site, it did as expected, generate more tech
support questions than any other single topic. Some questions
related to legitimate problems that caused us to update the
program. The latest release is Version 1.61 of IMS Web Engine
and 1.21 of IMS Web Spinner. Both these releases include fixes
in the Publisher in addition to several new features. If you have
earlier versions of the program, you should consider updating from
Many of the publishing questions related to simply understanding
what FTP meant and how to enter the correct settings into a Profile.
FTP stands for 'File Transfer Protocol and is the primary means by
which most of us will transfer files from our local computer to a
remote Internet Host. Prior to providing FTP support, the IMS
programs were designed to Export a project to a local directory on
your computer. You would then use a 3rd party ftp program to
transfer the necessary files to the Internet host. In a near future
release, we will include a stand alone FTP program. If you don't
currently have one however, an excellent one is available at
The latest IMS programs allow you to create multiple Export
Profiles so that you can quickly publish your project to your local
machine or to several remote hosts without changing any setting
after their initial set up. To create a new profile, enter the Publisher
dialog and select the New button in the Profile Dialog. Change the
name in the Edit Box to anything that will help you identify this
profile from other profiles. Next, decide if you want this profile to
publish to your local computer or to a remote host and set the
Export Destination. I will go into the Clean and Backup operations
in another newsletter. If you are not sure, check them both.
The Pages dialog is used to select which pages in your project are
to be exported. You would normally set this to 'Export All Pages'
but if you wish to quickly update one or a few pages, you can
change this setting. You can use the drop down box to change
the name of page if you forgot to do it in the Page Editor. The
usual name for the first page in a Web Site is "default.htm" or
The File Path dialog is used to select a local export directory for
your project. When the 'Copy to Disk' option is selected, this will
be the final destination. When exporting to a remote host, this will
be a directory to temporarily store the output. The 'Gather Option'
is a powerful feature that will automatically copy all referenced files
to the Export destination. You should normally use the Gather
Option unless you are managing a large Web Site with multiple
subdirectories. The Format option is used to select between
Dynamic HTML and standard HTML. If you are using IMS Web
Spinner or using IMS Web Engine without any special effects or
animation, select HTML 3.2 format for the most compact files. If
you are using IMS Web Engine with animation or special effects
such as drop menus, use DHTML 4.0 format and check the
The FTP dialog is used to set the FTP login requirements and
destination directory to an Internet Host when the 'Export to
Internet Server' option is selected. If you don't get this just right,
your Publish operation will fail. The first thing to do is to identify
the Internet location of the remote computer. You do this by
entering an IP address or Host Name. This is the computer's
address and it identifies the computer you want from the millions
of other computers on the Internet. Getting the numbers close just
will not do. You must ask your Internet service provider for the IP
address which is a set of four numbers separated by periods "."
or an address name which is simply an easy to remember
alternative to the IP address. Once you have the address, you
need to provide your Username and Password. This is equivalent
to the keys to the house and proves that you are entitled to enter.
If you don't already have them, contact you service provider. Once
you have your FTP login settings entered, you can verify that they
are correct by selecting the Browse Button. This is used to select
the destination directory on the host. By using the Browse button
you will not only ensure that the file path is correct but that your
login settings are also correct.
Once you have your Profile set, use the Apply button to save it or
the Publish button to test it. You can create as many profiles as
you like. Profiles are saved in the "ftppro.ini" file in the /bin
directory were you installed your IMS program. When you install
an IMS update into the same directory as an earlier install, this
file will be preserved and used in the update. If you install the
program into a new directory, you can copy this file into the new
/bin directory so that you will not lose any existing settings.
As a final note, some free Hosts will not let you FTP files directly
to their server. You must use their Upload dialog to locate the files
on your local computer and then transfer them. This should not
present a problem. Simply create a new empty directory on your
computer then Publish to it using the 'Copy to Disk' and 'Gather'
options. All files in the directory can then be selected and
transferred to the host.
FTP operations can appear quite complex to the uninitiated. Let
us know what difficulties you have had so that we can continue to
make improvements and build a knowledge base on this
necessary but admittedly difficult topic.
5. Do you have a Question?
Each week will try to answer a few questions submitted by our
readers. Do you want to know how to achieve a special effect,
something about Dynamic HTML, banners etc.? It can be any
Internet related topic. If we don't know the answer, maybe another
Send your questions to tips@VirtualMechanics.com with Question
as your Subject.
2. How to hide your HTML code. (Continued)
Did you figure it out?
I can almost feel the HTML purest seething in disgust at this one.
The fact is, trying to hide your HTML code is like trying to hide the
brush strokes in a Rembrandt painting. The HTML is the web page.
What you see when you visit a web site is your Browser's
interpretation of the HTML. The reason a web page can appear
slightly different when viewed in Netscape or Explorer is because
they interpret the HTML differently.
So how is it done?
The way any good illusionist performs a trick. With smoke and
mirrors. The error message is the smoke or slight of hand. It is
only a trick to distract your attention. It could just as easily have
said: --Happy news. For the best pizza dial (555) MyP-izza---.
The mirror is about 20 or 30 blank lines. HTML ignores multiple
blank characters or blank lines. Adding blank lines to the top of a
HTML page will be ignored by the browser but will make the page
appear blank to a casual viewer. Use the scroll bar to find the
HTML if you don't believe me.
6. Next week.
1. Search Engine Positioning. Part 2.
More tips and methods for improving your Search Engine ranking
2. Protecting your art.
How to prevent visitors from downloading pictures from your web
page. This is no illusion, it actually works as discovered by my 11
year old daughter. Check out her Awards page and try to steal an
3. IMS tip
We will post another tip extracted from our tech support questions.
4. Reader Questions
We will post and attempt to answer your Internet related questions.
© Copyright 1999 Virtual Mechanics
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