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IMS Web Tips ******** ISSUE 10 September 7 1999 *********
ISSN 1488-7088 Virtual Mechanics
"Free Tips and Tricks for getting the most out of your Web Site.
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In this issue:
1. Introduction to HTML Advanced Features
2. Using stats to assess your promotion.
3. IMS tip: Dolly the sheep. Include.
4. Reader Questions: htm or html?
5. In next weeks issue.
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1. Introduction to HTML. Tables and Frames
Some of the more advanced features of today's HTML pages include
Dynamic HTML and CSS capabilities that I have briefly discussed
in past issues. Other advanced capabilities include Frames, Tables,
Forms and Scripts. Each of these topics could have (and do have)
entire books devoted to them. This week I will briefly discuss
Frames and Tables so that you will at least be able to recognize the
code and refer to more extensive help if you wish.
Tables are used to collect images and text together into a series of
cells that can be organized horizontally and vertically. A typical use
for a table would be a monthly calendar. I posted a list of special
HTML characters in a table several issues ago at is3fig1. Take a look at
the source for an example of many of the options that can be used
when constructing a table.
Here is a simple Table example:
<CAPTION>A Simple Table</a>
This example adds text to each of four cells over two rows. The
TABLE tag is used to delimit the operation. You can also use this
tag to assign a border, border style and cell spacing to the table cells.
The <TR> tag is used to create a new row of table information while
the <TD> tag is used to enter data into a table cell. You can also
assign a background color with the TD tag.
Almost any valid HTML can be placed into a Table. Instead of text
you can use the image tag as discussed last week to add pictures to
the cells and the anchor tag to add links. If you wish, you can even
add other tables to a cell to create a table within a table. Table cells
do not need to be evenly divided between rows and columns. The
<ROWSPAN> and <COLSPAN> tags can be used to create more
complex table layout schemes.
Is10fig2 illustrates some of these more advanced table features.
Instead of HTML elements placed into cells, Frames are used to
display entire HTML pages within rectangular regions of a browser.
If you have ever looked at the source for a relatively complex web
page only to discover that there is hardly any code, chances are the
page was constructed using Frames.
Frames are actually quite easy to set up. Simply create the pages you
wish to display together the way you would normally create them.
You can then create a master page with the Frame tag to display
these pages together. An example for a frame page is:
<TITLE>A Simple Frame Page</TITLE>
In this very simple example, a Frame page is constructed to display
two other pages. The page "left.htm" is displayed in a frame that
occupies the first 20% of the left side of the screen while the page
"right.htm" will be displayed in the remaining 80% of the screen to
the right. These frame pages can be as simple or as complex as you
wish and can be viewed independently. The two pages that make up
the frame page above can be viewed separately at
is10left and is10right
A page can be composed of as many horizontal and vertical frames
as you wish. Take a look at is10fig4 for an
example of a far too complex use of frames. If you look at the source
you will see that there are many additional attributes you can add to
your frames including borders and scroll bars.
IMS Studio is scheduled to include a visual editor for Tables and
Frames later this autumn. In the mean time as I hope you have
discovered, adding tables through the IMS HTML editor and using
any text editor to create a Frame page is quite easy with a bit of
Next week I shall conclude this series on basic HTML with a brief
discussion on Scripts and Forms.
2. Promoting your site: Identifying Referrals and Links
For the last few weeks I have talked about the importance of having
access to a good stats program. This week I shall conclude this topic
with a brief discussion of using your stats to determine the source of
your visitors, assess your advertising efforts and help promote your
Most good 'Stat' Analysis programs will identify the visitor Referral.
That is to say, where did they come from to get to your site and how
did they get there. Referrals are one of your best ways to access your
marketing and promotion campaigns. You can use them to identify
other web sites that are sending you visitors. Do they have a link or
banner ad for your site? Why does one site send you more visitors
than another? Maybe it is a more popular site but maybe the link is
better placed or the description is more effective.
The point is, unless you know where your visitors are coming from
you have no way to determine how your promotion efforts are doing.
One of the best uses for the visitor referral stats is to identify links
originating from search engines. Over several past issues I
described how to set up your Meta tags for the Search Engines.
Unless you check your referrals you will not know if your site has
been listed and how well it is doing. Checking your Ranking under a
search word or phrase on a search engine will only tell you how your
site ranks compared to other sites. You may be number #1 under
"numnut" but if it is not getting you any visitors it is hardly a useful
ranking to have. You need to know what people are searching for
that you can offer them and then emphasis it.
In addition to listing the referrals, a good Stats Analysis program
will actually identify and compare the various Search Engines. It
will tell you which ones are sending the most visitors and the search
phrases and keywords that those visitors entered to make their
search. This can be especially helpful to you in setting up your Meta
Tags and descriptions. If you use different keywords and phrases for
different pages on your site, you will know which ones are being
linked to and which ones are not.
The majority of visitor Referrals may be "Unknown". A user that
types your URL or selects it from their 'Favorites List' will generate
an "Unknown" referral. Unless you are Disney, it is unlikely that a
significant number of your visitors will be typing your URL (except
for your grandmother assuming she just loves your site). Another
possible reason for generating an "Unknown" referral is because the
user selected a link in an email. Which e-mails contain your URL?
This e-mail contains many links. How would you know that a link
was generated by this email? If you use newsletters to promote your
site, which ones are successfully generating referrals and which ones
There are ways to help resolve where many "Unknown" referrals are
coming from. One option may be to create a separate web page for
the ads you place in different newsletter or publication. You could
then compare the number of visitors going to "mysiteAd1.htm" from
one ad to the visitors going to "mysiteAd2.htm" from another.
Creating separate web pages for each promotion campaign or effort
can be cumbersome, time consuming and error prone. There is
however, a much simpler solution.
Did you know that any text following a question mark "?" in a URL
will be ignored by your browser? The following two links will
consequently take you to our home page despite the additional text.
http://www.VirtualMechanics.com/?second These links however, will
be listed separately in your log file.
Knowing that a "?" question mark and the following text will be
ignored by a Browser but listed separately in you log files, gives you
a phenomenal tool for tracking and assessing your promotional
efforts. Every time you place an ad in a newsletter, purchase a
banner or exchange a link, add a "?" with a code to identify the
source of the link. When you check your stats, these links will be
listed separately with the more successful ones listed with greater
numbers. If these are paid promotions, the higher ranking ones
could be rerun while the lower ranking links should be reassessed or
Last week I listed several Site Analysis programs that you may wish
to look at. Here is the list again for those of you that may not already
have access to one. Look at the URL's and see that each of them has
a "?VirtualMechanics.com" appended to the end. No! We do not
have any special relationship with these companies so why add our
URL to the link? The links do not go to our site so they will not be
listed in our stats. The reason is marketing! When these companies
check their stats they may see a lot of links with the Virtual
Mechanics URL included. They may ignore it or they may return the
favor some day. In any case, our URL is a small ad that will help
promote our site.
So click away and help promote our business. And the next time you
add someone's link to your e-mail, promote your own.
Log Analysis Programs (check with your Hosting Company. They
may already provide access to a free analysis program)
Site Counters and Analysis
Site Meter free
Hitometer. free or $4.99 per month
3. IMS tip: Dolly the sheep. Include
IMS Studio (Web Engine, Web Spinner) uses an Object component
model. This means that components such as text geometry, shading,
sound effects and more, can be shared by more than one Object. If
you changed a shared component such as an Object's background
color, it will also change in every Object that shares the component.
Last week I introduced the method behind this unique IMS
capability and how it can be used to 'Clone' an Object. I highly
recommend you read this article at issue9 if you have not
already done so.
An advantage of this system is that it only requires a component to
be created once. For example, if you wish to assign a uniform
background color to your text and picture Objects, create a shading
component then use the Object Editor to add it to your Objects. Then
if you wish to change the color, you can do so by simply changing
the shading component to change it in all Objects that use it.
Using this technique it is possible to create project wide design
criteria that can easily be assigned to the Objects on your web pages.
An especially useful example of this is to create a drop menu or
mouse over effect then use the same Behavior and Action
components to quickly create similar Objects that can be globally
One of the most powerful and time saving operations is the
"Include" command in the Edit menu. This command is easy to
overlook since it may appear that it is always disabled and not
available. The Include command is used to add the currently
selected Object to additional pages. Since a selected Object is
already included on the page it is selected, the Include command
will not be available to include it again on this page.
To Include an Object on additional pages, select and copy the
Object. Once copied, use the Page select drop box to select another
page in your project. If you select the Edit menu you will now see
that the Include command is highlighted. Select it to add the Object
to this page. You can also use the Ctrl-I shortcut to include a
selected Object on a page that it is not already a member of. If you
wish to quickly add an Object to multiple pages, copy the Object
then select a page with the Page drop menu and press Ctrl-I.
Without doing anything else use the Up or Down arrow keys to
move to another page and then press Ctrl-I again. You can move
between all pages in your project by using the Up/Down arrows
while the focus is on the Page Drop menu.
So why "Include" an Object instead of just using the "Paste -Copy"
or "Paste -Clone" commands?
An Included Object, like a cloned component, is the same Object.
What this means is that any changes you make to an Included Object
will be made on every page it is included. This makes Including an
Object an especially useful means for creating a common style or
navigation capability throughout your entire project.
Consider this example. Create a navigation bar with drop menus
then "Include" the Objects on every page in your project. As you
make a change to a link, correct a spelling error, add new links
change colors, etc., your changes will automatically be made on
every page the Object is included. Positioning and Scaling changes
to an Included Object will also be reflected on every page the
Objects are Included. This makes page layout and design operations
of a common theme element on your web site a breeze. Take a look
at the Virtual Mechanics web site.
Most of the pages created under each main menu topic belong to the
same project and share Included Objects.
In the article on HTML, I discussed the method behind creating
frames. Including an Object on multiple pages can provide many of
these same advantages without the disadvantages. Some Browsers
still don't support Frames. Of greater value is the fact that some
search engines do not crawl frame pages but will have no problem
with Included Objects.
As you gain experience in the use of Cloned and Included Objects,
you will find many additional time saving capabilities. Give them a
try and let me know if you need more clarification or examples.
4. Reader Questions:
What is the proper extension for a HTML file (.htm or .html)?
What's the difference? Does it matter at all?
DOS based systems like windows 3.1, had a file extension limit of 3
characters. Unix based systems did not. Windows 95/98 and NT are
32 bit operating systems and no longer have the 3 character
extension limit. For traditional reasons and to be compatible with
the older 16 bit versions most users and applications still use a 3
character extension on Windows platforms.
To the best of my knowledge, it does not matter. The only possible
problem is if you want to double click a file and have your default
Browser recognize the extension. I know IE and NN will recognize
the 3 character extension on a PC. I am not sure if the 4 character
extension on all PC's will by default be recognized but I suspect they
We will add an option in the next IMS updates to select either
".htm" or ".html" extensions when Publishing your project.
I want to expand a GIF image to create the illusion of growth. I
have created several copies that differ in size and have placed
them in the same relative x/y location on the page. I created
separate events for each image making the subsequent image
visible when active and invisible when inactive. I cascaded the
trigger behavior of the previous smaller image to activate the next
larger image. However the events run to fast to create the illusion
that I want. I've tried using a dynamic reset based on time (0, 2)
and incremented object count, but it still does not work like I
want. Any examples/suggestions?
OK I could not help having a little fun with this one.
The approach you are taking here seems correct. You probably
just need to refine it a bit. I have posted an example at is10fig5. It
is not exactly what you are asking for but the principle is the same. I
loaded an image of a Wizard and then Cloned it 4 times. I gave
each Clone a separate name then scaled them on the x and y axes
so that the first two were stretched more on Y axis and the last
two were stretched more on X.
I selected the first Wizard and entered the Behavior dialog
confirming the creation of a new Behavior. I then selected the
'End Event' tab and assigned a Dynamic Reset Time of 10
(approximately 1 second). I then entered the 'Actions' tab and
turned off visibility under the 'When Not Active Section'. I also
selected the 'Trigger Behavior' box and from the adjacent drop
box I selected Magician 2. I then exited the Behavior and selected
Magician 2 assigning the same options except that I selected
Magician 3 in the drop Box. I repeated this until I got to Magician
5 were I selected Magician 1 to cause the animation to cycle.
Finally, I selected Magician 1 again and in the Object Editor
-Options dialog I checked the 'Set Initial Active Box'
So what is happening here?
Note that in the Behavior Dialog, I did not set a 'Trigger Event'
for each Object's Behavior. This is because each Object will be
triggered Active by the previous Object when it becomes Inactive.
The only exception is to start Object 1 Active by setting its 'Initial
Active' option in the Object Editor.
So if you can follow the events. Object 1 starts 'Active' and
'Visible'. After 10 ticks (1 second) it becomes Inactive. When
Inactive it is Invisible and triggers Wizard 2 Active. Wizard 2
does the same thing except it triggers Wizard 3 and so on.
The frame rate in this case is set by the delay time in the 'End
Event' dialog. It can be increased by reducing the time and
decreased by extending it. In fact, each Wizard can have its own
time assigned to it.
Finally note that the Wizard is actually an animated GIF that has
its own frame rate which is independent of the Behavior timer.
Send your Questions to tips@VirtualMechanics.com with "Question"
as your Subject. If we don't know the answer, another reader may.
5. Next Week.
1. Introduction to HTML: Scripts and Forms
2. Promoting your site: Link Exchanges
3. IMS tip: Dolly the sheep. Copy and Clone.
4. Reader Questions.
send your Questions to tips@VirtualMechanics.com with 'Question'
as your Subject. If we don't know the answer, another reader may.
5. In next weeks issue.
ISSN 1488-7088 © Copyright 1999 Virtual Mechanics
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