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Virtual Mechanics


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IMS Web Tips ******** ISSUE 11 September 14 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: Forms
Promoting your site: Link Exchanges
IMS tip: IMS Web Dwarf
Reader Questions:
In next weeks issue.

Past issues of this newsletter are posted at the IMS Web Tips page in a printer
friendly fashion. Please visit for subscription information and archives.


We delayed publishing this week's issue in order to post a beta copy
of our new Freeware HTML editor "IMS Web Dwarf". If you are
interested in helping to beta test IMS Web dwarf, please
download and install
a copy. I have included more information on IMS Web Dwarf in the
IMS tips section of this newsletter.

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Introduction to HTML. Forms

Over the last several weeks I have introduced HTML to those of you
with little or no experience with it. Hopefully you will now be able
to recognize the basics of an HTML page even if you don't
understand the specifics. It would be even better if you were now
comfortable enough to try your hand at a few lines of code yourself.

I will wrap up this introduction to HTML with a brief introduction
to the use of Forms. Technically speaking, Forms go beyond basic
HTML. They are now so extensively used in so many web pages
however, that they are an integral part on any introduction to HTML.

Forms are used in Web Pages to gather information from visitors.
Anyone that has Surfed the net for even a short while will have
probably attempted to enter information into at least one form. I say
attempted because I am sure a common experience is to spend ten or
more minutes gathering and entering information into a form only
to loose it all. This happens because you selected the wrong button,
entered the wrong information, or attempted to use the form while
the moon was at its zenith during an odd or even hour in any month
that contains a "u", "a" or "e". Any experienced surfer knows this is
certain to cause a problem.

Love them or hate them, forms are here to stay and apt to continue
having problems for the foreseeable future. The reason is that many
forms contain three separate operations. The first of these is the
HTML that actually displays the form. Here is an example that will
not cause a problem.

<FORM Method="POST">
<Input Type="text" Name="name" Size="30">


The reason this form is reliable is because it allows you to enter up
to 30 characters of text but it does not do anything with it. Forms
require two additional components to be useful. The second of these
is an Action to take with the form and the third is a program to
process the incoming data. It is this last one where problems
often occur.

Here is a form that actually does something.

<FORM Method="POST"
<INPUT Type="hidden" NAME="recipient"
<INPUT Type="hidden" NAME="subject" Value="QUESTION">
<INPUT Type="text" NAME="email">
<INPUT Type="submit" VALUE="Submit">


OK, if you look at the source on the Web Page for this example you
will see that it is more extensive than the code here. If you read last
week's newsletter about Tables you should recognize what is going
on. The extra code is used to create a simple table. Forms are an
ideal candidate for tables.

The principle difference between this Form and the previous
example is the Action option in the Form Tag. This will send the
information gathered by the Form to the program formmail.pl.
These are the other two components of a Form which I am sure most
of you have heard of before. The act of transmitting the Form data
somewhere is referred to as CGI for 'Common Gateway Interface'.
Once transmitted, the data must be processed by a program. This
example sends the data to a Perl Script called "formmail.pl" which
will retransmit the user's "Email" address and "Question" to
news@VirtualMechanics.com .

One of the reasons CGI is popular is because it can send data to
almost any program. Perl is the most popular but C, C++ and others
are also often used. It is the program that usually causes the
problems. Most of these programs are custom made for each form.
Alpha and Beta testing is consequently done by the first visitors to
use the form.

In future newsletters I will try to find some interesting forms that
some of you may wish to use on your Web Site. For those of you
that would like to learn more about using forms, here are a few sites
with more detailed information. There are many other.


Promoting your site: Link Exchanges

One of the first things people discover when they start looking for
ways to promote their site are link exchange sites. Simply submit
your URL and put their banner on your site and they will start
sending your thousands of visitors. By making just few exchanges it
should not take long before your site becomes inundated with

When was the last time you cruised a link exchange site looking for
somewhere interesting to go? The fact is people look for sites with
search engines or by search lists and recommendations at related
sites. Link exchanges will produce few if any visitors and if they do
they will probably not be prime candidates for your product or
service. That is not unless you have a link exchange site yourself.

Placing a large number of banners on your site can also have a
detrimental effect since they will slow your download and if
affective, will siphon off your visitors and potential customers.
Worse still, banners for general-purpose link exchanges can look
unprofessional to experienced web surfers.

So link exchanges are a non-starter!

Not necessarily. There is actually a growing value to having these
links to your site. Many search engine, especially second generation
engines, are starting to use site popularity as a way to rank your site.
In other words, a site with 100 links to it will rank higher in the
search results than a site with only 5 or six. It is consequently
important to establish links to your site both for the traffic they can
generate directly and for the indirect value of improving your search
engine ranking.

Although Link Exchanges can be of value, it is better to put your
initial efforts into exchanging links with related sites. Not only will
they generate more visitors, the visitors they do generate will be
better qualified. Join a Web Ring related to your topic if one is
available or create one if not. Avoid putting too many links on your
home page. Create a link page if you have a lot of links and put the
Link Exchange banners at the bottom if you do decide to use them.

You can determine your site popularity on many search engines by
entering a special code. Try these searches replacing "yoururl.com"
with the URL of your site.




IMS tip: IMS Web Dwarf -Beta

So just what is a "Web Dwarf?"

IMS Web Dwarf is our new Freeware Drag and Drop HTML Editor.
For those of you that don't know, a Freeware product means just
that. It is Free to use. There are no charges or fees. Simply
download, install and start creating Web Pages.

IMS Web Dwarf is our third HTML editor along with IMS Web
Spinner and IMS Web Engine. IMS stands for Interactive
Multimedia System and as such, IMS files created with any of these
three products are fully compatible. That means an ".ims" file
created with one of these programs can be loaded and edited by any
of the others.

IMS Web Dwarf provides full drag and drop editing capabilities.
You can load an image or create text and use your mouse to position
and scale them in the work window. The IMS Text editor can also
be used to load, edit or create text and titles in Rich Text, Title or
HTML modes. The HTML publisher provides the ability to export
the project to a local directory or to FTP it directly to an Internet
host site. Full documentation and an extensive set of tutorials are
available to get the new user started.

So how does IMS Web Dwarf differ from IMS Web Spinner and
IMS Web Engine? It is simply in the number of features available.
Both IMS Web Engine and IMS Web Spinner provide multi-page
project support, geometry components, Meta Tag generators and
much more.

It is our hope that IMS Web Dwarf will be a highly functional and
easy to use Visual drag and drop editor that is ideal for the new or
occasional user. We of course hope that many satisfied users will
eventually upgrade to the more powerful Shareware versions.

If you would like to beta test IMS Web Dwarf, please download a copy.
Installation follows the same format as our other IMS products and
can be made into the same directory if you wish. Please send your
comments and information on any problems to info@VirtualMechanics.com.

Reader Questions:

Currently, I have IMS Engine ver 1.63. What i would like to do is to
have a web page loaded automatically after a preset time. For
example, if a user visit my web site at the Home Page, then i would
like to have the next page loaded automatically after 5 seconds. Can
i create something like this with IMS Engine version 1.63? If yes,
then how do i go about doing that? Thanks for your reply.


You are in luck. This is a pretty easy thing to do in both IMS Web
Engine and IMS Web Spinner.

In the Page Editor (Sunset Button) select the Links tab. If the page
you wish to go to is in the same project, select it from the 'to Page'
drop down box. The 'to Page' check box should be set automatically.
If the page is outside of your project, enter the URL into the 'to URL'
text box. Again, the check box should be set automatically.

The slider is used to set the delay in seconds.

Next Week:

1. Scripts
2. Promoting your site: Evaluating your site.
3. IMS tip:
4. Reader Questions:

ISSN 1488-7088 © Copyright 1999 Virtual Mechanics
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