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Web Tips Archive

Virtual Mechanics


IMS Web Tips ******** ISSUE 14 October 5 1999 *********
Free Tips and Tricks for getting the most out of your Web Site.
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In this issue:

1. Promoting your site: What's in a Name
2. Internet Dogma (load Times)
3. IMS tip: Motion Paths
4. Reader Questions:
-Dynamically loading external text files
-Starting an animation at different locations on a circle.
-Netscape Midi file problem
-Strange characters when using Arabic
5. In next weeks issue.

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site in a printer friendly fashion. Visit
for subscription information and archives.

1. Promoting your site: What's in a name

Do you have your own URL? If you don't, do you need one? If you
do, is it enough? A while ago, change their name to Why?

All web sites can be identified with a unique IP address. If you
select you will be taken to the Virtual
Mechanics home page. The IP (Internet Protocol) address identifies
the location of a computer on the Internet. So what is a URL?

A URL or 'Uniform Resource Locator' is a more convenient way for
people to identify a file or web page. It can map a name to an IP
address so that you can find a web site or file on the Internet in a
more meaningful way. The fact is people can not remember a series
of numbers very well because they have no personal significance. A
name however, is far easier to remember especially if it relates to
something meaningful. for example, sells software.

A URL does more than identify a web page. It can identify any file
located on the Internet. This URL for example, will display the GIF
file of our Web Dwarf logo: If only a
directory is specified, the Browser will automatically look for a
default file to load. The principal default file may differ depending
upon the server but it will usually be index.html, default.htm or
something similar. In this example, the URL only identifies a
directory so the file index.htm will be displayed:

Knowing this, it is possible to create as many home pages as you
like on your web server by creating subdirectories and placing a
default.htm or index.html page in them. This is often done by
Dialup Access Provides to provide their customers with the ability to
create a personal web site. My home page in Florida is and no I have not worked on it for a
long time. Note that there is no ".com" following the address.

As most of you know, if you want a unique URL you can register a
Domain Name with Internic (or one of the new name registrars) to
purchase your own unique URL and have it mapped to your Web
Site IP address. Registering a Domain Name is going to cost you
approximately $70 for two years. If you don't already have a
commercial site for your unique URL you will also have to lease one
from an ISP (Internet Service Provider) which will cost you a
minimum of $5 to $10 a month and more for larger sites.

Why bother registering a Domain Name and paying an ISP to host
it? If your access provider offers free space why not use it. If not, you
can always sign up with a free host such as Geocities, Anglefire or

The answer depends upon the reason you have a website in the first
place. If your web site is for personal use these options are fine. If
you are establishing a commercial site then there are many other
factors that are involved. Whether you are selling widgets or Web
Design services, your web site is your storefront to the world. Like a
regular store, it can be located on Main Street or in a back alley.

A Dogma associated with promoting and selling products on-line is
that it can be cheap. It is not. It demands significant investments in
time and promotion. As those of you with large sites know, web
design and promotion is expensive. As the numbers above indicate
however, Domain registration and hosting expenses are by far one of
the lowest expenses you will have.

If you look at the address of my home page you will see that the site
name starts with a tilde (~ that's what this symbol is correctly called
but squiggle will do). This is a give away that it is probably not a
commercial site or a least not the home page for one. Another clue
of course is the lack of an "." ending.

".com" has been the traditional ending for commercial sites. As the
availability of ".com" names has dwindled, the use of ".net", ".org"
and country codes such as ".uk" and ".ca" have increased in

Is it necessary to have a unique Domain Name for your online
business? I believe it is. Not because you can not use a free site with
an unregistered name, but because it is an indication of your
commitment. It is the difference between purchasing a home
appliance from an established store or from the back of somebody's

What is in a name? One of the reasons changed their
name to is because their name was often confused with, a completely different company. But there is much
more to it than that! Does it need to end in ".com"? What about the
name itself? Is there any other difference between Software.Net and

Next week I will discuss some of the considerations that should be
placed into selecting a name. Is there a value in having more than
one? And what are some of the cautions you should be aware of
when registering your name?

2. Internet Dogma

Dogma is the belief in something because it is "known" to be true
and consequently there is no need to examine the evidence. Dogma
is often used in political or religious references because their basic
tenet is that their fundamental belief is a given. Democrats and
Liberals believe that social responsibility is the primary objective of
a government. Republicans and Conservatives believe that a strong
economy will take care of society. I believe that if I were as rich as
Bill Gates I would take care of everyone by spending lots of my
money. (Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan shared a similar belief.)

The Internet is fertile ground for Dogma. The fact is that if an
'Expert' pronounces an Internet fact to be true, then it can quickly
become true simply because there is no evidence or source of
evidence to contradict it. Pretty soon there are many experts
pronouncing the same 'truth' and using each other as their source.
As more experts pronounce each others truth, the more true it seems
to become.

I have many pet peeves regarding the Internet. A common one
relates to designing your web site. Not because there is a lot of
falsehood but because there is often no confirmation that the
information is based upon fact. Even though its apparent truth may
seem obvious, it may be superficial.

For example, how fast should your home page load? I have heard
many numbers about how many visitors you will loose for every ten
seconds of download time. 20% is a common one. So after 10
seconds of waiting you will be down to 80%. 20 second at 60%, 30
seconds at 40% and so on until no one is left. So is this true or

None of us like to wait. If we are waiting to turn at a traffic light we
may get impatient after a minute. If we are waiting for a plane we
can easily expect to wait for an hour before becoming impatient. In
either case, how soon are we likely to make the turn or leave the
airport simply because we are impatient with waiting?

It seems to me that a good business practice would be to avoid
getting your potential customers annoyed in the first place. If 20% of
visitors are likely to leave after 10 seconds (what sites do they
actually end up looking at?), then surely the remaining 80% are
becoming impatient. So what do you do? Create a site that loads in
10 seconds?

There are actually two dogmas involved here. The first assumes that
a visitor will wait to view your site if it loads fast. The second
assumes they will leave if it loads slowly. The fact is a visitor will
leave or stay for many other reasons. Load time is in my opinion, a
relatively minor factor for a well designed web site.

What is the truth? As with most truths, it is never so simple. A
visitor will likely stay or leave depending upon whether you have a
product or service that they are actually interested in. Assuming that
you do, your objective should NOT be to create a fast loading page
but to persuade your visitors to spend their time to explore your

An idea I can leave you with is to display your most important text
first. Text will not only load and display fast, it will give your
visitors something to read while the rest of your page loads. This
will help avoid loosing those visitors that are potential customers but
truly impatient.

Next week I will explore some options and ideas that can be used
when designing a web page as a sales tool for first time visitor. In
the mean time, keep in mind that there are currently few absolute
truths when it comes to the Internet.

3. IMS tip: Motion Paths

IMS Web Engine is our advanced Dynamic HTML editor. One of its
primary features is its ability to create interactive animated web
pages using Inverse Mechanics. It can do this by tracing almost any
web element along a motion path.

What is a motion path and what do we mean when we refer to
Inverse Mechanics?

A motion path is simply the path an Object will trace as it moves
around the screen. Any Object can be used as a motion path. These
include Image and Text Objects. In these cases, the path will be the
rectangle that bounds the Object. Any Object can be instructed to
trace the rectangular around any other Object.

The program also includes Polygon and Ellipse Objects. These
provide the ability to create more complex motion paths. An Ellipse
Object can be used to create any circular or elliptical path. A
Polygon Object can be used to create a complex path anywhere on
the screen. Figure is14fig1 illustrates an example of our bird flying
around rectangle, ellipse and polygon objects.

In addition to selecting a path, the Action Dialog can be used to
control the direction, speed and the number of times to trace the
path. If an Open polygon is used, the Object will trace the path to
the last point then start again at the first point. When a closed
polygon is used, the Object will trace the path from the last point to
the first point.

If you watch the flying bird at, you will see that it
flaps its wings as it goes up and glides as it descends. You will also
notice that it always faces the direction in which it is flying. This is
accomplished by changing the animated GIF of the bird whenever it
changes directions. Use the Orientation dialog in the Action Editor
to select a different Object for each of the four possible directions.

So what is Inverse Mechanics?

Inverse Mechanics refers to the fact that as any Object can trace the
path defined by another Object, the Path Object can itself be tracing
another Object's path. This is what we mean by hierarchical motion
paths. A clear example of this can be seen at As the text string
"Hierarchical Motion" is instructed to trace the outline of an Ellipse

Object, the Ellipse Object is instructed to trace the Outline of a
Rectangle Object which in turn has been instructed to follow the
position of the cursor as it is moved around the screen.

4. User Questions

I have 2 questions:

1. When I want to put a text , I use the "abc" icon, then change to
"plain text" and write my text. On the editing screen, it all appears
fine, but when I look at my text in e.g. Netscape, the text is broken
into more than 1 line (even if I wrote only , say, 5 words). How can I
still have my text the way I wrote it displayed in only ONE line ?

2. When I put an object and want it to move , say, from right to left,
it works just fine. Can I make this motion repeat in a loop ? (This
motion is not designed to work on a specified route, that is without
using any object like a rectangular, a circle etc.)

From: Eli Shavit

1. The IMS Work Window attempts to simulate what will be seen in
the Browser. Sometimes, depending upon the font, character size
browser, etc. the work window will not quite give the same result as
the Browser. That is why it is necessary to check your work with the
Preview Button. When Plain Text is selected, this problem can
usually be fixed by adding a few black characters to the end of the
text string. When Rich Text is selected, expanding the bounding box
on the X axis should solve the problem.

2. By default, an Object will trace an open path once such as a line
or linear path. A closed path such as a circle or rectangle will be
traced indefinitely. You can change either default in the Action -
'Rate and Counter' dialog. Once the path is selected, check the
'Continuous' box to cause repeated play. Uncheck the 'Continuous
Box' and use the slider or type a number into the 'Path Counter' edit
box to set a specific count.



I've been looking at a particular URL address, ''. It
appears that they have one web site and are submitting each page to
Alta Vista, individually. This is taking up several pages for one
company. Is this acceptable, or is this considered spamming? If this
is not spamming and is acceptable, then how is this done?

Timothy Martinez

It depends upon the search engine or index. Some such as Yahoo
will consider it spamming. Some like Alta Vista will not but will
list your site better if you submit one or two pages and let their
spider find the rest. Infoseek does not spider so submitting all your
pages is a good idea. See our article: for more info.

5. Next Week

1. URL Registration or Affiliate Programs
2. Designing a Web Page:
3. IMS tip: Polygons, Behaviors
4. Reader Questions:

5. Next Week

1. Affiliate Programs
2. Designing a Web Page:
3. IMS tip: Displaying your pages
4. Reader Questions:

ISSN 1488-7088 © Copyright 1999 Virtual Mechanics
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