We receive a lot of questions each week about using IMS
software. The vast majority of people sending in a question or
comment are very polite and understanding. Occasionally I can
read between the lines to get the sense of frustration that the
writer is feeling when something is not going right. Very
occasionally the frustration is expressed openly. That is fine.
Most of us have been there (often several times a day) and I can
certainly put myself in their place even though I may
temporarily be on the receiving end.
It is consequently always encouraging to get compliments and
words of encouragement about what we are doing. I don't
normally post these emails since I feel most users are quite able
to determine for themselves whether or not they appreciate the
software. Over the past week we received several emails that
although complimentary, contained some very specific questions
that I felt were quite relevant for most IMS users. Since the
questions and answers are a little longer than most, I decided to
combine the IMS tips and User question sections this week.
I just saw your program, and its great! It was just what I was
looking for. I have to build some heavy-duty websites, but I
don't care for HTML. I am comfortable with and skilled in DTP
(Desk Top Publishing) and your program allows me to focus
purely on designing the site -- not frustrating HTML coding
(especially those stupid TABLES that never work or act right --
I have tried MANY so-called WYSIWYG editors
(Dreamweaver, Adobe Golive, etc), but all these are successful
in only wasting your time with l-ooooong learning periods, and
complex and frustrating operations, with little or no desirable or
I have been searching for a DTP-like, NO-html editor and was
blessed to run into Dwarf. I downloaded Dwarf and was able to
get comfortable with it in less than 10 minutes.
However, I have these questions about your product:
1. What are the differences between the three programs (Dwarf,
webSpinner, and webEngine --- especially webspinner and
2. Since you are about to come out with a major version (v.2),
will you have free upgrades for v.1xx owners?
3. What are the planned improvements and additions to v.2?
(built-in FORM and FLASH 4 objects will be nice!)
4. Do you have any plans on enabling the software to work with
Active Server Pages (or Net Objects Fusion)?
5. If so, or if not, how can ASP code be implemented (and
processed) now within the program? (Using the html text
6. I noticed that when a graphic object touches a text object and
the page is previewed in a browser, the two objects are still
separate (not converted into a single graphic object). Is this due
to the implementation of LAYERS (in place of tables) in ver 4
and later browsers? If so, what happens when two touching
objects are viewed with an earlier browser? Do you plan to
include a feature that will prevent two objects from touching
(like in Dreamweaver) to assure backwards-browser
8. Is there a way to import an existing HTML page, complete
with images, etc., and have Dwarf convert the page to an .ims
file, or do you have to redo the page to be able to have the
graphics and files show up as working objects on the page?
9. Finally, this is not a question but a MARKETING suggestion:
Your "three" programs are really ONE program with different
levels of functionality. You will eliminate a lot of confusion, and
simplify your marketing efforts if you have ONE name for all
three programs, but with different entry levels. For example, you
could call the free dwarf program DWARF-Lite, DWARF-
Standard for webspinner, and DWARF-Pro for webengine).
With the different naming, initially, I thought I was dealing with
3 entirely different products.
Besides DTP, my expertise is in marketing. You have great
software, and seemingly, great support - two requirements for
selling tons of software. Contact me for some more ideas on how
to explode this great program. Thanks.
A. Thanks for the great comments and questions.
1. Web Dwarf, Web Spinner and Web Engine differ only in the
number of features they provide. Web Spinner for example,
includes everything in Web Dwarf plus the ability to create
multi-pages projects, add meta-tags, mouse over effects and
many other features. Web Engine includes everything in Web
Spinner plus the ability to create interactive animation with
complex behaviors. All three products use the same project
(IMS) file format so that projects created in one can be used in
another. Web Engine and Web Spinner are also available for 14
day free trials if you want to try them out.
2. Anyone that has "recently" purchased Web Spinner or Web Engine
at the full retail price will get a free upgrade to Version 2. Longer term customers or customers that received the software at a discount price will be able to upgrade at 50% of the retail price.
3. Some of the new features in Version 2 include a Visual Tables
editor, a Visual Frames editor, a Visual Navigation Bar Editor
with drop menus, a significantly expanded Rich Text editor with
a Spell Checker and Hyperlink editor amongst other features.
The IMS Work window will also be upgraded to add Rulers with
adjustable Snap To Tabs. The Web Engine Animation and
Behaviors will also be expanded upon. There are probably many
other features that don't immediately come to mind.
4. We have not yet looked into adding support for Flash but like
many other Multi Media add ons it should not be too complex to
do. I will try to find time to look into it.
5. I have also not used ASP (Active Server Pages) so I am not very
familiar with it. I am consequently not sure what the benefit
would be. I will ask someone here who is more familiar with it and
try to post some info on it later.
6. We use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to position Objects.
Objects can consequently be positioned on top of each other
without interference. A Z-depth value determines which one is
in front. It works great for Mouse Over effects and Interactive
animation. Take a look at some of the demos at:
http://www.VirtualMechanics.com/demos.htm This is what we
mean when we say Drag and Drop for page layout using
Desktop Publishing methods.
CSS is not compatible with pre-version 3.2 Browsers. There is
no way to mix code in a single HTML document to use CSS and
still support earlier browsers. The best that can be done is to
create a separate page for both. Up until just the last release or
so, we included output for pre 3.2 Browsers using a Basic
HTML command. We have just finished obsolescing it. There
are now very few people using these old browsers and the need
to maintain two separate sets of pages no longer seems
appropriate. It is hard enough just to effectively support IE 4,
NN 4 and the new NN6 formats.
8. You can Import existing Web Pages through the File Import
command. This will allow you to use and position your existing
HTML. As you may have discovered, there is currently no way
to convert imported HTML into a IMS compatible format. It is a
very complex process to decode some of the HTML especially if
it is managed by Scripts. Even so, we feel it would be a very
valuable capability. It is consequently our number one priority to
start implementing some conversion support as soon as Version
2 of the software is released.
9. Your last point is very well taken. As you may have
discovered we are a technology driven company. I would be
happy to hear about your marketing ideas.
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