Page layout techniques

Although not all Version 2 features are included in the
first V2 Beta, the new Ruler Bars have been. The Rulers work
in conjunction with the Alignment operations and page layout
operations to add several significant operations to the IMS
layout system. I thought it would be useful to discuss the
existing layout features available in Version 1 and then
continue next week with the new features that are being
added to Version 2.

IMS Studio, which is the foundation upon which IMS Web
Dwarf, Web Spinner and Web Engine are built, already
includes many advanced page layout capabilities that are
probably familiar to those of you with Desktop Publishing
experience. For many new and intermediate users, not all of
these existing capabilities may be obvious.

As most new users quickly discover (we hope), an Object such
as a Picture or Text Block can be selected and dragged to
any location on the screen with the mouse. In addition to
moving an Object, the mouse can be used to scale and stretch
it by selecting any corner and dragging the bounding box to
the desired size. Hold the Shift Key down while dragging the
bounding box to maintain the Object's Aspect Ratio. To
finely position an Object, you can nudge it 1 or 2 pixels at
a time with the four arrow keys.

When you want to Align Objects Vertically or Horizontally,
you can select them with your mouse by dragging a Bonding
Box around all the Objects you wish to select. For those of
you that don't know how to do this, move the Mouse just
beyond the top left corner of the highest and leftmost
Objects you wish to include. With the mouse button down,
drag a bounding box towards the bottom right until all the
Objects you wish to select are completely within the box and
then release the mouse-button. The box will snap around the
selected Objects and the Arrange Bar Align Buttons will
become highlighted. You can then 'Align' the selected
Objects along their common edges or centers by selecting the
appropriate Align operation.

Selecting a Group of Objects in this way will create a
temporary Group that can be positioned and scaled in the
same way as a single Object. Once you have the temporary
Group positioned correctly, you can release its Objects by
simply clicking the work window anywhere outside of the
temporary Group's bounding box.

Another positioning aid is the Grid Guide. This can be
toggled On and Off by pressing Ctrl-G or by checking the
Grid Guide button in the Options menu. By default, the Grid
will have a resolution of 10x10 pixels and will be displayed
at 100x100 pixels. This can be adjusted to any resolution in
the Set Options dialog by adjusting the Snap Grid resolution

The Snap Grid can be toggled On and Off with the Ctrl-M keys
or by toggling the Snap Grid button in the Options menu.
When enabled, the snap grid will force the top left corner
of the currently selected Object to Align with the Snap
Grid. This is a very accurate and convenient way to Align
Objects on your page.

The Blue Guide Border is another layout aid that will help
you identify the extent of the Browser's screen at different
resolutions. This is initially set to 800 x 600 but can be
adjust to 640x480, 1024x767 and 1280x1024 in the HTML
Options dialog. The Guide Border can also be toggled On and
Off in the Options menu or by pressing Ctrl-B.

In IMS Web Engine and Web Spinner, an Object can also be
precisely Scaled and Positioned with the Object Editor's
Scale and Position Dialogs. Select "Maintain Aspect Ratio"
to scale an Object equally on both axes. The position dialog
will locate the center of the selected Object to any pixel
location you enter.

Finally, when you do have an Object precisely scaled and
positioned, 'lock' it by selecting the Lock button on the
Components Bar. This will prevent the Object from being
accidentally moved with the mouse or selected into a
temporary Group.

Next week I will discuss the new Ruler Bar's added features.

"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright 2000 Virtual Mechanics

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