IMS Web Tips ******** ISSUE 8 August 14 1999 *********
Free Tips and Tricks for getting the most out of your Web Site.
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In this issue:
1. Introduction to HTML
2. Promoting your site: Knowing your stats
3. IMS tip: Names
4. Reader Questions. Netscape Problem
5. In next weeks issue.
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1. Introduction to HTML.
An Introduction to HTML 101. OK this is pretty basic. Many of you
probably know more HTML than I. If so, please feel free to skip this
A few of you know little or no HTML. Despite the convenience of
using Drag and Drop Editors, I can assure you that at some time you
will be confronted with the desire to use some HTML directly. It
may be that you want to add a nifty site counter that was supplied in
HTML form. Maybe you found a site that lets you create a Top 10
list but you must do it using HTML. Whenever the need, knowledge
of a little HTML will take you a long way.
The good news is that HTML is quite easy to learn and use. The
hardest part in fact is the name HTML (Hyper Text Markup
Language) which was probably coined by the same people that
brought you such cryptic fair as CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and
URL (Universal Resource Locator) amongst many others.
Here is your first Web Page
I can add as much text as I want to here.
If you take this text and save it in a file with a ".htm" or ".html"
extension then post it to your web site, you will see a very valid Web
So how does this work? You will notice three word pairs surrounded
by less than "<" and greater than brackets ">" The brackets are an
instruction to the Browser to interpret the text inside as a command.
Most commands (referred to as "tags") have a start and stop
instruction. The stop instruction is the tag preceded with a backslash
"/". HTML tags are always "interpreted" by the browser and are
Every HTML document should start with the <HTML> tag and end
with the </HTML> end tag. This is only natural since it tells the
Browser that a HTML page is starting and when it is ending.
Everything in-between should consequently be interpreted as HTML
(unless instructed otherwise).
The two other commands that are basic to every HTML document
are the <HEAD></HEAD> and <BODY></BODY> tags. The
<HEAD> tag always comes first and tells the browser that document
"header" information is being entered. Header information can include
the title, author, copyright-notice and search engine Meta tags
amongst many others.
Following the </HEAD> terminating tag, the <BODY> tag tells the
browser that the following information is to be displayed. In the
figure 1 example, only the text "I can add as much text as I want to
here" is displayed on the page. There is no limit to how much text
you enter. If you want to enter the entire text of "War and Peace"
you can (provided you have permission). When finished, you use the
Pretty simple. The browser will by default automatically format your
text so that it fits the width of each viewer's computer screen and
extend the vertical scroll bar so that the viewer can see the entire
If you do enter "War and Peace" you will quickly notice that your
web page does not conform to good Page Layout conventions even
though you may have thought you entered them. This is because
your Browser will ignore your text document conventions such as
bolding, paragraph separators and text formatting. You are going to
have to enter HTML tags directly into the document to do this.
HTML provides many basic text and paragraph formatting tags.
These are usually entered directly into the body of your text and
interpreted where found. To bold a section of text you would use the
Here is an example of a web page that includes heading information
we have discussed in past issues and some basic text and paragraph
<TITLE>My first Web Page</TITLE>
<META NAME="Description" CONTENT="An HTML example">
<META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT="HTML, example">
This text will be displayed in the browser's default format. Tags are
available to display <B>bold text</B>, <I>italic text</I> and
<U>underline text</U> amongst many others. I can also use these
tags at the same time if I want to display <B><I><U>bold italicized
and underlined text at the same time</U></I></B>.
You must use a paragraph tag to separate paragraphs since blank
lines are ignored.
A new line without a paragraph space can be started with the break
You can look at the HTML of any page using the View Source
command in your browser to see how the page was constructed.
more next week.
2. Promoting your site: Getting your site stats.
You have created the most spectacular web site on the internet that
downloads in less than 2.3 seconds on a 9600 baud modem (yes
there are probably still a few of them out there). You have set up
your Meta Tags and registered all your web pages with over 2000
search engines and indexes. You must now have the most popular
site on the Internet!
How popular is your site? How do you know how many people are
visiting it and just who are your visitors? How effective are your
marketing efforts? Which ads are working and which are expensive
flops? Has some one added a link to your site that generates almost
half your visitors? Why does it work so well for you and what would
happen if they removed the link?
Promoting your site means marketing and half of marketing is
knowledge of who, what, where and why. The most basic
requirement when promoting your web site is access to a good Web
Site visitor analysis program. Without one you are whistling in the
dark. There would simply be no way to know how well your site and
your site promotion efforts are doing.
Just about everyone has access to site analysis software. If you are
running a commercial site on a Windows NT or Unix host or have
your own server, you may find that your system already includes
access to a site analysis program. The two most popular that I am
aware of are Web Trends and Analogue. The former is a commercial
product that includes excellent Visual Feedback. The latter is a
freeware program with access to most of the same information
although you may have to do a little of your own analysis to
understand the data.
If you are using a free site, a site hosted by your access provider or a
commercial site that does not include a daily log file (why not?) then
you can use one of several excellent free site statistic programs. One
that I am familiar with is Site Meter available at
http://www.sitemeter.com/ . There are more. These free analyzers
sending hit statistics to a data base that you can view at any time.
They do not provide the detail of a commercial program like Web
Trends and are not completely private but they are much better than
no feedback at all.
The information you can gather with your analysis program is
extensive and can be invaluable in your promotion effort. It will list
the number of Hits, User Sessions, Page Views, Referring Sites,
Referring URL's, Most Accessed Page, Least Accessed Page, Top
Referring Search Engine, Search Keywords, Search Phrases and
much more. With a little knowledge you can add codes to your links
to get even more feedback about your promotion efforts.
Next week I will interpret the information that you can expect to
find in you stats program. What is relevant? What does it mean?
How can you use it? And Tricks to help you get more feedback on
your promotion efforts.
Do you currently use a Web Analysis program? If so which one?
How would you rate it? How well do you understand it? If you have
experience with an analysis program, free or commercial, send me an e-mail.
I will also try to post a survey on the VirtualMechanics home page
within the next fews days. Try to let me know one way or the other
and I will compile the list and post it to the newsletter.
3. IMS tip: Names
One of the great aspects of using a Drag and Drop editor is the
ability to avoid having to deal with extensive data bases with many
components that are often hard to identify or remember. In addition
to the convenience of simply selecting an element with your mouse,
many components can be identified by name. Whenever you create a
new Page, Object or component, IMS will automatically create a
unique name for it. Pages are named "Page1", "Page2", "Page3" etc.
Objects are also named in sequence from "Obj1". Other naming
conventions are "Geo1" for Geometry Components, "Shade1",
"Sound1" for Sound Components, "Act1" for Action components
and "Evt1" for Event/Behavior components.
If you are new to using an IMS application, you may be wondering
how to distinguish between Object "Obj68" and "Obj75". It's simple,
with an Object selected, change the name in the edit box to
something more descriptive. Instead of "Obj68" change the name to
"RedCar" if that is what the Object is a picture of. Objects and
components can contain up to 10 characters in their name. If you
attempt to enter a name that is already in use, the program will warn
you to change it to something unique.
Using a descriptive name can be particularly useful when you need
to select an Object or Component in a Dialog. Although your IMS
application will usually display a picture of the selected item, if you
have 20 rectangles named Obj10 through Obj30, this may not be
helpful. Having a unique name will enable you to select the correct
component with little trouble.
In addition to identifying an Object in a dialog, using a unique
descriptive name can help you to quickly find an Object or
component in your published HTML files. This can be helpful if an
Object is not being displayed as expected and you wish to examine
the code. Your "RedCar" Object can be found by searching for
"ORedCar" in the HTML source file. Similarly, geometry
components will use the name you set in the project with a "G"
prefix. By pre-appending an "O" to Objects and a "G" to Geometry
you can use the same name for Objects and Components in your
project without conflict and still distinguish between each in the
If you have been wondering how to create web pages with names
that are a little more descriptive than "Page1.htm", "Page2.htm",
"Page3.htm" etc., simply change the name in the Page Edit box.
Unlike Objects and components, pages can use up to 48 characters.
In case you do not know, the entry page to you web site is usually
called "index.htm", "default.htm" or something similar. This is the
page that will be displayed when someone types in the URL of your
site without a file name. Check with your service provider to find the
name of this page if you do not already know it. If the default entry
page is "index.htm" for example, change the name of the main page
in your IMS project to "index".
You should take care when naming an Object or Page not to use
none standard characters. Characters such as "*&^%$#@!" or a
space, can cause problems that generate an error or an unexpected
result in a Browser. Netscape in particular does not like names that
start with a number. If you stick with the 26 character alphabet and
the nine digits (provided the name does not start with them), you
should not have any problems with naming your Pages, Objects and
4. Reader Questions:
Last week my introductory topic was on 'Browser Difference' and
some of the problems that may occur if you do not check your site
with at least the two most popular Browsers. As a few of you
discovered when I inadvertently posted an e-mail from J. Michael
McKay to the list, this was precisely the problem he was having.
What do you think is happening here viginiaweb.com
Works about the way I want it to in IE. Netscape 4.6 displayed it
well until today when I put in some mouse overs. Can it be
corrected to work for Netscape?
And a little time later...
I took out several objects in Virginia Web. I got to a place where
everything lined up and displayed correctly, except mouse triggers,
and then started to put everything back together. This is weird but I
got the same results, things not displaying in the right place, until I
took each object and pushed it back (arrange) twice. So each time I
put an object in, I have to send it back two times and it displays ok
in Netscape 4.61. Is this weird? Continuing on I found an object
that needed to go back four places and it displayed properly.
"J. Michael Mc Kay"
No it's not weird if you understand what is happening. One or both
of the last two Objects has either an invalid or hidden character that
Netscape does not like. Anything Netscape reads from the HTML
file before it encounters this problem will display OK. Anything it
reads after will be problematic.
When you create or load a new Object, it will by default be at the
Front or Last Object in the file. When you move the new Object
'Back Two' it will be read before the invalid Objects and appear
OK. You need to find the problem with the invalid Object(s).
As I mentioned in last weeks newsletter, look for control characters
such as the "<" less than character and the "&" ampersand character.
Use < and & for these characters which are the HTML
equivalent instead of the characters themselves. See the issue 3
newsletter for more info on Special Characters.
Other possible problems include special hidden characters that you
can not see in the IMS Text Editor when using Rich Text. You can
get rid of these by selecting HTML mode, exiting the editor, re-
entering the editor and re-selecting Rich Text mode.
If you have imported or added any HTML you need to verify that it
is valid. If needed, you can delete individual sections of text in the
Invalid Text Objects until you find were the problem is.
5. Next Week.
1. Introduction to HTML 201
2. Promoting your site: Understanding your stats
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,
5. In next weeks issue.
© Copyright 1999 Virtual Mechanics
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