IMS Web Tips ******** ISSUE 9 August 31 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: Using Pictures and Links
2. Promoting your site: Understanding your stats
3. IMS tip: Dolly the sheep. Copy and Clone
4. Reader Questions
5. In next weeks issue.

We recently listed IMS Web Engine and IMS Web Spinner at
Beyond.com http://www.beyond.com/ and are now one of their Top
10 downloads. This has resulted in several hundred new users in the
last couple of weeks. Some of you had problems entering the
registration codes into the program. Our apology for any
inconvenience this caused. We have subsequently updated
Beyond.com with a version that simplifies the registration process. If
you are still having a problem, please contact support and we
will be happy to help you out.

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Introduction to HTML. Images and Links

Last week I introduced basic HTML concepts for those of you with
little or no HTML experience. This week I shall continue with
several more advanced concepts. As with last week's newsletter, my
intent is not to teach HTML. There are many excellent books on the
topic. Two tags in particular however, should be understood. These
are the Image and the Anchor tags. As with last week's article, if
you already have a good grasp of HTML please feel free to skip to
the next topic.

Basic HTML is comprised of series of Tags that instruct the Browser
on how to display the web page. If you recall, I mentioned that an
HTML page is separated into a <HEAD> component with header
information such as the title, and a <BODY> component that
contains the actual text and images to be displayed. Numerous tags
are available for basic Page Layout and Header information. These
are always enclosed between the "<" less than and ">" greater than

I have made reference to numerous tags in past articles. There are
two tags in particular however, that need to be discussed. These are
the Anchor and the Image tags. The Image tag is used to place a
picture on your web page. The Anchor tag is used to create an
HTML link to another web page or file.

The Image tag can display several different image formats in most
Browsers. The most common are GIF, JPEG, and BMP. What are
the differences between these formats and which is better to use?

GIF images are highly compressed and will accurately maintain the
detail in a picture. The GIF format also supports a simple frame
animation capability that is very common on Web Pages. The
primary disadvantage with the GIF format is its limitation to 256
colors. This makes it unsuitable when high quality multicolored
images are displayed.

The JPEG format provides extensive compression capabilities at
high color resolution. It also provides the ability to choose between
quality and compression when the file is saved. JPEG is
consequently the preferred format when large, high quality non-
animated images are to be displayed. The primary disadvantage with
the JPEG format apart from its lack of animation support, is that its
compression method may actually loose information. This can
sometimes be seen in a JPEG picture as a halo near distinct color
changes within the picture.

BMP does not compress a picture at all and should consequently be
avoided if possible. In fact, a BMP picture can easily be 20 to 50
times larger than the equivalent JPEG picture causing significant
download times. The primary advantage with a BMP is that it does
not modify a picture or loose data. It is consequently sometimes used
if a picture must be transmitted in its pure format without

Most Browsers also support several other image file formats. Care
should be taken however, that the file format is supported by the
majority of Browsers that are used to visit your site.

The Image Tag takes the form
<img src="fileurl" Width=pixels
Height=pixels Alt="description" Border=Size Align=location
Vspace=pixels Hspace=pixels>
. As with most tags, it is not always
necessary to enter all the components of the tag since the Browser
will provide a default value for those not entered.

Src=fileurl This attribute identifies the location of the image
file. If it is located in the same directory as the HTML file then only
the file name and extension needs to be included. It is also possible
to include the full URL path to an image on another web site.
Although this may seem to provide some advantages, care should be
taken before linking to someone else's image. First of all they may
not like you using their bandwidth for your Web Site. Second, they
may move or rename the image causing your Web Page to display
an empty box. Finally, even though you may have the full co-
operation and support of the other Web Site, these types of external
links can slow down the download speed of your web page. This is
especially true if the other Web Site is on another server that goes
down a lot.

Width=pixels,Height=pixels These tags tell the Browser what
size to display the image (usually in pixels). If they are excluded, the
Browser will display the image at its actual resolution. It is worth
including these attributes even if you are not scaling the image
larger or smaller. This is because the Browser will actually be able
to display the picture faster if it knows the resolution before it loads
the picture.

Border=Size Sets the size (in pixels) of a border to be placed
around an image when it is used as an anchor (see below).
Specifying a size of 0 will disable the border. If omitted, the Browser
will place a 1 pixel border around the image.

Align = location, Vspace = size, Hspace = size. These tags work best
when the Web Page is being designed to work with older Browsers.
The Align attribute can be set to "LEFT" or "RIGHT" and is used to
position the image against the Left or Right edge of the Browser
window. Non CSS Text will then flow around the image. The space
between the image and the text can be set with the Hspace and
Vspace attributes in pixels. As discussed in past newsletters, the
newer Browsers can now position text and Images under full user
control anywhere on the web page.

The other tag that should be understood is the Anchor tag. This is
used to create a link to another page or file. I have discussed the
Anchor tag several times in past issues so I shall be brief here.

The format for the anchor tag is
<a href="fileurl">...</a>
The href attribute identifies the address of the file. As with the
image "src" attribute, this can just be a local file name in the same
directory as the HTML file or it can be a full URL link to a page
somewhere else on the Internet. The file is usually a HTML Web
Page that ends with the file extension ".htm" or ".html". It does not
have to be an HTML page however. If the file extension is
recognized by your computer it will start the program that is
assigned to handle it. A common example is a "zip" file that will be
Opened or Stored to your local computer by the PKZIP or WinZip
programs. Another example could be an image file that will often be
displayed by your Browser or paint program.

The anchor tag is delimited by the
</a> end anchor tag. Text
between the first part of the tag and the
</a> will be highlighted so
that the user can select it to activate the link. Instead of text, you can
also use a picture to activate the link by placing the Image tag
between the two parts of the anchor tag.

<a href="http://www.VirtualMechanics.com"> <img
src="http://www.VirtualMechanics.com/clipart/bird1.gif"> click
here </a>

A combined text and picture link

Next week, more advanced HTML topics.

Promoting your site: Understanding your stats

Last week I wrote about the necessity of having a good Web Site
Analysis Program to monitor the effectiveness of your promotional
efforts. If you don't already have one I have compiled a brief list of
those programs that I am aware of at the end of this article. I have
also posted a poll on the Virtual Mechanics site to try and get some
feed back on which if any analysis programs people are using. If you
have a chance, have a quick visit and vote for your program.
http://www.VirtualMechanics.com. If your analysis program is not
listed, drop me an e-mail and I shall see about including it. I will
leave the poll up for a few weeks before publishing the results.

The stats you have available to you will depend upon your server.
The most informative stats are compiled into a log file on most
commercial sites. These will often have the name "****.log" or
"****.gz" depending upon the operating system. An analysis
program will interpret these files and present the information in a
way that will help you understand what is going on.

If you do not have a log file, you can use a free 'stats' program like
"Site Counter" which will track your visitors and display a visual
analysis. This analysis will not be as detailed as a log file analysis
but will be vastly superior to no analysis at all. 'Site Counter,' like
most web sites that provide free code, make their money by
displaying adds to you when you check your stats.

So just what do these stats tell you?

The information can be quite extensive. Probably the most overused
and least useful information is the number of Hits. A Hit is actually
a request for a file. If you have a web page that includes 4 pictures
your log will report 5 hits when a visitor views the page. If the user
selects the Refresh button, you will suddenly have 10 hits. Another
site with no pictures will report only 1 hit as a user visits. Reporting
hits of 10 to 1 is consequently quite uninformative.

If you advertise on your site, most advertisers (as should you) will
want to know how many people visit your site. Where do they enter
and leave? Where do they go? What do they look at? How long do
they stay? Where did they come from? Who referred them? And as
much additional information about your visitors and advertising
campaigns as possible. Think of your site as a department store and
think about what your visitors are doing. Knowing this will help you
design your store and advertising to accommodate them and
hopefully improve your sales or visitor satisfaction depending upon
your purpose. Understanding your stats will tell you all this and

If you think of your site as a department store, User Sessions will tell
you how many people actually visited the store. Page Views will tell
you how many web pages (or departments) where visited. By
dividing the number of User Session with the number of Page Views
(which most good stats programs will do for you), you will know
how many pages or departments a visitor went to before leaving. If
most visitors leave after viewing one page you will know that your
site does not have much holding power. This may be fine but it may
also be an indication that your pages are not very appealing to your

Which is the main entry page to your site? You may think that it is
your home page but maybe it is not. It may not be uncommon for
people to enter your site through a backdoor page. This could be
because it is better listed in a search engine or because another site
has a link to it. A department store may have a Grand Entrance on
Main Street but get most of its visitors from the subway station
connected to the basement. In either case this may be the best place
to post a list of your daily specials. Which is the most common exit
page? Is it a good place to post a reminder to come again or mention
a page with some exciting experience that they may have missed?
Most stats programs will tell you both with the Entry Page and Exit
Page lists.

The Least Requested Page "stat" may tell you which page is least
appealing to your visitors. It may also tell you that your navigation
method is too complex for people to find it. If it is your Purchase
Page you definitely want to know. Maybe you just forgot to add the
link or you orphaned the link when you deleted or changed another

Most stats will tell you the URL of your visitor. What? You thought
you were completely anonymous? Maybe somewhat but not
completely. You can find out the country, city, URL and referral for
your visitors. This last is especially useful since it will identify the
source of many of your visitors. If it is another site with a link, you
should show your appreciation. You may also wish to find other
similar sites to see if you can get a referral from them as well. Did
you just pay $1000 for a Banner Add that referred two visitors in the
last month. Maybe you have two Adds on two similar sites but one
performs significantly better than the other. Why is one working and
not the other?

Next week more on analyzing your stats including checking search
engines and tracking referrals.

Log Analysis Programs (check with your Hosting Company. They
may already provide access to a free analysis program)
FastStats $99.00
WebTrends $399.00
WebSuccess $288.00
FlashStats $99.00
Analog freeware

Site Counters and Analysis
Site Meter free
Hitometer. free or $4.99 per month


IMS tip: Dolly the sheep. Copy and Clone

If you look under the Edit Menu of IMS Web Engine or IMS Web
Spinner you will see a Cut, Copy, Delete, Past-Copy, Paste-Clone
and Include commands. Why are there all these options and which
ones should you use?

These options are an indication of a powerful capability of IMS
Studio software that I don't believe any other HTML editor supports.

IMS software uses a component object model. What this means is
that any Object such as a text string or picture, is comprised of
several separate parts. In the simplest case an Object may contain a
single Geometry component such as a GIF image. In IMS Web
Engine, the most complex Object may contain text Geometry, a
Shading component, Sound Component, Action Component and
Behavior component. Because each component is defined
independently, it is possible for an Object to share some or all of its
components with one or more other Objects.

Try this experiment. Create a text Object by selecting the ABC
button and typing "This is geometry component 1". Exit the Text
editor and with the text Object still selected open the Shading
Dialog (RGB circles button) and say yes when asked to create a new
Shading definition. Select the Attributes tag and adjust the sliders to
mix any color you like. Exit the Shading Dialog. Your text Object
should now be filled with the color you just created.

If you are using IMS Web Engine, the Object Toolbar should display
the name of your Object "Obj1", the name of your Geometry
component "Geo1" and the name of your Shading component
"Shade1". If you are using IMS Web Spinner, you can see these
components listed in the Object Editor by right clicking the Object.
Exit the editor by selecting the Cancel button.

Create a second text Object by selecting the ABC button and typing
"This is the second text geometry". Exit the text Object and position
the second text Object next to the first. The first Object will still be
colored but the second will not. Enter the Object Editor by right
clicking the second text Object. The editor should display the
Object's name "Obj2" and list a single component "Geo2" in the
geometry window.

The Shading window will display "****" indicating that this Object
does not include a Geometry component. Select the drop button
(down arrow) of the Shading window and select "Shade1". Exit the
Object Editor. Both Objects should now be filled with the same

It is important to note that the second Object does not include a copy
of the same Shading as the first. It IS the same Shading component.
This can be verified by selecting the second Object and selecting the
Shading dialog again. Since this Object now has a Shading
definition you will not be asked to create one. Select the Attributes
tab and use the sliders to change the color. Exit the dialog by
selecting OK. Both Objects will now display the new color since
they are both using the same component.

What other components can be shared this way? All of them can.
Try changing the Geometry of the first Object in the Object Editor to
"Geo2" Both Objects will now display the text string "This is the
second text geometry". Now if you change the text of one Object in
the text editor, the text in the second Object will also change. In this
example now Objects "Obj1" and "Obj2" are exact 'Clones' of each
other because they are comprised of the same components. In fact
they are more than Clones since unlike Dolly the Sheep, these
Objects are fully interdependent. If you sheer Dolly, only Dolly
would get cold. In the IMS example, both clones would get cold.

This then explains some of the differences in the Edit menu. If you
Copy an Object and then 'Paste-Copy' you would get a new Object
with new components that appear the same as the original but are
not. If you "Past-Clone" however, you will get a new Object with the
same components as the first. Changing a component in a Cloned
Object will consequently change it in all the clones.

I have posted an example of cloned and copied Objects at:
This is by no means all there is to this topic however. Next week I
shall continue with some of the major advantages, features and
capabilities that this unique IMS component data model provides.

Reader Questions:

Send your Questions to tips@VirtualMechanics.com with 'Question'
as your Subject. If we don't know the answer, another reader may.
Next Week.

1. Introduction to HTML Tables and Frames
2. Promoting your site: Using your stats.
3. IMS tip: Dolly the sheep. Include.
4. Reader Questions.
Send your Questions to tips@VirtualMechanics.com with 'Question'
as your Subject. If we don't know the answer, another reader may.
5. In next weeks issue.

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