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IMS Web Tips ******** ISSUE 12 September 21 1999 *********
ISSN 1488-7088 Virtual Mechanics
"Free Tips and Tricks for getting the most out of your Web Site.
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In this issue:
1. Anchors Away
2. Promoting your site: Your Web Site is your castle
3. IMS tip: mailto and local links.
4. Reader Questions: Designing for all resolutions.
5. In next weeks issue.
Past issues of this newsletter are posted at the IMS Web Tips web
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for subscription information and archives.
1. Anchors Away
Several weeks ago I described how to use the Anchor Tag to create a
link to another web page. Did you know that the anchor tag can also
be used to link to another location on the same web page or to send
an email to someone? These versatile capabilities are an ideal and
simple way to add a bit of professionalism to your web page or to
gather messages from your visitors.
The normal format for the Anchor tag is: <a
href=http://www.aurl.com>click here</a> where www.aurl.com is
the URL address of a page you want to link to when a visitor presses
the "click here" text. To use this tag to send an email, replace the
URL "http://www.aurl.com" with the email address that you wish to
send the message to. You must also proceed the email address with
the "mailto:" keyword. The format to send an email to this list
address would consequently be <a
href="mailto:tips@VirtualMechanics.com">Contact IMS Web
Tips</a>. When your visitor presses the highlighted text, it will
display their email program with the web tips address already
included. All they have to do is add the subject and message and
then press the send button.
You can also automatically add the subject to the message by
appending "?Subject=Subscribe" (where "subscribe" can be any
subject). If you wish to write the contents you can append
"?Body=message" (where message is the "contents" of the email).
To compose the entire email for the visitor try this format using the
ampersand "&" to concatenate mailto options:
Space characters in the Subject or Body may cause problems. Use
the escape sequence "%20" without the quotes to add spaces.
If you have a large web page you may wish to create a link to a topic
or location on the page using a local anchor. This can be done by
naming your anchor and then creating a link to it using the special
pound "#" positioning symbol. The format for a named anchor is:
<a name=topic1>topic1</a>. You can position this tag anyplace on
your page you like. To create a local link, enter the anchor tag:
<a href="#topic1">Go to topic 1</a>.
If you create a list of topics at the top of your page, clicking this link
will take the visitor to the location of the "topic1" anchor. To create
a link to the topic from any other page you would simply use the full
URL of the page with the "#topic1" local URL appended to it.
<a href="http://www.webpage.com#topic1">Go to topic 1</a>.
A great place to use these types of anchors would be in long multi-
topic articles posted on a web page such as a Newsletter. IMS Web
Tips of course would be a prime candidate and as such, we will start
adding links to each topic. Here are last week's topics.
Introduction to Forms http://www.IMSWebTips.com/issue11.htm#topic1
Link Exchanges http://www.IMSWebTips.com/issue11.htm#topic2
IMS Web Dwarf http://www.IMSWebTips.com/issue11.htm#topic3
Timed Links http://www.IMSWebTips.com/issue11.htm#topic4
Next Week http://www.IMSWebTips.com/issue11.htm#topic5
As a final note, I have experienced problems opening my Mail
Program using 'mailto:' when not using my default browser. I have
also been told that there may be a problem using 'mailto:' if you are
an AOL user. Please feel free to let me know if you have had any
problems using a 'mailto:' link.
2. Promoting your site: Your Web Site is your castle
Your Web Site is your castle. Just how sturdy, robust and resistant to
failure is it?
A little dramatic maybe, but like the lord of most castles, you are
probably apt to see it from the inside out. That is, you know how it is
supposed to work, you know how the search engines are expected to
rank it and you know which graphics are expected to be displayed.
You know, because they are all their on your computer.
Some of the most annoying problems I encountered when first
designing web pages were missing images and bad links. I would
create my web pages on my local computer, post them to my web
site and then test them with my browser to confirm that everything
was working fine. The Meta Tags were all set up for the search
engines, the links would all work and all the graphics would be
there. So how could I get an email politely pointing out that some of
the links did not work or that some of the images were missing? I
would test again and they would be working. I would get more
emails about problems.
Obviously someone did not have their Browser set up correctly or
were having a problem with their ISP.
It is probably human nature to believe your senses and blame other
people's inexperience or equipment when they encounter a problem
that you do not have. When you start getting multiple messages from
unrelated people however, it is time to admit that it is your problem.
More detailed testing would eventually reveal that some of the
image tags and links would point to pictures and pages on my local
computer. When I tested the web site everything would appear to
work since my Browser could readily find these files for me. Since
no one else had them, they would experience problems.
Eventually, we substantially minimized this problem when we
incorporated the 'Gather' publishing option into our software. This
capability to FTP all referenced files to the server is now available in
several HTML editors but it is not foolproof, does not solve all
problems and is not available to everyone. It also does not address
many other potential web page problems faced by HTML designers.
Some of the tricks we used (and sometimes still do) included
changing the names of the image directories so that they could not
be found by the web page or testing the web site from other
available machines. Changing directory names can be risky while
other local machines have a tendency to get contaminated with the
same files and directories that your design machine uses. Their
testing usefulness can quickly become unreliable. Using friends,
relatives and colleges should be a standard step. In addition to
technical problems they can offer subjective opinions and
suggestions (whether you like it or not).
There are now several free sites available that will test your web
pages for all kinds potential problems and give you a complete
analysis. In addition to missing links and images, they will test your
Meta Tags, HTML code, download speed and Link Popularity, all of
which can be invaluable to a Web Designer.
Next week I will discuss the relevance of the analysis some of these
sites provide. Below, I have listed the two sites I am familiar with. If
you know of any more or have any experience or comments please
send them to news@VirtualMechanics.com and I will incorporate
them into my next article.
Web Site Garage
3. IMS tip: mailto and local links
A reminder. We are expecting to shortly release IMS Web Dwarf,
our Freeware HTML editor. If you would like to help beta test it,
please download a copy.
Installation follows the same format as our other IMS products and
can be made into the same directory if you wish. Please send your
comments and information on any problems to
In topic 1 'Anchors Away', I explain how to use the Anchor Tag to
send an email or to link to a location on a large page. Both these
operations can easily be added to any IMS project.
Using the 'mailto:' operation is quite straightforward. You can
simply add the tag to a Text Object in the Text Editor preferably in
<a href="mailto:tips@VirtualMechanics.com" >Send Email</a>
If you wish, you can also assign the tag to any Object with the
Object Editor. From the work window, right click the Object and
select the Link Tab. In the 'Anchor URL' box, replace "http://www"
With "mailto:tips@VirtualMechanics.com" using your email
address of course. When you view your project in a Browser, you can
simply select the Object to open your default mail program.
Creating a link to a location on your web page requires a little more
work. First you need to create a named anchor in the Text Editor.
Again it is preferable to use HTML mode.
<a name=location1>any or no text here</a>
Use your mouse to position the Object any place in the Work
As in the 'mailto' example, you can either create an HTML Object
with the link to it or add the link in the Object Editor. If you are
creating the link in the Object Editor you would enter:
<a href="#location1">Goto location 1</a>
To add the link in the Object Editor, right click the Object, select the
Link Tab and enter "#location1" (without the quotes) into the
'Anchor URL' box. When a link is being made from another web
site, you must of course enter the full URL as in:
When you select the link, it should now position the page so that the
named Anchor Object is located in the top left-hand corner of your
4. User Question
Designing for all resolutions.
I have been designing and making web pages for a couple of years
now and find that one of the biggest problems facing any designer
is making a page, (pages), that look good at all resolutions or at
least the commonest ie.640x480, 800x600, and 1024x768. There is
probably no perfect answer to this, but any advice or thoughts on
this would be much appreciated. I know quite a few people who
also suffer from this problem and would also love any advice.
You can add me to the list. The fact is that designing a web page is
a lot like making clothes where one size must fit all. If you use me
as the model you may get close to the average but small or large
people would definitely have a problem getting dressed in the
I have touched upon the problem several times in my references to
the need to test your web site under as many different system
configurations as possible. You should normally choose the worst
possible color and size resolution 640x480x256 colors and design
for that. A well designed page for this configuration is still likely to
look good at higher resolutions while the reverse is often not true.
I for one am guilty of not doing this since I hate working at these
low resolutions for any length of time. But then I don't design web
pages for a living. If anyone else has suggestions and experience on
this, please send them to the newsletter and I shall post them in a
Start with Article 2 above and then try these links to a couple of
past Articles (using the local link anchor discussed in Article 1.)
Page Layout Techniques
5 Next Week:
2. Promoting your site: Site Testing Analysis.
3. IMS tip:
4. Reader Questions:
ISSN 1488-7088 © Copyright 1999 Virtual Mechanics
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