web's eye view web's eye view
08.22.96  [current] and [back] issues and a bag of urls!

alan levine ~~ Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction ~~ http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/eye/

 NOT SO Stupid Browser Tricks

THERE'S MORE TO WEBBING then clicking your life away, so Web's Eye View presents some of its little nifty tricks to optimize your browsing time. These tips will most likely work on newer Macintosh and Windows systems and the later versions of NetScape's or Microsoft's browsers. There are two many beta versions and combinations to make any promises. Actual milage may vary.

1. Dragging and Dropping Into the browser
If you are creating web pages, one way to quickly view your work is to arrange your desktop so that you can drag and drop the icon for the HTML file right into the web browser window. This is also a way you can view quickly peek at GIF and JPEG images.

2. Dragging and Dropping Images From the Browser
Do you want to save an image you are viewing in a web page? You can simply click the mouse down on the image and drag and drop it outside the browser window to your desktop- the browser will then download the image. A bonus for Macintosh users: if you hilite the icon and select Get Info from the Finder's File menu, the Comments field will contain the URL for the source image.

3. Dragging and Dropping HTML Pages From the Browser
Click, Drag, and Drop any hypertext item to the desktop, and your browser will download whatever it was pointing to- an image, the HTML source code for the web page the link points to, etc. A bonus for Macintosh users: if you hilite the icon and select Get Info from the Finder's File menu, the Comments field will contain the URL for the source image. For Windows 95 users, the downloaded item will be an Internet Shortcut, and you select the icon and access its properties (ALT-ENTER) you will see the URL under the "Shortcut" tab.

4. The Secret Menu
Web browsers offer several optins via a hidden pop-up menu. Windows users should click and hold the right mouse button; Macinstosh users should simply hold the mouse down for several seconds. Opening the secret menu on the blank spot on a web page will present some navigation topions. From a hypertext item, it will allow to to save the HTML source code, add a bookmark, go to the link in a new browser window, and more. From a web page image, the menu presents option to download the image file or copy it to your clipboard.

5. Gonna Wash That Grey Right Outta My Page
If a web page does designate the pages background color in its HTML code, your browser will display it with a neutral grey color (ahhhh, the color of ALL web pages before NetScape came along...). You can change this default color to any one your heart.... er... eye, desires. In NetScape, select General Preferences... from the Options menu, click on tge Colors tab, and click on the radio button "custom" under "background". This will let you choose a default web page color (white can be nice). For users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, select Options from the View menu, click the tab for General, and look under "colors" for the "background" button. This will let you choose a default web page color (white can be nice).

6. Plain Text is OK
There may be times when you need a text only version of a web page. For example, if you want to email a portion of a page to someone else, or if you want to extract some information into a word processor. Most web browsers do a nice job of converting the HTML layout (tables included) to spacing with text characters. From any viewed web page, select Save as... from the File menu, and select a location on your computer to store it (as well as any title for the file).

One use this has is for dealing with browsers that do not support table tags. Take a web page that uses tables, save it as text only, and then extract the text portion of the table and insert it back into the HTMl file inside <pre>... </pre> tags. This is what we have done with the HTML Tags Summary in our Writing HTML tutorial, providing two different versions of the same information.

7. It's All in Your <HEAD>
If you are writing web pages, you can encode information about your page in the <HEAD>...</HEAD> tag at the top of your document. Why? This is the information most web search engines (Alta Vista, Lycos, HotBot) extract for the databases. Otherwise when a reference page for your site comes up on a web search, it contains perhaps the first 50 characters of the page, and thus may not be very descriptive. Here is an example from the MCLI Web Center:

  <title>Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction</title>
  <META  name="description" 
  content="Provides support for innovation in teaching   
  and learning at the Maricopa Community Colleges">
  <META  name="keywords" 
  content="education, community college, 
  instructional design, instructional technology">
The structure of the meta tags are NAME= and then a code word for the type of information, and then CONTENT= and a string of text that is associated with that code word. For descrptive indexing by the web robots, the first META tag will prvode a description that will appear in the results of the web search engine, and the second will contain any other search keywords that may be relevant for your page.

Note that any information on the <head>...</head> tag is NOT displayed in the web page.

8. Having your <HEAD> Jump
You may sometimes have a reason to create a web page that displays, pauses for a set number of seconds, and then jumps to another web page. You can do this again from an option in the <HEAD>...</HEAD> tag:

  <title>The Web Page Jumper</title>
  <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="2; 
  <body bgcolor=white>
  <font size=+3>Jumping Automatically to MCLI in 2 seconds!</font><p>
  or enter <A HREF="http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/">HERE</A>
Note in the meta tag that the value of content= is the delay time in seconds, and the url= is the destiantion, which may be an absolute URL or a relative link.

9. From Icon to Local Web Page
How about making it so that when you double-click on the icon of an HTML document it opens directly to that document in your web browser? For Windows users, it's easy as most likely the association with files that end in ".HTM" are associated with your web browser. For Macintosh users, you need to use a utility such as DropInfo (look for it at http://www.shareware.com/) that will allow you to change the CREATOR type of the icon to MOSS (for NetScape). On either system, the desktop icon should change to one for that web browser (e.g. a file document with little green "N" for NetScape)

10. From Icon to Remote Web Page
Now, if you combine the last two tricks, you can create a desktop icon that opens a local web page, that pauses and then jumps to a remote web site. In this way, you could create one or more series of mini web pages for your students that will make it easy for them to go from the desktop to the web. For example, here is the HTML for a document we made for Rick Effland to create a shortcut to his web site for anthropology:
  <META HTTP-EQUIV="REFRESH" content="1;   
  <TITLE>MCC Anthropology</TITLE>
  <BODY bgcolor=#FFFFFF>
  <font size=+2>Going to Mesa Community College</font><br>
  <font size=+2>Anthroplogy Web</font>
  <A HREF="http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/academic/cult_sci/anthro/">
Naming this file ANTHRO.HTM on windows or on the Mac changing the CREATOR type to MOSS (and the file can be named anything) makes a one click connection from the desktop to the web.