Originally published on Apple's Internet Providers mailing list)
Working With Graphics
With respect to those of us working with GIF graphics on the Web, the
entities affected by the GIF controversy are only the publishers of
Netscape, Mosaic, JPEGView, Transparency, Photoshop, etc. This small group
can afford the GIF LZW royalty of 15 cents per software package sold, and
at this point, it would seem there is a 99% chance that everything will
continue to be as it was before. (Except that Photoshop will now cost
GIF and JPEG's compression skills are complimentary, and they work
together as a team in affording good compression across the entire spectrum
of bitmapped image content.
GIF is best for images containing same-color horizontal-pixel
sequences within it, such as logos, titles, and line-art images.
GIF archives images with 256 [custom] colors maximum.
JPEG is best for complex real-life images and textured synthetic
images, such as, say, a logo with textures and graduated fills.
JPEG archives images in millions of colors only. (32-bits)
There is currently no "vector graphics" option for the Web, so graphics
created with ClarisDraw, Intellidraw, Illustrator, or Freehand, etc, must
be converted to GIF images (or perhaps JPEG, as noted above).
Graphics with a "transparent color" download and image VERY quickly.
Aaron Giles' "Transparency 1.0" application makes it easy to simply click
on a color in your image to make that the transparent color.
When creating anti-aliased text or graphics, be sure to have the current
background color set to the same color of gray that Netscape and Mosaic
use, an RGB value of 52428, so that the graphic will be anti-aliased to
that color. This will yield good-looking results whether the bkgnd is gray
or white. Anti-aliasing to a white bkgnd usually results in a visible white
fringe when displayed on a gray bkgnd.
"Interleaved" GIFs are useful for large "clickable image-map" type
graphics. This allows the user with a 14.4 modem link to potentially know
where to click before the entire image loads, allowing them to move on
quickly. For graphics of, say, less than 100 pixels on a side, it is
perhaps not worth the bother. The "venetian-blinds" effect can sometimes be
visually distracting or artistically unpleasant.
Excellent results are achieved by creating your graphics against the
aforementioned gray background, then choosing that background color as the
"transparent color" when preparing your final graphic in GIF format.
Interleaving the GIF graphic is optional, and a completely independent
effect. JPEG graphics do not support interleaving or a "transparent color".
When using Photoshop, or any other application, one should work and save
in RGB mode, of course, and then save to a GIF (indexed color) graphic as
the final (side) step, choosing "8-bit", "system palette", with "dithering"
up to you.
It is not convenient for most of us to see how Netscape renders our
graphics on a Windows=81 PC, or an X-Window workstation, so time spent trying to obtain precise color results is something to consider.
GraphicConverter 2.0.6 (Shareware) is currently the only single
application that can manipulate, convert, and save GIF images as either
interleaved and/or with a transparent color. It works with 32-bit color and
JPEG graphics just as easily.
The "ColorSwitch" (Shareware) control panel is effective in allowing you
to conveniently switch your monitor back and forth between 256 colors, and
thousands or millions of colors, while working with your graphics. It
sports a convenient pull-down menu next to the Balloon Help menu. (Includes
volume control, too :)
Arranging Pages and Graphics
When initially creating web pages your first time, throw everything into
the same folder. This allows you to simply call out only the name of your
graphics, or your other web pages, when specifying them in HTML anchors
(HREFs), freeing you from being concerned about "Mac folder vs. server
If you name the first (home) page "index.html" (for Unix servers) or
"Default.html" (for MacHTTP servers), this will allow you to give out
simpler URLs to others, because the URL does not call out the name of a web
page. The server will assume a default page name when none is specified,
When things start to get into more than 10 pages, you will no-doubt have
lots of savvy by then, :) and then be able to deal appropriately with the
concerns of "Mac folder vs. server directory" referencing, and multiple
entry points into your web pages. The simple approach above helps to
minimize complexity in the beginning, and thus save you lots of time and
The Authoring "Loop"
While developing web pages, you may find it convenient to use the new
version of Tex-Edit+ (Shareware), which allows editing of any size of text
file, yet will still soft-wrap the text so it is all "on-screen" without
having to horizontal scroll. MicroSoft Word works the same way, and I hear
version 6 supports an HTML-editing add-on. Claris also offers an HTML XTND
translator for their editors.
When you first complete the edits to a particular .html file, you can
save it, and then drag it onto Netscape in the Finder, allowing you to
immediately verify the changes. For the next go-round of the loop, switch
back to the editor, make your changes, save again, then switch to Netscape
and click the "Reload" button. E-Z.
When you want to update the (Unix or MacHTTP) server, and you have System
7.1 or better, use version 1.4 of Anarchie. With Anarchie added to your
set of open applications, you can use it to open up a window to the
password-protected server directory containing the published HTML. Then
simply drag and drop your .html file(s), or graphic(s), onto that window,
causing the file(s) to be ftp'd to the server, thus making your updates
immediately accessible to the Web without further action.
If you wish to simulate the true experience of viewing your Web pages
over a simulated Web connection while authoring, you can run MacHTTP and
Netscape simultaneously on the same Mac. This trick involves setting your
MacTCP control panel to use AppleTalk, setting a "dot-address" of, say,
188.8.131.52, restarting, and then using that dot-address instead of the usual
server name when calling up your home page. Complete instructions for
doing this are available via the MacHTTP Home Page at...
By running MacHTTP and Netscape in this way, but while you are instead
actually connected to the Internet in the normal manner, the Web pages you
are authoring on your Mac are now also available to anyone on the Internet
by having your friends reference the home page using *your* actual Internet
That dot-address is a fixed number for PPP-based connections, and a
variable number for SLIP connections, and either are found displayed near
the bottom of the MacTCP control panel while the connection to the Internet
is active. (Don't forget about security concerns. :)
"MacTCP Switcher" is a very handy utility that takes "snapshots" of your
differing "MacTCP/service provider/MacHTTP" setups and then allows you to
conveniently switch between them by simply choosing a menu item in your
Apple Menu. This is how I switch between my "MacHTTP Web simulator" and my
real Internet connection, for example.
If you experience the *rare* instance of something you changed not
showing up the way you expect within Netscape no matter what you do, first
try quitting and restarting Netscape. But the fer-shure fix is to clear
Netscape's cache from the preferences dialog. Many have gone in circles
over this one! :)
Occasionally, be sure to surf your web pages using the other browsers you
don't normally use while authoring to double-check for the desired results.
This includes browsers such as MacWeb, Mosaic, and Web browsers on other
platforms you may have access to. Plus, starting in a couple of weeks,
double-checking will include using the browsers from within online services
such as Prodigy (Jan 27th), Compuserve, AOL, or eWorld. (Sheesh! :)
Finally, take time out to have your web pages checked for correctness and
compatibility by simply feeding the URL to one of the HTML validation
services that are available free-of-charge on the Web. Here are links to a
couple of them...