If your site uses any JPEG graphics files, you should consider CyberView Image Pro 4.02. This handy utility lets you visually adjust the JPEG compression for your graphics files. Side-by-side examples of both the compressed and noncompressed image help you decide how much compression is acceptable. Too much compression brings the file size down but can blur the image. Too little compression keeps the image looking good, but may not reduce the file size enough for expeditious Web viewing.
This kind of side-by-side image comparison is available in some commercial image-editing programs, such as Adobe Systems‘ ImageReady and Ulead Systems’ PhotoImpact 4. However, CyberView Image Pro goes further than these programs by providing a more refined toolset. It has three sets of sliders, each with a separate adjustment for the luma (intensity) and chroma (color) components. The three sliders are Precision (which determines the accuracy of the compression process), Compression (which determines how much of the original image information is removed during the compression process), and Selective (which determines the compression values for a selected area of the image). A fourth slider, Smoothing, adjusts how much optimal noise is removed.
For those who want to delve even deeper into the intricacies of the program’s JPEG compression, CyberView Image Pro lets you configure its quantization tables. Using the built-in Q-Table Designer, you can customize the way your files are compressed. If you have the time and inclination, you can experiment with the settings, eyeball the results, and redefine the compression parameters to your own preferences.
Finally, if you use your own digital photos and are concerned that others might claim those photos as their own, you’ll appreciate the program’s JPEG Image Signature feature. It embeds your name or another message into the file, making it possible to prove prior ownership.
The shareware version of CyberView Image Pro 4.02 is fully functional–except that it doesn’t permit you to save the compressed graphics. The $29.95 registration fee adds the save function to the program.
J-Perk creates Java applets you can use with your Web site. It differs from 6 Pack in that the applet-making process is integrated into a single program, and the applets are mostly limited to image and text effects. Because you can register the entire program for $29.95, it’s an especially good bargain.
The shareware version of J-Perk (formerly named Java Pack) includes some of the most popular Web-page special effects. The Animator applet creates animations, scrolling billboard ads, and slide shows. You can set the overall size of the animation, select the images to be animated, and choose from nine different transitions. The Dynamic Button applet lets you create buttons that change when a cursor passes over them or when they are clicked. The buttons work with frame-based as well as non-frame-based Web pages. J-Perk’s text applets include a swirling-color effect (different colors are applied to the text), a typewriter effect (letters appear one at a time as though coming from a typewriter), a scrolling effect (text scrolls smoothly from one side of the screen to the other), and a ticker effect (the scrolling text is linked to your choice of URLs).
Other applets include a working digital clock that shows both the time and date, a pull-down menu creator that provides an attractive way for your visitors to move from page to page, and a quick method for attaching a sound file to a Web page.
As an incentive for registering the program, J-Perk includes previews of additional applets that are available only in the registered version. These include image effects (Image Fade, Image Cube, Image Ripple, and Lake Reflection), text effects (Status Bar Text Ticker and Fading Message), and miscellaneous effects (Password Protection and Screen Color Fading).
Java applets provide a quick and easy way to add specific functions to your Web site. Even if you don’t know how to program in Java, hundreds of applets are available online that you can essentially cut and paste into your HTML pages. Usually all you need are a few lines of HTML code to call the applet’s files and to modify their parameters.
Silk Webware’s 6 Pack brings together six of the company’s most popular Java applets. Each includes sample HTML code that makes it easy to integrate the applets into your current pages. Applet Banner Factory produces banners with a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, speeds, text arrangements, and special effects (3-D text, title glow, and white mask). Codelink adds password protection to your Web site. It places a burglar-alarm-style keypad on your page; the keypad requires the correct seven-character password before allowing access to a secret Web page. IconBar creates a group of clickable buttons that can be arranged vertically, horizontally, or as a rectangular block of icons.
MailMe automatically e-mails information to visitors who request it and even embeds a link back to the Web page. With Searchlink, you can add a search engine to your Web site that searches as many as 200 Web links by keyword. And Spinalink provides a professional- quality selector tool for choosing among a group of page links or graphics files.
The six applets are linked by common HTML files, allowing you to quickly view and–in the case of the Applet Banner Factory–try out the parameters in real time. You register the applets individually by paying fees that vary from $24.95 to $35.95. Given the diversity of the collection, you’re likely to find one or two that are must- haves.
You’ve spent a lot of time designing and refining your Web site. Everything seems to be functioning, but you have this nagging suspicion that your site could be improved structurally.
Instead of spending a small fortune to hire a Web expert to ferret out your site’s weaknesses, you can enlist the help of a program such as SiteHog 1.0.7. It displays all the links from your home page, including other HTML pages, graphics files, and mail-to entries. The linking structure is displayed graphically in a Windows Explorer-like tree format, allowing you to open files with the associated Windows applications. Double-click on a linked HTML page, and it brings up your browser. Double-click on a GIF file, and it brings up your graphics-editing program.
You can also use SiteHog to validate your HTML pages. The resulting errors, warnings, and hints will help you find and correct nonstandard HTML syntax, start tags that don’t have a corresponding end tag (such as OPEN and CLOSE), and invalid values for selected HTML tags (such as FRAMEBORDER). The program gives specific recommendations, so it’s relatively painless for an HTML programmer to make any of the needed adjustments.
Other options include the ability to choose specific browsers for compatibility (Netscape Navigator 1.0 through 3.0, and Internet Explorer 1.0 through 3.0), as well as the HTML standard level (HTML 1.0 through 3.2; Netscape extensions 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0; and Internet Explorer extensions 2 and 3). The program can estimate the amount of time that each page will take to download, and it provides warnings for pages that take longer than a designated period.
You can also set the number of link levels that SiteHog will explore (zero through nine); whether broken links should be reported; and whether images, e-mail addresses, remote files, and repeated HTML pages should be displayed.
This shareware version does not provide HTTP support, so all of its analyses are performed on your hard drive. The $80 registration fee brings you HTTP support in an upcoming version of the program, as well as technical support via e-mail.
Traffic Builder 1.7
You’ve added some cool-looking Java applets, slimmed down your JPEG files, and optimized your HTML code and links. Now what? You need visitors to appreciate the work you’ve done. You could register your site with hundreds of Internet-based search engines, directories, and link pages, but do you really have time to do this? It would be much easier to use a program that automatically registers your site for you.
One of the best site-submission utilities is Traffic Builder 1.7 (formerly SoftSpider for Windows). The registered version of the program can submit your Web site to 1,009 different reference sites; the nonregistered version limits you to five reference sites at a time.
The interface lets you select all 1,009 sites, just specific site categories (such as award sites, search engines, classifieds, directories, and media outlets), or individual sites.
Other notable features include the SmartCheck option that matches your site’s keywords against a list of site categories, an evaluation of your Web site’s current visibility with the top search engines, and reports on which submissions were successful and which weren’t.
Traffic Builder 1.7 has two registration options. You pay a registration fee of $49.95 to purchase the standard edition of the program. The professional edition of the program, available for a $99.90 registration fee, adds the ability to submit multiple URLs at the same time.
Fine-tune the compression algorithms of your JPEG graphics files with CyberView Image Pro 4.02.
J-Perk provides a small arsenal of image and text effects that can add color and movement to your Web site.
Spruce up your Web site with 6 Pack’s Java-based applets, including one that lets you create custom banners.
SiteHog can check your pages for nonstandard syntax and start tags that don’t have a corresponding end tag.
Need to promote your Web site? Traffic Builder 1.7 can register your site with 1,009 different reference sites.