Interactive Features

Written by Richard Lowe

If you really want people to be attracted to your web site time after time, you need to add interactivity. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want. It does not matter whether you are a beginner, an intermediate webmaster orrepparttar most advanced web designer around, you can add interactive elements to your web site.

What is an interactive element? Forrepparttar 134647 purposes of this section, I am defining it as a way to causerepparttar 134648 visitor to a web site to interact with either other visitors orrepparttar 134649 webmaster. Examples include email forms, chat scripts and games. You can also add tools such as dictionary lookup boxes, weather reports and code generators.

If you are a beginning webmaster, if you are creating a simple homepage or if you do not have access to server-side scripting (a method to causerepparttar 134650 web server to do tasks for you), then what you will need to do is find outside services to host your interactive capabilities. These services can be bought (usually for a minor fee) or will will be free and display ads.

The advantages of free services are that they are free, relatively bullet-proof (usually) and generally straightforward to use. The major disadvantage is that they must make money indirectly throughrepparttar 134651 use of advertisements. Sometimes this is just a simple banner, andrepparttar 134652 more obnoxious services remove your visitor totally from your website and plant them on theirs. The other disadvantage is you tend to lose visitors by using these free services, as it is their goal to get them to click on an advertisement, not to get people to stay on your site.

All of these remotely hosted services (a service run off of a web server that is notrepparttar 134653 same as yours) have a major flaw in that they tend to slow down your web pages. Even something as simple as displaying a button loaded from one of these services can increaserepparttar 134654 load time of your page by seconds or even minutes. You see, it depends on how loaded their server is - not how much data is on your page.

Graphics for the Web: Plug-Ins

Written by Richard Lowe

You've probably noticed that just about any application of any real significance these days hasrepparttar capability to be expanded in some way. Usually these are called "plug-ins", although they are also called snap-ins (Windows 2000), add-ons, add-ins (Outlook 2000), ActiveX Controls (Internet Explorer) and filters (Adobe Photoshop, as well as any number of other descriptive names.

The concept is simple, andrepparttar 134646 benefits are tremendous. Create an "engine" with basic functionality and allow for expansion by third-parties in a standard and organized way. Thus, for example, even though Adobe Photoshop performs an incredibly number of functions all on it's own,repparttar 134647 authors felt it was necessary to allow others to contribute their skills. They did this by providing plug-ins and filters.

This also, not entirely coincidentally, got aroundrepparttar 134648 concept of "open source" which has been debated all overrepparttar 134649 internet for years. Pure open source is code which can be downloaded and modified by anyone - Unix is a good example of this. Atrepparttar 134650 other extreme is virtually all of Microsoft's products -repparttar 134651 sources are not made available to anyone except under specific and [legally] controlled circumstances. Plug-ins get around this argument by allowingrepparttar 134652 product to be expanded and it's behavior changed without releasingrepparttar 134653 source code torepparttar 134654 general public.

The concept of plug-ins actually came into reality back in 1995. The Netscape browser developers had a problem - there were few, if any, accepted graphics and multimedia (videos, sound and such) standards available onrepparttar 134655 web, yetrepparttar 134656 browser had to be capable of displaying graphics and multimedia. The developers did not want to restrict their browser to just a few standards (which may or may not have become accepted) and they certainly did not want to release a new browser every time a new multimedia format was created.

Thus plug-ins were born. This solvedrepparttar 134657 problem very well. There was now no need to restrict formats or modify and distribute a new browser. All that needed to be done was create a plug in which handledrepparttar 134658 format. And best of all (for Netscape) this plug-in was generally created by some other company.

There were problems withrepparttar 134659 plug-in concept, however.

- Back inrepparttar 134660 days of slow modems, it could take a very long time to download a plug-in

- Plug-ins could crashrepparttar 134661 operating system or cause it to become unstable.

- If a visitor chose not to install a plug-in, thenrepparttar 134662 multimedia object would not display.

- Malicious designers could conceivably introduce security risks throughrepparttar 134663 use of plug-ins.

Soon afterwards Microsoft got onrepparttar 134664 bandwagon with it's own version of plug-ins for Internet Explorer. They called their version ActiveX and made them a little more automatic (by adding some custom code torepparttar 134665 operating system). Ask anyone at Microsoft (especially atrepparttar 134666 training classes) and you be told thatrepparttar 134667 future is ActiveX. However, these controls have exactlyrepparttar 134668 same problem as plug-ins with a terrible security model to boot (any security model which requires an end-user to make a decision as to whether or not unknown code is trustworthy is certain to fail).

Okay, how does this all relate to graphics? Well, plug-ins and ActiveX controls arerepparttar 134669 way you can expandrepparttar 134670 functions of your browser to include new and occasionally wonderful things.

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