TI:ME 2B Internet Authoring Resource Pages

Linking to Media Files

Text Files

Plain text files continue to be useful resources because the absence of special formatting makes it very easy for visitors to copy and paste the text into their favorite word processor for editing. When a text file loads in a Web browser, the text wrapping and line breaks may vary from browser to browser. Text files created on DOS/Windows use one standard for line breaks. Text files created on Macintosh use another standard. A third standard is used for text files created on UNIX computers. If your text editor gives you a choice, create text files with DOS/Windows line breaks to ensure maximum compatibility. Don't worry, Macintosh and UNIX text readers automatically translate DOS/Windows line breaks, so there is rarely any problem. Here is a simple link to a text file. It will open in a new window. The code needed to generate the link is also shown.

Code for link:

<a href="anytextfile.txt" target="_blank">Link to Text File</a>

Image Files

The first Web browsing software only recognized text. Later browsers were capable of displaying graphics in GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) and JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) formats. GIF format is limited to 256 colors so GIF is most useful for simple icons. The GIF format can also include multiple images in a single file. Such files are called animated GIFs. JPG is a better format for photographs because it allows for millions of colors in an image. Today's browsers also display PNG (Portable Network Graphics), a newer format that allows for transparency as well as photorealistic color. Links to images in these file formats allow visitors to view images in a separate window or to download the images to their hard drive.

Code for a typical graphic link:

<a href="anygraphicfile.gif" target="_blank">A Graphic File</a>

There are other file formats used in print production such as TIFF, EPS, and PDF. You can link to these file formats but when the visitor clicks the link, the linked file will not be displayed in the browser. Rather it will be downloaded to the visitor's hard drive. In the case of PDF files, however, a special Web browser plugin is available from Adobe to allow PDF files to be viewed within a Web browser window.

Files that Open Using Browser Plugins

Web browsers require additional software to play audio, video, Flash animation, and other file formats. The other software may take the form of a Web browser plugin or ActiveX control that allows a particular media type to be displayed within a Web browser window. For example, Flash animations play easily in almost every Web browser because the plugin software for Flash is usually distributed and installed with the browser. When a new version of the Flash player plugin is released, however, the visitor must often download and install the new version to continue to have access to the latest Flash media. QuickTime movies, Windows Media Player files, RealPlayer files, and other media formats each have their own plugin software.

Code for a typical media file link:

<a href="anymediafile.swf" target="_blank">A Media File</a>

Files that Open Using Separate Applications

Many software products such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Illustrator, Finale NotePad, and others create documents that can't be opened by a Web browser. You can still make these documents available for download through a simple link but the visitor will have to open the downloaded document using a separate application. For example, you can link to a Finale NotePad file. When the visitor clicks the link, the Finale NotePad file is downloaded to the visitor's hard drive. The visitor can then launch Finale NotePad and open the file. Notice the instructions to the visitor on how to download the files. Also, notice that the code does not use the target="_blank" attribute because the linked file will not be opening in a separate web browser window. Web browsers and platforms are inconsistent in how they handle special file formats. For best results, create zip archives of documents you wish to make available for download. Click the links below to see how your Web browser handles these different file formats.

Code for a typical file link:

<a href="otherfile.zip">A zip archive of one or more files.</a>