Word Count Total ~   ___1963___

How article actually appeared in Net4TV Voice
Vox Populi, Vox Dei - Vol 2, Issue 7 (#33) - June 20, 1999

ADH-HH Tips & Tools

Faster Load Times & a Transloading Overview

I know everyone who has made a web page has tackled the problem of how to get it to load quick enough to not turn away potential visitors due to frustration. Some times it may be out of your hands. If the web (or WebTV) is extremely busy, or if the person has logged onto a crowded server or has a bad connection, even the "simplest" pages may take a while. There are a few things under your control, however, that may help keep your page from taking an eternity to load. One of the most basic methods is not to glut the page with overly large images. No matter how otherwise well designed, having a multi-megabyte image, especially near the beginning of the page, will have your visitor sitting there watching the little blip forever while the page loads.

Another popular method is to limit the overall size of the page. It may seem if you have a long page with a lot of text near the top that the length of the page shouldn't be a concern. You may think people will be reading the top part of the page anyway so it doesn't matter if it takes a while for the page to load. Of course, this does not take into account any repeat visitors. If they have already read the top part of the page, maybe had to leave your site, & are now returning, they will be more interested in seeing what else is on the page. If it takes forever to load, they may just leave in frustration & not return. This concern may be of less importance if your page is totally or predominately text. But if you have images on your page, then page length should be of paramount concern. Also, to some extent, if you can break longer pages into smaller, more manageable pages, you may have a site that is easier to navigate. At least your visitors may be able to locate that specific part of your site easier that they wish to find.

Most of the tips below also address how to decrease load time of your web pages. I know there are many more such tips & they should be addressed later. If you know of any other methods, or have any tip, shortcut, tool, etc. that you'd like featured in a future article, use this form to submit it.

Intermediate Tip : Preloading Pages
   ~~~  submitted by: 
The Gest Family  [ email ]  ~~~
"We get tired of waiting for pages to load, and often back out rather than wait. This is unfair to the home page owner, but a necessity caused by growing older and (being) less patient. We came across a tip in the WebTV Developer that practically eliminates waiting for "subsequent" pages to load. We feel this tip should be made a part of every "subsequent" page so that when surfers click on a NEXT button, they are immediately taken to the "subsequent" page. It uses the link (tag) and a "Forward Link" (attribute) in the head of the previous page. For our "awards" page, we have the following tag in the head of our "vacation" page:

<html><head><link href="http://www.angelfire.com/wy/gest/awards.html" rel="next"><title> GEST AWARDS PAGE, etc......

It has cut loading time down to nothing...."

ADDITIONAL INFO   I have heard that this method can also be used to preload images that will appear on your subsequent page [note: If anyone knows this not to be true, please contact me & we will print a correction.]. You would list a series of images from your subsequent page like this:

<link rel=next href=/~ebrian/images/caflag.gif>
<link rel=next href=/~ebrian/images/catani.gif>
<link rel=next href=/~ebrian/images/bluem3d2.gif>

I can't find any reference that this is a proper use of the <link> tag but know that it has helped cut down the load time on my pages where I have used this method. Like the above tip, these HTML tags would be placed within the <head> section.

Intermediate Tip : Tables & Load Time
   ~~~  submitted by: 
Jerry Roberts  [ email ]  ~~~
"I have noticed many web pages with excessive loading times. This can be the result of a busy host server but frequently it is caused by using too large a table at the top of your page. Our browsers will not display a page until the first table has been loaded. By defining the first table with a width of 100% and height of 370 it will fit the screen and load fast. Do not put more information in this table than will fit within those dimensions. Try to limit the number of images in this first table to make it load faster. Your visitors can be viewing the first table while the rest of your page is loading."

Intermediate Tip : Dual Use Gifs
   ~~~  submitted by: 
Sleazy Smurf  [ email ]  ~~~
"If you are using the same gif, midi, wav, etc. in both your sig and on a page, it's generally best to copy (one) gif under a different file name. Ex.- cat.gif and cat1.gif but both being the same image. Use one for the sig desired and the other on the page. I'll guarantee it'll quicken load times on both."

Intermediate Tip : Transloading Tip
   ~~~  submitted by: 
Karen  [ email ]  ~~~
"Me again! - Transloader tips to make life easier - and maybe a bit faster. When visiting a graphic site keep a notebook handy to take down URLs of things you might want to transload. Also good to do when you use the HEX option for pages where you can't click on an image. The HEX option lists the URLs of all images, links, midis, etc. on whatever page you give it. HEX is located at http://transload.starblvd.net/hex.shtml . Using the notebook you can take one image to the transloader and when it's finished hit the zap (button), then "back," until you get back to the transload page. There you can put in another URL. Great if you like a few things (from) the same place. Always helps to write down the page URL before you..." go to the HEX utility. "...Sometimes the page URL does not show when you get there."

[ed: With StarBlvd, as with similar sites that utilize autofill fields, it often also helps to do a cmd[R]eload when the last visited URL box is blank &/or the title does not appear in the status window when you go there. This is another of the glitches of the Dec98 upgrade.]

ADDITIONAL INFO   We'd like to briefly address/remind all WebTVers of a few important facts about transloading. Simplified, transloading is the process of taking an image from off the web or an outside source (e.g. computer hard drive, disk, CD-ROM, etc.) and making a copy of it into your own web site storage area. Most WebTVers utilize one of the free web servers/providers. As such, we may not be aware of one aspect of bandwidth & what happens when someone views an image on our site. [BTW, the following info applies to e-mail images also.] Each time, before someone can view an image or anything on your site, it has to be pulled from wherever it is stored & bandwidth is used. Matisse's Glossary of Internet Terms defines bandwidth as:  "How much stuff you can send through a connection. Usually measured in bits-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits..." Many of us may not be aware that others on the web use some of the "commercial" (non-free) web servers. These servers charge their members for how much bandwidth they use or how much over a certain limit. If you use an image from one of these members' sites by linking to it, each time someone views the image on your site it is using that other site's bandwidth & costing the owner of that site some money. This is a horrible practice that also gives WebTVers a very bad image & one we hope is occurring less & less, if at all. If you cannot get the hang of transloading, it can be a bit tricky, there are many WebTVers that will asist you in becoming a pro at it. Refer to our teams links at the end of this article if you have trouble finding someone to help you on this.

You should also consider these points. If you link to an image that is not on your server, your page may be disrupted if the other server happens to be down, slow, or experiencing some other difficulty. Although as far as I know the free web servers don't penalize over excessive bandwidth usage, it is still considered proper netiquette to transload images to your own site rather than linking to a free web server based site (or even a fellow WebTVer's site) without express permission. And of course, it is considered illegal to transload & especially to use copyrighted material without express permission. Transloading is the only tool we WebTVers have to readily put images onto our web sites but it must be used responsibly. [note: More on this in a future article.]

Speaking of bandwidth & decreasing load time, consider the following tip:

Intermediate Tip : Optimizing Images
   ~~~  submitted by: 
ericB  [ email ]  ~~~
"Many people may not realize they can greatly decrease the load time of their pages simply by optimizing their images. Most images use a lot of code that is not absolutely necessary to display the image clearly & effectively. [ed: The Bandwidth Conservation Society states: One secret to faster image delivery on the web is in the palette. Most GIF files you see on the web today are made up of an 8-bit palette. [This] Means that there are 256 available colors in any given picture or graphic. But, in most cases the palette can be reduced, which reduces the file size of the GIF, yet still retain acceptable image quality. (For instance a 6-bit GIF only uses 64 colors but can reduce the file size by over 25%.) Smaller filesize = faster delivery...The bottom line is that by reducing the palette (bit depth) you also reduce the file size...] By taking an image to a site like Net Mechanic , they can reduce (optimize) the [byte] size of a gif by up to 50% & sometimes even up to 75%, or more. Also, if you have two identical images but one is a gif & one is a jpg, the jpg will be smaller in [byte] size. Also, sometimes you can take a gif image & convert it into a smaller [byte] sized jpg image.

I have viewed my site on a computer and, although the layout differed from how it appears on WebTV, the images appeared almost identical. Most of the difference was due to the resolution of the monitor I was viewing."

ADDITIONAL INFO   The easiest way I know to do all of this is to have a tool page on one of your f-keys like those created by some of our fellow WebTVers, like Poverty Stricken's The WebTV Utility or Stncold's WebTV (Image) Links . Then, while you're viewing the image you can just hit the assigned f-key & the URL of the image will already be filled out on their tool page & it will transfer the data/upload the image to the optimizer site. There are many more utiilities on each of these tools mentioned. There are also many other such tools created by other WebTVers but these are the ones I either use most or know about. Both of these & similar tools are invaluable in home page making. They contain a wealth of information, help pages & links, provide an easy way to use various utility sites, & free up numerous f-keys by having all these various utilities accessible from one location. Visit both of these pages & consider placing them on one of your f-keys.

About Alt.Discuss.Homepage-Homepage Helpers

The alt.discuss.homepage newsgroup is a great source of help if you are just beginning or run into a snag when creating your home page. Each issue, we will focus on one or more tips that will help your home page design. You can visit our home page at http://members.tripod.com/adhhh/ & request more one-on-one assistance. Our Help Teams include: Tutor Team; Construction Crew [if you have a particularly complex design problem]; & Image Researchers.