NetScape Plug-INS for Dummies (with CD-ROM)

NetScape Plug-INS for Dummies (with CD-ROM)

by Idg Publishing, Kathy Ivens

Paperback

$20.96 $24.99 Save 16% Current price is $20.96, Original price is $24.99. You Save 16%.
MARKETPLACE
1 New & Used Starting at $4.85

Overview

The Netscape Navigator Web browser is awesome all by itself. With plug-ins, third-party programs that extend Netscape Navigator1s capabilities, Web pages come alive with audio, video, animation, conferencing, and a whole host of other features. Netscape Plug-Ins For Dummies unveils all the most exciting, most useful plug-ins available. Even better, the book1s bundled CD-ROM contains dozens of the best plug-ins, from Shockwave to RealAudio. You get them free -- and without enduring lengthy downloads. Author Chris Negus shows you how and where to use them, from webcasts featuring live audio and video to free long-distance phone conversations over the Internet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764500725
Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/10/1996
Series: For Dummies Series
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 7.39(w) x 9.18(h) x 0.97(d)

First Chapter

Chapter 12
Plug-Ins for Music, Broadcasts, and Beyond

In This Chapter

  • Listening to audio on the Internet
  • Listening to live music and broadcasts with the RealAudio Player plug-in
  • Playing compressed WAV files with the RapidTransit plug-in
  • Listening to MIDI files with the Crescendo plug-in


When you start experimenting with music and broadcast plug-ins, you see some of the really awesome power of the Internet!

The variety of audio content they can bring you is what makes these plug-ins so awesome. No longer are you restricted to choosing among the dozen or so popular musicians on the radio. You can now find out about and listen to thousands of performers and bands on the Internet. If the local networks aren't carrying your favorite college football game, it may be broadcast on the Internet or it may be archived somewhere so that you can call it up and play it later!

These plug-ins can be basic: Those devoted solely to music may simply play music in common audio formats. Or they may be amazing and do some special file compression and store and play back files in a proprietary format. Whereas this chapter focuses just on plug-ins that can play recorded music, some plug-ins have other uses as well, such as playing live concerts, radio programs, and sporting events.

Be careful. Even though the plug-ins are either free or inexpensive, this stuff is addictive and potentially expensive. You'll probably decide your old 14.4 Kbps modem isn't streaming sound in fast enough or that your old sound card just isn't cutting the mustard -- or even that you need a sound card, if you don't have an up-to-date multimedia computer. You'll be off to the store, credit card in hand. I tell you more about systems requirements and upgrades in the next section.

Sound Quality on the Internet

The quality of the music and broadcasts you get over the Internet may range from excellent to man-with-a-mouthful-of-marbles-singing-underwater. If you're still using a 14.4 Kbps modem, I again suggest that you upgrade to a 28.8 Kbps modem -- even if you plan to only listen to music over the Internet. (Sound comes in faster and smoother with the faster modem.) But if you want to make the leap to including sound files on your own Web page, you need to make some decisions about your sound file size versus the sound quality. In this case, my advice is to upgrade all your computer's audio equipment.

How the audio clip is created and stored, however, will have the greatest effect on the quality of the sound you hear.

Digital music is created by using a method called sampling. As sound is recorded, the music is sampled at a rate of thousands of times per second. Professional audio CDs sample more than 44,000 times per second. To keep audio files from becoming too huge to be successfully transferred over the Internet, sounds are often sampled at a much lower rate, such as 8,000 times per second.

Sampling is to audio what frame rate is to video. With video, if you were to take 30 pictures (frames) every second, as opposed to 5 pictures per second, the video that played back would be much smoother and richer. Likewise, sampling, which takes in more information about the sound every second, can produce a fuller sound quality at higher sampling rates.

A few audio terms to help you along

When I talk about common audio formats, I am referring to formats that can be used by a variety of programs to store audio files. On the other hand, a proprietary audio format refers to formats where tools for storing and reproducing the audio are probably produced by a single company.

Streaming audio is the same concept used in other types of streaming stuff (such as streaming video or documents) on the Internet. When a plug-in does streaming, it can start playing the content as it is being received, rather than waiting for an entire file to reach the computer.

An audio clip is a contained section of audio. An audio broadcast is made up of many audio clips. A clip is just a way of storing and sending a smaller part of a larger audio experience.

A sound card is a special piece of computer hardware that fits into a slot on your computer. This card lets you play back audio (by attaching speakers) and record audio (by attaching microphones or inputs from electronic music instruments). I refer to 16-bit and 32-bit sound cards. The "bits" refer to the size of each piece of data the card can handle. A 32-bit sound card takes in chunks of data 32-bits at a time. Therefore, more information can flow to the card, so you get better sound quality with the 32-bit card.

The precision at which the sound is stored also varies the quality of the sound and the size of the file it is stored in. A file stored in 8-bit format is much smaller than one stored in 16-bit format. (You can forget about what the "bit" stuff means, except to remember that 16-bit format will give better quality than 8-bit.) Also, stereo recordings are better (and less compact) than mono recordings.

For some good, general descriptions of audio formats, as well as a lot of links to audio sites, go to ftp.digital.com/Webmm/audio.html. CompuServe also has a good Web page that lets you try out different types of sound files. That page is located at http://www.compuserve.com/index/tips01.html.

LiveAudio for common music formats

If you have Netscape Navigator 3.0 or later, you should already have the LiveAudio plug-in installed (check Help-->About Plug-ins to make sure). LiveAudio comes with Netscape 3.0 (you don't have to install it separately). And if you have LiveAudio, you can play basic audio files, such as:

  • AU: This format, which is sometimes referred to as mu-Law or u-law format, is one used originally on UNIX systems from Sun Microsystems and NeXT computers. Sound clips in this format are stored in 8-bit monaural. Because it was one of the first audio formats for computers, almost every computer platform supports it.
  • AIFF: Apple championed this format, Audio Interchange File Format, for the Macintosh. Information can be stored in 8-bit or 16-bit formats in both mono and stereo. This format is not as widely used on the Web.
  • WAV: Files in WAV format are the ones most often used on Microsoft Windows platforms. Tools that come with Windows 95 and other Windows platforms make it easy for you to record and save audio files in WAV format. (For example, a stored audio file can be changed to another audio format by selecting the file, clicking on Save As, and selecting a different audio format to store it in.)
  • MIDI: Files stored in Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) format are produced directly from electronic music devices, such as synthesizers. The files are compact; instead of trying to re-create the fully realized sound, midi files contain the notes played, which are then reproduced when the MIDI file plays.

Live Stuff with the RealAudio Player Plug-In

Do you want to hear a live concert or a radio station in Kalamazoo? How about classical, jazz, rock, alternative, or Christian music? Or are you more interested in news reports as they are happening? The RealAudio plug-in is a must-have for keeping up with live audio broadcasts on the Internet. A wealth of archived RealAudio music, from Progressive Networks (http://www.realaudio.com), is stored out on the Web. (The RealAudio plug-in plays music that is formatted in its own RealAudio format.)

You can get the RealAudio Player 2.0 for free. The RealAudio Player Plus costs $29.95 and has some extra features. For example, the Plus version lets you scan the Internet for live broadcasts.

The people at RealAudio have gone to a lot of trouble to bring you a smokin' plug-in and to encourage and gather tons of content. You can even check a daily guide, called "Timecast," to RealAudio sites and broadcasts on the Web (http://www.timecast.com).

Do I need the RealAudio Player plug-in?

This plug-in is premier for live audio on the Web. If your computer is set up to do any type of audio, you probably want this plug-in. As I mentioned earlier, the amount of stuff out there in RealAudio format is pretty awesome.

The MIME type of RealAudio sounds is audio/x-pn-realaudio-plugin. RealAudio files have the file extension .ram. Typically, when you hit a RealAudio clip or broadcast, and you already have RealAudio installed, the player just pops up, starts downloading (which you can watch), and begins to play.

The more power your computer has, the better the results will be when you run RealAudio. To use the RealAudio plug-in, here is what you need:

  • PC (486) with at least 8MB RAM, Macintosh (68K or PowerPC) with at least 8MB RAM, several types of UNIX workstations
  • Windows 3.1, Windows 95, or Windows NT (Mac System 7.1, OS/2, and Linux versions are available)
  • Sound card (with Windows sound driver) for PCs
  • At least 14.4 Kbps modem

If you have a 28.8 Kbps modem, you can play RealAudio clips that are stored to take advantage of the faster modem speeds. As you browse for RealAudio sites, look for little RealAudio balloons that say "28.8".

Downloading the RealAudio Player plug-in

Links to the download page for the RealAudio plug-in are available from lots of the sites that require you to use RealAudio. If you like, you can go directly to the RealAudio download page at http://www.realaudio.com/products/player/download.html. There you can find out about plug-ins for the different computer platforms and features, and then download the plug-in.

Installing the RealAudio Player plug-in

  1. Windows 95 users: Click on the Start button.

    Windows 3.x users: Go to the Program Manager, and click on the File menu.

  2. Click on Run.
  3. In the box that appears, browse for the folder containing your compressed file.
  4. For example, if the file is in a folder callled \pluga on drive C, you might select C:\pluga\Ra32_201.exe.

    This step expands the program.

  5. To install the program, repeat Steps 1 and 2, and then continue with Step 5.
  6. In the box that appears, browse for the folder where you just decompressed the file (click on Browse). When you find the folder, double-click on the Setup.exe file.
  7. For example, if the file is in a folder called \pluga on drive C, you might select C:\pluga\Setup.exe.

  8. If you agree to the terms, click on Accept.

    A window appears asking you to enter your name and company. The company is optional.

  9. Type your name and company name, and click on Continue.

    A window pops up asking you to verify your name and company.

  10. Click OK if the information is correct.

    A window appears asking about the connection you have to the Internet. You need at least a 14.4 modem to use RealAudio. Your choices are 14.4 Modem, 28.8 Modem, ISDN, or T1 connections.

    ISDN (Integrated Systems Data Network) is a high-speed network available to most businesses and residences. A T1 connection is a much faster connection used by larger businesses to connect many users to the Internet or other network.

  11. Choose your connection, and click on OK.

    A window appears asking if you want to do the express setup or a custom setup. Usually the express setup is fine. It determines where the RealAudio Player is placed (c:\Raplayer).

  12. Click on express.

    The plug-in installs. If you have Microsoft Internet Explorer, you may see a message that the RealAudio Player was installed as an external viewer.

  13. Click on OK.

    A window asks if you want to install the RealAudio Player for Netscape and if you want to add a bookmark to the RealAudio home page. (Click on Bookmarks-->Add Bookmark.)

  14. Click on OK.

    A window appears asking you to exit Netscape (or installation will exit for you).

  15. Click on OK.

    If you have different browsers installed, a window asks if you want to install RealAudio for each of them. If you do, after that's finished, a message appears, telling you that RealAudio was successfully installed.

  16. Click on OK.

    At this point, your Netscape Navigator starts up, and the RealAudio player appears to play you a welcome message.

Now you're ready to try out RealAudio.

Controlling the RealAudio Player plug-in

RealAudio actually tells you what's going on. With other players, you often sit watching, waiting for something to happen, wondering, "Is the file downloading now?" or "Is Netscape hung up?" No problem with the RealAudio Player.

The RealAudio Player reports on the progress of the audio clip as the Player reads the audio clip (if the numbers stop, it has stopped downloading). The Player tells you which clip it's working on, how much of the clip has been buffered (stored up to play back), and Title, Author, and Copyright information for the clip. Figure 12-1 shows the RealAudio 2.0 Player for Windows.

Oops! It didn't work.

What if RealAudio isn't installed when you restart Netscape? You can fix 99.9 percent of all plug-ins that don't install properly on the Microsoft Windows platforms. The answer is very simple: Find the plug-in's .dll file, and put it the Netscape plugins directory. Here's how to fix a problem with the Real Audio plug-in:

  1. Open the RealAudio Readme file, and find the text that tells you the filename for RealAudio for your Windows platform (95, 3.x, or NT). If you use Windows 95, the file name is Npra32.dll.
  2. In Windows 95, use the Find tool (Start-->Find-->Files or Folders) to search for the file. You may happen upon it in the c:\Raplayer folder.

    In Windows 3.x, choose File-->Search to find the file.

  3. Copy the .dll file into the plugins directory, which is located where your Netscape.exe file is.

    For Windows 95, the directory is probably something like c:\ProgramFiles\ Netscape\Navigator\Program\ Plugins (the Netscape.exe file is actually in the program directory, whereas the plug-in goes into the plugins directory).

    In Windows 3.x, the directory is probably something like c:/Netscape/Plugins.

  4. Restart Netscape Navigator.
  5. Select Help-->About Plug-ins.

    You should see "Real Audio Plug-in for Netscape" plain as the nose on your face.

In general, any time you copy a plug-in's .dll file to the plugins directory, the plug-in works. And just copying the file may save you from having to run the whole installation again.

RealAudio Player menu items

Here are the five menu items shown in Figure 12-1 and some information about how you can use them:

  • File: Options under this menu let you open a RealAudio sound clip located on the Internet (Open Location), a file on your hard disk (Open File), or one of a list of clips you have opened recently (Open Recent).
  • View: Options under this menu enable you to have the player show (or not show) information about the clip, show a Volume Slider (Info & Volume), or show the messages on the bottom (Status Bar).

    You can choose Preferences to change a variety of RealAudio settings. You can choose protocols to use, the number of locations to save in history, and options for sound quality. (Protocols define the software used to communicate on a network, and history is a list of Web sites you have visited with the player.)

    Statistics lets you show information about how the audio data is progressively downloading.

    Always on Top lets you keep the player displayed on top of other windows on your screen, regardless of which window is active.
  • Clip: These items let you toggle between Previous Clip and Next Clip.
  • Sites: Under Sites, you can click on items that take you to the RealAudio Home Page, the RealAudio Guide, or the RealAudio Help Page.
  • Help: Help is, well, help. Get a standard Microsoft Windows help screen for RealAudio by clicking on Contents, or for information about the player version, click on About.

You can adjust the quality of the sound coming in. If the sound is garbled, select View-->Preferences-->Advanced. Click on Use 8-bit Only and Use 11 KHz Only. With these options, you can ensure that the sound streams in more evenly, though at a lower quality (which may be fine for voice reproduction in -- for example -- a live news broadcast).

RealAudio Player buttons

The Start/Pause button begins playing or lets you pause a clip (refer to Figure 12-1). The Stop button, you guessed it, lets you stop playing. Move the Slider to go to a different point in the clip (the Slider stays where it is when you are streaming in broadcast information). You also have a Volume Slider bar alongside the Title, Author, and Copyright lines for adjusting the volume.

RealAudio Player information

I really love the status information on this player. Each RealAudio clip can display a title for the clip, the company or person who authored it, and any copyright information right on the player window. The status bar, located at the very bottom of the screen, shows the progress of downloading and a running count of how long the clip has been playing. Other messages -- for example, alerting you when the audio stops (when it's not supposed to) -- can also appear on the status bar.

Radio, concerts, and other RealAudio sites

Choosing which sites to try out is the hard part with RealAudio. Literally hundreds of sites exist. The best place to start is probably with the Timecast RealAudio Guide (http://www.timecast.com). Figure 12-2 shows the Timecast home page for searching for RealAudio sites.

From Timecast, you can go to live broadcasts, to site directories listed by type of site, or you can search by using a keyword. Try to find the classical music site that carries broadcasts of the KING FM 98.1 radio station from Seattle, Washington (http://www.king.org). The page has an RA28.8 balloon on it, which is your indication that if you have a 28.8 Kbps modem, the audio is optimized for playing over your modem. Click on the balloon, and the RealAudio Player starts up. Figure 12-3 shows the KING FM 98.1 page.

Creating your own RealAudio content

You have a lot of opportunities for creating your own RealAudio clips for the Web. The RealAudio Encoder lets you compress a common audio file into RealAudio format. You can find out about all the tools from the RealAudio Software Development Tools page (http://www.realaudio.com/products/tools/index.html). Here are some of the other tools Progressive Networks offers:

  • RealAudio SDK: This software development kit lets you integrate RealAudio into multimedia Web products, such as Shockwave (see Chapter 16, for more information about Shockwave), ActiveX (see Chapter 20), and Java (see Chapter 20).
  • RealAudio Timeline Editor: This software tool creates multimedia slide shows with synchronized sound.
  • RealAudio Personal Server: This software program lets individuals broadcast their own RealAudio sounds.

You can also access a Content Creation Guide. You can use this guide to create your own RealAudio Web site.

Compressed Music from the RapidTransit Plug-In

The RapidTransit plug-in plays WAV files that are compressed into a special format that speeds them across the Internet. Although the files are highly compressed, they do play back at a high quality.

RapidTransit plays the FastMan Adaptive Wavelet Transform (AWT) compression type. When compressed in this way, files are squished this way and squashed that way. Oh, heck, if you want to know the technical details, read the RapidTransit Technical Discussion at http://m2.monsterbit.com/rapidtransit/technical/t-compression2.html.

The important thing is that the RapidTransit plug-in plays highly compressed audio files that show compression ratios from 21:1 to 52:1. I heard a bit of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Vivaldi's Four Seasons from the samples they provide, all of which sounded very good.

RapidTransit also has a neat-looking home page located at http://m2. monsterbit.com/rapidtransit/g-index.html. I just have to show it to you (see Figure 12-4).

Do I need the RapidTransit plug-in?

The RapidTransit plug-in does maintain really good sound quality at high compression rates. This quality means that, yes, if you want to hear files that are out there in the RapidTransit format or if you want to make compressed audio files for your own Web pages, then go for it.

The compression type is FastMan Compressed Music. It has a MIME type of application/fastman. The file extension of FastMan files is .lcc.

Currently, RapidTransit runs on a limited the number of platforms. Here's a list of what you need to run the RapidTransit plug-in at this time:

  • PC (486 or better) with at least 8MB RAM
  • Windows 95
  • 16-bit sound card (or better)

The plug-in I tried was a beta version (version under testing) available only for Windows 95. When the final plug-in is released, it will be available for Macintosh Power PC, Macintosh 68K, Windows (95, NT, and 3.1), and UNIX. The encoder that creates RapidTransit files will run on Macintosh, Windows 95, Windows NT, and UNIX platforms.

Downloading the RapidTransit plug-in

To get a copy of RapidTransit, go to m2.monsterbit.com/rapidtransit/download/t-index.html and follow the instructions.

The downloaded file saves into a local directory. (In fact, when I downloaded the file, it downloaded in the very directory where the Netscape.exe file is located, rather than in the plugins directory.)

Note: When working with the beta version of RapidTransit 1.02, I found controls to be its biggest drawback. After the file downloads, all you can do is start it or stop it.

Installing the RapidTransit plug-in

To install RapidTransit (Microsoft Windows 95 version), follow these instructions:

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. Click on Run.
  3. In the box that appears, browse for the folder containing your compressed file.

    For example, if the file is in a folder called \plugt on drive C, you might select C:\plugt\Rtplut102.exe.

    This step decompresses all the programs into the temporary directory where you downloaded the file.

  4. To install the program, repeat Steps 1 and 2 and then continue with Step 5.
  5. In the box that appears, browse for the folder where you just decompressed the file (click on Browse). When you find the folder, double-click on the Setup.exe file.

    For example, if the file is in a folder called \plugt on drive C, you might select C:\plugt\Setup.exe.

  6. Click on Accept if you agree to the terms.

    A window appears asking if you are ready to start installation.

  7. Click on Start Installation.

    A window appears asking you to locate and select your Netscape.exe file. Go out and find it!

  8. Double-click on the Netscape.exe file after you get there.

    Installation finishes in a flash.

  9. Restart Netscape to put RapidTransit into effect.

You're all finished!

Where can I find RapidTransit on the Web?

Well, you can't. The product is not out yet. However, because of its capability to compress files, this plug-in is well-suited to high-volume music sites. So you can expect to see it out there soon after the commercial product is available.

Crescendo MIDI Plug-In from LiveUpdate

The musicians in the crowd know that the word crescendo means to get progressively louder. This name is appropriate for a plug-in like Crescendo from LiveUpdate (http://www.liveupdate.com), which plays MIDI music. You can really crank up the volume on these files because MIDI stores the notes that were played by MIDI instruments and replays them on the output device (in this case, the plug-in). No distortion and nothing lost.

You don't need special compressors or encoders to create the common MIDI files that Crescendo can play. MIDI instruments, such as synthesizers, create the music and can then feed it into your computer through a sound card that supports MIDI recording. So you do need a MIDI instrument and MIDI sound card to put the MIDI files on your computer.

But because the people at LiveUpdate have a nice product and they're not making you buy a compressor, they figure they're not asking too much to charge you a few dollars for the plug-in. The Crescendo plug-in, plain and simple, is free for personal use. To subscribe and entitle yourself to automatic upgrades for a year and technical support by e-mail, you pay $9.95 for a single plug-in. For the Crescendo Plus plug-in, LiveUpdate asks $19.95 for a subscription. For larger site licenses, the prices come down to about $2.50 for 100 or more units.

Do I need the Crescendo plug-in?

If you have Netscape 3.0 or higher, the LiveAudio plug-in that comes with it will play MIDI files. You don't need another player. The Crescendo plug-ins, however, do have better controls than LiveAudio. You can watch the counters and skip forward and backward, if you like.

Crescendo plays only MIDI formats. So it supports these MIME types: audio/x-mid, application/x-midi, audio/x-midi, and audio/midi. The file extension for MIDI files is .mid.

Here is what you need to run the Crescendo plug-in:

  • PC (486 or better), Macintosh (PowerPC or 68K)
  • Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows NT, or Macintosh (7.1 or higher)
  • 32-bit version of Netscape Navigator (2.0 or higher), Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • MIDI sound card

If you still want Crescendo, you can read a bit about the Crescendo plug-ins at http://www.liveupdate.com/proddes.html and then either purchase or download a free version of Crescendo at that site.

Installing the Crescendo plug-in

The Crescendo plug-in is on the CD-ROM that accompanies this book. Please see the Appendix for more information about the CD-ROM.

To install Crescendo, follow these instructions.

  1. Windows 95 users: Click on the Start button.

    Windows 3.x users: Go to the Program Manager, and click on File.

  2. Click on Run.
  3. In the box that appears, browse for the folder containing your compressed file. For example, if the file is in a folder called \plug\cres on drive C, you might select C:\plug\cres\Cres32d.exe.

    You see the WinZip Self-Extractor dialog box.

  4. Leave checks in the boxes that cause the files to be unzipped into the current directory and that open the Readme file. Then click on Unzip.

    A pop-up window tells you that the files were unzipped successfully.

  5. Click on OK.

    Next the Readme file appears giving you further instruction. Read it.

  6. Find your Netscape.exe file, and copy the newly unzipped .dll file (Npmidi32.dll) to the plugins directory directly under Netscape.exe.

    In Windows 95, Netscape.exe may be in C:\Program Files\Netscape\Navigator\Program, so copy the Crescendo .dll file (Npmidi32.dll) to the directory called C:\Program Files\Netscape\Navigator\Program\Plugins. In Windows 3.x, Netscape.exe may be in X:/Netscape, so the Crescendo file should be in C:/Netscape/Plugins.

  7. To put Crescendo into effect, restart your Netscape Navigator.

Note: After installing Crescendo, if LiveAudio or another plug-in continues to control your MIDI playback, check out this Web site for details about how to fix the problem: http://www.liveupdate.com/atlashelp.html.

Controlling Crescendo

The player has controls for playing, pausing, skipping forward or back 10 seconds at a time, and adjusting the volume. You can also click on different buttons to connect to Crescendo and LiveUpdate Web pages for more information.

Searching for MIDI files to play with Crescendo

You can choose from a lot of MIDI files out on the Internet. Running a Net Search from Netscape can turn up a lot of them. I recommend running a search on the words MIDI and the name of your favorite artist. Chances are, someone out there has saved a few tunes by R.E.M., the Beatles, or whichever band or composer you like.

Try out Vikram's MIDI-Fest site (http://sunsite.unc.edu/pant/midi/midi.html) for MIDI music from the Beatles and from television shows.

The Future of Music Plug-Ins

Music files in common formats (such as AU and AIFF) are still big. Expect more compression/decompression techniques, such as the one offered by RapidTransit, to continue to appear. Look for existing music plug-ins to integrate better into other Web frameworks, such as Java and Shockwave.

Available bandwidth on the Internet is less a problem with text and graphics than it is with video. But a large audio file can still take a long time to download. Slow connections can also make audio broadcasts unusable in some cases. Better compression techniques and faster Internet connections will help these problems in the future.

Table of Contents

Introduction

About This Book
Who Are You?
What's in This Book?
Part I: Plug-In Basics
Part II: More Than Words: Document Plug-Ins
Part III: Picture Perfect: Graphical Plug-Ins
Part IV: Sights and Sounds: Multimedia Plug-Ins
Part V: Like, Wow! Virtual Reality Plug-Ins
Part VI: The Part of Tens
Part VII: Appendix
Icons Used in This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
Feedback, Please

Part I: Plug-In Basics

Chapter 1: Welcome to Plug-Ins!
What Can a Plug-In Do?
Internet Basics: Browsers, the Web, and Web Pages
Choosing a Browser: Netscape versus Internet Explorer
Different versions of Netscape Navigator
Microsoft Internet Explorer does plug-ins
Should I replace Netscape with Microsoft Internet Explorer?
How do I get plug-ins to work for Microsoft Internet Explorer?
Other browsers and helper apps
What Kind of Computer Do I Need?
What Operating System Do I Need?
Adding Plug-In Content to Web Pages
Creating plug-in content
Embedding plug-in content on a Web page
Configuring the Web server

Chapter 2: Load 'Em Down and Plug 'Em In
Getting Plug-Ins: Downloading or CDing
Collections of plug-ins on CD-ROM
Netscape's own Power Pack CD-ROM
The Netscape Plug-Ins For Dummies CD-ROM
Finding plug-ins on the Internet for downloading
Downloading plug-ins
Do they cost anything?
Hey, they're asking me personal questions!
Which plug-in do I download?
Where do I put this plug-in?
Legal stuff (or, all about license agreements)
Hey, I thought this plug-in was free!
Not a forever kind of thing
They own your thoughts
The Sanity Clause
Decompressing the Download File
Running the Setup Program
Where's Netscape?
Where do I put the other stuff?
Should I install for other browsers?
Installing Plug-Ins for Microsoft Internet Explorer
Installing Plug-Ins as Helper Apps
Managing Plug-In Conflicts
A Final Word about Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes
Prerelease plug-ins
Addresses (URLs) just keep on a-changin'
Where to Go from Here

Part II: More Than Words: Document Plug-Ins

Chapter 3: Document and Presentation Plug-In Basics
What Is a Document Viewer Plug-In?
No need to buy the word processor
Reading compressed documents
Choosing a Document Viewer Plug-In for Browsing
Check Which Documents Your Browser Supports
Quick View Plus
Do I need the Quick View Plus plug-in?
Where can I get Quick View Plus?
Installing the Quick View Plus plug-in
Decompressing the Quick View Plus download file
Running the Setup program
Checking out the Quick View Plus plug-in
Controlling Microsoft Word documents
Displaying text
Copying text
Future Prospects

Chapter 4: Specialized Document Viewers
Adobe Acrobat Reader Plug-In
Who needs the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in?
Downloading the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in
Installing the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in
Decompressing the Adobe Acrobat Reader download file
Running the Setup program
Controlling Acrobat PDF files
Page layout
Page height and width
Moving around
Zooming in and out
Working with text
Status bar controls
Trying Out a Few Adobe PDF Files on the Web
Creating Adobe PDF Files for a Web Page
Envoy Plug-In
Who needs the Envoy plug-in?
Downloading the Envoy plug-in
Installing the Envoy plug-in
Controlling Envoy files
Working with Envoy text
Moving around in Envoy
Zooming in and out
Checking out some Envoy files
Creating your own Envoy files for the Web
Viewing TeX/LaTeX Files with techexplorer
Who needs the techexplorer plug-in?
Installing techexplorer
Decompressing the techexplorer plug-in download file
Running the techexplorer Setup program
Checking out some TeX/LaTeX documents on the Web
The Future of Document Plug-Ins

Chapter 5: Presenting . . . Presentation Plug-Ins
Plugging Presentations into the Web
How presentations differ from multimedia
Web presentations are still in their infancy
Putting On an ASAP WebShow
Do I need the ASAP WebShow plug-in?
Where can I get the plug-in?
Downloading the ASAP WebShow plug-in
Installing the ASAP WebShow plug-in
Working with the ASAP WebShow plug-in
Checking out some ASAP Web pages
Uninstalling the ASAP WebShow plug-in
Creating your own ASAP presentations
Viewing PowerPoint Presentations
Do I need the PowerPoint plug-in?
Downloading the PowerPoint plug-in
Installing the PowerPoint Plug-in
Finding PowerPoint on the Web
Creating PowerPoint presentations for the Web
The Future of Presentation Plug-Ins

Part III: Picture Perfect: Graphical Plug-Ins

Chapter 6: Looking at Pictures and Moving 'Em Around
Understanding Graphics Formats
Which graphical plug-ins do I want for browsing?
Images on Your Web Page: Choosing Tools and Plug-Ins
How Else Do I Evaluate Graphical Plug-Ins?
Expect the List to Grow
More excellent graphics plug-ins

Chapter 7: Zooming, Panning, Scrolling, and Rotating Graphics
Fractal Images with the Fractal Viewer Plug-In
Do I need the Fractal Viewer plug-in?
What do I need to get started?
Installing the Fractal Viewer plug-in
Zooming, flipping, and stretching FIFs
Zoom in, zoom out, zoom all about
See it in living color
Turn it and flip it
Copy or save it
Tell me more
Show me more
How do I make my own FIF images?
The Future of Image Controls

Chapter 8: Viewing Vector Graphics with the
CorelCMX Viewer Plug-In
Installing the CorelCMX Viewer plug-in
Finding CorelCMX Images to View
Trying CorelCMX Viewer Controls
Creating Your Web Pages with CorelCMX Images
The Future of CorelCMX Images on the Internet

Chapter 9: Displaying CAD Drawings
The DWG/DXF Plug-In for CAD Drawings
Do I need the DWG/DXF Plug-in?
What do I need to get started?
Downloading the DWG/DXF Plug-in
Installing the DWG/DXF Plug-in
Trying out the DWG/DXF Plug-in
The DWG/DXF Plug-in control menu
Viewing DWG/DXF drawings on the Web
How are DWG/DXF files created?
The SVF Plug-In for CAD Drawings
Do I need the SVF Plug-in?
Downloading the SVF Plug-in
Installing the SVF Plug-in
Checking out the SVF Plug-in
How are SVF files created?
The Autodesk WHIP! Plug-In for CAD Files
Do I need the WHIP! Plug-in?
What do I need to get started?
Downloading the WHIP! Plug-in
Installing the WHIP! Plug-in
Checking out some WHIP! DWF drawings
Moving around with the WHIP! Plug-in
How do I make DWF files for my Web page?
The Future of CAD Plug-Ins

Chapter 10: Plug-Ins for Decompressing Compressed Graphics
All Compressors Are Not Created Equal
Lightning Strike Plug-In
Do I need the Lightning Strike Plug-in?
Installing the Lightning Strike Plug-in
Checking out the Lightning Strike Plug-in
Lightning Strike controls
Save that image for later
Tell me about that image
Making your own Lightning Strike images
Wavelet Image Plug-In
How are Summus wavelets different?
Do I need the Wavelet Plug-in?
What do I need to get started?
Installing the Wavelet plug-in
Trying out some Wavelet images
How do I make my own Wavelet image files?
The Future

Part IV: Sights and Sounds: Multimedia Plug-Ins

Chapter 11: Lights, Camera, Action
Finding Audio, Video, and Multimedia Treasures
Songs and speeches on the Web (audio plug-ins)
Movie clips and TV broadcasts (video plug-ins)
Games and moving presentations (multimedia plug-ins)
Audio Plug-Ins on the Web
The MIDPLUG plug-in
The Talker plug-in
Video Plug-Ins on the Web
The ACTION plug-in
The CineWeb collection of plug-ins
The MacZilla plug-in
The MovieStar plug-in
The VivoActive Player plug-in
Multimedia Plug-Ins on the Web
The IconAuthor plug-in
The Hyperstudio plug-in
The Future of Multimedia Plug-Ins

Chapter 12: Plug-Ins for Music, Broadcasts, and Beyond
Ready, Set, HeadStart
Sound Quality on the Internet
Live Stuff with the RealAudio Player Plug-In
Do I need the RealAudio Player plug-in?
Downloading the RealAudio Player plug-in
Installing the RealAudio Player plug-in
Controlling the RealAudio Player plug-in
RealAudio Player menu items
RealAudio Player buttons
RealAudio Player information
Radio, concerts, and other RealAudio sites
Creating your own RealAudio content
Compressed Music from the RapidTransit Plug-In
Do I need the RapidTransit plug-in?
Downloading the RapidTransit plug-in
Installing the RapidTransit plug-in
Where can I find RapidTransit on the Web?
Crescendo MIDI Plug-In from LiveUpdate
Do I need the Crescendo plug-in?
Installing the Crescendo plug-in
Controlling Crescendo
Searching for MIDI files to play with Crescendo
The Future of Music Plug-Ins

Chapter 13: Let's Talk: Speech Plug-Ins
EchoSpeech Plug-In
Do I need the EchoSpeech plug-in?
Downloading the EchoSpeech plug-in
Installing the EchoSpeech plug-in
Finding EchoSpeech sites
Creating a sound file to use with EchoSpeech
ToolVox Player Plug-In
What else can I do with the ToolVox plug-in?
Do I need the ToolVox plug-in?
The Downloading ToolVox plug-in
Installing the ToolVox plug-in
Controlling ToolVox
Checking out some cool ToolVox sites
Using ToolVox to add speech to your Web page
TrueSpeech Player Plug-In
Do I need the TrueSpeech Player Plug-in?
Downloading the TrueSpeech Plug-in
Decompressing the TrueSpeech download file
Installing the TrueSpeech plug-in
Controlling the TrueSpeech Player
Finding TrueSpeech on the Web
Adding TrueSpeech to your Web page
The Future of Audio Plug-Ins

Chapter 14: Compressed Video with the VDOLive Plug-In
VDOLive Player Plug-In
Who offers VDOLive content on the Web?
Do I need the VDOLive Player plug-in?
Downloading the VDOLive Player plug-in
Installing the VDOLive Player plug-in
Trying Out the VDOLive Player plug-in
Viewing some VDOLive samples
All about automotive
Skateboarding to music
Putting VDOLive on your Web page
The Future of the VDOLive Player Plug-In
Chapter 15: ClearFusion (AVI), InterVU (MPEG), and Apple QuickTime Video Plug-Ins
Play AVI Video with the ClearFusion Plug-In
Pump up your system!
Why do I need the ClearFusion plug-in?
Downloading the ClearFusion plug-in
Installing the ClearFusion plug-in
Trying out the ClearFusion plug-in
Quality versus speed
At the ClearFusion controls
Fun AVI sites to view with ClearFusion
ClearFusion content on your Web page
MPEG Video with the InterVU Player Plug-In
Do I need the InterVU MPEG plug-in?
Downloading the InterVU plug-in
Installing the InterVU plug-in
Trying out the InterVU plug-in
Viewing MPEG on the Web
Adding MPEG to your Web page
QuickTime with the Apple QuickTime Plug-In
Do I need the QuickTime plug-in?
Downloading the QuickTime plug-in
Installing the QuickTime plug-in
Controlling your QuickTime plug-in
Visiting QuickTime Web sites
Adding QuickTime to your Web page
Future Directions

Chapter 16: Shockwave for Director: Multimedia in Motion
Shockwave Plug-In
Do I need the Shockwave plug-in?
Downloading the Shockwave plug-in
Installing the Shockwave plug-in
Shockwave in Action!
Helpful Shock pages
Entertainment
Sporting games
Creating Your Own Shockwave for Director Web Site
Future Prospects

Chapter 17: Multimedia Presentations with Sizzler and Astound
The Sizzler Plug-In
Tell me more about the Sizzler plug-in
Have some sprite with your Sizzler
Art for art's sake
Cool things about Sizzler
Do I need the Sizzler plug-in?
Downloading the Sizzler plug-in
Installing the Sizzler plug-in
Trying out Sizzler
Sizzler samples
Sizzler sites
Adding a little sizzle to your Web page
WebPainter
Sizzler converter tool
Creating animations for Sizzler
Astound Web Player Plug-In
Where does Astound come from?
Astound means business
Do I need the Astound Web Player plug-in?
Downloading the Astound Web Player plug-in
Installing the Astound Web Player plug-in
Controlling Astound presentations
Checking out some Astound Web sites
Using Astound on your Web pages
Astound 4.0
Astound WebMotion
Future Developments

Part V: Like, Wow! Virtual Reality Plug-Ins

Chapter 18: Question Reality (or, What's VRML?)
VRML Means Virtual Reality on the Web
Exploring Virtual Worlds on the Web
Stuff on the Web
Stuff not on the Web
VRML lists
Why Use a VR Plug-In Other Than Live3D?
Trying Out Virtual Worlds on the Web
Virtual Reality Plug-Ins
Future Directions

Chapter 19: Virtual Reality with Live3D
The Live3D Plug-In
Do I need the Live3D plug-in?
Downloading the Live3D plug-in
Installing the Live3D plug-in
Trying out Live3D
Navigating in Live3D
Tips for viewing Live3D worlds
Some Live3D virtual reality stuff
Dance with me
Explore the Web for Virtual Reality
Driving and dining with SteelStudio
Duke's Diner
Overdrive
Ski the slopes
Travel through an art gallery
Links to other virtual reality sites
The Future

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Chapter 20: Ten Plug-Ins (Plus One) That Defy Categorization
The About People Plug-In (Address Book)
The Carbon Copy/Net Plug-In (Remote Access)
The Chemscape Chime Plug-In (Chemical Models)
The EarthTime Plug-In (Time around the World)
The Formula One/Net Plug-In (Live Spreadsheets)
The ichat Plug-In (Live Chats)
The Koan Plug-In (Generated Music)
The PenOp Plug-In (Online Signatures)
The PhotoBubble Plug-In (Spherical Photographs)
The StockWatcher Plug-In (Stock Prices)
Been There, Done That with HindSite

Chapter 21: Ten Web Sites for Plug-In Enthusiasts
BrowserWatch Plug-In Plaza
Iway Plug-In Playground
MacWEEK Navigator 2.0 Plug-Ins
Netscape Inline Plug-Ins
Netscape Plug-In Resources
Plug-In Newsgroups
Plug-In Software Development Kit (SDK)
Slaughterhouse Plug-Ins
Tucows Plug-In Modules
Windows95.com Plug-Ins

Part VII: Appendix

Appendix: About the CD

System Requirements
What Do I Do First with the CD?
What You'll Find
AT&T WorldNet Service
Plug-ins
If You've Got Problems (of the CD kind)

Index

AT&T Coupon

Back of Book Ads

License Agreement

Installation Instructions

Reader Response Card

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews