Web Design Small Cover

Buy the PDF of
Web Design:
A Complete Introduction

See the book at amazon.co.uk or amazon.com

Related Site

Web Security Topics

Related Books

Secure Communication Cover

Securing A Server Cover

Teaching Notes for Chapter 6

Download the end-of-chapter questions. (Zipped plain text files, UTF-8 encoded.)

We have made no effort to teach anything about the creation of time-based media in this book. We don't believe that it is part of the job of a Web designer, so it doesn't belong in Web design or Web development courses. If your course is a module within a broader multimedia or art and design degree, creation of time-based media will probably be taught elsewhere. This leaves instructors on Web design courses with a problem when it comes to practical work. Professional audio and video editing tools, and Flash, are big and complicated, and take time and effort to master. So do the techniques of animation, shooting video and recording sound. Consumer-oriented tools like iMovie only provide very limited facilities, so it will be difficult to put students who are not used to working with time-based media in a position to create their own. You can let them use their own footage, perhaps even just clips recorded on mobile phones, and many students will probably get pleasure out of putting such material on to a Web site, but they should be aware of the difference between that sort of material and professional-quality media. If it is possible, a better approach would be to collaborate with a specialist animation or video and TV department, if there is one in your institution. If no other source of material is available, we have posted a few samples to the support site for our Digital Media Tools book, which can be downloaded for use in student projects.

For the most part, in this chapter we have concentrated on embedding time-based media in Web pages, since that is the main concern of Web designers in this context. The students will need to know about the various media formats in use, the plug-in and ActiveX technologies, and the markup needed to embed media. We have included a fairly detailed account of video compression, so that students can appreciate how it works and the issues in reducing data size sufficiently to make video playable over the Internet, but this material could be omitted if you felt it was too technical, or you didn't have time for it.

With the exception of dedicated video sharing sites, much of the time-based media on the Web appears in advertisements – very many pages feature moving adverts. Therefore, time-based media cannot be considered a marginal topic for Web designers. The need for designers to allow for the inclusion of time-based advertisements on Web pages provides a practical motivation for talking about time-based media for students who do not see any other interest in it.

Students should also be aware that most time-based media is now Flash, which is used not just for animation but also for video and sound.

Compatibility Problems

The contentious issue concerning time-based media is what markup to use. In the book we show how nested object elements can be used to accommodate both ActiveX controls and plug-ins for playing Flash movies, video and sound. As we point out, though, Internet Explorer 6 incorrectly implements nested object elements, and tries to display the element's content as well as the embedded object. You can argue about whether Microsoft should be held to blame for incorrectly implementing a feature of the standard, or W3C should be held to blame for resolutely refusing to add the embed element to the standard, even though it is implemented by all browsers except IE. Whichever view you take, the situation is a mess: you cannot create valid XHTML documents with embedded media that will display correctly in all browsers. (Some ingenious solutions that use JavaScript to rewrite valid code have been proposed, but they are a bit desperate and fail if scripting is disabled.) Internet Explorer 7 does handle the nested object elements correctly, but take-up of IE7 is slow, as yet, so for now you will either have to recommend the use of embed inside an object, as detailed on pages 294–295, or neglect IE6, an option which cannot be advised until it is clear that IE6 use has declined to considerably less than its current levels.