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The GIF89a Animation User's Guide

Seeing Better....


Many people will skip this section, but there is some useful information for the viewer and the creator of animations. After all, you have to understand how people will see animations in order to design them well. This is a User's Guide.

What Web Browsers will let me see them?

As of July 1996, the following browsers have, or are currently implementing, the subset of GIF89a features that enables animation:

If you are looking for a particular browser to upgrade or try, check out the Upgrade Browser page for quick access.

What GIF89a capabilities does each browser support?

The Browser Aptitude Test will test your browser on various GIF89a capabilities. As of July, 1996, the following is a list of GIF support in various browser versions:

Note: no browser anywhere supports: previous image user input, plain text, background animations, use in <FIG> tag.

Any Web browser or version not listed above doesn't support these animations. Consequently, most browsers will display only the first image in the sequence. AOL's IWENG and SUN's HOTJava browsers display the last frame without any positioning.

Right software, but STILL no animation

Netscape's GIF89a animation engine relies upon the disk cache. If you have turned caching off on your browser (OPTIONS/NETWORK PREFERENCES/CACHE DISK CACHE=0) animation won't loop and may not play at all. If an animation is too large to store in the DISK CACHE it won't loop.

If you are using beta versions, or have just upgraded, do as the installation instructions say and DELETE all the files in your NETSCAPE\CACHE folder. Not clearing the cache can foul up the caching of the new version and disable animation.

Images not loading?

Have you by any chance, unchecked OPTIONS/AUTO LOAD IMAGES. You need that checked to have any images load automatically. Otherwise you will have to click on each image to see it.

Now that they are running...

"How do you stop these crazy things!"

Well, on some versions of Netscape, hit the STOP button to stop animations. The ESCape key does the same thing. However, remember to wait for the page to finish loading before you hit STOP or you will interrupt the transmission of the HTML page as well. You can tell that something is still loading from the Internet when the Netscape Logo is still active (shooting comets). Looping animations do not cause the Netscape logo to move.

No STOP button, ESC doesn't work

On particularly fast and short looping animations, the STOP button will only light up when it hits the loop. This is the only time you can stop it. Timing is everything, but there is an easier way. On Windows, hold down the ESCape key. When it hits the loop, the animation will stop. This may work on Mac & Unix platforms as well.

Nothing works, they keep going and going and going

Some of the new Betas of Netscape do not allow you to stop the animation. You must simply let them run. Hopefully the animators thought ahead and encoded a specific number of iterations so that the animation will stop after a few plays. Otherwise, you and your processor have been take hostage by a mad GIF89a animator.

You stopped an animation and the broken image symbol is there now. As of Netscape 3.0 betas, That's a disadvantage right now. When the stream of images is broken it goes into the same error routine as when a GIF doesn't load properly. This leaves you with an icon on top of the last played frame. 3.0 displays fewer broken images than earlier, so later versions of the browser may prevent this entirely.


Seeing more...

Also be conscious that many users don't customize their screen. They spend hours on the web with all this wasted space:



When they could get more space for web pages by using Netscape OPTIONS to see just this:



By turning off the Directory button in the OPTIONS menu, and using OPTIONS/GENERAL PREFENCES/APPEARANCE to show TEXT ONLY on the toolbar, you get all the functionality without all the wasted space. You could lose the Location line, but then you loose you Netscape logo and the most obvious indicator of network activity.

Any ideas, suggestions,utilities, or examples, please mail them over for inclusion in this page.

Royal Frazier

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Copyright 1996,1997 Royal E. Frazier Jr. Last Updated: April 1997