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The tips on this page are not all my own invention (although some of them are). It's just a repository of tips which I wanted to store in one place and which others might find useful.

Using CSS and Javascript with Dreamweaver Templates. Dreamweaver
Customising Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver
Rules and Usage. HTML
Fluid Tables - a non-standard but effective method. HTML
Using status alerts for debugging. Javascript
Using document.write in Javascript. Javascript
Debugging functions in Javascript .js source files. Javascript
Use Netscape for Javascript debugging. Javascript
Javascript debugging alerts as comments. Javascript
Don't edit messages while on-line. Outlook Express
Use rules to filter email into different folders. Outlook Express My favourite learning zone website. Resources
New freeware listed at NewApps. Resources
Spyware/Adware. Security
Set bizarre default colors in your browser. Web Design, Color
Always have an hourly rate in your contract. Web Design, Contract
Writing for the web. Web Design, Copywriting
Cleaning the background for smaller jpegs. Web Design, Images
Customising Internet Explorer's Edit button. Web Design, Internet Explorer
Testing pages for pintability. Web Design, Printing
Windows defrag/scandisk troubleshooting. Windows
Connecting Macs and Windows. Windows/Mac

Use rules to filter email into different folders. (Outlook Express)

Want to sort your messages as they arrive?

1. Create a tree system of subfolders in your inbox (or your store) to receive mails on different topics or from different senders.

2. Apply as many message rules as you want [Tools > Message Rules > Mail in Outlook Express] to move your mail into the appropriate subfolders as it arrives.

3. Sort rules are applied in the order they appear in the rules list.

  Back to top    Back to top My favourite learning zone website. (Resources)

My favourite web learning resource (after is - This site currently has more than 200 mostly professionally authored in-depth articles, as well as a staggeringly comprehensive collection of FAQs of which over 2000 are Javascript-related. Best of all - in contrast to many other tutorial sites (i.e. webmonkey) which force you to stay online and click through 4 or 5 pages to read a single complete article, everything at can be downloaded in .tgz format (the download page is at although this service has occasionally be downed by misuse. I keep the whole site on my hard drive and searching the appropriate indexes or running an explorer 'Find file containing text' search over it usually answers any question. By minimising the time you need to spend online to get the answers you want, shows how a tutorial site SHOULD be done... in the visitor's interest and not in their own (or their advertising sponsors').

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Fluid Tables - a non-standard but effective method. (HTML)

For a table with some fixed width and some fluid cells, try setting the widths of your fixed cells to "-1%" (to prevent them expanding) and putting a spacer image in them set to the desired width (to prevent them collapsing). Then give all the other cells widths totalling 100%. Not standard, but it works in IE, NN and Opera where other methods fail.

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Use Netscape for Javascript debugging. (Javascript)

Even if your pages are targeted at IE only, use Netscape to test as you go along. If it works in Netscape it'll most likely work in IE (but not vice versa). Also, when debugging JavaScript errors, both IE and Netscape often misreport line numbers. Since Netscape's JavaScript console displays the erroneous line and where the error in it is, it makes it much easier to locate errors.

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Using status alerts for debugging. (Javascript)

Try using status messages instead of alerts to monitor what's going on. They won't interfere with pop-up activity and won't matter so much if you forget to remove them. (In fact leaving them in will tell your visitors something is actually happening during those long slooow scripts).

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Windows defrag/scandisk troubleshooting. (Windows)

Windows taking ages to finish booting up, disk still furiously active and CPU usage stuck at 100%? Trouble running scandisk and/or defrag (because of 'disk activity')? Try any (or all) of these, more or less in this order;

Steps you should ALWAYS take before running Defrag/Scandisk.
1. Free up as much space as you can before starting. Delete all unwanted files, esp. any and all types of temp files, including internet cache and history, and empty your recycle bin. Uninstall and delete as many fonts as you can.
2. Delete anything and everything you can from the windows/temp and any other temp folders. Empty it if windows allows you to.
3. Disable any screen savers.
4. Use CTRL + ALT + DEL to close all running apps, except Explorer and Systray.

Steps which are advisable before running Defrag/Scandisk.
5. Disable any virus checkers (and them prevent from running at startup).
6. Rem everything non-system-critical from your autoexec.bat and config.sys files.
7. Stop any application from starting up with Windows by at least emptying your start-up folder. Use Startup Control Panel to prevent registry start-ups - get it from (requires IE4+).
8. Restart in safe mode.

Other steps which may work if you're still having difficulty
9. Trash anything by Norton, including Y2K Bios Fix!
10. Trash IE4.
11. Reinstall Windows 95.
12. Make sure your folders do not have so many sub- levels that the dos names of files exceed 66 characters. (This won't prevent scandisk running, but it will give it a headache).
13. Power down, switch off and then start up again (a 'hot' restart is not enough).
14. Run scandisk in safe mode and/or TWICE.
15. If/when scandisk/defrag asks if it should continue showing any error ... just say NO!
16. Don't move the mouse during scans/defrags.
17. Always use FULL defrag, no matter how long it takes - defragging only files or empty space can make things worse!
18. Got two drives (e.g. C: and E:) and defrag trips up halfway through defragging C:? - Defrag E. Reassign the swap file to E:. Reboot. now defrag C:. Reassign the swap file back to C:. Reboot.
19. If all else fails - backup and reformat the hard drive!
20. Get a Mac!

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Don't edit messages while on-line. (Outlook Express)

If you use Outlook Express and a Dial-Up service, be careful of editing stuff in your Outbox while on-line. You might end up sending it twice (or more!)

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Always have an hourly rate in your contract. (Web Design, Contract)

Of course it's nice to have a tight brief and to quote a fixed price, but make sure your contract also clearly contains an hourly rate for those occasions when the client changes their mind over and over and expects it's all part of the deal.

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Writing for the web. (Web Design, Copywriting)

When writing copy for the web, bear in mind that most English words (particularly verbs) which are derived from Latin have Anglo-Saxon equivalents (and vice versa). Generally the Latin-based version will be fewer but longer words. (e.g. "configure" instead of "set up"). If your audience is known to be made up of mostly native English speakers, you might want to avoid the formality of the longer words. However, if you have a high percentage of non-English speakers, even if their native language is not Latin-based you should consider using the Latinate form, as it can be very difficult for learners to guess (or even look up) the meaning of short phrasal verbs. (Try looking up the numerous variations of 'set' + 'off' / 'in', for example.)

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Rules and Usage. (HTML)

HTML is a language, and so there are rules and there's usage and they're not always the same. Some usages, while strictly incorrect, are so common that they will certainly survive any future attempt to enforce the rules. So don't get paranoid, but do be careful about using 'workarounds' - be aware of when you're breaking the rules and what the penalty might be. It's always a good idea to look at your design at least once with all style-sheets and scripts disabled!

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Connecting Macs and Windows. (Windows/Mac)

It is possible to hook up Macs and PCs, and cheaply too. I've done it using a digital camera cable and a null-modem cable to connect serial ports and a shareware app. called Star Gate. Instead of doing the floppy shuttle, I now drag'n'drop at 112k baud rate. For more details on how to do it, and other cross-platform tips see:

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Spyware/Adware. (Security)

Adware programs have the ability (they don't necessarily use it) to track your surfing habits and report this info and more back to their mother-website. Real and Aureate have both been caught doing this. According to Fred Langa ( ) "There are about 300(!) applications in all that employ the Aureate tracker, including Go!Zilla, CuteFTP, GetRight, Buddyphone and many others." Some steps to defeat 'spyware':
1. Search for aureate's advert.dll on your system. Simply uninstalling the app which loaded this spyware won't remove it, and if it has run during your current session you will have to exit to Dos to delete it. Note, however, that Go!Zilla and CuteFTP won't run without the real advert.dll installed.
2. Use RegCleaner (freeware) or other util to remove all references to Aureate from your registry.
3. Create an empty text file, name it advert.dll, make it read-only and save it wherever advert.dll was previously located (both in Windows and Windows/System directories). This will prevent reinfection.
4. ...and I quote... Help has come from an unlikely source - Cokebottle (a renowned software 'cracker') has developed a little utility to detect and remove Aureate Spy components. The file can be downloaded from: The utility is virus & trojan free, but you should always scan ANY file that you download from the internet - don't take anybody's word for it...
5. Another freeware spyware detector is Ad-Aware from

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New freeware listed at NewApps. (Resources)

You can easily keep a track on all new freeware releases (including the latest versions versions of all your favourites) by subscribing to the daily newsletter from: NewApps: the website is also an excellent source of well-categorised freeware (and shareware).

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Customising Dreamweaver. (Dreamweaver)

The default values of all objects created by Dreamweaver are written by a plethora of JavaScripts, all of which are editable. In DW2 the
JavaScripts are embedded in HTML files, in DW3 (for some reason) these files simply point to .js files of the same name. Here are some suggestions for useful tweaks (back up 1st if you want):

1. For image tags, edit MyDreamweaver\Configuration\Objects\Common\Image.htm (or .js) so the (single) line:

DW2: return '<img src="' + escape(browseForFileURL("select", "", true)) + '">';
or in DW3: return '<img src="' + newURL + '">';


DW2: return '<img src="' + escape(browseForFileURL("select", "", true)) + '" alt="">';
or in DW3: return '<img src="' + newURL + '" alt="">';

2. For script tags, edit MyDreamweaver\Configuration\Objects\Invisibles\Script.htm so the line:

return '<script language="' + scriptLang + '">\n' + document.forms[0].script.value + '<\/SCRIPT>';


return '<script language="' + scriptLang + '" type="text\/javascript">\n' + document.forms[0].script.value + '<\/SCRIPT>';

3. All new pages created by Dreamweaver use the (plain HTML) template MyDreamweaver\Configuration\Templates\Default.html, sSo you might want to add your own author and copyright meta tags etc. or at least edit


to read:

<BODY leftmargin="0" topmargin="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" BGCOLOR="#FFFFFF">

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Set bizarre default colors in your browser. (Web Design, Color)

I have all of my defaults set to bizarre colors (mint green background, purple text, hot pink links) so that I can see when I missed coding something. Purple text really stands out in a red/black/white color scheme. (Thanks to Rachel Lam for this tip.)

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Using CSS and Javascript with Dreamweaver Templates. (Dreamweaver)

Frustrated that Dreamweaver won't let you change CSS properties on a page if it's still attached to a Template? Go to HTML view and put this in the head of your template:

<!-- #BeginEditable "styles" -->
<style type="text/css">
<!-- #EndEditable -->

Now you can make those changes and DW has an editable area to put them in. The same applies to Javascripts:

<!-- #BeginEditable "scripts" -->
<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript" TYPE="text/javascript">
<!-- #EndEditable -->

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Using document.write in Javascript. (Javascript)

Instead of using lots of document.write lines, like this:


Build a string, and then write it all in one go, like this:


Your page will render faster. Also debugging can then be greatly helped by using: alert(str)

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Debugging functions in Javascript .js source files. (Javascript)

If you've got a single .js source file which contains several functions, putting empty functions with the same names at the beginning will not only give you a kind of index of what's in the file, but it will also help when it comes to debugging... you can delete/cut/paste the real functions without causing the calling page to blow up simply for want of an object.

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Testing pages for pintability. (Web Design, Printing)

Even when you and the client agree that it's not a priority for visitors to be able to print off pages from the client's web site, the chances are that at some point the client *will* try to print them. So... Always test your pages for printing in (at least) IE and NN, and beware of Netscape's tendancy to print pages with css absolute line-heights as if each line were a new page!

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Javascript debugging alerts as comments. (Javascript)

When debugging Javascript it's useful to strew alerts everywhere... and then comment them out and/or delete them. Don't be too hasty to delete them, particularly if the script is a complicated one and you want to make it cross-browser compliant. I just deleted a bunch when I got my script working in IE only to wish them all back when it broke in NN. And... if your alerts are commented out rather than deleted, they double as comments.

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Cleaning the background for smaller jpegs. (Web Design, Images)

Although jpeg is normally crap at handling blocks of solid color, it does compress and reproduce a solid pure black or white well. So if you have images which have (for example) backgrounds which are a 'dirty' black (e.g. photos of a theatrical production, where this is usually the case) do whatever you can/must to turn that background into a clean solid pure black. Not only will the image look better, but it will compress more... I've reduced some files sizes by another 50% just by "cleaning" the background.

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Customising Internet Explorer's Edit button (Web Design, Internet Explorer)

The "Edit with..." button on the toolbar of IE5.5 with Web dev accessories can be tweaked to allow you to open the current web page in any other programme (and not just editors). This can be very useful for x-browser testing, validation and, er... editing..

However, there is no ready option to add/remove or rename programmes in the drop-down list, so you'll have to edit the registry to do this... it's relatively straightforward, but as always backup first and don't blame me if...

For example to add Dreamweaver to the list, cut and paste the following code to a plain text file, save it with the extension ".reg", right-click it in Explorer and select "Merge". Note that my example assumes you have Dreamweaver in the default directory.






@="C:\\Program Files\\Macromedia\\Dreamweaver 3\\Dreamweaver.exe \"%1\""

And here's a few more points:

To RENAME an entry in the list:
Edit its "FriendlyCache" entry ... this is where you can relabel "Microsoft Word for Windows" as "WordBloat" for example.

To REMOVE an entry from the list:
Use regedit (or whatever) to delete its keys from [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.htm\OpenWithList] and [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications]

To REORDER the drop-down list:
The order will be that in which the keys were added to the registry, so to re order this list export the [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.htm\OpenWithList] key to a .reg file, delete the key, use a text editor to rearrange the .reg file to the order you want, and then merge it again

To CHANGE the DEFAULT editor:
You don't need to tweak the registry. From IE click Tools > Internet Options > Programs > and select your choice from the HTML Editor drop-down list

To get 2 VERSIONS:
The app filename part of the key must be the actual app filename and duplicate key names (even if they're different case) are not allowed, so to get 2 versions of an app in the list you must rename one app file (I suggest you make a copy and rename the copy). So, for example, if you've already got NN4, then to add NN3 rename its NETSCAPE.EXE file to Nn3.exe (or whatever) and then the rest will go:





Finally, this is the early work of a humble trial-and-error merchant and not the expert advice of some registry guru.


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Tips and Tricks
[Updated - 19 March 2006]
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