Automatic Download Counter Setup with "DLCNTR.IH"

Q. What is "DLCNTR.IH"?
A.
This is a free PPWIZARD header file (add-on) which simplifies the creation of download links. It automatically registers/creates download counters without any manual processes (such as the spidering option) and formats download links so that they have informative tooltips (at least with newer browsers). New downloads (by your definition) are marked new. You can define the style of all your download links to include the download date/time or file size as well as many other components, these can be displayed in the tooltip only (the default), inline along with the link itself or both. The look and feel is pretty much completely up to you! You can get the latest version of ppwizard or this header file from the PPWIZARD download page.

Q. What is "PPWIZARD"?
A.
PPWIZARD is a powerful free web development tool similar in concept to server side includes (or ASP, PHP). It is programmable which allows me to create "DLCNTR.IH" (and other headers such as those for automatic thumbnail and link creation). The tool is designed to automate site development (can import data from virtually anywhere including SQL) as well as allowing much more reuse than SSI provides. There are no server or browser requirements and the tool itself is available for most operating systems (as binaries - no need to build!). A tool such as this is virtually a manditory requirement for anyone who hand codes their html. Most people use PPWIZARD as a html preprocessor, however it can actually process any text files and in fact I use it to build itself and it's doco (in IFP/HTML/CHM formats). I have also used it to develop CGI scripts, adding new capabilities to MAKE files and to develop a simple scripting language which gets translated into complex Wise OLE automation code (VbScript) for the creation of Windows Installer (MSI) databases.

Q. Can I see a demo of a page generated with "DLCNTR.IH"?
A.
Yes, the online page is at "http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~dbareis/dlc_samp.htm. This page also documents how it should be used.

Q. Do I need to Learn "PPWIZARD" just to use the counter?
A.
You should not need to learn more than the absolute basics about ppwizard, most of the things you can do are explained on the sample page mentioned above.

For non-developers the only new concept is that of source versus object code. PPWIZARD takes source files (by convention using the ".it" file extension) and builds html files (".htm" or ".html" or whatever) from these. To make a change the ".it" file is modified and ppwizard again used to build the html. You should never update the generated html files directly (except for debugging/testing) as the next generation will remove any changes you have made.

PPWIZARD can be told to only rebuild html which needs rebuilding as it has a more complete knowledge of dependancies than a typical make file. By default PPWIZARD also removes leading whitespace, there are extensive options to configure this and other options to work the way you want.

Q. Does PPWIZARD replace Server Side Includes (SSI)?
A.
PPWIZARD is much more powerful than SSI can ever be so to a large extent it can be used to replace your use of SSI. It should be noted that the use of PPWIZARD does not prevent the use of SSI and that while PPWIZARD can do things that SSI can't, SSI can also do things that PPWIZARD can't (as it is running on the server - for example browser detection).

The best approach is to use PPWIZARD for everything it can do (as this reduces your sites server resource requirements) and use SSI for the rest where required.

Q. I can't see the tooltips (except those on the "new" icon)! Why not?
A.
The tooltips display download size, date, time and some other information. They rely on your browser correctly supporting the "TITLE" tag. IE has supported "TITLE" for a while but Netscape has only recently supported it (with version 6+, very poor implementation also - keep tooltips short). Tooltips of any type are only supported on older browsers through incorrect use of the "ALT" attributes value on the "IMG" tag. This can be used as a workaround if you use images for download links (this is why the "new" icon's tooltip on the sample page probably works).

Q. I really like the way download links with lots of good file specific information can be easily created, but I do not want download counters on all my downloads. Can I be selective?
A.
Yes! If you do not wish to use download counters at all (at least on some pages) it is possible to globally disable them. On pages where some of your downloads will use the counter you can specify the default situation and override the exceptions.


Mon Jun 13 2005 at 1:23:56pm