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    Perl Archive : TLC : Webmaster : The Netscape 6 Sidebar: What it is and How to Make it Yours
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    Date Published: 2000-05-01

    Written for the Perl Archive by Joshua (JJ) O'Connell
    INPursuit

    Netscape 6 was released in Preview form last month, after a long but important year in development. The browser is quite interesting, with many new features that may change the way you browse the web today. One such change is called the "My Sidebar" feature. The sidebar takes up about 1/4 of your window on the left side (at 800x600 resolution, the current common resolution). The sidebar will allow mini webpages of sorts load while surfing the web, meaning you can use any and all technologies available on the web today for your bar and can update it anytime, delivering fresh content at the blink of an eye.

    To help you take advantage of this new feature, especially considering how many people are already out there testing it, here is how you can make your own sidebar!


    Step 1: Create the page

    Think of My Sidebar as a framed page that users want to have there. Because of this, you can have as much content as you want, hosted on your own site and updated whenever you want. Therefore, the first step is to design a bar that's going to help you bring visitors back to your site. Design it like you would a normal webpage, but keep in mind a magic number: 144 pixels. This is how wide you can safely go without interfering with the scrollbar. If you don't want a scroll bar, you can go 160 without a problem - just remember to keep things short and to the point.

    Step 2: Javascript coding

    The My Sidebar feature is added through a Javascript command that's special to the Netscape 6 browser. This is a sample code that you can use freely for the Netscape sidebar.

    Add this to your head:

    <script language="javascript">
    function sidebaradd()
    { if ((typeof window.sidebar == "object") && (typeof window.sidebar.addPanel == "function")) { window.sidebar.addPanel ("INPursuit","http://www.yourdomain.com/pagename.html",""); } }
    </script>

    And then use this as a link coding for your sidebar addition:

    <a href="javascript:sidebaradd();">Add my sidebar to Netscape 6!</a>


    Step 3: Test it out

    Netscape 6 is a Preview browser, but it's in a pretty good form compared to how it will release. To test the browser, you can download it from http://home.netscape.com/download/previewrelease.html


    Step 4: Update it regularly

    Just like you would update your homepage on a regular basis, update the sidebar on a regular basis too... if your visitors see it updated often, you'll be considered a site that is constantly doing something for the visitor, and they'll come back.

    There are some sites that are already testing the sidebar feature out already. Some sites that you can see it in action with are my own site, www.in-pursuit.com (linked with an image on the front page); online journal www.wittybanter.com (image link on the bottom left hand corner), and video games and opinions site www.crosswinds.net/~apreche (image at the bottom listed as A-Tab).

    Netscape 6, with the My Sidebar feature, is slated for release in Fall of 2000, just in time to compete with IE 5.5. Be prepared for the visitors that will have it by developing your sidebar now!

     

    Written for the Perl Archive by Joshua (JJ) O'Connell. Joshua has 2 years of experience in website creating, design, and maintenance and is the creator and webmaster of INPursuit and JJO Webpages.

     
     


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