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The Inspector—iWeb’s Customizing Magic Wand

The Inspector pallet is the tool that allows you to alter virtually any element on a page in iWeb. It contains seven tabs for adjusting the site as a whole, the overall appearance of an entire page, the RSS attributes of a blog or podcast, the formatting of a selected text box, special effects applied to pictures or text on page, positioning the positioning of pictures and other elements, and the creation of links. Each tab offers unique options for adding your own style and personality to your site.

Site Attributes

The Inspector Site tab controls information about a Web site as a whole. If you create multiple sites using iWeb, you can use the Site tab to adjust the attributes of each site individually. The primary function of the Site tab is to change the name of the site. The site’s name is not only listed in iWeb’s Site Organizer pane but it also determines the URL of the site if you publish multiple sites to your .Mac account (the name of the site coming after iWeb in the URL (for example, http://web.mac.com/username/iWeb/sitename).

If you are a .Mac member, the Site tab (see Figure 1) displays the available storage space in your iDisk (where published sites are stored). If you are a member of any .Mac groups, you will also have the option of publishing the site to the group storage on Apple’s server instead of your personal iDisk. To do this, select the Publish To A Group check box. The pop-up menu below the check box will then display your .Mac groups. When you publish to the site, it will publish to your group and any other sites you have created will publish to your iDisk.

Figure 01

Figure 1 Inspector Site tab

The Site tab also includes a subtab called Password that allows you to require users to enter a username and password to view your site (regardless of whether you publish it to .Mac or to folder and later upload it to another Web server). To password protect a site, simply select the Password tab, check the Make Published Site Private check box (see Figure 2), and enter a username and password.

Figure 02

Figure 2 Using the Password tab to protect a site

Overall Page Design

The Page tab allows you to configure display options for a single page (see Figure 3). The first two options are the name of the page (which is displayed in the Site Organizer pane in iWeb and in the navigation menu at the top of each page) and whether or not the page is included in the navigation menu. If you choose not to include a page in the navigation menu, make certain that a page that is displayed in the menu contains a link to it. Otherwise visitors will not be able to find the page.

Figure 03

Figure 3 The Inspector Page tab

The middle section of the Page tab allows you to control the size (in pixels) of the page when it is rendered by a Web browser. It also allows you to create blank header and footer space that is displayed above or below the content of the page, respectively. Note that when you specify a height for the page, if you place a text box at the bottom of the page and enter a large amount of text, causing the box to enlarge to accommodate it, the height of the page will expand to accommodate the enlarged text box. Although you can adjust the size of a page, Apple’s template sizes are generally good for display on most computers and with most Web browsers.

The next option is the page background, which is the place in which you can really make your pages more unique. The options from this pop-up menu include None, Color Fill, Gradient Fill, Image Fill, and Tinted Image Fill. None means that you are not specifying any background and that a visitor will see whatever default background their Web browser generates. Color Fill allows you to click the color box below the menu and choose any solid color you want using the standard Mac OS X color picker.

If you select Gradient Fill, you will see two color boxes (see Figure 4). Choose two different colors, and the page will have a gradient background fading from one color to the other. You can click the double-ended arrow next to the color boxes to reverse the direction of fading between the two colors.

Figure 04

Figure 4 Setting a gradient fill background

You can adjust the angle of the gradient (whether the colors fade top to bottom, side to side, or at some diagonal angle) by using the Angle wheel. The dot on the wheel indicates the direction of the angle. You can click on the dot and drag it around the wheel to change the angle or you can simply click a different point on the wheel, and the dot will jump to that point. If you want to switch to a simple top-to-bottom or right-to-left look, you can click on the arrow buttons next to the wheel. You can also enter the degree of the angle as a numeric value in the text field beneath the arrow buttons.

Image Fill allows you to choose a graphic or photo that will be displayed as the background of the page. If you select Image Fill, a File Open dialog box will display for you to select the image file that you want to use. Unlike working with other aspects of iWeb, you cannot use the iLife media browser to select photos from your iPhoto library. You can select a different image by clicking the Choose button.

When you select an image, you can also choose how it will be used as the background. From the pop-up menu next to the image’s thumbnail, you can choose to have it scaled to fit (the image will be scaled so that it uses fills either the width or height of the page but still displays without cropping), scaled to fill (the image is scaled to fill the page and cropped where it extends beyond the dimensions of the page), stretch (the image is scaled to fill the page and it is stretched to fit in the dimensions of the page, often looking distorted), original size (the picture is centered in the middle of the page at its original size, either being cropped if it’s bigger than the page or with white space around it if it’s smaller), tile (the picture is tiled across the background at its original size).

Tinted image fill works the same as image fill and has the same options, but it also allows you to tint the color of the image. To apply the tint, you click the color box that appears under the scale pop-up menu and use the Mac OS X color picker to choose a tint color. You can also use the opacity slider to choose how strongly the image is tinted. Tinted image fill lets you create some nice special effects looks for pages. It can also be used to make a page more readable by using white as the tint color, which simply makes the image lighter and text and other elements more visible against it (see Figure 5).

Figure 05

Figure 5 Using the color picker’s opacity slider to lighten a background image

The last option on the Page tab is the browser background color. If a visitor to your site has a Web browser window that is larger than the dimensions of your page (mostly like the width), there will be a blank area around whatever background you have specified for the page. The browser background color allows you to choose a color that will be displayed in this blank space. As with other color options, simply click the color box and choose a color using the color picker.

RSS Options

The Blog & Podcast tab allows you to configure options about the display of RSS data for blogs and podcasts. The tab contains two subtabs that you will use depending on which you are configuring: a blog or a podcast. You can edit these options only when you have selected a blog or podcast page in the Site Organizer.

The Blog tab (see Figure 6) allows you to specify the number of blog entries that are listed on the main page for the selected blog. It also allows you to choose how big the abstract displayed for each entry should be. The abstract is automatically created from the first few lines of text. The slider on this page designates how long this should be. The slider applies to both the abstract on the main page and on the blog’s RSS feed.

Figure 06

Figure 6 Inspector Blog tab

The Podcast tab (see Figure 7) allows you to enter information about a podcast published on your site. It includes text fields for entering the name of the series artist (the person who produces or appears in each podcast episode), a contact email address, a pop-up menu to choose whether there is a parental advisory notice for the podcast, and whether to publish the podcast in the iTunes Music Store podcast directory. You can also set information about specific episodes by selecting the page for that episode and then using the bottom half of the podcast tab to enter an episode artist and/or parental advisory and whether to allow display of the episode in the iTunes directory.

Figure 07

Figure 7 Inspector Podcast tab

Text Formatting

The Text tab (see Figure 8) allows you to apply formatting as you would in a Word document. You can select a text box and apply formatting to its entire contents or you can select specific portions of text for formatting. The Text tab contains three subtabs: Text, Wrap, and List. The Text tab is where you make the majority of text formatting. The Wrap tab allows you to control whether text wraps around images on a page. The List tab lets you setup bulleted lists.

Figure 08

Figure 8 Inspector Text tab

The first section of the Text tab controls the alignment and color of text. It includes a color box for selecting the text color using the color picker, four buttons for choosing the alignment of text (right, center, left, and justified), and three buttons for choosing how the text is aligned vertically to the text box (at the top, center, or bottom).

There is also a Background Fill check box. When you select this option, you can specify a color to be used as a background for the area of the page within the boundaries of the text box. It can be used to make text easier to read or to emphasize the text. When you click the color box for a background fill, notice that the color picker has an opacity slider. As with a tinted image fill for a page background, you can use white and the opacity slider to make the image lighter but still visible behind a selection of text.

The Text tab also includes sliders of adjusting text spacing. You can adjust character and line spacing as well as spacing between paragraphs much as you would in a Word document. The final slider on the page determines the inset margin for a text box. The inset margin is the distance between text and the edges of the text box.

The Wrap tab is used to wrap text around an image (see Figure 9). To do this, the image must first be placed as an inline image with the text. To place an image inline with text, you must hold the Apple key down while dragging it from the iLife media browser (or the Finder) and you must drag it into the text box with which it will be inline. When you first drop the image into the text box, it is treated almost like a giant letter in the text (it displays in line with the text). You can move it around, but you have to move it as though you are dragging a piece of text. You can, however, resize it as you would any other image.

Figure 09

Figure 9 Setting an inline image to have text wrap around it

After you have placed an inline image, you can select that image and then select the Wrap tab. Selecting the Object Causes Wrap check box makes the text flow around the image. You can use the buttons below the check box to determine whether text should flow around the right or left side of the image (which can affect how the image is placed in the text box). You can also use the field labeled Extra Space to add white space between the image and the wrapped text.

The List tab enables you to created bulleted lists within a text box and to indent a selected paragraph (see Figure 10). The pop-up on this tab lets you select the type of bulleted list you create. If you select No Bullets, you have the option of indenting the selected paragraph by using the Text Indent field. If you choose to create a list, you can choose from Text Bullets (similar to those used in Word), Image Bullets (iWeb includes a number of bullet images to pick from), Custom Image Bullets (which will display an Open dialog box for you to locate your own logo or graphic to be used for bullets), and Numbers (which creates numbered lists).

Figure 10

Figure 10 Creating a bulleted list

The options for Text, Image, and Custom Image bullets are the same and are pretty standard. You select your choice of bullet point (for Text, you can also specify the color of the bullets) and you can use the field at the right of the tab to choose the vertical alignment of the bullets (how they are positioned next to the text—the default is Centered), the size of the bullets (you also have an option to scale them with the text, which is easiest), and the indent of both the bullets themselves and the text that follows them.

For Numbers (see Figure 11), you have a pop-up menu displaying the various numeric bullet styles (numbers, roman numerals, letters, and so on). You also have the option of letting iWeb assign the numbers of each item or specifying a number to start at. Like the other bullet types, you also have the ability to set the indent of the bullets and the text that follows them.

Figure 11

Figure 11 Creating a numbered list

Special Effects

The next tab is somewhat inaccurately called the Graphic tab (see Figure 12). I say inaccurate because it allows you to enable and set a number of special effects that can be applied to both pictures and text. In fact, the first effect on the tab cannot be applied to pictures at all.

Figure 12

Figure 12 Inspector Graphic tab

This first effect is the Fill pop-up menu and it can only be applied to text boxes or special shape areas (I’ll get to shapes and how you can use them to create nonrectangular text boxes in just a bit). If you look at the Fill pop-up menu, you’ll notice that it includes all the same options as the Page Background pop-up from the Page tab (None, Color Fill, Gradient Fill, Image Fill, and Tinted Image Fill). Each option functions the same way, as well. The difference being that instead of applying your choices to the background of the page, iWeb applies them to just the text box of shape that you’ve selected.

The next section of this tab is Stroke. A stroke is a line drawn around the edge of an item. It can be applied to text boxes or pictures, but usually is used on pictures to give them a sense of definition against the background of a page. Using the Stroke pop-up menu, you can choose to place a solid, dotted, or dashed line around an item (or select None). You can use the color box to select the color for the stroke and the text field to enter the thickness of the stroke. If you are working with a certain shape areas, you might also be able to choose end points for the stroke.

The next special effect is Shadow. You can create a drop shadow for text (either an entire text box or selected text) and images, which can add a nice floating touch to the way they are displayed. With text, however, the effect is often useful only for larger pieces of text. To add a shadow to a selected item, check the Shadow check box. You can use the color box and the angle wheel to adjust the look of the shadow. You can even get more creative and adjust the offset (how far away from the image or text the shadow is), blur, and opacity of the shadow.

The Reflection option is available only for pictures and it does what its name implies; it creates a reflection of the picture that fades away beneath it. To add a reflection to an image, just select the Reflection check box. You can use the slider next to it to adjust the length of and opacity of the reflection.

The final special effect on this tab is the Opacity slider, which can be set for both text boxes (but not individual pieces of text) and images. As you might expect, this slider makes the image more or less opaque, allowing the background (or other elements that are stacked behind it) to show through.

One note about all of these effects. To achieve them, iWeb converts the affected content to PNG graphics files. PNG files are fine and they enable all these great options. However, they do tend to be larger files than the JPEG files typically used for graphics on the Web. As a result, the more effects you use on a page, the longer it will take to publish and for visitors to download.

Positioning

The Metrics tab allows you to adjust the sizing and positioning of items on a page (see Figure 13). It also displays the file name of a selected picture or movie. The size section of this tab shows you the size of the image and allows you to resize it to a specific pixel size (as opposed to using the handles in the iWeb window). The size section includes a button to restore a picture to its original size (handy if you resized several times).

Figure 13

Figure 13 The Inspector’s Metrics Tab

There is also a Constrain Proportions check box. When this is selected, the proportion of height and width of the image will remain constant as it is resized. If you want to resize an item in only one dimension (which will distort the image), you can clear this check box.

The Position section includes the horizontal and vertical position of an item on the page. You can adjust them to move an item or to line an item up with another item. Generally, however, it’s easier to move objects "by hand" in the iWeb window.

The Rotate section is undoubtedly the greatest part of this tab. It allows you to rotate a selected image or text box at an angle, which can give you a really nice effect for pictures or small bits of text on a page. You can rotate an item using the angle wheel or by entering the degree of the angle. If you are working with a picture, you can also use the flip buttons to flip it horizontally or vertically.

Links

The last tab in the Inspector is used for making selected text or images into links (see Figure 14). Select the Enable As A Hyperlink check box to make the selected text of picture into a link. From the pop-up menu, select the type of link you want to create: link to an external site, to one of the pages you’ve created in iWeb, an email address, or a file to download. If you select Email or External Site, enter your email address or the URL of the Web page to which you want to link. If you select One Of My Pages, select the page from the pop-up menu. If you select a file, you will be presented with a File Open dialog box and asked to locate the file (which will be published along with your site). You’ll notice that a text link becomes underlined and that pictures will have a link icon in the lower-right corner (which is displayed in iWeb only, not on published pages).

Figure 14

Figure 14 Inspector Links tab

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