Guide for Users 
By David Polly
Jennifer Pattison Rumford

Can't find what you want?  
Interactive bits don't work?  
Can't load the images or bibliography? 
Can't hear the audio? 
Can't see the movies? 

Palaeontologia Electronica is an online journal.  Our formatting, navigation system, and multimedia features are designed to take full advantage of electronic publishing.  In many cases, it will be possible for the user to print the text and images of a PE article, but important aspects of the original may be lost in the process.  Often PE articles contain high resolution color image libraries, video, animation, non-linear text structure, or interactive databases.  Some of these will be impossible to reproduce on paper, but that is our intention.  As Palaeontologia Electronica matures we hope that our readers, our authors, and ourselves will discover innovative new ways of communicating paleontological research.  We hope that the techniques necessary to browse our journal will be intuitive, but we offer this guide as an introduction to PE's structure.  We also provide technical details about images and other visual media that may have important analytical consequences for some of our readers.

Palaeontologia Electronica uses HTML 3.2 as its standard and our layout is optimized for Netscape 4.0 (or later) browsers.  PE pages include frames and JAVA.  In spite of these standards, the journal should be readable by anyone using a browser more recent than Netscape 3.0 or Explorer 3.0.

Can't find what you want?
Basic Navigation

Palaeontologia Electronica is designed for the World Wide Web and uses many familiar features such as hypertext links, in-line images, frames, and multimedia plugins. Browser-based navigation features such as the 'back'  and 'forward' buttons, the 'find in page' search facility, and bookmarks will be useful to many readers.

We have adopted a standard navigation system for finding your way through PE.   On the left hand side of each page is a uniform vertical bar which serves as a guide. There are two navigation levels: the overall PE site and the individual articles within each issue.   When you are reading one of our research articles, the navigation bar will contain a table of contents for that article and links back to the Issue table of contents.  When you are reading anything other than a research article, then the bar will contain links to the major sections of our current issue, as well as to the tables of contents of previous issues.

The PE site navigation bar allows the user to quickly jump to any current issue as well as to to information about the journal; special features such as reviews of books and our regular Editorial column; and to collections of links that will be of interest to PE readers. The navigation bar in each article allows the user to jump to any part of the article, its figures, or its bibliography. Clicking on the PE trilobite logo at the top of the bars will take you back to the home page.

Interactive bits don't work?

Java is a programming language specially designed to enhance and animate web pages.  We use Java in several contexts in PE, including our navigation bar, many of our buttons, and in some of our technical articles.  Java runs somewhat differently on different machines because it translates web-based instructions into commands on your local computer.  If you have a relatively new computer and are using Netscape version 4.0 or later you probably won't have any problems.  However, Macs do often have Java problems, partly because the Mac version of the Java compiler doesn't support as many commands as the PC version.  This will problem will doubtlessly be alleviated with new versions, but until then Mac users may have troubles with Java in the technical articles (the Boulter and Huezella paper in Vol 2, Issue 2 is an example).

Navigation bar.--The navigation bar is enhanced by JAVA scripting.  If you are using an up-to-date browser, the links in the navigation bar will change color as you move the cursor over them.  If you are not using a JAVA-capable browser, the links will still work, but it will be less obvious that they are links.  The navigation bar is also set up in a frame.  If you are not using a frame-compatible browser, then you may not be able to use the navigation system.

Buttons.-- In addition to the navigation bar, JAVA-enhanced buttons are found throughout PE. Common examples include a "Close Window" button at the top of image and bibliography pages and "Next Section" buttons at the bottom of article text pages. If you have a JAVA-enabled browser, some of these buttons will change color when the cursor is over them. Clicking on them will close the window or move you to the next page. If you do not have JAVA, the buttons will still work as links, but they will not change color.

Can't load the images or bibliographies?
About Images

Most of the images in PE are in either GIF or JPG format.  Usually the reader will find small, low resolution versions of the image placed within the article text.  Larger images can usually be obtained by clicking on the in-line image. The resolution of images will vary according to their purpose.  Generally, all images are at least 72 dots per inch (dpi) -- however, higher resolution images are available when they convey useful information not otherwise possible. One of the advantages of PE is that we can provide paleontological images at a much higher resolution than is possible through print media, although special viewers and/or monitors may be required to make use of extremely high resolution images.

When you click on a within-text image, the larger version will appear in a second window.  Depending on the size of your monitor and the organization of windows within it, the image window may not be readily visible.  If you have clicked on an image link but don't see the image try looking underneath your browser.  You should find a new browser containing the image.  In Windows98, Windows95, or Windows 3.X the keys "ALT+TAB" will switch quickly between open windows:  You can use them to switch quickly between image and text.

Users should be aware that subtle differences in computers, monitors, web browsers, and image viewers mean that images will not appear exactly the same to all users. Of special note are color and aspect (the ratio between height and width).   Color is notoriously variable from computer to computer and even from application to application on the same computer.  As a general rule, images appear brighter on Macintosh computers than on PCs, and every monitor and screen driver reproduces color with subtle differences.  We don't expect that this will be a difficulty for PE readers -- the differences are not so great that reds appear to be blues.  However, users who quanitatively sample color from PE images should be aware of this problem.

Perhaps more important is image aspect.  Because there is also subtle variation from computer to computer in the ratio of height to width of screen pixels, images may be slightly compressed or widened.  Our own experiments are encouraging in that we have found no measurable difference in aspect from screen to screen (even from PC to Macintosh to UNIX). But morphometric analysis of data taken directly from PE images may be affected.  Appropriate error measurement techniques should be used to determine whether apsect ratio variation affects any particular study. Users should also be aware that subtle distortions of shape could have been introduced at any point from original digitizing, through image processing, to display.
Can't hear the audio?
About Audio

In recent issues we have added audio abstracts.  In order to hear the audio you will need to have a soundcard and speakers.   You will also have to have a relatively new browser (we recommend Netscape version 4.0 or later) with Quicktime Audio installed.  The audio files simply contain a recorded voice reading the abstract of each paper.  

Can't see the movies?
Special Browser Plug-ins

Get QuickTimeThe majority of the content in Palaeontologia Electronica can be viewed using only a web browser.  Occasionally some material will require additional software.  Usually this will be a common 'plug-in' that functions within your web browser, although at other times independent software will be required. Many browsers will aid the user in locating and installing plug-ins, but for convenience we will list all such software here along with links to locations where it can be obtained.

Quicktime: an electronic movie and animation format from Apple.  Quicktime viewers can function either as browser plugins or stand-alone applications.  If you have installed a Quicktime plugin, then the movie or animation will play in your browser.  If you have installed it as a stand-alone, you will have to save the movie, start Qucktime, load the movie, and play it.  The latest version is Quicktime 3.0.  Older versions of quicktime (especially early 32-bit versions) may not play movies correctly.  If you find that a quicktime movie comes up blank, you may need to upgrade your Quicktime player.

Download the latest free Quicktime viewer: from

Get Adobe 
Acrobat Adobe Acrobat: a file exchange format that runs under Netscape or as a stand-alone program. Articles within PE are available in HTML with 72 dpi images and in Acrobat PDF format with images at the highest resolution available.  The PDF format can be read onscreen (in Netscape or downloaded to a local system). To make it easier to print, entire articles are supplied as single files. Whenever possible, high resolution images will be included in the PDF file.

Download Acrobat reader from: /prodindex/acrobat/readstep.html

MIRROR SITES for Palaeontologia Electronica

For additional help:
Dave Polly and Jennifer Pattison Rumford

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Copyright: Coquina Press, 2 March 2000
http://palaeo-electronica.orgind ex.htm