mapedit 1.1.2

A WYSIWYG editor for imagemaps


Mapedit now resides on See the section on how to get mapedit. Many thanks to Sunsite for the new abode.

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Table of Contents

Credits and license terms

Copyright 1994 by Thomas Boutell. THIS IS NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN SOFTWARE. Commercial users must pay for it to continue using it after 30 days. You need not register again when new versions are released. Please remit $25 to:

Thomas Boutell
426 Bellevue Ave. E Apt. 1
Seattle, WA 98102 USA
Nonprofit and educational users are required to send me a postcard!

What's new in version 1.1.2

Mapedit now works on monochrome systems. In addition, Floyd-Steinberg dithering is now employed, which translates into much better results when all the desired colors are not available. I don't know if this version will work on TrueColor / 24 bit displays or not. Let me know what results you get.

What's new in version 1.1.1

A small but annoying bug in 1.1: parentheses in comments would cause an imagemap file to be erroneously identified as a CERN-format file. Fixed.

What's new in version 1.1

Comment editing! Not only does version 1.1 preserve your comments (lines beginning with #), it allows you to edit them in the URL window! Comments are associated with the object that follows them; in addition, any comments at the end are silently preserved (although there's no editing window for them).

CERN support! Version 1.1 has complete support for both CERN and NCSA imagemap formats. Mapedit can now automatically recognize either format during loading, and you can save as either format (note that this allows you to convert from one to the other). You can use resources to set CERN to be the default.

Many small fixes and enhancements.

What's new in version 1.0.1

A stabilizing release:

The Imakefile should now be more broadly compatible, particularly with SunOS 4.1.3.

The crash when clicking the left mouse button at inappropriate times has been fixed.

The URL window no longer pops up when the middle mouse button is used too early in drawing a polygon (<3 points).

What is mapedit?

mapedit is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor for imagemap files.

Imagemap files are a feature of both NCSA and CERN httpd servers; they allow you to turn a GIF into a clickable map by designating polygons, circles and rectangles within the GIF and specifying a URL for each to link to.

Unfortunately, creating good image maps by hand is a lot of work, because the points must be located using an editor not explicitly designed for the purpose.

mapedit allows you to load your GIF image into a scrollable, resizable window and then draw polygons, circles and rectangles on top of it, specifying a URL for each. It also allows you to go back and delete these "hot spots", set a default URL for clicks outside of the "hot" areas, and so on. In addition, it allows you to associate comments of arbitrary length with each object.

What else do I need to use mapedit?

To use mapedit, you will need the following:

How do I get mapedit?

You can fetch mapedit as a compressed tar file via this link , Or you can FTP it by hand from, in the subdirectory pub/packages/infosystems/WWW/tools/mapedit.

How do I build mapedit?

In order to build mapedit, first untar the mapedit.tar file with the following commands:

uncompress mapedit1.1.2.tar.Z
tar -xf mapedit1.1.2.tar
This will create the directory "mapedit1.1.2" beneath the current directory.

cd to this directory and examine the Imakefile, which you may need to change slightly. Specifically, if your default C compiler (the one that executes when you type "cc") does not accept ANSI standard C, you will need to add a line specifying your ANSI C compiler instead. For instance:

If you have gcc, the freely available ANSI C compiler.

Now, type "xmkmf". If all goes well, you will now have a Makefile. If this doesn't work, find out how to run Imake on your system from your system's documentation.

Finally, type "make". This will compile and link mapedit.

If you get compilation errors, PLEASE verify that you have the required tools listed above, especially ANSI C and X11R5. If you still have problems, feel free to contact me.

How do I get started editing an image map?

To start the program, just type "mapedit" (you may need to move the mapedit binary to a directory somewhere on your path first).

The initial mapedit screen has a File menu at the top left and a palette of toggle buttons on the row beneath it. Initially the palette is disabled, since you have not yet opened an image and a map.

Using the mouse, pull down the File menu and select Open/Create Map.... A dialog box will appear, probably in the upper left corner, depending on your window manager.

In this dialog box you should enter the filename you would like to give to your map, which need not already exist, and the filename of a .gif image the map will be of, which must exist. (mapedit is not a paint program. To create your own GIFs, try David Koblas' xpaint; use archie to locate a copy near you.)

Type in a map filename, such as "", and also enter the location of a GIF image for which you want to create a map. (Give paths in the file system, of course, not URLs!) The characters you type will appear in the field in which you have placed the mouse pointer.

Also set the Style menu to the appropriate style for your server (CERN or NCSA). NOTE: you can change the default by placing the following line in your .Xdefaults file:

Mapedit*cern: True
This change makes CERN the default. If you do not set this resource, NCSA is the default.

Press RETURN or click on OK when you have entered the filenames.

If the map file does not already exist, you will be asked if you want to create it. Click on OK to continue. If the map does exist, mapedit will automatically determine the correct server type regardless of the Style menu setting.

mapedit will now load your GIF image into memory. This will take a few moments, depending on the size of the image.

When the image has been loaded, it will appear in the main mapedit window, which should expand or shrink to suit the image. If the image is large, scrollbars for horizontal and vertical movement may appear.

You can navigate the image using the scrollbars. If you are using vanilla Athena widgets, you will recognize them as the same type you see in your xterms. If you are using Xaw3d, they will be considerably more Motif-like.

How come my GIF is being dithered (sometimes)?

If you have a black and white screen, the answer is obvious: mapedit is using black and white dots to approximate shades of gray. If you have a color screen and see color dithering or a black and white display, this is because there are too many colors already in use on your screen and the image also calls for many colors. In this case, mapedit does the best it can with the remaining colors. Your GIF image is not actually changed. If you find this behavior annoying on your 8-bit color display, try reducing the number of colors in your image using the "save with reduced color" feature of xv, the well-known image viewer by John Bradley. xv's dithering is much more sophisticated than mapedit's. (As a rule of thumb, images that have enough colors to force mapedit to dither them will often prove frustrating for Mosaic users to view as inline images, especially when there are several on a page.)

How do I make "hot spots"?

Image maps consist of areas that have been designated as "hot spots" which users can click on to fetch particular URLs. Mapedit allows you to draw these graphically on the screen.

Click on Poly to begin drawing a polygonal hot spot. Now click the left mouse button at some point on the edge of an area of interest in the image.

Move the mouse pointer to another point on the edge of the area of interest, tracing its outline. Note that a "rubber-band" line follows you from the point of the initial click.

Click again at this second point. Continue clicking points until you have outlined all but the final connection back to the first point. (You do not need to hold down the mouse button.)

(Note that if you don't like the way your polygon is turning out, you can click the right mouse button to cancel it; then start over with the left mouse button.)

To complete the polygon, click the middle mouse button.

Another window will pop up, prompting you for the URL that this polygon should link to. If you don't yet know the URL, type in a name that is meaningful to you so you will be able to recognize it later. Also add any comments you wish in the comments window. Click on OK or press RETURN to continue. (The RETURN key only has this effect in the URL window, since multiple-line comments are allowed in the comments window.)

The polygon will now be traced in solid white, and a final side between the last point and the first point will be automatically added.

Now select Rect from the palette. Click the left mouse button in one corner of a rectangular region of interest in the image. Now move the mouse pointer to the opposite corner, tracing out a rectangle. (You do not need to hold down the mouse button.)

Click the middle mouse button to accept the rectangle, and enter a URL for it as you did for the polygon. (Just as for polygons, the right mouse button can be used to cancel the rectangle while you are tracing it out.)

Now select Circle from the palette. Circles work just like rectangles, except that the left mouse click positions the center of the circle, and you can then move the mouse pointer to any point on the edge of the desired circle and click the middle mouse button to accept it. As before, the right button cancels.

How do I test my hot spots?

Click on Test in the palette. Now click at various points in the image. When you click in a hot spot, such as a polygon, rectangle or circle you have designated, the URL window will pop up, showing the URL assocated with that hot spot. Also, the region within the hot spot will be displayed in reverse video.

Important note: when hot spots overlap, the oldest gets the click. This is important because this is how the actual NCSA imagemap program will behave when your users click on your map in practice.

How do I go back and edit URLs and comments?

Often you will not know the final URL for each hot spot at first, or you will want to change it. You can do so by selecting Test as described above and clicking in the hot spot in question, editing the URL that appears, and then clicking on OK or pressing RETURN. You can also edit in the comments window at this time. (The RETURN key does not dismiss the popup while in the comments window; click on the OK button instead.)

How do I delete unwanted hot spots?

Select Delete from the palette. The deletion tool is identical to the testing tool in every respect; you can use it to select hot spots and edit URLs, for instance. But in addition, note that a Delete button appears in the URL window when you select a hot spot. By clicking this button, you can remove that hot spot from the map. You can also use the middle mouse button to remove the selected hot spot.

NOTE: When you delete a hot spot (object), comments associated with that hot spot are also deleted.

How do I set a default URL?

There is one more component in an imagemap file: a default URL to be loaded if the click is not in any region. To set a default URL, pull down the file menu and select Edit Default URL.... Enter a default URL in the window that appears, and click on OK or press RETURN to accept it.

You may also, on the other hand, want to get rid of the default URL completely. Once you have set a default URL, a Delete button will appear in the Edit Default URL window. Click this button to remove the default URL.

Note: The testing tool does not indicate when the default URL would be used. It was felt that not popping up anything indicates clearly that the click is not in any hot spot, and displaying the default URL might be misleading.

How do I save my work?

Pull down the file menu and select Save. mapedit will write your map to the file you specified when you opened it.

If a problem is encountered while writing this file (if you entered a bad path when you first created the map, for instance), use the Save As file menu option to enter a new name for the map file.

Can I convert from NCSA to CERN or vice versa?

Yes. Use the Save As file menu option and change the setting of the Style menu that appears in the Save As dialog box, then click OK to save your map in the new format. That's all there is to it!

Can I edit my own imagemap files?

Yes! mapedit can read existing imagemap files without difficulty. In addition, mapedit now preserves comments in your imagemap file (as of version 1.1)! However, keep in mind that when you delete a hot spot, comments associated with it are also deleted. Also note that comments are associated with the object that follows them.

However, mapedit will also silently preserve any comments placed at the very end of the imagemap file, and will not delete these comments under any circumstances.

If you have problems

If you have any difficulties with mapedit, feel free to contact the author, Thomas Boutell ( PLEASE verify that you have the required tools first (X11R5, the Athena widgets, and an ANSI C compiler).