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WebSpice Animations

DeMorgan Industries

Reviewed by Frank Siegel, Ph.D.

DeMorgan Industries Corporation provided this author with a copy of WebSpice Animations for review. This application is provided on two, CD-ROM disks in one case. There is very limited documentation, but almost none is needed.

Essentially, the application is an organized collection of professionally prepared, 3-D, animated gif files. The application, which does not need to be installed, launches your browser. Most common browsers and page layout programs are supported.

When started in a browser, hyperlinked, illustrated choices guide the user between selecting objects, arrows, buttons (with or without text), or words. Each selection brings the user to additional pages where the specific items can be selected, followed by choices of backgrounds, including transparent backgrounds for web pages, and usually options on the types of motion. Buttons and arrows also typically have a wide choice of surface colors, textures, and transparency. It should be noted that these are discrete choices, and no modifications are permitted. For example, in the first item, "objects," there are 48 separate objects, ranging from planes to shopping carts to portions of a chessboard with moving pieces. Following each selection, the result and further choices are shown. This leads to many possible variations on a theme. This ultimately results in the user choosing one of the pre-made files. The user simply saves the final image as a desired filename. These gif files also work on Macs. WebSpice Animations reportedly contains 35,000 animations. While this was not counted, it is obvious that DeMorgan is counting all combinations of image properties. There is no index to these images, but, given how the user is led through the choices, this is not a major problem.

The images copied from the program are animated gif files. They do not require any plug-ins, and should work on virtually all browsers. Some users will feel that there are limitations in the WebSpice Animations collection, most notably the inability to modify the resulting objects, edit text, or create additional colors. However, the animated gifs included are probably superior to the images that most web designers could create. DeMorgan has done their homework in sizing images and color depths so that the images are very small, typically under 10K. Their larger images are rather spectacular. For example, they have a realistic wood chess piece -a king on a section of a polished chessboard, that is animated. The kings tips over (chess talk for a resignation), and both the shadow and the reflection are shown as the piece bounces, and finally settles. This image has to be seen to be believed. The entire image is only 41K, so it should be fast to download.

Most animated gifs that I have seen on web pages are limited in their animations, often no more "animated" than a two image, flashing neon sign, or are very slow to load. In contrast, the images that have been prepared for WebSpice Animations are three dimensional, diverse, of excellent quality, and have smooth animation. The overall result is a professional design element.

One concern that I have regarding many binary images and animated gifs are that people who are making web pages will create overly complex, slow-loading, visually unappealing pages (if one animation is good, twelve is better, eighty is best!). It should be noted that WebSpice Internet site (www.webspice.com) contains good information on design that complements the images. I also am glad to see that DeMorgan has followed their own recommendations regarding design. Their main page has exactly one animated gif- a shopping cart being filled with packages.

The program is for sale directly from their web site for $99, or through resellers. The images are copyrighted, but provided on a royalty-free basis. Therefore, a web developer can use this selection of images with multiple clients and multiple web sites, as long as the images are used as artwork, graphics, or button objects on the Internet or corporate Intranet.

Overall, I experienced no difficulty using the application. The instructions are clear and each choice shows illustrative samples. Because the images are small and loading from CD-ROM, multiple possibilities may be considered before a final selection.

DeMorgan also makes two other WebSpice Products designed to assist web page design and production. These may be reviewed at a later date.


Last Update:06/26/2007


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