The World Wide Web is immense and chaotic, and Tramline's TourMaker
is a tool that provides control and focus for many applications.
With it, you can create thematic presentations called "Web
Tours" from multiple Web pages and your own custom text.
With tours on your site, you can take users out onto the Web to
explore its resources and then bring them back safely to your
site when done.
At its simplest, each Tour is composed of sites and narration
integrated together into a sequence that the user can access using
controls from the "Tour Control Panel." Tours are launched
from hypertext links by a simple mouse click. This opens a "Tour
Window" containing the script for the tour and the controls
to take it. The user moves through the tour as they desire, exploring
or lingering, but never getting lost. They can always get back
to the tour or your site with a single mouse click.
TourMaker is both a browser and an authoring system. With it,
you select the sites for a tour and enter the text for the tour
narrations. As you do this, you gradually create each tour, so
you view the tour as a work in progress until you have selected
the last site and entered the last narration. At that point, you
save your work and the tour is finished. It will run just as you
saw it in TourMaker.
Using TourMaker requires a minimum of Windows '95 and Explorer
4.0. Tours, however, will run on most recent versions of Explorer,
Navigator and AOL on both Mac and Windows platforms.
Before you can use it, you have to install it on your system.
Installation is a simple "click and follow directions"
process. We recommend following
the default settings regarding where you save TourMaker since
we refer to
these settings in the rest of this document. You shouldn't experience
problems and we don't think you will. However, if you do, you
should let us know immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will get back to you as quickly as we can.
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First, a little terminology...
We generally call our technology "virtual Web tours"
or tours for short, with the exception of our "Virtual Field
Trips" site, where we call them "field trips."
Both mean the same thing.
The tour window contains several components. Sites are viewed
through the "site frame." The text for each stop (the
"narration") appears in the "narration frame."
Controls for navigating through the tour are in the "control
panel." Note: The names for the control panel buttons and
their functions are described in the Help page that is opened
with the "?" button on the control panel.
TourMaker is opened from the Start menu or from a shortcut like
any Windows program.
Once you have installed and opened TourMaker, you are given a
choice as to whether you will register your copy (and therefore
unlock its full functionality) or just try the program in its
trial mode. If you do not have one, a registration number can
be purchased through our Web site http://www.tramline.com/store.htm.
Once you enter your registration number in TourMaker, you will
be able to save tours and the trial option will disappear.
Note: Save the registration number in a safe
place because it will be needed if reinstalling the program ever
The TourMaker Wizard
Once you are beyond the initial registration/trial dialog box,
you will see the TourMaker window that is very similar to the
Tour Window. You will also see the TourMaker "Wizard,"
a dialogue box that allows you to choose whether to "Create
a new tour" or "Edit an existing one." In this
case, we'll try editing an existing one first and then discuss
what you would do to create a new tour.
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Edit an Existing Tour
- In the TourMaker Wizard, click on "Edit an existing tour"
and then the "Next" button.
- Highlight the "Sample" folder under "My Tours"
and click on the "OK" button.
Note: You select the folder, not a file. If
you look for a file to select, you'll never find one.
- You've now opened a sample tour for editing. Note that the interface
looks just like the Tour Window, except for the menu and buttons
at the top.
- Click the forward arrow to go to the first stop, Tramline's
home page. Explore the TourMaker buttons by holding your pointer
over each to see the pop-up description. You probably shouldn't
click on them just yet. You might delete a stop or do something
else you don't really want to do at this point.
- Now explore the menu. In particular, note each of the options
in the Edit menu. These control the most basic features of the
tours you'll create, including the selection of sites in the Site
Frame and the addition of text in the Narration Frame.
- Now let's really get started. Click on the "+"
button to insert a stop. (Note: you could also have selected "Insert"
from the Stop menu.)
- Select "Site Frame" in the Edit menu to open the "Site
Editor" window in which you will select sites for the tour.
Run your pointer across the window's buttons to see their names.
Note that in the Address Bar is a "local" address for
the page you are viewing ("Thank you ..."), i.e., it's
on your hard drive in the TourMaker file. You can replace this
with any other HTML page you have on your hard drive by clicking
on the "Select Local File" button and then locating
the file using the Select Local File dialogue box. Before we do
that, however, let's find and add an existing Web page to this
tour, since that's what this is all about.
- In the Site Editor, click on the Search button. This brings
up a page of links to search engines. Click on the one of your
choice. The search engine page will appear in the window.
- Now, from this point you can explore the Internet to your heart's
content. Rather than do that now, click the checkmark button (Use
this Site). Note that the TourMaker Window has moved to the top
of the desktop. You have just added the search engine site as
a stop on the tour. Now, you have to add the narration.
- Select "Narration Frame" from the Edit panel to open
the "Narration Editor." It has two areas for entering
information: Stop Title and Stop Text. The title should generally
be a short descriptive one. The text can be longer, and you can
format it using the various buttons below the text window (more
about that under Narration Editor, below).
Enter whatever you wish here and click the Apply button--your
entry should now appear in the narration window. OK, you've just
added one stop with narration. Multiply that ten or so times and
you have a tour. At this point, you now know the basics on creating
a tour. We'd recommend you continue to play around with the sample
tour for a while, though, and add, delete, or change it as you
wish. When you're done, you can save your changes or just Quit
the program to leave the Sample Tour as is. When done, you've
experienced a good introduction to developing a tour. However,
there are a few more things we'd like to point out.
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Features and Tips
When you use TourMaker prior to registering, you can
test all its
functions, but you will not be able to save a tour. In the process,
will name and create a tour folder for your trial tour that will
placed in the MyTours folder. Once you register and create tours,
trial folder will still be in the MyTours folder unless you delete
use it to create and save a tour.
TourMaker's recommended default location for tours
Tours are saved in folders containing all the associated
files for the tour. When editing a tour in TourMaker, it is important
to remember to select the tour folder, not a file, as TourMaker
will only open a folder.
You can select a program as your default HTML editor
by selecting "Options" in the "View" menu.
Note that Word and other word processors generally have HTML features
and may be used. See also: "Custom Pages/Local Files."
The Site Editor (Edit menu: Site Frame)
The Site Editor allows you to search the Internet or your hard
drive for the sites or local files you'll use as stops in your
tour. In addition to basic browser features, it has some features
designed specifically for tour creation. In particular, the bookmark
feature allows you to annotate your bookmarks. You bookmark pages
by clicking on the "Remember" button. When you do, the
address will be stored in the Bookmarks window. You can write
notes about these bookmarks and store them with the bookmark by
selecting the Edit Notes button.
In addition to searching the Web, the Site Editor allows you
to select local files by clicking on the "Select Local File"
button. If you haven't already created the local file, you can
open your HTML editor by clicking on the Launch HTML Editor button.
(Note: for this to function, you must first tell TourMaker what
your HTML editor is by selecting Options in the View menu. Then
browse until you find the program you want to use and select it.)
Narration Editor (Edit menu: Narration Frame)
The buttons allow you to format the text (bold, italic, etc.).
You do so by highlighting the text and then clicking the button.
If you want to add a link to the text, highlight the appropriate
word, then click on the "Add Hyperlink" button. A dialogue
box asking you to type a URL appears. Enter it and click OK. Your
narration will now contain a link that when clicked will open
another URL in the Site Window.
There are many useful features to this dialogue box. The first
is that you name the tour in the "General" section as
it will appear on the automatic opening Help page. You can also
set the caching time for each stop (see below). Perhaps the most
important feature is that you will set the location of the web
page(s) from which your tour will be launched. Note: the
"Layout" and "Logo" options are not available
in the Educational Version.
Tours can be cached, i.e., automatically downloaded to a user's
computer. Caching of stops occurs at predetermined intervals that
the tour author can adjust in the Tour Properties dialogue box
of TourMaker. The default setting is 30 seconds. In other words,
each stop will be downloaded for 30 seconds before the next stop
is downloaded. Since each stop has a different cache time, some
stops will cache at one setting while others won't. Note that
caching is turned off in TourMaker's authoring mode. It
will only work in the actual tour.
Every once in a while, we come across a site that is frame intolerant.
That is, it will not allow itself to be viewed in a frame. If
you put such a site in a tour, the narration and control panel
windows would disappear the moment the site loaded. There are
very few such sites on the Web, but they do exist. As a precaution,
weve developed an automatic test that allows us to determine
if a site is frame tolerant. When you click on the checkmark button
(Use This Site) in the Site Editor, it automatically verifies
that the site is frame tolerant. If it isn't, it will tell you
so and you will have to find another site.
Tours work best that are focused around a theme, topic, or story.
There are no hard rules, but we try to keep ours to no more than
15 to 20 stops. The first stop is an orientation page with the
title of the tour and some basic guidance for the user. It is
automatically generated by TourMaker, but you can replace it with
something else if you'd like. When possible, we also like to include
an introductory page containing a brief overview on tour objectives
and content, as well as any other relevant information (see Custom
Pages, below). For example, if Shockwave is needed for some of
the stops, here is a good place to mention it.
The narration frame is small, so the narration for any stop should
be economical and efficient. Users will not want to do extensive
scrolling to read it. That said, the narration should always identify
the site being visited and the objectives of the visit (for legal
reasons, Web etiquette, and just plain clarity), along with providing
suggestions or instructions on what to do there. If a large amount
of text is needed (such as background or reference information),
you should consider making it into a custom page (see below).
This allows you to integrate more content into the tour than the
narration window can reasonably accommodate.
Note: The narration frame automatically contains a hyperlink
that will open the site being viewed in a third frameless window.
This allows viewers to see the site without having it hemmed in
by our frames. When a user moves forward or backward on the tour,
this third window is automatically closed.
Custom Pages/Local Files
These are simple HTML documents stored on your server and downloaded
to the users drive just like the web sites they'll visit.
They are viewed through the Site Window on a tour. For example,
TourMaker automatically generates a simple custom page for the
first stop of each tour (mentioned above). Adding custom pages
is an excellent way to provide context and content to a tour.
Possible uses include providing background information on a subject,
ancillary information to be printed and viewed while taking the
tour, lists of additional links (see below), etc.
Local files can be placed anywhere on the tour either as a stop
or as a page brought into the site window by a narration link,
and you can do anything on them that you see on any Web page.
The only catch is that you'll have to create them yourself using
an HTML editor and then save them as local files on your system.
You can create a local file anywhere on your hard drive, but note
that it probably shouldn't be in the actual tour folder you're
working on, because TourMaker copies the file to that folder and
will tell you it can't if the file is already there.
Since Word and other word processors generally contain an HTML
editor, you probably won't have a problem creating at least simple
HTML pages, but you may need experience to achieve more ambitious
results. That said, it is generally a good idea to keep both text
and graphics simple for such pages.
Lists of Links
Since relatively brief tours are best, yet there are so many
possible Web resources to see, it is often useful to develop a
list of additional resources as a custom page and to include it
as a stop (often the last) or stops in a tour. The tour format
offers a significant benefit on such lists in that the user can
explore them without getting lost: whenever they wish, they can
return to the tour by clicking on the "Return To Tour"
button on the control panel.
You can put a link into the narration that opens a second web
page in the site window. This means, for example, you can take
users to one URL at a stop and then instruct them to click on
a link to see another URL or even a custom page. Technically,
you can add as many links as you wish in the narration. However,
because of the window's size and the fact that the narration at
a stop cannot change even if the site does, you are pretty much
limited to one or two additional links. In most cases, it is better
to simply turn an additional link into another stop having its
To create a link in the narration editor, highlight the link
and click on the "Add Hyperlink" button. A TourMaker
Enter URL dialog box (below) appears in which you can enter your
link. You then click on "OK" and a link appears in the
narration frame that will open a new page in the site window.
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Creating A New Tour
And now it's time to create your own tours
- Open TourMaker.
- Select "Create a New Tour" and click Next in the TourMaker
- Name the tour and the folder in which it will go. The name (or
tour title) is what will appear on the tour title page (as in
My Web Tour) and in the tour itinerary. It can be a phrase with
or without punctuation. The folder name should be a "folder
length" abbreviated version of the tour title that you can
remember and recognize. Click Next.
- Select the "My Tours" folder and click Finish to save
your tour folder there.
- You're in the tour at the tour title/orientation page. Note
that this is a custom page automatically generated by TourMaker
and stored as a local file.
- Click the forward arrow to move to the first stop.
- Open the Site Editor and select a site as you did in the Edit
Tour Tutorial (in Getting Started).
- Open the Narration Editor and add the stop narration. Be sure
to include a stop title. Click on Apply.
- Add stops and build your tour. It's that easy.
- SAVE the tour when you are done.
- Reopen it and play it. Make sure it's the way you want it. When
it is, post it to your web site following the directions in the
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Your Tour to the Web
When you have completed and saved your tour, you will need to upload
it to the Web in order for others to enjoy. But first you will have
- Create a web page that includes a link to your tour and its
- Upload your web page and tour folder and files to your web site.
Before we begin, lets take a simple look at the tour process
and then well tell you how to do it. A user takes a tour by
clicking a hyperlink on your web page. The tour launches (starts).
When they are done with the tour, they click the Exit
button on the tour control panel, the tour ends, and the user is
returned to your web page.
Creating a Launch Page
Using whatever tools you normally use to create web pages, create
a web page (also referred to as a launch page because it is from
this page that users will be able to launch your tour) that will
have a link to your tour. You may want to have both a text link
and an icon linking to your tour. Here's a sample page (below) that
we created for our Big Apple Tour. We designed our page to include
the tour name "Big Apple Tour", a descriptive sentence
about the tour, and some other information relevant to our particular
web site, however, the purpose of this page was to link to our tour,
so there is both an icon link and a text link to the Big Apple Tour.
If you looked at the source code of the web page above, here is
the HTML code you would see for the tour links. We'll go into more
detail about this in the next sections but wanted to give you a
Assuming that the tour folder is called "newyork", which
is stored inside the "webtours" folder at "www.tramline.com/tm/,
the html code for the Big Apple Tour icon link will be:
src="tour.gif" width="40" height="40"
alt="New York City" border="0"></a>
and here is the html code
for the text link which reads "Click here to take
the Big Apple Tour."
here to take the Big Apple Tour</big></a>
Your code will be similar but you will instead be using the URL
to YOUR tour on YOUR web site.
The Tourlaunch File
The link to your tour on your launch page is a hyperlink to a specific
file called _tourlaunch1.htm. (In the html code example
provided above, you can see this filename in the last part of the
URL.) The tourlaunch file serves two purposes:
- It launches the tour, and
- it remembers the URL of your launching web page so that when
the user clicks the Exit button and leaves the
tour, they are returned to your web page.
This file is automatically generated (and placed in your tour folder)
by TourMaker when you enter one or more URLs in the Launching tab
of TourMakers Tour Properties (If this isnt clear, go
into TourMaker and click the Tour Properties button
to see the dialog box below).
Enter the URL of the web page from where users will play your tour
(this would be the URL of wherever you'll put the launch page youve
created). Then click Add (see picture below). After
you click Add, the URL will be visible in the Tour
will be launched from: box on the right.
Its possible to launch a tour from multiple locations but
for each unique location you will need a slightly different version
of the tourlaunch file. The first tourlaunch file
is named '_tourlaunch1.htm', the second one '_tourlaunch2.htm' etc.
Each successive tourlaunch file will be automatically created
when you enter more than one URL in the Tour Properties Launch option
in TourMaker (see picture below).
To launch the tour from the first URL, you need to create a hyperlink
on your launch page to '_tourlaunch1.htm'. Similarly, to launch
the same tour from a different web site or page (second URL), you
will need to create a launch page at that location with a hyperlink
To see which tourlaunch file corresponds to which launching
point, take a look at the file in your tour folder called link.txt.
This file is modified any time you change the URL list in the Tour
Properties of TourMaker. In the example below, there are three different
locations from which we want to launch our tour.
If I want users to access the Big Apple Tour (which is
stored at www.tramline.com/tm/webtours/newyork)
from www.tramline.com/newyork.htm (my
first launch page), then my link will look like this:
here to take the Big Apple Tour</big></a>
Additionally, if I want users to access the Big Apple Tour
(my hypothetical second launch page), then my link could
look like this:
here to take the Big Apple Tour</big></a>
Note that in both cases,
the hyperlink points to the URL of the appropriate "_tourlaunch"
file, where "_tourlaunch1.htm" will return the user to
the first launch page which is located at the tramline.com site,
while "_tourlaunch2.htm" will return the user to the second
launch page which is located at the field-guides.com site.
The Link to your Tour
The link to your tour is like any other link in that it consists
of the URL to the appropriate tourlaunch file(see example
Typical link: http://www.yourdomain.com/tourfolder/_tourlaunch1.htm
yourdomain.com will be replaced with www.something.com or
www.something.edu (whatever your domain name is) In our example
above, the domain name is tramline.com
tourfolder will be the name you gave your tour folder. You
should use the same name on your web site that you used on your
hard drive. In our example above, the tour folder is several
levels deep. The tour folder called newyork is stored in
a folder called webtours which is in a folder called tm.
This is done for site organization purposes. tm/webtours/newyork/
_tourlaunch1.htm is the name of the file that actually launches
your tour. In our example above, the tourlaunch is called _tourlaunch1.htm
but if you play your tour from more than one location, you will
have subsequent tourlaunch files such as _tourlaunch2.htm and _tourlaunch3.htm.
So you can see that if you put it all together you have:
Note: Most current word processors have the ability
to create HTML pages
and to put hyperlinks in them. For example, in Microsoft Word you
a launch page with the text you want (and--within limits--graphics),
your tourlaunch link in it by using the "Hyperlink" option
from the "Insert"
menu. This will bring up a Hyperlink dialog box in which you will
enter the tourlaunch link and click OK. You then select the "Save
option under the "File" menu and you have created an HTML
launch page you can
use. Different word processors operate differently of course, so
you will have
to consult the user manual for your particular program for specific
Uploading Your Tour to the Web
Uploading your tour to a web site isnt any different than
uploading any other web page. You just need to make sure that all
of the tour files in your tour folder on your hard drive are placed
into a tour folder of the same name on your web site.
If you have a tour folder on your hard drive called tornado
then youll want to create a tour folder on your web site called
tornado. The tornado folder on your hard
drive has all of the tour files necessary for your tour to play
so you have make sure to copy all of these files into the tornado
folder on your web site.
Once you have your tour folder and files uploaded, youll
want to upload your web launch page so people can take your tour.
- FTP to your web site. (Note that some FTP programs and servers
are case sensitive therefore as a rule of thumb, name all of your
files in lowercase.)
- Copy your tour launch page and any associated graphics to your
- Create a tour folder on your web site and give it the same name
as whatever you called your tour folder on your hard drive when
you created your tour.
- Navigate to your tour folder on your hard drive and your tour
folder on your web site.
- Copy the tour files from the tour folder on your hard drive
to the tour folder on your web site.
- Go to your web site and make sure your tour works.
- Exit your ftp program.
- Announce your tour!
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Tours from Your Hard Drive
Besides running your tours from a Web site, you can also run them
off the hard drive on your computer. TourMaker saves all the tour
files needed in the folder for each tour you create. You simply
need to open the right one and the tour will run. There are various
reasons this is useful, but in a classroom situation in particular,
this means students can create tours and present them to class without
having to post them to a central school web site.
There's more than one way to run tours off a hard drive, but we
recommend using your browser to open the right tour file. First
you need to know where the tour was saved. TourMaker's default location
for tours is the MyTours folder inside the TourMaker folder that
is inside the Tramline folder. If you didn't change this and save
the tour somewhere else, you should find it there. Once you know
where the tour is, here's how you open it:
- Select Open from the File
- Choose Browse from the dialog box and then
locate the folder for the tour you wish to open. Once you've found
the right folder, select the file titled "framever"
and click on Open.
- The address will appear in the Open dialog box. Click on OK
and the tour should open immediately in Explorer.
- Select Open File or Open Page
(depending on your version) from the File menu.
- Locate the tour folder using the Open dialog
box. Highlight the framever file and click Open.
The tour should open in Netscape immediately.
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If you need special assistance, contact