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Creating image maps

If you want to add some interactivity to your images, you may consider using image maps. With image maps, you can define multiple clickable regions on a single graphic. To define clickable regions on a single image, set up hotspots within a single image. A hotspot is a defined area on an image that acts as a hypertext link. The hotspots are defined through the use of image maps. Image maps list the coordinates that define the boundaries of the hotspots (or the regions that act as hypertext links) on an image.

The whole idea behind using image maps is to link one image to multiple destinations. In how to insert graphics page, we discuss how to link one image to just one destination. On this page, you will learn how to create image maps or multiple hyperlinks on a single image. There are two types of image maps:

  1. server-side image maps
  2. client-side image maps

Server-side image maps

In a server-side image map, the server controls the image map. A server is a computer that store web pages and serves those pages when a client requests a page. When we use a server-side image map, we define the coordinates of the hotspots in a server-side script. Whenever a user clicks on a hotspot on an inline image, the appropriate coordinates are sent back to the server to activate the appropriate hyperlink. One of the main drawbacks of using server-side image map is that server-side image maps can be slow to operate. This is so because every time a user clicks on an inline image map, that information has to be sent to the server and then the server has to process that request.

Client-side image maps

In a client-side image map, the image map is defined in an HTML file and that is processed by the browser locally. Because client-side image maps are processed locally, they tend to be more responsive than server-side image maps. Thus client-side image maps can be tested using a local computer; whereas, to test the server-side image maps, you'll need a server. To show you how to create image maps, we will use client-side image maps so you can easily test without using a sever!

There are two easy steps to create an image map:

  1. define image map hotspots
  2. use the image map

Defining image map hotspots

To create image an image map, you need coordinates of the points corresponding to the hotspot boundaries. In other words, you will define an area, by using coordinates, for each hyperlink that you want on an inline image. To find coordinates for a specific area for an image, you will need a special program that shows you coordinates. As an example, Macromedia's Dreamweaver 2004 allows you to create image maps by letting you draw the areas on an image. For each area you draw, the program will write the appropriate coordinates in your web page code file.

For our example, we will show you the coordinates for each area that we want to define on an inline image. The general syntax for an image map tag is:

<map name="mapName">
<area shape="areaShape" coords="coordinates" href="URL">
</map>

So an image map is defined with the <map> tag. The name attribute inside the <map> tag gives a name to the image map. To be able to use an image map, we must assign a name to an image map. Within the <map> tag, we use the <area> tag to specify the areas of the image that will act as hotspots. We can include as many <area> tags within the <map> tag we choose. Each of the <area> tag will act as a seperate hyperlink.

The <area> tag has three attributes:

  1. shape - refers to the type of shape you want for the hotspot. You have three choices for the shape: rect, circle, and poly.
  2. coords - refers to the coordinates for the location of a hotspot. The value for this attibute depend on the type of shape you want. The coordinates are expressed as a point's distance in pixels from the left and the top edges of an inline image. The coordinates (0,0) refers to a point where the image starts to get displayed. For instance, the coordinates (31,9) refer to a point that is 31 pixels from the left edge and 9 pixels down from the top on an inline image.
  3. href - refers to the URL of the hypertext link that the hotspot points to.

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