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Creating an Active Desktop (HTML 4) IE 4+

This tutorial is written and contributed by Matthew Clemente, professional web designer and owner of FlamingoLingo.com See footnote for more info.

I'm sure most Windows 95 users are familiar with the term   "desktop". It is the screen you see when your computer is finished booting. By default, it is a turquoise color. The desktop hosts icons titled My Computer, Recycle Bin, My Briefcase, etc. You may have more or less icons depending on the configuration of your computer. It is also possible to place shortcuts on your desktop that point to  different files or programs.

If you have Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher  installed, or are running Windows 98, you don't have just a plain old desktop, you have an Active Desktop (lucky you)! Instead of just hosting icons and shortcuts, your Active Desktop can host any HTML item, such as Web pages, Java applets, ActiveX controls, images and the works. Instead of that turquoise background, you can change your background to an HTML document. To set an HTML document as your background, right-click your desktop and choose Properties. Click the
"Background" tab. Click the browse button and find an HTML document on your hard drive to use as your background.

It doesn't end there. You can place Active Desktop Items on your desktop. An Active Desktop Item is a small Web page that sits onyour Active Desktop. You subscribe to Active Desktop Items through Web sites. I have one for my site, FlamingoLingo (http://www.flamingolingo.com). Other sites that have desktop items are New York Times and Microsoft. Microsoft has a directory of Active Desktop Items that can be found at http://www.iechannelguide.com. You
can also visit http://www.flamingolingo.com/about-desktop.html for some screen shots of my Active Desktop and desktop item.

A desktop item is a great way to send information to your visitors. You tell the desktop item how often it should update itself. This is a  great way to keep your visitors informed of what's going on at your site. This way, you can keep your visitor coming back for more.

There are four steps to creating a desktop item:
- Design the Active Desktop item Web page
- Create the CDF file
- Post the CDF file
- Offer the Active Desktop item to users

Go on to Part 2


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