Cooking with HotSauce

How to Make a 3D Website

By Matt McAlister, Macworld Online Editor

The latest technology from Apple will transform us all into Web chefs, brewing up big batches of browsable data in a 3D platter.

Your First Taste

First, you must prepare for your data meal by downloading the HotSauce plug-in. Users of both PowerMacs and 68K Macs can download the plug-in from Apple's MCF Research site. After downloading and decoding, simply place it in the plug-ins folder of your browser. Cyberdog, Netscape Navigator, and Miscrosoft Internet Explorer all support the plug-in.

Then, restart your browser and visit a sauced site, Macworld Gameline for example.

Getting around a sauced site is easy. Point at an area within the HotSauce window and click the mouse to see the objects zoom past you. Click on the edges of the HotSauce window to move left, right, up, and down.

Pull back out by holding down the command key while flying through the scene.

Seem too slow for you? Hold down the control key while flying to double your speed. Part of the excitement in this technology is the speed at which HotSauce can draw, allowing you to really feel like you're flying.

A few other navigation options appear in the grey menu button in the upper left-hand corner of the HotSauce window. "To Top" will transplant you back to where you started. "Save/View Source" allows you to save a MCF file to your local hard drive. "Display Standalone" opens the HotSauce file in a window of its own. But there's one other very intriguing option.

"Outline View" from the grey menu button takes a MacOS file folder approach to viewing contents of a Website. Folders appear with embedded files as if all the content were located on your Macintosh desktop. I imagine we're not far from a day when the Internet and your desktop look like a seemless flow of files within folders.

The Recipe

Easier than making rice, pasta, or a Cheerios breakfast, HotSauced sites can be prepared in just minutes.

From your browser, open the file called "CreateNewSpace.mcf" that you downloaded with the plug-in. The grey menu button now has an additional option called "Start At..." which asks you to input the URL of the starting point of your masterpiece (i.e. "")

Save the file using the "Save/View Source" option, and place it on your Webserver. Your Web administrator needs to add a MIME type to the server configuration file - "image/vasa" with the "mcf" extension.

For Mac HTTP, add the following line to the "MacHTTP.config" file:

TEXT .mcf * * image/vasa

For NCSA httpd, add the following line to the "mime.types" file:

image/vasa mcf

Then, simply point to the file in your Web browser or embed it into a page. For example,

<EMBED SRC="/homepage.mcf" WIDTH="400" HEIGHT="400" PLUGINSPAGE="/help.html" VIEW="fly-thru">

The technology is limited and lacks some of the flavor that you may want to mix into your own sauce, but there are a few options for at least enhancing the presentation of your concoction.

Additional Ingredients

After creating the MCF file and before saving it to your Webserver, you can customize the way the content looks to a user when they visit your site. Clicking once on any object will change the contents of the grey menu button. The additional options include "Edit Name", "Delete", "Copy", "Add Description", etc. When clicking once on a folder object, the "Expand" option retrieves all the files located within that folder and places them randomly in space. Finally, you can move objects around to group them as you please. Visitors to your site will see what you want them to see, the way you want them to see it.

When embedding the MCF file into a Web page, you have a few options for customizing the user experience. WIDTH and HEIGHT determine the size of the HotSauce window to be drawn on the page. PLUGINSPAGE points to the page a user gets when clicking on "Help" under the grey menu button. VIEW indicates the default mode in which a user sees the content, either "outline" or "fly-thru".

Getting Gourmet

Now that you know how to cook with HotSauce, you can serve some new treats to your Website visitors. Perhaps the Wolfgang Puck of 3D Websites awaits inside you, dreaming up data delicacies to serve to the world. But first, have a taste test at some of these saucy sites...

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