Browser Plugins and other Helper Software

  1. Adobe Acrobat:
    Using/Getting the software
    Where can I find Acrobat files on the World Wide Web?

  2. Sound and Video Streaming:
    Sound and Video formats
    Streaming servers
    Streaming players
    Where can I find Streaming files on the World Wide Web?

  3. MS AVI:
    Using/Getting the software
    Where can I find AVI files on the World Wide Web?

  4. QuickTime QTVR:
    How do I get the free QuickTime software?
    Do I need QuickTime 4 or QuickTime 3?
    What is a QuickTime VR?
    How can I best view the QTVRs?
    How are QuickTime VRs photographed?
    Is there a higher-resolution (better) version of the QuickTime movie or QTVR available?
    QuickTime technical notes
    Where can I find QuickTime on the World Wide Web?

  5. RealAudio/RealVideo:
    Using/Getting the software
    Where can I find RealAudio/RealVideo on the World Wide Web?

  6. Macromedia Shockwave:
    Using/Getting the software
    Where can I find Shockwave on the World Wide Web?

  7. Java:
    Using/Getting the software
    Where can I find Java on the World Wide Web?

  8. Vivo Streaming Video:
    Using/Getting the software

  9. Chime:
    Using/Getting the software
    Where can I find Chime on the World Wide Web?



Adobe Acrobat file format


Get Acrobat Reader Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™ is free, and freely distributable, software that lets you view and print Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files. With Acrobat Reader, you also can fill in and submit PDF forms online, as well as download encrypted content from the Web and unlock it with Web Buy.

For editing and error checking of PDF-files a recommendable products is PitStop of Enfocus. It allows e.g. to detected if all fonts used are embedded in a PDF-file.


Adobe Acrobat examples on the World Wide Web

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Sound and Video Streaming


Sound and Video formats: There exists a multitude of sound and video formats. They are differentiated less by their quality, but more through the companies which stand behind them. Prominent examples are:
  • .wmv, .wma, .asf (MS Advanced Streaming Format (ASF)),
  • .rm, .ram (Real Networks Media (RN)),
  • .mov (Apple Quicktime (QT)),
  • .mpg, .mp3, .mp4 (Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG)),
  • .smil (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL)).
Streaming servers: The basic protocol of the Web is HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Control Protocol). Multimedia files attached via HTTP are usually first downloaded to the local PC, and then played either directly in the Web Browser, or with a helper utility, a so called player.
In contrast streaming files allows one to listen to sound files or see video files over the net without having to wait for the whole file to download. One has to wait only a few seconds while a little bit of audio (or video) file information is "buffered" to account for lapses in network speed, and then the file begins to play, with no more waiting, even for a file of one hour or more in length.
The driving factor behind streaming is the fact, that not a HTTP server transfers the files, but a special streaming server. Prominent examples of such servers are
Windows Media Real Networks
MS Windows Media Server Real Networks Helix Server

Streaming players: As a rule a streaming player may play content independent of the server which provides it. However each player can just play a limited number of formats and protocols:
  • Real Networks Player supports all important formats, even ASF.
  • Apple Quicktime supports also all important formats.
  • MS Media Player (as to be expected) is specialized to play ASF files, but supports also MPEG and QT files (the latter usually only for older versions).

Streaming files on the World Wide Web

NB: More info about streaming is available at our technical info page.

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MS AVI file format


Windows Media An AVI (Audio Video Interleaved) file is a sound and motion picture file that conforms to the Microsoft Windows Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF) specification. AVI files (which end with an .avi extension) require a special player that may be included with your Web browser or may require downloading.

AVI files on the World Wide Web

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QuickTime and QuickTime VR

Get QuickTime Tell me more about getting the free QuickTime software
What is a QuickTime VR?
How can I best view the QTVRs?
How are QuickTime VRs photographed?
Is there a higher-resolution (better) version of the QuickTime movie or QTVR available?
QuickTime technical notes
Where can I find QuickTime on the World Wide Web? Q: How do I get the free QuickTime software?

A: If you don't already have the QuickTime plug-in (a "plug-in" is a piece of software), you can download it, free of charge, from Apple Computer. It takes just a few minutes to download it onto your hard disk and install it. From then on, it will open automatically whenever you access QuickTime movies or QuickTime VRs (often shown as "QTVR"), wherever you are on the Web. QuickTime software is available for Windows 95/98/NT and for Macintosh.

Q: What is a QuickTime VR?

A: QuickTime VR (for "Virtual Reality") is one of the most striking technologies on the World Wide Web today. If you don't already have the QuickTime software on your system, it is worth every second of the few minutes it takes to download it onto your hard disk and install it. What's more, it's free.

QuickTime images give you an extraordinary sense of being there, on location where the photographs that were used to build the VR were taken. With panoramic VRs, you get the sense that you're standing in a certain spot and spinning 360 on your heels, gaining a full-round view of whatever scene is pictured. With object VRs, the object photographed is the centerpoint, and you "walk" around it, just as if you were actually doing so in reality.

Q: How can I best view the QTVRs?

  • Click and hold down the mouse button to "grab" the image. Then slide the mouse left or right, up or down to move the image.
  • Another way to move the image is to bring your cursor to either edge of the picture. The hand will change to an arrow. Click and hold down the mouse button to move the image.
  • To zoom in, use the Shift key. To zoom out, use the Control key. (On Macintoshes using earlier versions of the QuickTime Software, the 'option' key zooms in and the 'control' key zooms out.)
  • If you want to zoom in on a specific part of the picture, center that part and then zoom. You might have to zoom a little and then go up or down to center it.
  • If the QTVR has links to other QTVR files or Web pages embedded in it, your cursor will change to a "hand" when passing over clickable links.
Q: How are QuickTime VRs photographed?

A: In theory, to shoot 360 panoramic VRs, you place your camera on a tripod and shoot a full 360 worth of pictures; you then use special software to "stitch" the photos together into the full-round VR.

In practice, it's a bit more complicated than that. You have to make sure the camera is level and the optical center of the lens is directly over the centerpoint of the tripod. That ensures a smooth flowing VR. You also have to make sure that there are as few moving objects, such as people, near the edges of your photos; they can complicate the stitching process. And depending on the focal length of the lens you're using, you must take a set number of pictures a set number of degrees apart from one another. With a 15 mm lens, for instance, you need only shoot 12 photos to complete the 360; with a 24 mm lens, you have to take 18 shots, and so on. Special VR tripod heads are available to ease VR shooting.

Object VRs are more time-consuming. For one thing, rather than just a single position as in standard VRs, you have multiple positions, because you have to photograph the object from multiple angles, all the way around it. And you have to keep a set distance from an imaginary vertical line down the center of the object, and keep that line perfectly vertical -- all to ensure that in the final VR the object doesn't "jump" all over the place. (It's like maintaining the same pitch, roll, and yaw for every shot.)

Q: Is there a higher-resolution (better) version of the QuickTime movie or QTVR available?

A: Some of our more recent QuickTime additions to the site ( see Inside a Submarine) make use of Quicktime's auto bandwidth detection to allow the web server to send you the QTVR file most appropriate for your internet connection speed. Check your QuickTime Settings control panel to see what connection speed your QuickTime software currently expects. If you are connecting at 28.8 or 33.6 and would like to receive the higher-resolution version of the QTVR files, open the QuickTime Settings control panel and change the connection speed to at least 56K Modem/ISDN. The files won't arrive any faster, but you will be sent the larger, higher-resolution versions.

QuickTime technical notes

You must have at least version 1.1 of the the QuickTime browser plugin in order to use clickable links embedded in QTVRs; earlier versions of the plugin will display the "hand" cursor, but will not follow the links when clicked. You must have at least version 2.0 of the plugin (comes with QuickTime 3.0) to view object VRs and the most-recently-added QTVRs.

QuickTime and QTVR on the World Wide Web

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RealAudio/RealVideo


Get RealAudio Plugin RealNetworks pioneered streaming audio with RealAudio, the first streaming media product for the Internet. RealAudio clips use the file extension .rm, although older clips may use .ra instead. With SureStream technology, a single RealAudio clip can stream at many different speed. A video consists of two parts: the visual track and the soundtrack. In a RealVideo clip, the soundtrack is encoded with RealAudio codecs, and the visual track is encoded with a RealVideo codec. Both tracks are packaged in a RealVideo clip that, like a RealAudio clip, uses the file extension .rm. RealAudio or RealVideo requires the RealPlayer plugin, available for free download from Progressive Networks.

RealAudio/RealVideo on the World Wide Web

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Shockwave and Flash

Download Shockwave The Shockwave and Flash players allow you to experience interactive multimedia, including audio, video, animations, puzzles and the like, through your Web browser. It allows us to, among other things, provide "online experiments," or to provide audio that starts to play when you arrive at a Web page, rather than after a long download wait.

Shockwave and Flash on the World Wide Web

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Java


get Java InfoJava applets allow you to experience interactive multimedia, including audio, video, animations, puzzles and the like, through your Web browser. It allows us to provide "online experiments" among other things.
Requirements for Windows 95/98/NT, Unix, Solaris, and most other operating systems:
  1. Internet Explorer 4.0 or later, or Netscape Navigator 4.06 or later. The browser in AOL 4.0 or later will also work.

  2. Browser Preferences/Options: the checkbox for "Enable Java" must be checked.

Requirements for Macintosh OS:

  1. Macintosh OS Runtime for Java: You must have the MRJ installed. Many Macintoshes have it preinstalled; do a "Find File" on "MRJ" to see if it is installed on your computer. If you don't have it, download and install a (free) copy of the latest version from Apple.

  2. Internet Explorer: The Macintosh OS Runtime for Java works with Internet Explorer 3.x and higher. The browser in AOL 4.0 or later will also work. Macintosh Netscape Communicator and Navigator users will not be able to run the applets. According to the Apple Java page (January 2000):

    "Current versions of Netscape Communicator and Navigator up to and including 4.5 use their own internal Java virtual machine and cannot be configured to use MRJ. Apple and Netscape are working together to develop a future version of Netscape's browser that will use MRJ."

  3. Browser Preferences: Java must be set to use the Virtual Machine provided by the Macintosh OS Runtime for Java ("Apple MRJ") and the checkbox for "Enable Java" must be checked.


Java on the World Wide Web

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Vivo Streaming Video

Download VivoActive Player The Vivo technic was introduced in the Real Player.

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Chime


Get Chime The Chime plugin allows you to view molecular structures, displaying the molecules as manipulable 3D images or 3D stereo pairs, as space-filling or ball-and-stick models. For more information on the plugin and Chime, see the MDL Chime Support Site.

Click and drag the molecule to rotate it. PC users - click right button in window for options. Mac users - click and hold mouse button for options. Zoom in or out by holding down the shift key and the left mouse button (PC) or shift key and mouse button (Mac) and moving up and down.

Chime on the World Wide Web

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