9.2 Clickable Image Maps
A common graphical device on the Web is the clickable image map. A
clickable image map is a graphic that has multiple hyperlinks, and,
perhaps, Java scripts, associated to a single image. Such an image
allows the Web designer to associate links and dynamic actions to
As an example, one use of a clickable image map might be for a travel
agency offering vacation packages to different exotic locations around
the world. A clickable image map of the world could be constructed to
contain hyperlinks cued to the location of a mouse click on the map.
For example, clicking on France might send the user to another web
page giving details of vacation packages, sites to see, places to
stay, and restaurants to try when visiting Paris. Clicking on
Venezuela would send the user to pages on Caracas, and so on.
Clickable image maps are very useful devices for the Web because they
represent an alternate, graphical means of navigating to other pages.
One problem, however, is that they can be difficult to construct. For
each hyperlink, a region of the image must be defined that activates
the link when the mouse is clicked in it. This region is defined by a
polygon, which in turn is specified by a set of pairs of coordinates
giving the locations of the polygon's vertices. The difficulty comes
from trying to determine the coordinate values. For an image map
containing many hyperlinks associated to complicated regions, the task
of assembling these points can be quite arduous.
Fortunately, the ImageMap plug-in, found
in the Image:Filters/Web menu, allows you to graphically input
the vertices of polygonal regions by drawing directly on the image.
The plug-in also allows you to easily assign hyperlinks and Java
scripts to the regions. When finished, the plug-in automatically
writes the HTML file that displays the newly created image map. All
the positional information about vertices for the map regions is
written into this file along with the hyperlinks and references to the
Java scripts associated with the regions.
The initial description of how the ImageMap plug-in works is
based on the blank image shown in
The ImageMap Plug-in
A blank image is not terribly useful as a practical image map but is
great for illustrating how the ImageMap
(b) illustrates the ImageMap
dialog, which consists of three main areas. There is the Drawing
Canvas, where the image that the map is being created for is shown.
Because the image in Figure
(a) is blank,
the canvas area shows a white background. To the left of the Drawing
Canvas, is the toolbar containing the selection and editing function
icons. These are used to draw the outlines of regions in the image
that will become the clickable zones. Finally, there is the Region
List, which is located to the right of the Drawing Canvas area. This
is used to organize and edit the list of drawn regions.
The ImageMap selection tools are used to define the clickable
regions. The selection tool choices are rectangular, circular, and
polygonal. Of the three, the polygon tool is the most general because
it allows for the most complex shapes to be selected.
Selecting a Polygon Region
illustrates an irregular shape made with the polygon selection tool.
The shape is made by clicking on the polygon selection tool button and
then by clicking on points in the Drawing Canvas area. Each point
becomes a new vertex of the polygon. The selection is terminated, and
the polygon fully defined when the left mouse button is
As soon as an area like the polygon in
9.14(a) has been defined, the Settings dialog appears as shown in
9.14(b). This is used to specify the
hyperlink associated to the selected area. As you can see from the
dialog, any valid Web link can be specified. In this example, the text
been entered as the link. In addition, informational text has been
added to the Comment field at the bottom of the dialog. The
Settings dialog allows the polygon to be edited and Java scripts
to be associated with the selected area. These functionalities are
accessed by clicking on the relevant tabs shown in the dialog.
Managing the Selected Regions
shows the ImageMap
dialog after several areas have been
selected. The three areas are each shown in the Region List, and the
active one is highlighted in blue. The editing tools can be used to
modify any of the areas in the Region List. You can make a particular
area active by clicking on it, you can delete the active area by
clicking on the button displaying the red, X icon, and you can bring
up the area's Settings
dialog by clicking on the button showing
the pencil icon.
As seen in Figure
9.15(a), the points of the
active region are displayed as red squares. It is possible to insert,
delete, or move these points. Choosing the Arrow icon from the
selection tools, any point can be moved by clicking and dragging it.
A point can be deleted by right-clicking it, which brings up the menu
shown in Figure
9.15(b). A point can be added
to a line segment by right-clicking it, which brings up the menu shown
After all the desired areas have been selected and hyperlinks defined,
you can save the work by clicking on the floppy disk icon or
selecting the Save As function from the File menu. This
brings up a dialog that allows a file name to be entered. This
should be a file whose extension ends in .html or .htm.
A more realistic example of the ImageMap plug-in's use is
illustrated with the image shown in
Map of the Southeast United States and the ImageMap Dialog
This image is a map of the south-eastern United States. Each of the
ten states is designated by its two-letter abbreviation: FL for
Florida, GA for Georgia, AL for Alabama, and so on. The goal is to
create an image map having a separate hyperlink for each state.
(b) shows the ImageMap
dialog with the image from Figure
loaded into the Drawing Canvas area. The outline of each state can
easily be made using the polygon selection tool. When all the states
have been delineated, and when the final result is saved it produces
the following file:
WIDTH=482 HEIGHT=428 BORDER=0 USEMAP="#">
<!-- #$-:Image Map file created by GIMP Imagemap Plugin -->
<!-- #$-:GIMP Imagemap Plugin by Maurits Rijk -->
<!-- #$-:Please do not edit lines starting with "#$" -->
<!-- #$VERSION:1.1 -->
<!-- #$AUTHOR:Carey Bunks -->
<AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="6,91,10,178,21,183,21,195,98,195,113,144,128,
107,113,104,120,92" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/arkansas.html"> <AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="21,197,21,234,32,252,22,291,49,292,69,299,75, 295,101,312,117,307,131,308,150,312,142,298,120,281,138,276,130,255,83,253, 100,197" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/louisiana.html"> <AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="119,136,172,135,174,276,140,277,132,255,85,253" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/missouri.html"> <AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="119,136,269,127,288,106,334,74,168,83,170,88, 136,93" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/tennessee"> <AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="139,91,170,90,170,81,285,75,319,43,295,28,293,12, 274,18,251,4,243,4,243,12,232,18,218,39,209,33,186,48,171,46,157,65,145,68" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/kentucky.html"> <AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="173,272,200,271,190,248,261,247,261,208,235,130, 170,133" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/alabama.html"> <AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="237,132,263,213,266,254,342,255,342,245,357,247, 367,207,305,139,292,135,296,126" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/georgia.html"> <AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="300,127,296,133,365,205,420,146,388,120,357,122,351, 113,317,117" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/south-carolina.html"> <AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="333,74,270,124,304,124,314,117,354,112,360,120,386, 120,423,145,433,145,440,127,465,111,459,97,479,78,468,60" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/north-carolina.html"> <AREA SHAPE="POLY" COORDS="195,253,198,271,227,271,257,288,284,275,318,303, 328,303,329,345,347,365,360,395,388,416,404,410,408,367,385,317,355,249,342, 248,342,259,335,259,335,255,266,256,259,249" HREF="https://www.good-travel.com/florida.html"> </MAP>
As you can see, each of the areas defined in the ImageMap
dialog is specified by an AREA
hypertext markup tag. This tag contains the coordinates of the polygon region and the text of the associated hyperlink. The example described above can be viewed as an HTML document by clicking here.
HTML files created with ImageMap
can be reloaded and edited by
the plug-in. Normally, this is done by reloading the original image
into the GIMP, running the ImageMap
plug-in on the image, and
then loading the saved imagemap file using the Open
the plug-in's File
The Image Map Reloaded onto a White Background
shows the result of doing this with the HTML file created for
. However, instead of running
plug-in on the original map image, it is done on a
blank image having the same dimensions as the map. This allows you to
clearly see the loaded imagemap regions against the white background.
Doing this has no practical application, but it is a nice way of
illustrating the results of the example. Note that the Region List
area shows that each of the 10 states has an entry. Clicking on an
entry in this list highlights the region in the Drawing Canvas, as is
illustrated for the state of Alabama in
As a final note, with a Web browser, you can open the HTML file
created by ImageMap to verify that it is working correctly. If
necessary, you can edit the HTML file directly with a text editor.
Map of the Southeast United States Seen in Netscape
shows how the clickable image map for the preceding example displays
in the Netscape Navigator Web browser. Notice that the mouse cursor,
represented by the small left-pointing hand, is located at the lower
tip of the state of Florida. The fact that the mouse cursor appears
as a hand means that it is over an active HTML link, and at the bottom
of the browser window you can see the associated hyperlink in the link
The ImageMap plug-in has many other features. This book is not
the appropriate place to cover this plug-in in detail. However, most
of the features are not difficult to discover, and you should be able
to determine their use with a little experimentation.