Hmmm - what's that all about? Well - you may already have heard of it, but in short it is a little icon which Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.0 and later use when you bookmark sites in it, reading that iconfile each time and place it next to your entry. It will also show up on the address bar.
Is this a good thing, or not? Opinions are split here: On one hand you can brand your site with a nice icon that's easily recognized, such as a logo, but on the other hand it creates extra traffic and error messages in the serverlogs. I won't try to say anything about wether it's good or not, instead I will tell you how to take advantage of it on your own homepages.
During my little research, I heard a lot was said about the icon itself: It should be a 16x16 pixel big one - but then reports arrived that 32x32 also worked, and that deja.com used a 21x32 icon. Confused? I was! So what is the secret then?
The icon files in Windows can have several formats in it: different sizes, and different pixel-depths (i.e. more or less colours.) Let's take the usage, step by step:
IE5 use 16x16 pixel big icons usually, and 32x32 pixel big in some cases. (If you drag the icon from favourites to the desktop, the large version will show - 32x32 or 48x48 depending on your settings.) The icon will be resized if it is of another size than required.
How many colours do you want to use? The standard is 16 colours, but if you want to take advantage of greater colour depth there's nothing wrong with offering an icon file with several formats, both in sizes and colours. Just remember that the icon-file grows the more you add, and that it need to be downloaded too...
But where shall this icon be placed? Where do IE5 look for it? All I heard around was that the icon should be placed in the root of the server - that is, under www.geocities.com if that's where you have your pages. That of course would limit the use of this to those who have their own domain. Careful study of my own serverlogs however, showed that IE5 first tried to look for the icon in the catalog (or folder if you prefer) where the page is placed. In other words, you can have separate icons for every catalog in which you have html-pages.
Another way is to specify in the HTML-files where the icon can be found. This is done by the line <LINK REL="SHORTCUT ICON" href="/path/iconname.ico"> placed in the <HEAD>-section of the HTML-file. This could open for the use of many different icons being used, depending on which page is being bookmarked.
If, after doing all this, you can't get it to work, consider the following things: It's very hard to change existing bookmarks. This makes it difficult to see any changes yourself.
After a while, the icons that once branded the various favourites disappears and are replaced by the standard icon. This happens because the icons are downloaded to the cache - Temporary Internet Files - and will as such get deleted from there together with the rest of the cached files when it's time.
The way to avoid this is do download the icon - usually at the root or in the catalog with the files - save it somewhere safe, before you right-click on the bookmark/favourite and select 'properties'. There you can select the icon you downloaded and saved as the icon to use.
How do you download it? Well, in the case of my domain, you would find one icon if you entered the address http://www.dionaea.com/favicon.ico, or you could try http://www.dionaea.com/web/favicon.ico to get the icon in the catalog where this article resides.
The only question left then is: Is it worth it? Only you can answer that.
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