Setting Up Links to Web Images (OnMerge WebImages Only)

This section is only about working with images on the Worldwide Web (internet). For images on your PC's hard drive or local network, see Setting Up the Local Image Collection for Merging.

OnMerge WebImages Option is Needed

This section is only about OnMerge WebImages, an optional upgrade to classic OnMerge Images which is needed to work with web images. You can upgrade classic versions of OnMerge Images to OnMerge WebImages on our website at http://OnMerge.com.

OnMerge WebImages doesn't create any new images, but selects and downloads the correct existing image to use on each merged page or record. It does that by composing the appropriate Site Name and File Name for each image to get its "address."

OnMerge WebImages supports virtually all types of popular web images:

  • JPEG photos (files ending in .jpg .jpeg .jpe .jfif)
  • GIF web images (files ending in .gif)
  • PNG web images (files ending in .png)
  • TIFF images (files ending in .tif .tiff)

OnMerge WebImages does not support merging PDF files.

COPYRIGHT WARNING

Images on websites are usually protected by copyright and/or other legal mechanisms. Websites typically grant you a license to view images on a web browser in the context of their enclosing web pages, but downloading them into your document may be prohibited. That's because, in effect, OnMerge WebImages is making a COPY of the image into your document when it merges them.

YOU MUST ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE SUFFICIENT RIGHTS AND PERMISSIONS BEFORE COPYING OR MERGING ANY IMAGE INTO ANY DOCUMENT. CHECKING THIS IS SOLELY YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY. By using OnMerge WebImages, you represent and certify that you have sufficient rights to copy the merged images into our document(s). All the examples and instructions in the present document assume that you have secured such rights. This is not legal advice; consult your legal advisor to specifically determine what is allowable.

Ground Rules for Web Image Addresses

Like all web files, image files' address names always stick to the following:

  • Upper- and lower-case characters in addresses are different. You cannot use lower-case when the address is in upper-case, or vice-versa.
  • Web addresses must all begin with http:// or https:// (note lower-case, colon, and two forward slashes)
  • Any folders in the address use forward slashes (below the ? on most keyboards) -- not backslashes like for Windows files. For example, http://abc.com/folder/imagefile.jpg
  • You can compose the web address from about 20 "Name Parts" which OnMerge WebImages adds together end-to-end. This means you can generate very complex, variable web addresses since each of those Name Parts can be taken from hard-coded Text, a Database lookup, or a Word Bookmark reference.

Login-restricted Websites

Some websites make you log in with a user name and password before you can access their contents. Use the web browser on the Internet tab in the OnMerge WebImages dialog (not your regular web browser) to log into those sites before previewing your document or merging. For details, see Internet Options.

Websites That Demand a Visit

Some websites don't require login, but do require you to visit a web page (usually the home page) before you can access their images. Use the web browser on the Internet tab in the OnMerge WebImages dialog (not your regular web browser) to visit such sites before previewing your document or merging. For details, see Internet Options.

Getting Web Images' Addresses

Let's assume you don't run the website(s) that host the images you want to merge. (If you do, you likely already know what to do.) There are 4 basic scenarios:

  • Somebody gives you a database of web image addresses, ready to merge. Just use the appropriate database field as the Field Name in the OnMerge WebImages dialog and do the merge.
  • You need the addresses of various arbitrary files on one or more websites. For example, you might want to add logos from various public-domain clipart websites for event invitations.
  • A website has an organized collection of images that are named with a rule that relates to your own database. For example, an web employee directory might be organized as http://abc.com/employees/photos/999999.jpg (where 999999 stands for the actual employee number).
  • A website publishes an "API" which generates virtual images based on certain data. For example, a mapping website might generate maps from physical street addresses in your database using an address scheme like http://abc.com/maps?streetaddress=xxxxxxx (xxxxxxx being a street address from your database).

Getting Various Arbitrary Images' Addresses (URLs)

Using your web browser, you can right-click most images on a web page to get a pop-up menu and then click an action. Depending on your browser:

  • Firefox: Copy Image Location
  • Chrome: Copy Image Address
  • MS Internet Explorer: Properties; triple-click on the text to the right of Address (URL); press Ctrl + C
  • Sometimes View Background Image is helpful
  • Some images may have special coding that hides these selections

Paste the copied address into a field in your database or spreadsheet, then use that database field as the Field Name in the OnMerge WebImages dialog box.

You may not see any Copy-style options in the pop-up menu if the website has taken steps to prevent third parties from downloading images. In that case, that image is probably best left alone.

Do NOT use the options with the word Link in them since those are hyperlinks to linked web pages -- not the images themselves.

Organized Images Collection Addresses

Using a web browser, navigate to the web page(s) that show the images you need. Using the same techniques as in the above section, determine the address of several images. You'll probably be able to see a pattern in the various images' addresses where certain parts are the same and others vary. For example, the addresses http://abc.com/employees/123.jpg and http://abc.com/employees/456.jpg suggest that in the OnMerge WebImages dialog you should set up:

  • The first Name Part as Text: http://abc.com/employees/
  • The second Name Part as a Merge Database that looks up the employee number
  • The File Name .Extension as .jpg

Images Via an API (e.g. Maps)

You can most likely get documentation from the website that details how to use the API. You might have to use the website to generate some sample images and look at their image addresses if the documentation is obsolete or lacking details.

The API will likely be in one of two general styles: a pure RESTful interface (e.g. http://abc.com/maps/NY/Brooklyn) or one that uses query variables (e.g. http://abc.com/maps?state=NY&city=Brooklyn). Both styles are equivalent, but query variables are the most popular. Assuming that you have two database fields STATE and CITY, you might set up your OnMerge WebImages Name Parts like this:

Part # Type RESTful Query
1 Text http://abc.com/maps/ http://abc.com/maps?state=
2 Database (State data field) (State data field)
3 Text / &city=
4 Database (City data field) (City data field)

Escape database, bookmarks in query part of URL

When using query-style interfaces as shown above, you'll notice the "Escape database, bookmarks in query part of web URL" option at the bottom, right of the File Names tab in the OnMerge dialog. This works ONLY in the query part of the address (the part after the ? mark, e.g. state=xxx&city=yyy) and ONLY for information from database or bookmark lookups. That's because this option is only needed because you can never be 100% sure what a bookmark or database field will contain.

Here's the issue that this targets: let's say you had city=Peace&Love. The & character is used to separate query fields, so the server would see city=Peace and Love=???. Setting the Escape... option will cause OnMerge WebImages to convert certain characters such ? and = to "escaped" versions (%26 and %3E) that don't break up the field. Web servers understand escaped characters. The option isn't set by default because you may have designed your database to contain data that's already formatted as a query e.g. "?state=NY" in a database field, in which case you'd want the = to stay as-is so that it acts as a delmiter.

The upshot is that OnMerge WebImages expects you to manually escape certain characters in the query (after any ?) portion of web addresses (URLs) unless you want them to have special meaning such as the = in ?state=NY. Those characters are:

Character Use Instead Character Use Instead Character Use Instead
& %26 = %3D % %25
# %23 ^ %5E + %2B
< %3C > %3E    
{ %7B } %7D | %7C
[ %5B ] %5D \ %5C
" (double quote) %22 ` (backtick) %60 ' (single quote) %27

SPACE (blank) characters will always be escaped for you automatically by OnMerge WebImages—no need to escape manually.