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FAQ: Browser Configuration

How do I configure a Web browser to open Sketchpad when I click on Sketchpad (*.gsp) documents that I encounter on the Web?

Many Web sites (such as those listed in the Sketchpad Links page) feature Sketchpad documents for your use. When these are JavaSketchpad pages, you can interact with them directly in your browser. When they are Sketchpad documents (*.gsp files), you can download them to use with your copy of Sketchpad.

When you click a *.gsp file link on someone's Web site, usually one of three things occurs:

Documents download and open
A copy of the Sketchpad document downloads to your hard disk (to whichever storage directory you've instructed your browser to use for downloads), your Sketchpad application starts, and the downloaded file opens automatically within Sketchpad.

If this is what happens to you, congratulations! Your browser and Sketchpad are already configured to work well together; no further steps are necessary.

Documents download but don't open
Here, a copy of the Sketchpad document downloads to your hard disk but Sketchpad doesn't start automatically. If this happens to you, you need to configure your browser to recognize Sketchpad as a helper application. See instructions below.

The browser displays a window full of gibberish
Here, the browser attempts to display the actual *.gsp document in a browser window, rather than download it to your hard disk. (You can tell it's displaying the document because the browser's URL will contain the full path to the document's filename, ending in .gsp.) However, since *.gsp files are binary documents intended to be opened by Sketchpad rather than by browsers, your browser can make no sense of the file and displays only gibberish (though perhaps with some brief, readable passages).

If this happens to you, it is a sign that the Web site you are visiting is not properly configured to serve Sketchpad documents. This is a problem with their Web site and not with your browser. If this happens to you, first please notify the webmaster or author of the Web site you are visiting. You might copy and paste the following paragraph into an e-mail, modify it as you see fit, and send it to the site's webmaster.

  • I am attempting to download the Sketchpad documents you offer on your Web site at <<URL>>. Unfortunately, when I click on the *.gsp links, my browser shows me only gibberish. I understand that this is likely due to the fact that your Web server is not configured to identify *.gsp files as MIME type "application/x-gsp." You can find instructions to help fix this at:


    Thanks for any attention you can give to this problem.

You can also usually still download the file even though the Web site is improperly configured. Click Back in your browser to return to the link that took you to the file. Then click the link with the right-mouse button (Windows), or press-and-hold your mouse over the link. Most browsers will display a menu of link options including Download Link to Disk or Save Link as File. Choose this option to download the Sketchpad document manually to your hard disk, and then use Sketchpad to open the downloaded file.

Configuring Sketchpad as a Browser Helper Application
When a Web browser encounters a link to a file that it can't open itself, it uses a helper application to open the file instead. Helper applications are supported by most popular browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, etc.). The only major browser with no support for helper applications at this point is Apple's beta Safari browser. Depending on your browser, you may need to configure your Web browser to recognize Sketchpad as the helper application for Sketchpad documents.

(Of course, if following a link to a Sketchpad document already opens Sketchpad automatically, you can safely ignore these instructions; your browser is properly configured. Sketchpad version 4 for Windows attempts to configure your computer for you automatically, so you may not need to take any additional steps.)

On the Internet, files are categorized by "MIME type" and "file extension." Sketchpad documents created with version 4 of the software or Sketchpad sketches created with version 3 have the MIME type application/x-gsp and the extension .gsp. You'll need to add Sketchpad as a helper application for this MIME type.

If you use Netscape or Mozilla browsers, helper applications can be added using the Helpers tab of the General Preferences dialog box. If you use Internet Explorer browsers, helper applications can be added using the File Helpers tab of the Preferences dialog box. (For other browsers, consult the documentation that came with your browser.) Use your browser's helper configuration settings to specify that Web-based data files with the .gsp extension and/or the application/x-gsp MIME type belong to the Sketchpad application.

If you're using a Macintosh, you may want to also set the downloaded file's File Type and Creator, as shown in the table below.

MIME TypeFile ExtensionMacintosh File TypeMacintosh File Creator

Finally, if your browser asks whether the files contain binary or text data, indicate that they are binary.