Creating Custom Web Pages using Jasc Media Center Pro and MCML

by Chip Chapin

Introduction: HTML Output from Media Center Pro

I needed something to help me organize my image files.  Already a happy user of Jasc Paint Shop Pro, it was natural that I would be drawn to their Media Center Pro 3.0 product, which I bought at Fry's for $40 (then discovered it was available from Jasc as a download for $30).  The program itself has a nice suite of capabilities for organizing images into "albums".  But it also includes the potentially valuable feature of generating an HTML version of your album.

The standard template (i.e. the look and feel) of the HTML that it generates is useful, however the first thing almost anybody will want to do is to customize it.  Fortunately Media Center Pro provides a very powerful capability to do exactly that.

How It Works

Media Center Pro includes an HTML generating engine which processes template files written in a simple macro language called MCML (Media Center Markup Language). There is also a very simple job control language called MCF that Media Center Pro uses when processing your site design.

I didn't find an official definition of MCF but I think of it as an acronym for MCML Control File.

Basically, one writes the HTML and other files (e.g. CSS and JavaScript) which implement the album presentation the way you like it.  Then one puts MCML directives into your HTML so that Media Center Pro will have the hooks that it needs to actually generate the final HTML for a particular album.  Finally, one provides a single MCF file to control the generation process. Jasc calls this entire collection of files a site design. The system works well and provides you with a very high degree of control over the final result.

Jasc MCF/MCML Reference Manual and Tutorial

Jasc has supplied surprisingly good documentation for the MCML system.  It is in HTML form and is "hidden" in the program's installation directory.  I spent a great deal of time hunting for information before I found it.  For my convenience and yours a copy of it (version 1.0e, dated November 6 1999, file dated 1/26/2000) is included here:

Click here for MCF/MCML Reference Manual and Tutorial

Besides the reference manual, the tutorials are very helpful.

Some Custom Web Album Designs

Well, this is supposed to be the main point of this document.  All I can say is, "Coming soon..."   Meanwhile, contact me if you are really interested. Be sure to work through the Jasc tutorial first -- you may find all the info that you need.