Some Assembly Required

In order to view many special format files on the WWW that are available, you often need a separate application or "helper" application. The browser will download the special format file and pass it seamlessly to the helper app if everything is configured properly. This document is intended to explain some of the basics of this process, how to get the helper apps, and how to set things up.

  1. What are MIME types?
  2. How do I use them?
  3. Where do I find the viewers I need?

What are MIME types?

MIME, or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension, types are standard classifications of documents that have been agreed upon to allow for the exchange of non-text information between computers.

Chemical MIME types describe the many different file types for data of chemical interest. The chemical MIME type has been accepted for use by the NIH and therefore will probably catch on with the chemical community.

For more information see the Chemical MIME type WWW site at Leeds.

How do I use them?

MIME types are very easy to use on the Mac and PC. It is a simple matter of making your client, be it Mosaic or Netscape etc. aware of the MIME type being used for a particular document. Exactly how this is done varies from software to software. A nice function of the browsers is that if you click on a link that sends a type you have not configured, it will ask you if you want to save the document or configure a viewer. If you've already installed the viewer for the type of graphic that you've selected, all you have to do is select "configure viewer" and then find your viewer.

Where do I get the viewers and additional information I need?

VOH Home Page Top // Last revision: September 22, 1996