MIDI Files and Why They're a Bad Idea

written by Incanto

Firstly, if you or anyone else you know is currently guilty of using a MIDI file on their website, don't feel bad. Most of the web designers I've known in my life made the same mistake when they were just starting out, and the goal of this tutorial isn't to make you feel *bad* but to explain *why* MIDIs are just not a good idea.

Now then... while surfing the web you'll find a lot of sites that force MIDI files on you; you may be barraged by any manner of song, whether or not you like it; furthermore, some people use multiple scripts (for multiple browsers and programs) so that even when you hit stop you might *still* be forced to listen. This is pretty annoying, especially if you're already listening to music, watching TV, or doing anything else that already gives you background sound.

Back in the day when MIDI files were the main music format available on the web, this might've been pretty cool. But it's gotten old very quickly, and with each successive script for putting a MIDI on your page it's gotten *worse*. You, as a web designer, want people coming to your site, and if they're all barraged with crazy sounds coming out of their speakers (especially people with older sound cards that might not completely process your MIDI), then it's generally a given that most of them will leave. Your site content might be *great* but impossible to browse while being invaded by the music.

One arguement for MIDIs is that they add atmosphere to your page, but trust me - MIDIs are total mood ruiners, no matter how good they are, by virtue of the fact that they're MIDIs. It's always going to sound like a Super Mario Brothers game for the Super Nintendo because it's not usually capable of more sophisticated sounds, and even then many older sound cards won't be able to process a MIDI that complex. Your site will seem much more sophisticated, and chase away far less people, if you leave the MIDI off.

There will always be people who just can't live without a MIDI on their website, however. So how can you incorporate a MIDI *without* it being annoying and bothersome? Give your web surfers the choice. Use a script that, instead of automatically playing the MIDI, simply has a little box somewhere out of the way that has "Play" and "Stop" options.

There's even a script generator that will do this for you located here. It'll walk you through the entire process of creating a MIDI script, and in time you won't even need it. The property we're most interested in is the "Autostart" property. You *must* set this to "False," which means the MIDI will *not* automatically start when a visitor comes to your webpage and they'll have to play it manually. Once again, I don't recommend MIDIs at all, but if you simply must use them, this is the most non-intrusive way to do so.

Hopefully this will prevent cruelty to eardrums of LJS fans everywhere. Best of luck with your site!