Configuring Your System

System Requirements

You are about to embark on a new adventure in learning—Biofilms: The Hypertextbook. In bringing you the most innovative teaching and learning resources possible, we use the latest web technologies. This means that you, in turn, must have the latest web technologies installed on your computer. But don't panic. Chances are, your computer is ready as it stands for accessing the hypertextbook. If not, we will help you configure your computer properly. As with all new technology, there can be some glitches, but overcoming these is a small price to pay for the returned benefits.

In this section we

  1. describe the hardware and software configuration necessary for accessing the hypertextbook,
  2. provide you with some easy tests to determine whether your computer is already configured properly, and
  3. give you directions for updating your browser if it needs it.

Computer Hardware

Any computer and operating system combination should work fine.


A Web browser is required. We have tested the hypertextbook with the following browsers.

We encourage you to keep your browser updated to the most recent version available.  This not only ensures compatibility with the hypertextbook, but also enhances the security of your browser.  Newer releases of browsers also tend to be more Web standards compliant as well, which means that they hypertextbook (and other websites) will tend to appear the same in all browsers.

Browser Window Adjustments

To get the most viewing functionality from your browser you should

The latter is preferred.

To make it possible for you to see even more of a page in the browser, you can eliminate some of the toolbars at the top of the browser window.  Check your browser's built-in help resources for help on how to accomplish this.


The following plugins are needed to allow certain features of the hypertextbook to function properly.

Check Your Browser for Flash

You will need to have a recent version of the Adobe Flash Player installed as a plugin in your browser in order to view video clips, slide shows, and other dynamic content.

To check whether you already have a correct version of the Adobe Flash Player plugin installed in your browser, check the window frame just below.  If you see a a slide show of biofilms on different surfaces, you have a correct version of the Adobe Flash Player installed.

If, instead, you see a button with the message,"Get Adobe Flash Player," you will need to download the correct version of the Flash Player plugin, which you can do by clicking on that button.  It will take you to the Adobe website.  Follow their instructions to install the plugin.


Media 1. A First Biofilm Show
Each slide displayed here shows a biofilm on a different surface. (There is no audio track with this slide show.)


Check Your Browser for Java

To check your browser for the Java plugin, you will be asked to click on the link, "Reaction-Diffusion Interactive Model" below.  If a window comes up that displays a graph labeled "Reaction-Diffusion Interactive Model" with slider bars on the left, you have a workable version of the Java Runtime Environment installed (you will need to click the back button on the browser before proceeding).

Reaction-Diffusion Interactive Model

If this does not happen, or you want the latest version of the Java runtime environment installed (recommended) you will need to download and install the Java Runtime environment.  You can do that at

The Java Runtime Environment is needed for you to use some of the interactive models, such as the Reaction-Diffusion Interactive Model of this example.

Browser Feature Activations

You must have the following activated in your browser:


To check whether you have javascript enabled, run your mouse over one of the menu titles in the top bar of your window above (e.g., run your mouse pointer over the "Pages" menu title). 

If a dropdown menu appears, you have javascript enabled. 

If not, you do not have javascript enabled. Determine how to do this in your browser.  A Web search on "enable javascript in [put your browser's name here (e.g., FIrefox)]" should provide you with plenty of examples of how to do this. The help link on your browser should also lead you to instructions on how to do this.

Javascript needs to be enabled to allow for various dynamic features of the hypertextbook to work properly, such as all of the navigation menus and the capacity for the hypertextbook to automatically adjust to the size of your browser window.

Popup Windows

A feature of the hypertextbook is that in some cases, immediately relevant information on some aspect of the content is displayed by way of a popup window that appears in context.  You should check your browser to ensure that popup windows are enabled while you are using the hypertextbook by clicking on the link below.

Test whether popup windows are enabled in your browser.

If popup windows are enabled, you will see a popup window appear in the upper left corner above.  Just close that window and continue. 

If popup windows are not enabled, you will not see the popup window.  Furthermore, you will likely get some kind of warning or notice from your browser that tells you that popup windows are blocked.  Read the help link on your browser to learn how to enable popup windows.