A new program from Peter Lewis and Quinn "The Eskimo!" will continue to cement the Macintosh's position as the preeminent Internet client platform. Internet Config centralizes Internet preferences, simplifying the process of configuring MacTCP-based programs with information such as your preferred email address, FTP helper application, and program for opening JPEG images. Before Internet Config, configuring all the programs with the same information was almost as bad as going to multiple doctors to have health care committed on you, given that each doctor asks for approximately the same information, but on a different form.
Internet Config provides an interface for setting these preferences once and makes a database of those preferences available to other applications. In other words, after you enter your email address into Internet Config, both Anarchie and NewsWatcher can read it from the Internet Config database, and do not force you to enter it again and again.
Internet Config manages the following groups of preferences:
- Personal -- such as your real name and your signature
- Email -- email address and other mail related details
- News -- news server and related details
- File Transfer -- download folder and preferred archive sites
- Other Services -- default hosts for other services, like Web & Gopher
- Fonts -- preferred font settings for screen and printer
- File Types -- for mapping extensions to Macintosh file types
- Helpers -- for mapping URLs to their help applications
Programs must support Internet Config - there's no way for them to know about the preferences database otherwise. Luckily, the Internet Config development mailing list included most of the Macintosh Internet developers, and many of them have committed to supporting Internet Config in future versions of their programs. In addition, Peter Lewis's Register 1.1 and John Norstad's NewsWatcher 2.0b21 (to be released very soon) support it now. Applications slated to support Internet Config in the future include InterCon's TCP/Connect II, Aladdin's StuffIt family, Peter's Anarchie, and Jim Browne's NCSA Telnet.
Although Internet Config has broad-based support already, support in additional programs is critical to its success. I strongly encourage all Internet programmers to support Internet Config. It's a relatively minor programming task from initial reports. John Norstad said, "I figured this [Internet Config] would be reasonably easy to support, and it turned out to be even easier. There were no major problems or stumbling blocks - just a bunch of really easy code, and it worked with no major hassles."
Peter and Quinn have placed Internet Config and its source code in the public domain, and encourage others to build on it to provide additional functionality. Internet Config can play a huge role in making the Mac an even better Internet client, since it can make coherent the often confusing process of configuring many different programs.
The official support address for Internet Config is <firstname.lastname@example.org>. If you find a bug in Internet Config, forward details to that address. To discuss Internet Config in general, the <comp.sys.mac.comm> newsgroup is the best place to do so, since it allows programmers to stay in touch with the discussions without being overwhelmed with email.
Once again, kudos to Peter and Quinn for a job well done. You can retrieve Internet Config from all the main Internet FTP sites.