Free and Almost-Free WinSock Applications


Finally! You probably never thought you would actually get to read about the WinSock-based software that I've mentioned throughout the book and included on the disks. I wanted to save this until now mainly because WinSock software appears so frequently that I wanted to discuss the latest versions of these programs. The strategy paid off, since great new programs like News XPress appeared in the last few days of my writing.

Given the amount of WinSock software and the speed with which new versions appear, you can be sure that some of the software I talk about here will have been updated at least once by the time you read this book. Because of this, the specific URLs that I give for finding each program may not work (although updates will have similar names and live in the same directories as the originals).

Don't worry about the discussions being outdated. The programs I'm writing about are relatively mature in most cases, so they're unlikely to change so radically that you cannot get a feel for them here. And, of course, I'll post the latest versions on my FTP site, ftp.tidbits.com, in the /pub/tiskwin directory.

NOTE: For those of you who can access the Web, I've created a Web page that has links pointing to a directory on ftp.tidbits.com. This directory contains the latest versions of programs I consider essential for people using WinSock-based Internet connections. Needless to say, I couldn't include all the programs on the disks that come with this book, so the links simplify the process of getting new programs and retrieving updates.

To use these links, make sure your Internet connection is established, open a Web browser (such as Netscape or WinWeb), go to the following URL, and then click on the link associated with the Internet program you want to retrieve. Your Web browser then retrieves the file. That's all there is to it.

http://www.tidbits.com/tidbits/iskw2.html

I've collected enough WinSock-based software that there is no way I can cover it all in detail within the current size of this book. Instead, I'm going to concentrate on the "cream of the crop" in various categories. Although I don't explore each program in depth, I do mention nice features or advantages that might sway you to investigate them. I also spend more time on the programs I feel deserve special mention.

As far as organization goes, let me lay it out right now. I begin with email programs such as Eudora, then I discuss Usenet newsreaders such as News XPress, after which I move to FTP clients such as WS_FTP. These three clients make up an essential Internet toolkit, and have been included for your convenience on disk two in the back of this book.

Next up are Telnet programs like NCSA Telnet and Ewan; WAIS clients such as EINet WinWAIS; Gopher clients such as HGopher; and World Wide Web browsers including WinWeb,. Netscape, and NCSA Mosaic. After that, I describe various miscellaneous applications including NCSA Collage and Finger. Finally, I take a look at WinQVT, which attempts to integrate a number of Internet functions into a single program.


Email Programs


Considering that email is the ubiquitous application on the Internet, you should use the best email program available; otherwise, you will slowly (or quickly, in my case) go stark raving mad. I've looked at many email programs in my time, and although a number of them are becoming more and more impressive, none compete with Steve Dorner's Eudora. Simply put, Eudora does most everything I need. Again, I don't want to imply that other programs aren't good, but none I've seen can match the features and capabilities of Eudora.


Eudora


Steve Dorner first wrote Eudora while working at the University of Illinois. Because of its academic heritage, Eudora was made freely available on the Internet, and because of its clean interface and full feature set, it rapidly became the email application of choice. In July of 1992, Steve left the University of Illinois and went to work for a company called QUALCOMM, where he continued to enhance Eudora. Because Steve and QUALCOMM wanted to give something back to the educational community and taxpayers who made Eudora possible, and because free software is the best advertising for commercial software, Eudora has remained freeware (although QUALCOMM has also released a commercial version of Eudora that adds some welcome features such as the capability to filter messages).

The freeware version will continue to exist and will be developed in parallel with the commercial version, but is unlikely to receive many new features, other than those Steve deems necessary for basic email usage. For example, he has added support for MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions), a new Internet standard for transferring nontextual data via email.

NOTE: There is now a standalone MIME utility for the PC as well, called Mpack, which can pack and unpack MIME files that contain nontextual information (this is primarily useful if you don't use Eudora). Mpack can be found at:

ftp://ftp.andrew.cmu.edu/pub/mpack/mpack-1.4-pc.zip

The commercial Eudora 2.0, which QUALCOMM released in the fall of 1993, is extremely similar to the freeware Eudora 1.4. It looks the same, and for the most part works the same. Perhaps the most apparent addition to Eudora 2.0 is the filtering feature. It lets you annotate the subject of messages, change their priority, or move them to specific mailboxes, based on information in the headers or the bodies of the messages. You can have as many filters as you want, and they can apply to incoming, outgoing, or selected messages.

NOTE: Many people want to use Eudora to transfer files back and forth between PCs and Macs in email, and this works well if your recipient uses either Mac Eudora or another MIME-compatible mail program. If you're sending from PC Eudora, choose MIME before attaching the file. If you're sending the files from the Mac, in the Switches dialog, turn on AppleDouble before attaching the file you want to send. Both versions of Eudora automatically recognize MIME attachments and decode them automatically upon receipt.

Other useful features that exist only in Eudora 2.0 include uuencode support; automatic opening of attachments encoded in MIME, BinHex, or uuencode; a finish nickname feature; multiple signatures; and last but certainly not least, greatly improved Windows helpfile online help. In my opinion, if you're a heavy Eudora user, Eudora 2.0 offers an extremely attractive set of features above and beyond the basic set in Eudora 1.4. For those just starting out, try Eudora 1.4 for a while, and if you decide you like it, think about purchasing the full Eudora 2.0 version for $65. (Purchasing details come at the end of this section.)

NOTE: To answer the question almost everyone always asks, Steve says that he named his Post Office Protocol program "Eudora" after Eudora Welty, the author of a short story he had read called "Why I Live at the P.O."

The current versions of Eudora are 1.4.4 and 2.0.3, both of which are primarily bug fix releases over the basic 1.4 and 2.0 versions. Version 1.4.4 is what you will find on disk two in the back of this book.


Installation and Setup

Although powerful, Eudora has a surprisingly simple setup that you perform in two large dialog boxes. First, from the Special menu, choose Configuration (see figure 13.1).

Figure 13.1: Eudora Configuration window.

Despite all the fields you can fill in if you want to, only the first few are usually important. The POP account field holds the full address of your POP account. The best place to find out what to put here is your system administrator. The next field, Real Name, should be obvious. Return Address should be set to whatever address accepts mail for you.

For most people, that's all there is to the setup process. You might choose to look at the POP server for mail every few minutes by setting the Check for Mail every field to two (although keep in mind you have to be connected to check mail). Click on the OK button to close the Configuration dialog. Keep in mind that if you have Eudora running and you've told it to check for mail every two minutes, it will fail unless you are connected to the Internet.

NOTE: If you fill in the Return Address field, be very careful to get it right; otherwise, all your return email goes to an incorrect address and you'll never know it.

Most of the rest of Eudora's configuration happens in the Special menu -- the Switches dialog in particular (see figures 13.2 and 13.3).

Figure 13.2: Eudora's Special menu.

Figure 13.3: Eudora Switches dialog.

Putting this many checkboxes in a single dialog may seem like overkill, but these options enable you to configure Eudora quickly and easily to handle many different situations. I keep copies of all the messages I send, for instance, so I check Keep Copies, but many people don't go to that trouble. Similarly, people have different preferences in terms of how they want to be notified of new mail, and Eudora's switches cover all the bases for this. After you set the switches you want, click on the OK button to save your preferences.


Basic Usage

You're likely to use Eudora for simple tasks most of the time, creating new messages, reading incoming mail, replying to messages, and the like. Creating a message is easy -- as is most everything else that you do in Eudora. From the Message menu choose New Message, or to use the shortcut press Control-N (see figure 13.4).

Figure 13.4: Eudora New Mail window.

Eudora opens a new window with three parts. At the top of the window is a row of switch icons, so that you can toggle items such as signatures on a per message basis. Below that is an area for the header. At the bottom of the window is the message area. Tabbing takes you from one header item to another, and finally to the message window.

You can select email addresses in messages or headers, and add them to a Recipients menu (Add as Recipient from the Special menu). The people you add as recipients show up in a hierarchical New Message To menu under the Message menu. If you select someone from that hierarchical menu, Eudora opens a new message with the To line already filled in (the From line is always filled in for you). Similarly, when you create nicknames for people (Nicknames from the Special menu), you're given the option to add that nickname to the recipient list for quick access.

Eudora has a good text entry environment and wraps paragraphs as you write and edit (which is not true of all email programs, so don't laugh). In fact, Eudora can do some neat things with text, as evidenced by the commands in the Edit menu (see figure 13.5).

Figure 13.5: Eudora Edit menu.

I especially like the ability to Insert Recipient and Paste as Quotation. I often want to send an email address to a friend for which I have a recipient defined, and it's nice to be able to just Insert Recipient in the text where I'm typing. Paste as Quotation is also useful when you're pulling several messages together in one reply, although I would like the capability to easily specify the quote character, which is a > sign by default (and without a space between it and the first character of the quoted text, which bothers me a bit).

NOTE: Actually, you can specify the quote character, but it requires editing the eudora.ini file. In fact, there are quite a lot of settings that you can change directly in eudora.ini. Read the file CHANGES that comes with the distribution for things that didn't make it into the regular documentation or menus. The following URL is a good place to look for the most current documents.

ftp://ftp.qualcomm.com/quest/windows/

Clicking on the Queue button in the New Mail window queues the message for delivery because I unchecked the Immediate Send switch when configuring Eudora. If you work on a network instead of via a SLIP or PPP dialup, you may want to send all of your mail immediately, at which point that Queue button changes to Send.

Because I also have the Send On Check switch turned on, if I go to the File menu and choose Check Mail (making sure my PPP connection is active or will connect automatically), Eudora connects to my POP server to receive any waiting mail and then sends any queued mail. If I just want to send mail, I can choose Send Queued Messages, also from the File menu.

If the In mailbox isn't open already (a switch makes it open when new mail arrives), open it from the Message menu by choosing In (see figure 13.6).

Figure 13.6: Eudora In box.

Eudora's mailboxes (they all look like the one in figure 13.6, and you can have any number of them) provide a clean display of your mail. The window is split between a toolbar and a main body. You can have as many of them as you like, which is handy for filing mail related to specific projects.

The toolbar provides actions such as Reply, Forward, and Trash, whereas the main body shows the set of messages in that mailbox. On the left side is an indicator that shows the number of messages in the mailbox, the amount of space on disk the mailbox uses, and the amount of space that is wasted, which you can recover by choosing Compact Mailboxes from the Special menu.

In the main body, a status and priority column to the left of the window displays various characters to indicate which messages you haven't read; which ones you have replied to, forwarded, or redirected; or, in your Out Box, which ones have been sent. Some programs mark deleted messages in this way too, but Eudora instead copies deleted messages to a Trash mailbox available in the Mailbox menu (messages are deleted when you choose Empty Trash from the Special menu, or when you choose Quit, if you have the Empty Trash on Quit option set). The next column is the name of the sender, followed by the time and date, the size of the message, and the subject of the message.

Double-clicking on any message opens the message window (see figure 13.7).

Figure 13.7: Eudora message window.

The Eudora Message window is a simple display window with the Subject at the top and a Priority pop-up menu that you can use to mark messages for your own reference. You can select and find text in the window, but you can't change it. Again, my only complaint about the way Eudora handles incoming messages is that it can't display more than about 30K of text in a window, so it chops longer messages into two or more pieces, which is irritating at times. However, Eudora can save multiple selected messages to a single file, removing the header information in the process so that it appears as though the file was intact before being saved.

With a message open, you can click on the toolbar to Reply, Forward, Redirect, or Delete the current message. Or, if you prefer, you can use the items in the Message menu (see figure 13.8)

Figure 13.8: Eudora Message menu.

Most of these items in the Message menu are self-explanatory, but Redirect is an interesting and useful command. When you forward a message to someone else via Eudora, your address becomes the Reply-To address. However, if you want the original sender's address to remain as the Reply-To address, you use Redirect. That way, when the person you're redirecting to receives the message and replies, that reply goes to the original sender, not back to you.


Special Features

Steve Dorner appears to pay attention to both form and function. In addition to creating an excellent feature set, Steve has graced this application with interesting things like buttons labeled "Trash Them," rather than that standard affirmation "OK." Touches like these make Eudora more interesting to use than most applications, and I'm occasionally surprised by the personal touches.

Eudora can sort mailboxes on status, priority (which you set), sender, date, and subject. This is a helpful feature for anyone who receives a significant amount of email. And, for those who receive tons of email, definitely get Eudora 2.0 so that you can take advantage of the automatic filtering feature that moves messages into different mailboxes and sorts them according to information gleaned from the headers.

Using Eudora's Transfer menu, you can instantly move one or more messages to any of your mailboxes[em]you can create any number of mailboxes. Eudora mailboxes are in the same format as the Unix mail mailboxes, so you can download a Unix mailbox and read it with Eudora.

NOTE: Ken Kirksey wrote a C program called udora that can send a Eudora Out box via Unix mail (if all you have is a Unix terminal access account), because you can manually download your Unix mailbox to read in Eudora with no modifications. You can find Eudora at:

ftp://ftp.tidbits.com/pub/ tidbits/tisk/tcp/mail/mail/eudora-offline-reader-unix.shar

ftp://ftp.qualcomm.com/quest/windows/

If you create multiple settings files, different people can use the same copy of Eudora to send and receive their personal email. This setup is handy if a number of people all share the same computer but don't want to share the same email account ("Hey, no poking about in my email!").

Finally, although official technical support over the phone comes only with Eudora 2.0, expert Eudora users provide extremely good support online in the newsgroup alt.winsock. If you have a simple question, ask there before anywhere else (but check the manual before that). Eudora's manual is also excellent. Look in:

ftp://ftp.qualcomm.com/quest/windows/eudora/documentation/


Overall Evaluation

Although it's not yet perfect, you must have Eudora. That's why I've included it on the second Internet Starter Kit for Windows disk. Aside from the 30K limitations on messages, I can say almost nothing ill about Eudora. Any such quibbles are easily outweighed by Eudora's significant capabilities, some of which are relatively unusual, such as the capability to queue up mail and send it all at once, essential for anyone using SLIP or PPP.

In my opinion, Eudora simply is the way to go for WinSock-based email.


Administrative Details

Eudora 1.4.4 is free and comes courtesy of the University of Illinois and QUALCOMM. I'll make the latest version available at ftp.tidbits.com, should you want to check periodically to make sure you're running the latest and greatest.

Eudora 2.0.3 costs $65 for an individual copy, and group prices drop quickly from there, depending on how many copies you want to buy. So if you're outfitting a couple of people in an office, check with QUALCOMM for the exact discounts. You can get more information from QUALCOMM via email at eudora-sales@qualcomm.com, or at:

QUALCOMM Inc. c/o Eudora Package 10555 Sorrento Valley Road San Diego, CA 92121 USA 800-2-EUDORA


Other WinSock Email Programs


Although I like Eudora, you can try out a number of other email programs. Most of them, including Eudora originally, were created at a university and thus are free. I'm sure I've missed a few, but I'll discuss the ones I know about and which work without any unusual software on the host (I'm assuming that POP is relatively widespread, because without POP you cannot use even Eudora). I'll try to post most of these programs on ftp.tidbits.com, but some of them may have distribution restrictions, and those you'll have to find at their original sites.


Pegasus

Pegasus is geared primarily toward people on Novell networks using Novell's MHS message system. The program also works as a POP3 client, so with the proper configuration, it's a fair program for doing Internet mail. Setup can be confusing, because Pegasus doesn't display "irrelevant" menu items if it doesn't detect WinSock in your system. The first time I ran it, it didn't detect my WinSock, and so there were several very important menu items missing from of the File menu (Network Configuration, Check host for new mail, Send all queued mail).

You configure Pegasus through the File menu under Network Configuration, as well as the General and Advanced Settings submenus under the File Preferences menu option. If you find that you don't have a Network Configuration menu, go to the File Preferences Advanced Settings menu and look down at the question, "If WINSOCK.DLL is available, load it." Click "Always," click "OK," and close, then reopen Pegasus. This should make the menu options appear.

I prefer Eudora, but if you are on a Novell network using MHS mail, it might make more sense for you to use Pegasus (see figure 13.9). The online help for the freeware version of Pegasus (which is the only version of Pegasus) is pretty good. There is also a feature that sets a small window on top of all others that tells you how many messages you have in the queue, and how many you've received.

Figure 13.9: Pegasus Main New mail folder.

The Novell-specific features often taint this program, making me wonder whether I can use a particular feature or not, since I'm only accessing it through a SLIP connection.

The latest version of this program is 1.2r2 and can be found at:

ftp://risc.ua.edu/pub/network/pegasus/winpm122.zip


dMail

dMail for Windows 1.0b was still in beta testing as of this writing.

There is a setup program included with dMail which just has one dialog box with all of the info you need to fill in.

I found dMail somewhat difficult to use. Many of the standard Windows elements have been changed to little graphics, which makes for an interesting look, but also makes it hard to identify important elements of the program. For instance, the message composition window lets you toggle between sending mail and posting a new message, but instead of using radio buttons (those little round buttons that let you pick only one out of a group), it uses light bulbs. It isn't exactly clear that you are supposed to click on the light bulbs. In order to fill in the header of an outgoing message, you need to click on a button to see the header. Since you always need to fill in a header, it seems silly to hide it from you.

dMail doubles as a newsreader, which gives you a common interface for both news and mail. However, the interface isn't particularly good for either news or mail.

Perhaps the final release of this program will include some improvements. You can find it at:

ftp://ftp.cica.indiana.edu/pub/pc/win3/winsock/dmailwin.zip


WinELM

I decided to bring this up only because this is the most ridiculously complex email program that I have seen in quite some time. It is also not true to its name, because it is not at all like Elm, an email program which is very popular among Unix users (although WinELM apparently relies heavily on Elm's source code, which is freely available). It took a friend and me an hour to set up WinELM in a configuration that was usable, and even then we were forced to manually send messages one at a time after we had queued them. I only hope the author plans to simplify the user interface in the future. Perhaps, though, you see something that I don't here, in which case you can retrieve it from:

ftp://ftp.cica.indiana.edu/pub/pc/win3/winsock/winelm.zip


PCPine for Windows

The folks at the University of Washington finally broke down and made a Windows version of the popular Unix mail program, Pine. Unfortunately, it's not exactly what most people think of as a Windows program. Its interface looks and acts exactly like its Unix counterpart, with a few minor exceptions. The interface, although it runs in your Windows environment, is essentially a 25-line by 80-column screen, relying heavily on arrow keys and control character sequences to navigate around the application.

You must be able to hook to an IMAP server, which is similar to a POP server. Unfortunately, IMAP isn't compatible with POP, which would explain why it hasn't caught on as the standard protocol for remote mail. However, there are many universities that rely on it exclusively. So if you are at one of these universities, you might want to snag it. You can retrieve it from:

ftp://ftp.cac.washington.edu/pine/pcpine/pcpine_w.zip