Chapter 13



WinWeb


Another alternative in the morass of viewers out there is WinWeb, written by the folks at EINet.

WinWeb is a nice program in its early releases, and I fully anticipate that EINet will work out most of the rough edges in the near future. The distribution is just under 1 MB, but the program consumes less than 300K on disk, a very small footprint, especially given some of today's bloated applications. Included with the distribution are EINet's JPEG viewer and Leonardo Haddad Loureiro's excellent LView program, which reads most commonly used graphic formats (BMP, GIF, JPEG, and others) and can be used to convert between them.

For the most part, WinWeb resembles all of the other Web browsers available. The main difference is that when WinWeb loads a new page, it displays a small window and just reports which graphic is in the middle of downloading. For me, this is a distressing lack of feedback in general and certainly not up to the increasingly common technique of allowing the user to scroll up and down while the graphics are loading.


Administrative Details

WinWeb was written by the EINet group of MCC (Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (and no, I don't know how they get the acronym to work). MCC has released WinWeb as freeware for academic, research, or personal use; companies should contact MCC for licensing information. To report problems with or make suggestions about WinWeb, send email to winweb@einet.net. You can retrieve the current version of WinWeb at:

ftp://ftp.einet.net/einet/pc/winweb/winweb.zip


Internet Assistant for Word 6.0 for Windows


As of this writing, Internet Assistant for Word 6.0 for Windows (wow, is that a mouthful?) is still in beta. However, Microsoft has given me permission to talk about it, and I think it's pretty neat. Granted, it has all the problems of an initial beta release, but if Microsoft solves these problems, Windows users could rapidly become largest source of HTML documents -- nothing like having a force of 130 million PCs out there.

Internet Assistant has lots of features, but the most prominent are the ability to: 1) create Web documents (HTML) from scratch; 2) convert a Word document to HTML; 3) convert HTML to a Word document; and 4) browse Web documents either locally or on the Internet -- pretty powerful stuff.


Installation and Setup


Installation is an easy process. First, you must have Word for Windows 6.0a or later installed. This shouldn't be difficult, since the purchase of a Windows-capable PC is almost synonymous with purchasing Microsoft Office, which includes Word for Windows. This isn't to say that it is better than any of the other applications suites -- just that it has better name recognition. Then, run the setup program (setup.exe) from the supplied diskette and follow the instructions. If you default to every question asked, you'll probably get a clean installation.

Microsoft, when it decides to release Internet Assistant, will probably make it available on its two preferred sources under Microsoft Word: ftp.microsoft.com and CompuServe. It may also be bundled with future releases of Word.


Basic Usage


Word's open-ended architecture allows for easy addition of modules, which Internet Assistant takes advantage of in a big way. Once installed, you wouldn't know that it didn't ship with Word. Internet Assistant modifies the toolbar and menus and adds specific dialog boxes. Even the behavior of point-and-click is modified.

There are two basic modes of operation: Web Browse View and Edit View. The former is for browsing Web documents and the latter is for creating HTML documents. The nifty ability here is that you can switch between the two just by clicking the appropriate icon on the toolbar. This makes trying out your HTML code really easy, although I should note that anyone writing good HTML code simply must test it with all available browsers, since they don't all react in the same ways to the same HTML code.

The beta version doesn't yet support WinSock connections, which is a shame because that means I cannot browse Web pages on the Internet. However, Microsoft plans to rectify this problem in the final release. For now, it's limited to browsing only local documents.

NOTE: A current trend in some large corporations is to convert many of their documents and even some of their client information to HTML format. This allows employees to use current Web browsers to surf their own company's data store. If the company also has access to the Internet, then employees get a bonus because they'll be able to have a single entry point (less training) for browsing information on the Internet and information on their company.

To browse the Web, I simply select Browse Web from the File menu (see figure 13.38) and Internet Assistant's home page, which is a local document, appears (see figure 13.39). Word modifies all the menus and the toolbar to reflect a browsing mode. In fact, it no longer looks like a word processor.

Figure 13.38: New File menu entry.

Figure 13.39: Internet Assistant's home page.

A strange feature of the Web browser is that you must double-click on items to make the hyperlink (even though it says to single-click). This is contrary to the typical single-click that all other Web browsers require. Perhaps this is a product of beta software. Another strange but good feature is that links to other documents and/or servers bring up an additional Multiple Document Interface (MDI) document, or another window. This is pretty cool because you can view multiple sites at the same time. Links to the same document behave as I'd expect with other Web browsers.


Special Features

The best feature of the Internet Assistant is not its Web browsing capabilities but its Web document creating abilities. You should realize, however, that creating HTML documents is not such an easy task. The hard part isn't necessarily the writing of the code as it is the maintenance. It's just plain hard to read after you've typed it in.

Internet Assistant has the ability to read in (and I don't mean import because it isn't changing the file at all) an HTML document and edit it almost as if you were browsing. Or, you can simply create a new HTML document. There's a template ready and available (see figure 13.40). Adding graphics, text, links and other embellishments is as easy as clicking on the new icons on the toolbar, assuming of course that you like using toolbars (see figure 13.41).

Figure 13.40: New document -- HTML style.

Figure 13.41: Internet Assistant's Toolbar.

Creating a link is a little more complicated in that it displays a dialog box in which you must indicate the type and location of the link. You have the option of making a link to a URL, to a local document, or to a bookmark (see figure 13.42).

Figure 13.42: Creating a hyperlink.

HTML creating is almost too easy compared to the coding exercise I introduced you to earlier. Notice in figure 13.43 that I'm creating an HTML document, not browsing one. Visually, there's hardly any difference between editing and browsing (see figure 13.44).

Figure 13.43: Creating an HTML document.

Figure 13.44: Browsing an HTML document.


Overall Evaluation

It is difficult to fully evaluate a product that hasn't yet been released to the public, because I don't know which features are in or out and which features they will add but haven't yet let me know about. However, Microsoft gets points for taking such a novel approach to the Web. What better way to do so than placing it in an environment that people are already comfortable with?

God forbid you should repeat that you learned this here, but it's easy to clone other people's efforts (although akin to plagiarism, cloning someone else's Web page doesn't cause moral tooth decay) using the Internet Assistant because you can so easily view a document on the Web and then save and edit it locally or at your own Web site.

One last note... This section brushes a little on HTML document creation. Yet, it is in no way complete. There are plenty of sources available through the Internet or alternate book sources that speak on this topic.


Administrative Details

There aren't any details yet because like I said, it is not yet a released product (although it may be by the time you read this). As such, I'm not aware of any pricing details, although Microsoft has been known to bundle things for the first 90 days.

You can reach Microsoft at the following address:

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
USA
(206) 882-8080
http://www.microsoft.com


NCSA Mosaic WinHTTPd


Bob Denny of Alisa Systems ported NSCA's Web server, HTTPd, over from Unix to the PC, and has even implemented somewhat of a CGI interface to run CGI extensions. It enables your PC, presumably connected permanently to the Internet, to serve World Wide Web documents to Web browsers. Basically, you create HTML (HyperText Markup Language) documents and store them along with binary files, such as GIF images, in a subdirectory tree for which you pick the name. Then, whenever anyone connects your PC via the Web, WinHTTPd makes those documents and files available. WinHTTPd makes sure that no one can see any files on your hard disk that aren't in the subdirectory tree you specify, thus limiting any security risk. It goes further by allowing you to set access privileges to different subtrees of your main subdirectory.

NOTE: CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface. CGI enables the Web client, such as Netscape, Mosaic, or WinWeb, to communicate with a Web server in more ways than simple hypertext navigation. It allows the client to pass data, such as information in forms or mouse-click locations, to a different program (presumably, but not necessarily, on the host computer).

Example: A Web server can display a map of the United States and then indicate a user to click on a map (e.g., Washington State). These coordinates are passed to a program on the server via CGI where the coordinates are mapped to another database. The program may then generate or display a new HTML document (e.g., a map of only Washington State).

NOTE: If you do wish to serve HTML documents via the Web, check out the various utilities available for aiding in their creation. Specifically, check out NCSA's list of HTML editors and editing aids for Windows.

http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/Software/WinMosaic/HtmlEditor.html

Although I haven't yet tried to set up a Web server with Windows HTTPd, reports on the net indicate that you can do some impressive things with it. The main feature that provides WinHTTPd with an unusual amount of power is that it supports CGI and you can create executables in Visual Basic or C that let you create forms and Web pages on the fly.

If you have any questions or comments about WinHTTPd, check out:

http://www.alisa.com/win-httpd/

or contact Alisa support at support@alisa.com. You can retrieve Windows HTTPd from the following location:

ftp://ftp.alisa.com/pub/win-httpd/