Reviewed by: Howard
by: Webster Publishing, go to the web site
computer running Windows 95, 98, NT4 or higher and Microsoft
Internet Explorer 4 or higher
US$15.00 (on-line purchase)
Browser is a Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) add-on. Webster
Browser provides a replacement interface for IE, as well
as some interesting features not found in IE. As a general
browser it functions quite well, rivaling the speed of IE.
Webster Browser boasts a host of features and functions not
found in IE, and is marketed as a one-stop shop for incurable
Web surfers looking for the ultimate surfing tool.
Webster Publishing, based in Sydney Australia, began authoring
and publishing a wide range of computer books
aimed at teaching people how to use popular PC software.
Webster then expanded into developing interactive, computer-based
training software. CD-ROM development started in January
1993, with the first multimedia CD released in September
1993 - a product which taught people how to use Microsoft
Windows and DOS, and which included extensive audio as well
as text and pictures. Webster Publishing released its first
two reference multimedia CD-ROM titles in October 1994, with
additional titles released through 1998. By mid-1998, Webster
Publishing had over 30 multimedia titles selling in the retail
channels in Oceania, North America, Asia and western Europe.
Webster Browser is the latest in a long line of interesting
titles. Today, Webster Publishing supports Webster World
- a remarkable online encyclopedia in wide use by schools
We tested Webster Browser on a PII/400 running Windows
98 and IE5.01 accessing the 'net through a LANCity LCPET-3
cable modem on a 500Kbps connection. Installation was quick
and easy, and no preset IE5 settings were altered. The existing
Favorites list was fully accessible, although the Webster
installer added a Webster Browser Search Engine item.
Webster Browser provides access to every feature normally
associated with IE4/5 and adds some interesting features
of its own. If you're into amateur Web design, your installation
of IE should have included FrontPage Express. Webster Browser
will automatically send pages to FrontPage for editing and
management. You can even save pages as projects, with the
option of running them offline in a slide show (a very nice
touch for amateurs wishing to get an idea about how good
or bad their site is). Saving on-line sources to disk also
allows images to be copied locally, and URLs rewritten to
reference the images locally. If you want to teach yourself
Web page design, this is an ideal tool.
Webster Browser also provides lots of on-line information
about individual pages and sites including META tag data
(key words made available to search engines), script, frame,
object, and form counts, image lists, total download sizes
for HTML pages, and a host of image control functions. If
poking around is more to your liking, the nifty Spy feature
lets you run your mouse over any page objects and find out
how the page was put together, the image names, and specific
dimensions. You can add notes to any page for later reference.
Two of the niftiest features you'll find anywhere are the
Zoom function (which lets you zoom in on any image in any
increment), and the multiple Favorites feature which allows
you to access your normal Favorites list as well as any others
that happen to be accessible (such as on a network or Intranet).
The most intriguing feature is the Administrator mode which
allows surfing to be restricted to only selected URLS or
alternatively, restricted from selected URLS. This also allows
ads to be turned off. For example, restricting access to
ad.doubleclick.net will prevent any ads from appearing in
AltaVista. There's nothing new here, but it does represent
another parental control option alongside such things as
NetNanny, CyberSitter and eBlaster.
The browser is preconfigured with lots of commercial links
to Webster Publishing's mini-empire in Australia, which appears
to be a great resource for anyone looking for information
about Oz and New Zealand.
With all the inexpensive development tools available for
modern interface design, the Webster Browser interface
could look a lot better. As a work of visual design it leaves
a lot to be desired. The Webster Publishing Web site is poorly
designed too, presenting difficult navigation, key pages
buried too deeply, and requiring far too many mouse clicks
to get at the e-commerce area (in order to register Webster
Browser for example). (Ed. Note: As of April 2003 the
Webster World site has been completely redesigned and much
Webster Browser is functional enough for any inveterate
Web surfer. The multiple Favorites directories, Spy and
Web page project management features are particularly nice
and the combination is unique. The unique Zoom feature is
also useful. Webster Browser is rock solid in operation.
It is available via download as a fully operational 30-day,
trial version. Give it a whirl - it might be just what you're
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
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