Christchurch start-up previews the web with Mozilla

Preview tool listed on the Mozilla directory of browser extensions

Christchurch-based start-up Interclue has developed a preview tool that allows users to see a snapshot of a web page when hovering over a link — before clicking it. When users hover the mouse pointer over the link, an icon appears, and if the user rests the mouse on the icon, a summary of the linked page will pop up.

The tool-tip window provides a text content summary, a thumbnail of the page, statistics and metadata, sizes and dates of linked files, and a tag cloud with the most popular del.icio.us tags. The idea is to help users to quickly decide if a link is useful or not, and enable them to more efficiently go through for example Google search results, or a list of classified ads, says Seth Wagoner, founder and CEO of the company.

“It helps people keep on track with what they are doing by reducing mouse clicks, saving tedious waits for links to download, and minimising the open windows and tabs that clutter up their screen,” he says.

Interclue is a free Firefox add-on, designed for frequent internet users such as journalists, bloggers, researchers, business users and students, he says.

Wagoner got the idea for the software when, as a webmaster, he wanted to be able to give a good tool-tip on a link that he was creating, he says.

“It was a bit of a hassle to cut and paste the content I wanted and I thought that maybe it could be done automatically,” he says. “That turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. But eventually, it occurred to me that instead of doing it all with servers online, it could all be done inside the browser,” he says.

Interclue was listed on the Mozilla directory of browser extensions in late June and, after just one day, the software had been downloaded by 2,000 users. A month later, Interclue has had over 10,000 downloads from all over the world.

The software has also won the attention of a number of tech bloggers, who have written positive reviews, for example on the Google Operating Systems blog, CyberNet news, Killer Startups and ReadWriteWeb.

The Google Operating Systems blog says that the most impressive thing about Interclue is that the data loads almost instantly: “It’s actually useful, especially when you want to judge the quality of a search result. When the link points to a file (for example, a PDF), Interclue shows its file size and the last modified date, as reported by the web server,” says the blog.

Users can customise the amount of content they want to appear in the preview, and Interclue can easily be turned on and off, says Wagoner.

The tool works on all of the pages a user visits, including corporate intranets and other sites not indexed by search engines, he adds.

The company plans to extend the free version to a subscriber-based version which will be faster and have more features, says Wagoner. His team is also working on versions for other browsers, such as IE7, Safari and Opera.

Interclue has three staff and is backed by angel investors. The company is housed in the Canterbury Innovation Incubator, in Christchurch. “We are looking to expand our staff as soon as we can afford to,” says Wagoner.

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Tags Development IDFirefoxintercluestart-upsLinkmozilla

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