Chch company aims to foot it with browser barons

As Web browsers become bigger and, if not better, then more capable, you'd hardly expect one written by a small Christchurch firm to be a contender, but you never know ...

As Web browsers become inexorably bigger and, if not better, then more capable, you'd hardly expect a browser written by a small firm in Christchurch to be a contender.

The browser in question doesn't even connect to the Internet--and that's the joy of it. Webview 2.0 is an offline browser which grew out of the frustrations of staff at Christchurch company South Pacific Information Services.

"Like many Web site developers, we often need to show or send Web sites, pages or demonstrations to clients who are not themselves Web-connected," says the company's development director, Rob Hyde. "Online browsers, such as Netscape, are too big and awkward to be used for such purposes--unless you take your computer with you."

Even then, it can be a chore to persuade a conventional browser to display without trying to make an Internet connection. Webview, on the other hand, is small enough to fit on a floppy (under 700kb) and purpose-built to run locally.

The browser supports most HTML 2.0 specifications and "the more popular" HTML 3.0 features. It also features some special extensions, including the ability to play wav files directly or run external Windows programs. (SPISs demonstration page includes a link which launches Notepad to edit the page being viewed.)

Webview is scriptable, so demonstrations can be run automatically, and it can be configured to collect data to disk using standard HTML forms. SPIS offers customising services, but the whole package, including demo pages, is also available as shareware for a $35 fee, from http://www.spis.co.nz/.

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