RISC OS Internet apps updatedPublished: 24th Sep 2001, 23:36:27 | Permalink | Printable
WebsterXL sees speed ups while BookMaker sees fixes (Updated 25 Sept)Two note worthy items emerging from last week, both about the internet and RISC OS. Both are slightly connected as you will see.
WebsterXL version 1.98n publically released
WebsterXL is a unique commercial web browser being continually developed by Andrew Pullan and distributed to the unsuspecting public by R-Comp. Recently, version 1.98n was sent out to all registered users via email. drobe.co.uk is quite satisfied with Andy's work on WebsterXL and long may it continue. It may not be on the same level as the world dominating Internet Explorer but well, we don't think IE was developed by one determined programmer.
On a side note, a smartgroup mailing list for WebsterXL users has been created at www.smartgroups.com/groups/websterxl. Apparently a WXL wish list forum has appear on rival news portal myriscos.co.uk but we don't want to tell you that.
Hotlists by the book
Managing your favourite browser links and accessing your email address book is made easier for RISC OS users by Nick Roberts' BookMaker. Version 1.65 was released before the weekend and according to Nick's announcement, BookMaker is a "hotlist and address book management tool that supports all major RISCOS browsers, most email clients and other internet tools."
In July earlier this year drobe.co.uk spoke to Nick about his BookMaker software.
"Many years ago, I wrote an app called BMEdit, which was a Voyager 'add-on' (a VIX module) to tidy up ArcWeb (and WebVoyager, the Argo 'badge-engineered' version of ArcWeb) hotlists", explained Nick. "It was functional, but there was a lot about the UI that I didn't like, so I started work on version 2. About the same time Argo had a brief flirtation with the idea of replacing WebVoyager with Acorn's newly released Browse. This fell through, and Argo went over to Fresco - however, they did not have the right to distribute ANT's !Hotlist app, so the Argo version of Fresco had no real hotlist manager - changes to the hotlist had to be done by loading the file into a text editor. As I am consitutionally incapable of doing anything by hand when I can write a program to do it for me, I completely rewrite the internals of BMEdit2 to support Fresco and Browse as well as ArcWeb, renamed it BookMaker, and released it as a VIX."
BookMaker was initially tied to Voyager but after numerous requests by users using other ISPs, Nick converted BookMaker into a stand-alone, conventional application. "Some time later, I made a throwaway line on a mailing list about needing to add Oregano support to BookMaker; the Oregano developers contacted me and asked a few questions about what BookMaker did, and after a few emails in both directions, I included Oregano support in BookMaker, and Oregano was tweaked to use BookMaker as standard."
Nick even bought a copy of WebsterXL to ensure his software was compatible with all major RISC OS web browsers. "..Any hotlist structure that BookMaker can create for WXL is readable by WXL, but the same isn't true the other way round according to the docs I have, it should be possible for WXL to create a hotlist structure that will break BookMaker. I've never managed to do it but it should be possible."
We guess we should also mention Nick's MakeTable, also released around July. Nick crafted MakeTable to allow him to create tables in spreadsheet package Eureka and then export said tables into HTML using his software.
"It was actually a much bigger job than I had originally (and very naively) assumed", commented Nick to drobe.co.uk. "Although the basic CSV->Table conversion is pretty trivial, I hadn't taken into account that the content of each cell had to legal HTML - and the tables that I'd written it for in the first place were liberally scattered with quotes, "<" and ">" symbols. So I had to add in all the glyph conversion stuff - which immediately destroyed other bits of the table. Some cells were hyperlinked to others, and as the initial glyph code was dumb in the extreme, it proceded to turn all the hyperlinks into glyph form as well. So I had to rewrite all the glyph code to recognise when something was really html, and not do the conversion."
Interestingly enough, the HTML to CVS converter in MakeTable was written because Nick accidentally deleted some of his original Eureka spreadsheets and wanted to use the generated HTML output to recreate his spreadsheets.
Update: It appears Bookmaker 1.64 and 1.65 has a serious bug for Browse users. More info when if appears.
Bonus mini-article! DHCP and RISC OS
For those interested, from the start of October this news editor will be (hopefully) accessing the internet via an ethernet network using his RiscPC and a network card. Unfortunately, this LAN network allocates IPs (an IP is like a unique ID number given to each machine on a network) using DHCP. Currently there are no DHCP clients for RISC OS end users until RISC OS Select CD 2 (or possibly later) arrives, so it looked like I was going to have to go without a 'net connection for quite a while.
Not to be out done, I found out that a software application called NetworkLinks is available and lets a second processor PC Card (fitted inside my RiscPC) to access the network card and run a Windows-based DHCP client to get the RiscPC onto the network. I'm in the process of contacting Aleph1 (who developed NetworkLinks) and when more information becomes available, I'll let you know. Why would you want to know this? Well given that the cable modems and networks provided by institutions like universities rely on DHCP, I'd say this lack of DHCP support affects quite a few people. If anyone has developed a DHCP client for RISC OS then I'd love to hear from you. Oh stop yawning.
Chris Williams, bribe co-ordinator
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