Too busy to browse now? Use WebEx, search data later
- By Steve Graves
- Apr 14, 1997
WebEx 2.0 is a simple program for workers on the go. If you spend a lot of time
traveling, you already may be browsing off line by downloading World Wide Web sites to
your hard drive to read on the plane.
Just as a VCR lets television viewers tape programs to watch at their convenience,
off-line browsing lets notebook computer users study Web sites when and where they choose.
This is a faster way to browse, but there are limitations. For example, when you're
unplugged from the Web, you can't turn to engines like Digital Equipment Corp.'s AltaVista
to search documents off line, unless you have WebEx.
WebEx lets you search delivered sites by keywords with a case-matching option. You
can use AltaVista, InfoSeek Corp.'s InfoSeek or Excite Inc.'s Magellan, and you can save
Another limitation to off-line browsing is forms submission. Information entered
while off line goes nowhere unless the user can jack back into the Web. Traveling Software
has solved this problem to a degree. WebEx saves data entered on forms and automatically
submits it when you go back online.
WebEx is a tool for managers and Internet end users, not webmasters. Most users will
be able to figure out how to customize the download options on their own. They can control
the depth and breadth of the information desired as well as the disk space needed for the
downloaded information. If they save preferences, sites can be updated with a click.
System managers might turn to this package to download content for users who are
isolated from the Net by a firewall. If they host the files on an intranet, local users
can browse the same multimedia features and depth of information as with the online
originals, but without endangering the local network.
WebEx supports Java applets, image maps, sound and video clips, and animation files.
Warning: Java applets and scripts may or may not work.
If the applet or script is a standalone program, it should work fine. If the applet
has a routine that calls another applet, it won't work. Unfortunately, the only way a
WebEx user can find out that a Java applet requires something else is to execute it.
Traveling Software and other companies consider the security risks too high to
enable a feature that executes files unattended. I don't know of anyone who disagrees with
WebEx isn't a legitimate mirroring tool, since it saves retrieved pages as a single
file in a proprietary format. On the plus side, this enables other WebEx users to share
files via e-mail attachments or over a LAN. WebEx also can export Hypertext Markup
Language files for Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows 3.x users.
Traveling Software provides a table of contents for some recommended sites. If you
want to read the Technology section from the Wall Street Journal's Interactive Edition,
WebEx can fetch just that section.
The package indexes each stored site. Users can get a quick overview of
the downloaded information before selecting what to read. WebEx automatically tracks
changes on sites since your last download. It supports log-in procedures that enter
passwords automatically when downloading Web sites in unattended mode.
Tight integration with your Web browser means you can use bookmarks to retrieve
sites. You also can download sites while browsing or by simply entering a uniform resource
WebEx exploits Windows 95 agents to schedule file retrievals at off-peak times. If
you don't have a dedicated connection, the automatic dial-up feature will make a
connection to the Internet at a scheduled time.
My beta version of WebEx crashed several times. I recommend you wait and download a
more bug-free release version later.
For now, though, I'm not giving up Tennyson Maxwell's Teleport Pro [GCN,
March 3, Page 1] for WebEx.