WebExtra v1.10a- by Doug Hicken

WebExplorer from IBM was one of the first web browsers for OS/2 on the market and is still basically the only real choice for most users. Though its graphics are superb, WebExplorer falls behind its Windows counterparts in other important areas. Seeing a need to enhance the usability of WebExplorer, InnoVal Systems Solutions has released WebExtra, a product that "Hypercharges the WebExplorer".

What is it?

WebExtra (GIF, 2.3k) is a small program written in VX-REXX that has jumplists, bookmarks, archive facilities, and search facilities for use with WebExplorer. How many times have you forgotten the address of the page you went to last week or wished that WebExplorer's Quicklist organized pages into categories? With WebExtra, these are no long concerns.

WebExtra adds a few significant enhancements to IBM's WebExplorer:

Jump Lists

Have you ever wished you had bookmarked a page, but didn't and can't find the page now? Enter WebExtra's Jump List (GIF, 7.3k). Every page you visit is recorded in a Jump List. From the Jump List, you can put the page into a Book (referred to as "Bookmarking" by InnoVal; see below) by right clicking on the page listing and selecting "Bookmark document". Every page you visit during a session is included on the Jump List and about 40 more from the previous session are likewise included. You don't even have to be viewing a page to Bookmark it, you can do so from the Jump List while off-line. And as soon as you load a page, the Jump List gets out of the way.

Unlike the Quicklist and the WebMap that come with WebExplorer, the Jump List is persistent from session to session and is very quick. WebExtra's Jump List makes it much easier to navigate through previously viewed web pages.

Books

The best feature of WebExtra is the ability to sort your pages into books (GIF, 4k) by categories. Before I found WebExtra, I was constantly searching my Quicklist for the right page. With WebExtra, I can organize my pages by creating whatever books I want and bookmarking pages to a particular book. I can add a page to a book from the Jump List or from the "Bookmark the current document" icon on WebExtra. Items in each book (GIF, 5k) can be rearranged by simply dragging them around. Once a page is in a book, I can update pages, move and copy pages to other books, and edit the description of entries. Putting pages in the books speeds up access to web pages dramatically.

Archiving and Search Facility

I mentioned earlier that the Jump List only shows the current session's pages and about 40 from the previous session. Where are the other pages? WebExtra maintains a monthly log of pages for this purpose. Each month's pages are kept in a .log file and you can open these log files and view them in the Jump List or simply use the search facility (GIF, 4.4k) to find a page. The search facility is very quick and presents the results in a Jump List fashion, allowing you to bookmark the page right from there. You could use a WWW based search engine to find pages, but if you have already visited the page, using WebExtra's search engine is much easier and uses very little space to store a year's worth of links. I found that the search engine is superb; it has helped me locate links I never would have remembered.

Performance

WebExtra requires that you have 12 meg on your system. The reason for this is that WebExtra is written in VX-REXX and uses the VROBJ.DLL file that is one meg by itself. On a 16 meg test machine, swapping takes place. This is okay if you use only one copy of WebExplorer. If you open another copy of WebExplorer though, you will notice a slight performance hit.

But, It Isn't Perfect

Though WebExtra does have many things in its favor, it does have a few limitations. WebExtra will only work with one copy of WebExplorer. If you open another copy of WebExplorer, you must rely on the Quicklist again. I like to run more than one copy of WebExplorer to get around its current limitations (the worst of which is not allowing me to go to another link until the current page is downloaded). Because WebExtra has this limitation, I still use the Quicklist in the second browser.

Currently, there is no import filter for WebExplorer's Quicklist. You have to visit each web page on your Quicklist to get it on the Jump List. This isn't a problem if your Quicklist is small, but if it is large, visiting each page is time consuming. A utility should be available from InnoVal very soon to allow you to import Quicklist entries into WebExtra books.

Another limitation is the lack of nested Books. I can have a book entitled OS/2, but currently I can't have a book entitled Games inside the OS/2 book. Likewise, the ability to sort pages in each book is missing. I find that I am always looking for my pages by name and if they were in alphabetical order it would be very helpful. Unlike products such as Stardock's Internet shell, dragging and dropping pages from the books onto WebExplorer is not supported. Though Drag 'n drop doesn't work yet, you will find in everyday use that it is much quicker to simply double click on the page from the book.

There are some other minor problems that may annoy some users, such as WebExtra's tendency to generate error messages when it is run from a Work Area Folder if that folder is shut down or when you try to shut WebExtra down from the task list (this is only an intermittent problem). But my biggest wish would be a "Float on Top" option. Presently you have to bring WebExtra and WebExplorer to the foreground manually. This is an unnecessary step that a "Float on Top" option would easily solve.

Hit or Miss?

Despite having a few problems and missing a few features, WebExtra is very nice to have to help you navigate the Web with WebExplorer. InnoVal's claim that WebExtra "Hypercharges the WebExplorer" is very true. Though there are other Quicklist organizers available, WebExtra is my choice because it is simple and easy to use. WebExtra is well worth the cost (still only US$29.95). Once you try it, you won't remember how you did without it. It is a hit.
 * WebExtra v1.02
by InnoVal Systems Solutions Inc.
MSRP: US$49.95
Doug Hicken is a Team OS/2 member that has used OS/2 since OS/2 for Windows. He owns and operates a Pheasant Hunting Preserve in Utah. He welcomes your comments and insights.

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