WebMirror v1.10 is a tool for mirroring web sites. It's a little different, though, from other tools of this type in that it does not store the retrieved HTML files as separate files on your disk. It uses one database file to store all of the HTML and image files. To access the files, you use the HTTP proxy built into WebMirror and it handles the retrieval of the files from the database seamlessly.
WebMirror's installation program looks very familiar if you have installed software in Windows 95. (WebMirror is also available for that platform which could be very convenient for multi-OS users.) It allows you to specify the location of the installed program. The process went without any problems on my machine. When the installation finishes, you will find a WebMirror folder object on your desktop.
Compared to some mirroring programs, WebMirror is very easy to use. The configuration notebook (GIF, 6.2k) (again looking very Windows 95-ish) allows you to set such options as ignoring in-line images, enabling the local proxy server and its port number, and scheduling automated retrieval of a list of URLs. If you have to access the Internet through a proxy server, the settings for it can be set here as well. The local proxy server that WebMirror uses to communicate with your web browser uses the local loopback interface, so you must have that either by enabling it in your TCP/IP configuration notebook (select "loopback interface" and then check the "Enabled" box) or by entering
ifconfig lo 127.0.0.1at an OS/2 command prompt.
Once you have the options set, you're ready to start retrieving web sites. To add a new site to your list, selecting "Add" from the "URL" menu brings up a Wizard that lets you specify the URL of the site, how many levels of links to follow, whether or not to follow links to other sites, and the frequency with which the site should be mirrored. Once those parameters are set the way you want them, a click of the mouse creates an entry in the URL list (GIF, 7.4k) for that web site.
You can schedule a URL to be mirrored at a particular time or you can mirror it manually by selecting "Force Update" from the "URL" menu. When the mirroring is being done, you can follow the progress by clicking on the "Log View" tab in the main window. As each page or graphic is downloaded, it will be listed.
Since the program stores all of the downloaded files in a single file, you don't have to worry about problems with long filenames if you are using the FAT file system. This storage method also means more efficient use of disk space, especially on a FAT partition. The text information in the database file is not compressed though, as I discovered by looking at it with the Enhanced Editor. Since text usually compresses very well, this would be a good feature for a future version.
Now that you have mirrored a site, you are almost ready to view it. The first thing you have to do is set up your web browser so that it uses WebMirror as its proxy. With Netscape Navigator, for example, you would select "Network Preferences" under the "Options" menu and then click on the "Proxies" tab in the settings notebook. There you would click on the "Manual Proxy Configuration" radio button and then the "View" button. For "HTTP Proxy" type 127.0.0.1 in the entry field and 8080 as the port (or whatever you had set it to in the "Local Proxy" configuration in WebMirror). You will probably want to check the "Allow pass-through on cache misses" box in the "Local Proxy" configuration of WebMirror so that you can still reach non-mirrored sites.
Once the proxies are set up, you can type the URL of a mirrored site, and WebMirror will serve the data to your web browser. Dialup users might find WebMirror to be useful because you can download a web site at night when rates (and traffic) are lower, and then browse the site offline without having to worry about connection fees.
It might be useful to be able to save a particular site in the more conventional way by having separate HTML and image files. For example, you might want to give the files to someone who doesn't have WebMirror or uses and operating system besides the ones WebMirror supports. Fortunately, WebMirror has an "Export" function that allows you to do this. You simply select the URL for the web site and click on the "Export" button. A window comes up that asks you where the files should be saved as well as for the name to be used for the main HTML file.
I had no problems with any of the web sites I mirrored. One thing to watch out for, though, is an incompatibility between database files for old versions of WebMirror and the latest one. Version 1.10 uses a slightly different format and this caused some head-scratching until an e-mail exchange with the author revealed this problem.
WebMirror is a nice program. It is very easy to use and does things in a very sensible way. The single-user license is $25 and a 5-user license is $55. Other licenses are also available. It is a shareware application, so I encourage you to look at it and see if it suits your needs.
Dr. Dirk Terrell is an astronomer at the University of Florida specializing in interacting binary stars. His hobbies include cave diving, martial arts, painting and writing OS/2 software such as HTML Wizard.
|Copyright © 1997 - Falcon Networking||ISSN 1203-5696|