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[skip] What [the hell] is netrik?

Netrik is the ANTRIK Internet Viewer/Browser/Explorer/Navigator/whatever. (Tell us which one you like best :-) )

Netrik is Free Source Software published under the GNU GPL, which essentially states that you can do anything with the programm and its source code, as long as it remains free.

[skip] [back] But I still do not know what it really is!?

Well, a bit of patience please... This isn't quite easy to explain. Netrik is a couple of different ideas...

Let's take a look at the roadmap first:

(Note that the version numbers are only an orientation; it's not only possible, but quite certain that the real numbers will differ -- we prefer version numbers following the real development, and not some predefined feature sets...)

[skip] [back] What?? Yet another WWW browser?!?


Though there are a couple of them around, there isn't any one that could be called really good...

Netscape4 is fast, but unstable and obsolete, and not Free Source.

Mozilla is full-featured and stable now, but it's terribly slow.

Konqueror may evolve into something useful some time, but it runs only with KDE.

Opera is full-featured, but it is ugly proprietary software, and it isn't very fast nor stable nor compatibile either.

None of the above has an acceptable startup time, nor a good user interface. (Seems that the main goal for every browser is to resemble Netscape as closely as possible...)

And none of them works in textual mode. After all, netrik is primarily a text mode browser. (Note the parts on graphical mode all being marked "optional"!) The idea for a graphical mode only came up because we realized that most modules can be used for both a textual and a graphical browser as well -- and then it seemed such a good idea that we stuck to it ;-)

[skip] [back] But there are also enough text mode browser already!?

Not really...

When we started out, all available text mode browsers were very simple. None of them was suited for much more than a quick preview of HTML files, without having to start up one of the "big" graphical browsers. What we wanted to create, and still want, is a really full featured text mode browser, that allows you to do all of your everyday browsing, without ever having to launch anything else.

Well, in the meantime, the situation has changed somewhat, but not much.

There is a handful of different text mode browsers (lynx, w3m, and links being the most popular ones), but each of them is limited in some regard. Some of them lack the ambition to add advanced features; others lack the ambition to create real innovations. None of them really rocks.

And here's where netrik comes in: It will not only eventually have several advanced features like JavaScript and multi-windowing, but also, or even primarily, focusses on a really good user inteface, and other innovative features that just make life easier, and make you want to forget any other browsers :-)

[skip] [back] What [the hell] is a text mode browser?

A text mode WWW browser is a WWW client just like any other one. The difference to "normal" browsers like Netscape is that it does not work in a graphical environment (Windows, X-Windows), but on a text console. This can be a Unix (Linux) console, an X-terminal, an NT console, a DOS prompt, or even a Telnet connection.

[skip] [back] Why should anyone use a text mode browser when there are graphical ones available?!

There are many different reasons for using a text mode browser.

The first one is that a text mode browser runs almost everywhere, even in environments without a graphical mode. Especially the possibility to use them through Telnet can be very useful. Also, a text mode browser needs very few system ressources, as displaying text needs much less processor time and memory than graphical pages. On a heavily loaded machine it steals less ressources and feels much better.

The second one is that it's a very good possibility for web authors to test the usability of their pages. In a text mode browser many flaws of web pages are obvious, which are hidden in Netscape&Co., but could cause problems in other browsers.

The third reason (which seems to be the decisive one for many users) is that the avialable text mode browsers have very quick startup times. Thus they can be used to take a quick glance at a page without having to start a "big" graphical browser, and also without having to start the graphical environment if you do not have one running all the time. (I do not.) This can be very valuable, especially for program documentation in html format.

The fourth reason to use a text mode browser is that it "saves" one from graphically overloaded pages. Many pages are much clearer in a text mode browser, and thus information retrieval is much more efficient. Note that for many pages this is only true if the text mode resolution is high enough. (No problem in an xterm or on a Linux console with an fb-device.)

The fifth reason (the main reason why I use text mode browsers) is that many people generally prefer text mode over graphical mode. There are many reasons for this, but I guess this is more a question of taste... Only please do not make your sentence without having experienced it :-)

Last but not least, a text mode browser is the most reasonable possibility to browse the web for blind users.

[skip] [back] Why do you believe netrik will succeed, when there are already so many browsers around?

As we already mentioned above, there are many browsers around, but not one that could halfway satisfy us. As we also mentioned, there is no one quite like netrik. Strictly speaking, netrik is without competition -- and thus it's deemed to succeed ;-) But there are other reasons, too:

Besides the "big" browsers with their big disadvantages (s.a.), there are some less known browser projects. There are quite a few of them at SourceForge. Some of them are quite ambitious -- a good deal of them are stillbirths. They started with "planning"... and they are still there. Probably the authors believe: If they only wait long enough, dozens of motivated hackers will come and help them making the best browser ever ;-)

We started with coding. That doesn't mean there was no planning phase. On the contrary, there was a very long one -- probably a bit too long... But when I decided to start, I actually started doing something. We already have completed several releases, and have just started our first stable branch! Ok, it still lacks some important features to make it really nice, and none of the advanced features are implemented yet... But that is more than many of the other projects can claim :-)

There are also some projects at Sourceforge that are alive and lively, and may seem promising. The problem is that all of them intend to create a simple browser. Only there are few people really interested in them; this projects do not have a niche for living. Nobody really wants a simple browser; what people really want is a browser that is fast, but powerful as well... Here comes netrik :-)

Netrik circumvents both problems mentioned above by a simple "trick": It will be a full-featured browser, but it starts with a realistic approach. Now let's take a closer look at the roadmap:

We start with the quite realistic aim of creating a really good text mode browser. Then, when netrik is quite stable and enough people will have got interested, we can add advanced features like JavaScript. And only then -- if developers are willing and the idea seems realistic -- we will add a full graphical mode and other complicated features. If not, we'll just stick to making netrik the best text mode browser possible. That's quite a nice thing too, isn't it? :-)

Finally, netrik is not a one-man-project, intended only for a few "power users" who are willing to figure out everything by themselfs. Netrik is a big project, and for a broad audience. One main development goal is a really nice user interface. Netrik has extensive documentation (both for users and developers), a nice website (isn't it? ;-) ), and any other means to faciliate a broad user and developer community. Not to forget the stunning charisma of the project initiator ;-)

[skip] [back] What makes a good User Interface?

A good UI does not mean many colorful icons to play around and an "intuitive" usage a la Microsoft, which is a pain if you use it longer than ten minutes. (And isn't really intuitive at all...) A good UI is also not only something for weenies incapable of learning the usage of a cryptic "power user" interface.

A good UI is a UI that is both efficient for advanced users, and (really) easy to learn for newbies. Easy to learn doesn't mean: Made for a three-year-olds. Easy to learn means: Usable without hours of reading documentation and solving riddles, or searching for hidden controls.

We are thinking of something looking roughly like a combination of gVim and PINE.

There is a more detailed description of some of our ideas regarding the UI, as well as other intended features at the development page.

[skip] [back] Sounds interesting! Is there more on this?

Of course there is :-)

First, you can look around this site a bit more.

You can learn very much about netrik and it's current development (and influence it, if you like!) by subscribing to the mailing list.

There is also some interesting info in the README file, which you can read after downloading and unpacking the tarball, or installing the Debian or RPM package. (Of course you could also read it online by web-CVS, but that's unfair ;-) )

[skip] [back] I think I like it! How do I get it?

The simplest way is to download the latest tarball from the SourceForge download page. There are also other ways, described at the state page.

[skip] [back] What do I need to run netrik?

Netrik depends on the availability of a couple of packeges:

[skip] [back] Is there anything else I need to know?

Not much. The only important thing is that you shouldn't expect too much from the current release. Read more on it on the state page.

[skip] [back] That's great! Can I help?

If you want the fame of participating in the greatest project of the new millenium ;-), or if you just feel obliged to return something to netrik for all the happy hours you spent with it :-), or maybe if you simply want to see your favourite feature implemented as soon as possible: Just subscribe to the mailing list. It's that simple. Really. (You may also introduce yourself after subscribing, but you needn't.)

[skip] [back] I still have questions!

That's good! It shows you are interested ;-) See our feedback page for how to contact us.

[back] What else is there on this site?

Not a full reference here, but a few pointers:


What [the hell] is netrik?
But I still do not know what it really is!?
What?? Yet another WWW browser?!?
But there are also enough text mode browser already!?
What [the hell] is a text mode browser?
Why should anyone use a text mode browser when there are graphical ones available?!
Why do you believe netrik will succeed, when there are already so many browsers around?
What makes a good User Interface?
Sounds interesting! Is there more on this?
I think I like it! How do I get it?
What do I need to run netrik?
Is there anything else I need to know?
That's great! Can I help?
I still have questions!
What else is there on this site?

Found typos? Tell us! Have questions? Ask us!

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