Client Profile - Netscape

Installation

NOTES:

  1. Installation of jslib is required for the toolbar to work.
  2. This toolbar was targetted to Netscape 7.2, but may work with other Netscape 7.x releases or Mozilla 1.7.x releases.
  3. The file is hosted on Netscape servers.
  4. Mozdev Group provides absolutely no support for this software.

About Netscape

Netscape Logo Netscape Communications Corporation, based in Mountain View, California, aims to be the leading provider of open software that links people and information over the Internet and intranets. Among it's services is the Netscape Network, a destination for news, entertainment, sports, music, business, movies, fashion, money and other topics. The Netscape Browser is a next-generation Web browser based on Mozilla.

The Task

The goal of the project was to create a customized Netscape toolbar to be integrated with the Netscape browser (version 7.2) upon release of version 7.2. This toolbar would expose some crucial browser functionality such as Popup blocking and form filling, and provide access to many areas of the Netscape Network. Primarily the toolbar would be a Search toolbar, providing an input field for users to search via Netscape's search engine.

The Toolbar

It was developed by the team at MDG working on multiple platforms. The final release was tested on Linux, Windows and Mac OSX. The toolbar can be turned on and off using the browser View->Show/Hide menu, being on by default after installation.

Here are the main features of the Netscape Toolbar.

Search

search box A feature of many add-on toolbars is the ability to type in a search term and search using a particular engine. The Netscape toolbar is no different here. Just type in your term, hit ENTER or click the Search button, and away you go. Ease of use is important here, and this is standard behavior for such a feature. Search options include the ability to open each search in a new window, to save search terms in a drop-down list, and to automatically run a search once a term is selected from the list. Some users would use this more or less than other features in the toolbar, so you can choose between three different sizes [Narrow, Medium, Wide] on the toolbar to fix your screen real estate depending on your needs.

Highlighting

Highlighting Search Terms
Figure 2 : Highlighting Search Terms

Highlighting is a useful feature that essentially changes the background colour of all instances of a search term as they appear in a page. A common usage of highlighting is after you run a search, you want to alert yourself to all usages of the search term when the results return back. This helps in the process of visually scanning the page to find what you are looking for. However, highlighting is not tightly coupled with searching. You can type in a word or phrase at any time, on any page, and click the Highlight button and the page will be scanned and hits colored.

Popup Blocking

Highlighting Search Terms This feature is already built-in to the browser. Yet the toolbar not only hooks into the implementation, but it adds more functionality. Access to the feature is available via a button on the toolbar. It can be turned on or off per site, simply by clicking on the button. Enabling the button changes the text to 'Pop-Ups Blocked:X' where X is the number of windows blocked since the toolbar has been installed or since this has been reset in the Options. The button also changes to a 'depressed' state, making it stand out from the other buttons and giving the user a visual clue that it is on.

When you turn off popup blocking for a site, that site's domain is automatically added to a whitelist of sites where popups should be allowed. Access to this whitelist is available via two channels. The first is the global browser preferences (Edit->Preferences->Privacy & Security->Popup Windows), the second via the Toolbar Options window (see below). Choosing the 'Allowed Sites...' button in Options lets you configure which sites you want to exempt from popup blocking. Also in Options is the ability to disable this feature completely.

Options & Customization

Toolbar Options
Figure 3 : Toolbar Options

The setting of options has already been mentioned for the Search and Popup blocking features. However, the Options window provides access to one other part of toolbar functionality. This is the customization of the toolbar buttons. All buttons, except for the Search button which is always present, can be added/removed or reordered on the toolbar. Figure 3 shows the selection options for this on the lower half of the window.

On installation, there is a default set of buttons present, including Highlight, Popup Blocker, Form Fill, and Clear Browser History. The button information is stored in an RDF datasource which is manipulated based on user choices in Options. There are two versions of the datasource. The remote version is polled first, giving Netscape the control to customize the toolbar (not button presence or ordering data, but for example button images or extra buttons). If the remote connection is not available, the toolbar falls back on a local version. One other item available to the user is the choice to have all buttons without images.

Quick Access

Toolbar Menu A toolbar is first and foremost a way to quickly access features of an application. Let's start with the toolbar itself. The toolbar menu can be activated by clicking on the Netscape button on the left side. This will expose some items including links to the Netscape home page and Netscape Search page. Here you can also, amongst other things, get to the Privacy Policy, clear the saved toolbar searches and open the About window. The features that have been made available to the user with the toolbar can be broken down into two main categories; 1) Links to areas of the Netscape Network and 2) browser features.

The links to the Netscape Network are in the form of buttons. You can access such areas as News, Mail, Weather, Maps and Movie Showtimes. The browse features are Popup Blocking, Form Fill, and clearing of the browser history

AIM Integration

The AOL Instant Messenger client is shipped with some versions of the Netscape Browser. The AIM button on the toolbar looks for this version first, and lanches it if found. As a fallback the standalone version is scanned for (Windows only) and as a last-resort users are directed to www.aim.com to find out more information.

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