CAB is currently the only option Atari users have for web browsing. Over the last few months it has gone through a overhaul and Colin Polonowski takes a look at the new version...
The Internet is undoubtedly the biggest thing to hit the computer market in the last few years, you can hardly turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper without it being mentioned. Every company now has an email address, and most have jumped on the Web Page band wagon too.
So, what does this mean to ST users?
The answer is surprisingly 'quite a lot'. All of the major Atari players have web pages and email addresses so this is the easiest way of keeping up to date with the latest Atari software and hardware. You'll also find a surprising number of independent web pages set up by normal users like you or me, these can contain anything from reviews of the latest software to the latest news.
Until about a year ago, the only way you could access the Web was with a PC or Mac but then in stepped HTML Browser by Alexander Clauss. This was initially just an offline HTML reader (HTML being the file format used in web page design) but it soon developed into a fully fledged Web Browser with all the features you'd come to expect from such a package.
To access the internet you'll need the STiK (ST internet Kit) program as well as an account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Email requires another program as does Internet Relay Chat (IRC). We recommend you either use the new Antmail Package which works with STiK or the older Oasis which requires the Atari NOS package. Oasis 2 uses it's own Ice to access the internet but some people have experienced problems with this.
Initially CAB only supported the most basic tags but with each new version, Alexander added more tags which brought the package in line with the HTML2 standard. The most up to date versions also offer support for some Netscape tags and most of the draft HTML3 standard.
Version 1.41 has a new interface which is in some ways similar to that of Netscape. The new button bar offers most of the web browsing functions you'll need and the package seems faster.
The new CAB button bar
CAB supports the use of GDOS fonts and benefits from the use of SpeedoGDOS. It is even more impressive when using NVDI 3/4 which gives it another boost of speed.
Recent versions of CAB also offer support for truecolour JPEG pictures alongside the more popular 256 colour GIF format. JPEGs are usually much smaller than their GIF equivalents and therefore enable the page designer to cram more graphics onto a page. This is important as many page owners are turning to the JPEG standard and us Atari owners could have been left behind.
CAB also offer all the usual functions including Forms, Tables, Image-mapping and Background pictures. In fact CAB offers you the chance to do up to 99% of the stuff you'll ever need to do on the web.
All file formats are catered for by the use of external viewers such as Gemview which is shown here. This means that you can view any pictures you want by specifying the external viewer in th Options menu. You can also listen to sounds or view animations using the same method.
There are a couple of problems however, CAB's forms are not very reliable and most people suffer problems when trying to submit information. This will hopefully be cleared up in a future version.
There are a couple of other browsers in the pipeline including one, Spider, which will soon be a part of the Oasis/Ice package.
Simon Coward, the author of the excellent Rotator, is working on a web design package for the Atari. It is currently in early beta tests and we'll hopefully be having a look at it in next issue.
As far as browsers go, CAB currently has no competition. It is therefore essential to Atari users who want to use the Internet - and remember, you also need CAB to read the Atari Times so make sure you have the latest version!
**Package:** CAB 1.41 **Author:** Alexander Clauss **Status:** Freeware **UK Support:** InterActive **Contact:** 65 Mill Road, Colchester, Essex, CO4 5LJ, England