The iMac NewsPage

Review: iCab Preview 1.1 (US)

Feb 24, 1999

The iCab Company ( released iCab Preview 1.1 (US) via the Internet sometime yesterday. A day before that, I had downloaded a copy to evaluate, and this is the follow-up review I promised. Some points differ from the comments I made in my earlier review, and I wish to highlight them here together with some more notable features:

What's Available In Preview 1.1

  • Support for HTML 4.0 - iCab supports HTML standards from 2.0 through to the latest 4.0.

  • Support for Mac OS 8.5 - iCab supports Navigation Services, Appearance Themes, and proportional scrollbars when used with Mac OS 8.5.

  • Support for Java - For Java applets to work properly within the browser, iCab recommends that you install the recently-released Macintosh RunTime for Java (MRJ) 2.1 from Apple.

  • Drag and Drop - Drag-and-drop is extensively supported in iCab, as well as in the Hotlist and Download Manager. You can drag links from an open browser window directly to iCab's Hotlist window or to the Download Manager to download them altogether with just one click. Similarly, you can remove links from the Hotlist or Download Manager by simply dragging them straight to the Trash. (This places a text-clipping of the link in the Trash - just in case you have second thoughts.)

  • Dragging images to the desktop - Hold down the Option key before dragging the image that you want to save onto your desktop. In addition, normal dragging of linked images or hypertext off the browser window onto the desktop produces a text clipping of the URL, while dragging of highlighted text produces a clipping of the text selection.

  • Contextual Pop-up Menus - iCab offers you an option between Control-clicking and holding down your mouse-button (now the default) to activate contextual pop-up menus. Depending on your preference, you can set the time-delay for the latter; the default is 0.8 seconds.

  • Automatic Update - This feature should prove popular to people who create their own websites. Automatic Update (listed under the View menu) dynamically refreshes a web page while you are updating its source-code using a text-editor. As soon as you save your changes within the text-editor, iCab refreshes the web page automatically.

  • Selective Image Filtering - This somewhat controversial feature is a first for web-browsers being introduced by iCab: its selective image-filtering capability can stop images from loading based on their dimensions or the URLs they are linked to.

  • Find - Another of iCab's more remarkable features would be its Find function (located under the Edit menu). It allows you to search for information by keyword and content either on the current web page, among your local files, in iCab's WebCache, or on the Web. Using this feature to do a Web search, iCab can simultaneously launch up to two preselected search-engines in new windows while you continue browsing on the main window. It may not be Sherlock, but it's good enough for me.

  • Importing Web Cache & Bookmarks - iCab is able to import Web files and Internet Cache from Explorer, as well as bookmarks from either Communicator or Explorer. (iCab prompts you the first time you run it).

  • Persistent History - iCab remembers the sites you've been to, even after a restart.

  • Download Manager - This should be familiar to those who use Explorer.

  • Live-Scrolling - enabled by default.

What's Not Supported Yet

Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 (CSS2), JavaScript, Plug-ins, and SSL - These should make it into the final product, according to iCab's developers. Plug-ins are being analyzed at the moment, and will be included if possible.

Shades Of The Y2K Bug
I had earlier remarked that iCab is intolerant of deviant HTML code, turning some websites haywire that would otherwise look normal in other browsers. Although that is true, I made it sound like a bad thing. It is not. In fact, I now think the error reporting feature is one of the better features unique to iCab.

It's actually a good thing in the long run. It prompts website developers into writing clean bug-free code that will be compliant with the emerging HTML 4.0 standard.

Just to give you an idea of how useful this feature is, try clicking on any error on the list, and a new window opens up showing you exactly where the errant code is located in your HTML script. As a matter of fact, I'm actually reviewing my website now to expunge all the deviant code with the help of the little red-faced monster you see on the top-right corner of your iCab browser window.

And guess what? After all the red "warning sign" errors had been rectified, my pages finally looked decent again in iCab, and remained largely unaltered in both Communicator and Explorer, showing no ill-effects from the clean-up operation. I hope to take care of the remaining "thumbs down" errors in due time to declare my website HTML 4.0-compliant (or at least iCab-friendly!)

iCab has quite a list of search-engines under "Search The Internet" in Preferences, but several of these are German sites, which you may not find useful. When I attempted to add in new search-engines to the list, it seemed to cause iCab to crash. If you have a similar experience or otherwise, please let me know.

There is no automatic textwrap when you use iCab's email feature (thanks to Liam Gray for pointing this out). Hopefully, that little problem will be fixed in the final version.

The English version of the iCab help file is a little hard to read at the moment, because it's just a rough hack from the original German document using AltaVista's online translator. But if you have the patience, look it up by all means.

Making Websites Look Better on iCab
First of all, I think you would agree that one problem right now is that certain websites don't look quite right when viewed with iCab. As I've mentioned, this is not so much a problem of iCab being rigid, but that many sites actually have bad code in them. Click on that little red face again and you'll see how each site actually fares in terms of HTML 4.0-compliance.

Here are a couple of tips to enhance consistency in the way iCab renders web pages that have been "optimized" for Communicator and/or Explorer:

  • Under Edit-Preferences-HTML Display, set your border width to 8 pixels, while allowing web pages to override this setting. This is the fixed default border width used by both Communicator and Explorer, so pages that are aligned in these browsers will be aligned in iCab as well.

  • For "Font Encoding" (under the "View" menu), choose Western Europe/USA (ISO-8859-1). This ensures that the more obscure text symbols come out right.

What To Look Forward To
I had the opportunity to pose Oliver Joppich of The iCab Company some questions about the future plans for iCab, and this was the reply I got:

NewsPage: Any plans to include full email support?

Joppich: No. There are good free email clients in the 'net. We will keep iCab small and just support the feature to send an email. We don't like the idea of a complex browser/email program. These are two different things. We also don't like the idea of WebTV. That is not a good idea (two different things). We share the opinion of Jobs at this point. And WWW and email-database are also two different things.

For the English preview, we will fix a few things. Like Yahoo. We know that Yahoo is an important site in the US, but the behavior of their website is not very friendly for non-Netscape, non-Microsoft browsers. We will try to support this (by simulating this behavior). We hope Yahoo will sometimes understand that their use of html and cookies is not good for a free browser world.

NewsPage: Likely release date for iCab's final product?

Joppich: We will release iCab, when all important things are done. But we also will keep one version of iCab for free. We like the idea of a free Internet.

So there you have it. Enjoy the cab-ride in the meantime till the full version arrives.

More Articles:

Upgraded Twice Over — And Grateful [Oct 10, 2001]

Welcome To The Future [Mar 21, 2001]

iM2 — Incredible Milestones of The iMac NewsPage [Jun 1, 2000]

What's to like about Netscape 6? Quite a bit [Apr 17, 2000]

Dealing with IE5's font and resolution settings [Mar 28, 2000]

Free Internet Arrives in Singapore [Dec 12, 1999]

Mac sales in Japan (Dec 1999) [Dec 9, 1999]

Mac sales in Japan (Nov 8-14) - iMac DV SE, iBook still #1 [Nov 23, 1999]

Adding Movies To QuickTime Favorites [Nov 23, 1999]

Black Magix: Try saying hocus-bogus [Nov 19, 1999]

Mac sales in Japan (Oct 25-31) [Nov 11, 1999]

QuickTime Live! Conference Keynote Highlights [Nov 10, 1999]

Update on Mac sales in Japan — All iMacs, iBooks among Top 10 [Nov 10, 1999]

Apple tops October PC sales in Japan [Nov 7, 1999]

About that mysterious Magix freeze [Nov 7, 1999]

Magix Miscellany [Nov 7, 1999]

Make Kihei while the Sun shines [Nov 3, 1999]

Apples in Eden — The Singapore iBook Launch [Nov 1, 1999]

One Country, Two Systems — The Apple Store (Hongkong) Opens [Oct 28, 1999]

Apple Store Singapore Opens — Right On Time [Oct 20, 1999]

Mac sales in Japan remain strong [Oct 26, 1999]

Magix For The Mac — The Unofficial FAQ [Oct 25, 1999]

Macs outsell all other computers in Japan [Oct 21, 1999]

Asia Apple Stores to open in Singapore and Hongkong [Oct 20, 1999]

Magix Broadband for Macintosh — for just $48! [Oct 20, 1999]

Asia Apple Store Update [Oct 18, 1999]

New iMacs as quiet as Jobs claims [Oct 12, 1999]

New iMacs quieter than Jobs claims? [Oct 10, 1999]

Asia Apple Store Seeks Tech Support Temp [Sep 23, 1999]

G4 — the Real Story? [Sep 17, 1999]

Sorenson Broadcaster™ Press Release [Sep 15, 1999]

Magix for iMac Update [Sep 10, 1999]

Magix for iMac Update [Aug 30, 1999]

PC Fairy Tales: Jobs And The Binstock [Aug 20, 1999]

AirPort Delays: More Revelations [Aug 12, 1999]

Stand Up For Macintosh [Aug 12, 1999]

AirPort Delays: What's Not Causing It [Aug 11, 1999]

Dumb iBook Remarks [Aug 9, 1999]

The Avon Lady's Back [Aug 9, 1999]

The IEEE 802.11 Standard — in English [Jul 29, 1999]

Everybody's Free (To Buy iBook) [Jul 26, 1999]

AirPort Fallacies [Jul 24, 1999]

iBook and iMac: Sibling Rivalry? [Jul 23, 1999]

Just The FAQs, Man [Jul 22, 1999]

Hooray for AirPort — But Remember the McPiper? [Jul 21, 1999]

Additional Notes on Magix ADSL [Jul 20, 1999]

Apple, SingTel Magix team up to bring ADSL to iMacs [Jul 20, 1999]

DuoPen & e-Pad coming to the Mac [Jul 9, 1999]

Macworld is out, Publish! World is in [Jul 5, 1999]

Discovery Channel giving away iMacs [Jun 28, 1999]

TIME Asia giving away Apple computers [Jun 28, 1999]

Diamond Rio makes a play for iMac [Jun 26, 1999]

Magix for iMac [Jun 25, 1999]

Why would Apple want 30,000 McPipers? [Jun 24, 1999]

Singapore Macworld Expo Cancelled [Jun 20, 1999]

The Sunscreen Song [Jun 20, 1999]

Coming Soon: A USB Cordless Phone For Your iMac [Jun 19, 1999]

Third Voice: Boon or Bane? [Jun 14, 1999]

I2: The Internet Of The Future [Jun 5, 1999]

Taming Your Round Mouse: What The Manual Doesn't Say [Jun 4, 1999]

UniTrap: Contour Enhancement for the iMac Mouse [Jun 1, 1999]

iMacs to ship in Taiwan with free Chinese software [May 31, 1999]

Where The Truth Lies [May 23, 1999]

QuickTime 4: New Features Added [May 8, 1999]

QuickTime 4: The Beta Just Got Better [May 5, 1999]

Rev A or B, Your iMac's Still Good [Apr 30, 1999]

Griffin Revs Up iMate, iPort, and gPort [Apr 26, 1999]

Quick! Time 4 A Movie! [Apr 23, 1999]

Message in a Bottle: A Present for the Future [Apr 22, 1999]

Start a Hand-Me-Down Program For iMacs [Apr 13, 1999]

First Signs Of Y2K Bug May Appear Tomorrow [Apr 8, 1999]

Langa's Cruisin' For A Bruisin' [Apr 1, 1999]

Tales From The Dark Side [Mar 31, 1999]

Has The Age of Disposable Computers Arrived? [Mar 30, 1999]

A Solution For The iMac's Mouse: Simple As A Dimple [Mar 24, 1999]

Steve Jobs Interview on Channel NewsAsia [Mar 14, 1999]

Good-Buy, Bondi [Mar 6, 1999]

Tokyo Tidbits: Carbon iMacs and Cool Colored Speakers [Feb 27, 1999]

The iMac Book [Feb 26, 1999]

iCab: Readers Views [Feb 25, 1999]

Review: iCab Preview 1.1 (US) [Feb 24, 1999]

iCab: Why Bloat When You Can Float? [Feb 22, 1999]

Disney Rumor Echoes Blast From The Past [Feb 19, 1999]

Disney Blast and the iMac's Circular Mouse [Feb 18, 1999]

HAL Freezes Over [Feb 1, 1999]

Another Look at Internet Explorer 4.5 [Jan 19, 1999]

Old Wine In New Bottles? [Jan 16, 1999]

The Unofficial iMac Web Ads [Jan 15, 1999]

AroMac Therapy [Jan 12, 1999]

Theft of an iMac: A Victim's Story [Jan 8, 1999]

Multi-Colored iMacs A Reality [Jan 2, 1999]

Yosemites spotted [Dec 25, 1998]

Time's Man Of The Year? [Dec 15, 1998]

Another Reset Button Solution for iMac Owners [Dec 9, 1998]

2,000 in 2 days - and then what? [Nov 1, 1998]

Product Review: [Oct 24, 1998]

Brace Yourself! [Oct 16, 1998]

Singapore's iMac Pre-Launch Bash [Oct 15, 1998]

iMac to launch with Mac OS 8.5 in Singapore [Oct 15, 1998]

Steve Jobs October 14 Event [Oct 14, 1998]

Dances With Wolves in Sheep's Clothing [Oct 4, 1998]

iMac: Thinking Different in Asia [Sep 22, 1998]

An Open Letter to Steve Jobs [Sep 17, 1998]

Mac-bashing: An American sport? [Sep 10, 1998]

Steve Jobs Seybold Keynote '98 [Sep 1, 1998]

One day more! [Aug 28, 1998]

iMac to be released in Singapore in October [Aug 22, 1998]

Reality, not rumors! [Aug 8, 1998]

iMac says G'day Australia: 31 days and counting! [Aug 5, 1998]

Famous Myths Revisited [Aug 3, 1998]

The Countdown Begins! [Aug 1, 1998]

If not now, when? [July 26, 1998]

Four Great Programs? [July 26, 1998]

MacWorld Expo Singapore - Day 2 Report [Jul 25, 1998]

MacWorld Expo Singapore - Day 1 Report [Jul 24, 1998]

Enter The iMacGotcha [Jul 16, 1998]

iMac's for the rest of us, not just US [Jul 1, 1998]