December 2, 1996 10:00 AM

WebWhacker hacks browsing costs
By Michael Moeller

  ForeFront Group Inc. is taking another whack at enabling users to save money by browsing the World Wide Web offline.

Early next year, ForeFront will release a major upgrade to its WebWhacker offline browser that officials said will greatly enhance the user interface and improve management of downloaded sites.

The company also is planning to roll out a server version of WebWhacker--aimed at corporate users--providing them with the ability to cache frequently visited sites for corporate intranet users.

The moves by ForeFront come on the heels of the release of WebPrinter last month--a software program that enables users to print entire Web sites in a booklike format.

The release of WebPrinter fulfills the company's mission to provide tools that "find it, get it, print it." In addition to WebWhacker, ForeFront also will provide WebSeeker, a client-side metasearch tool for locating information on the Internet.

Based on technology incorporated in ForeFront's ClickBook software offering, WebPrinter intercepts Web pages being sent to an ink-jet or laser printer, automatically reducing, rotating and realigning them to print as 5-by-7-inch booklets.

The WebPrinter enables users to print on both sides of a sheet of paper by coordinating and caching pages to ensure they are printed in the proper order, officials said.

"Right now, printing off a Web site leaves much to be desired, so I'd be really interested in software that could keep the Web site format and provide an organized way for me to take a printed version of a Web site into a meeting," said Lisa Needlar, a production manager at Net Design Associates, a Web site design company based in San Francisco.

In the new version of WebWhacker, officials said, the biggest enhancement will be providing users with a more graphical interface as well as a treelike view of organizing and managing downloaded sites.

In addition, the new version will provide users with a graphical representation of the site as well as abstracts on the site that have been downloaded.

The company also is looking at expanding its product portfolio next year with the introduction of an intranet collaborative offering called RoundTable.

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