Network Computing Devices (NCD), best known for their X terminals and X emulation software, have announced Mariner, an integrated Internet tool which enables Windows users to use one application to access all information sources on the Internet, not just email.
Internet users typically use several different applications - or products which package a group of applications together. Mariner, however, provides a unified user interface to all Internet services including the WWW, Email, Usenet News, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), FTP (File Transfer Protocol), Gopher, and Telnet. The result, NCD claims, is an easy to use but powerful environment. Users can become adept at Internet usage much quicker because they only have to learn one application instead of several.
"This can have a profound effect on novice Internet users," explained Steve Jamieson, Managing Director of NCD Europe. "Mariner enables them to concentrate on using the information and resources found on the Internet, rather than how to find those resources or drive their applications."
NCD's Mariner uses the familiar Windows File Manager paradigm to provide readily accessible file management and dynamic mapping capabilities. It also supports off-line operation and optimizes performance for dial-up and corporate LAN environments. "The Internet is quickly becoming the standard way to communicate, present information and conduct commerce electronically," said Jamieson, "but in order to achieve mass acceptance, users need to be shielded from the intricacies of the Internet. 'I can't find what I need' is an often heard complaint." Besides unifying a number of popular Internet access applications, Mariner incorporates NCD's navigation technology that makes it a powerful tool for more experienced users.
Mariner's Windows File Manager-like user interface provides a consistent way to present, manage, structure and record all Internet information, says NCD. OLE 2.0 drag and drop makes Mariner easy for users to organise information from the Internet into personal subject folders as well as other OLE compliant applications.
For example, a user can develop a "video project " which includes email messages, pages from the WWW, comments from Newsgroups, and archive material from Gopher sites all in one folder. NCD's unique navigation tool also creates a map of the user's travels across the Internet, and logs it on a local disk drive. This allows a user to go back later and re-trace his steps and get updated information.
Mariner is the first integrated Internet client that can operate "off-line." Its persistent cache technology records items on a local disk so email messages, documents, newsgroups and other information sources can be viewed and worked on off-line -- eliminating the need to be online continually. This same technology enables rapid response when subsequent requests are made for the same information. When Mariner is back "on-line," it can check the dates of the marked documents and update them with the most recent versions available.
Multi-tasking architecture allows many activities to be performed simultaneously. Users can, for instance, record and explore multiple web sites, send and receive email, and read Usenet News at the same time. Mariner supports dynamic rendering of images permitting users to read HTML text and navigate on to other hyperlinked documents, while the images are being retrieved. NCD claims that Mariner is the fastest Internet application on the market.
Mariner includes a complete Winsock VxD TCP/IP protocol stack with PPP, SLIP, CSLIP, and Ethernet drivers; support for all Internet services and protocols; and support for common online image formats such as GIF 89A, JPEG, BMP, and XBM. NCD will provide an Open Secure Transaction Architecture that will support multiple security implementations, including Secure Hyper Text Transport Protocol (SHTTP) and other new standards.
Mariner provides a platform for building a new class of Internet-enabled applications. Instead of using proprietary services, protocols and networks, these new applications will use the standard protocols and services of the Internet to solve both corporate and consumer networking issues using a client/server model.
NCD will deliver an Internet-enabled toolkit that will include APIs for access to Mariner's services and applications, as well as access to the other unique capabilities, such as persistent cache and off line operation.
Further information can be found at the NCD Internet site, at http://www.ncd.com/
where you will also find details of NCDís many other TCP/IP and Internet-related products.