]> Argo: summary of features

Argo: summary of features

Argo is a 2nd-generation World-Wide Web browser. It will give its user access to most of the resources available on the Internet, through its easy to use hypertext/multimedia interface. It will also help the user to organize the information and to react to it.

Note: Argo is still under development. The project officially started in August '94. The program that is shown doesn't have all the features the final version will have. Version~1.0 should be ready around October 1994.

In comparison to the current crop of WWW browsers, such as Mosaic, Cello, WinWeb and Lynx, it is much more extensible and customizable. There are other innovative features as well. Here is a list of the main ones:

Expected functionality

Here are some of the functions that are expected to be in one of the early releases of Argo. Some are required by current practice, others are requested by the users panel.

The first round of consultation with the users led to many more wishes, that, for various reasons, can't be fullfilled immediately. Those wishes include: an interface to various library catalogues with the possibility to save the result for use in bibliographies, a viewer for TEI documents, import and export of various dataformats, a one-day course, and usability over a modem. Coordination with other projects may solve some of these issues.

More about W3A

In W3A, applets are classified as either agents, viewers, filters, printer drivers or user functions (a.k.a. `accessories').

Agents are responsible for retrieving documents over the network. There are HTTP agents, Gopher agents, FTP agents, etc.

Viewers display a document in a certain format. Examples are viewers for GIF, HTML, audio, plain text, MPEG. Because of W3A, all viewers display their output through Argo, which means that the user notices no difference.

Filters convert documents from one format to another. For example, when there is a good viewer applet available for GIF, but not for TIFF, one could install a TIFF to GIF converter. Other useful filters are, e.g., plain text to HTML, and HTML to Postscript.

Printer drivers are like viewers, except that they output to a printer and not to the screen. There should be printer drivers for most of the formats for which there are viewers, except that some formats (sound, movies) are not printable.

User functions (`accessories') provide special functions, such as a history list, a hotlist, a note pad, a remote control utility, a graphical map of (a fragment of) the Web, or more frivolous things, such as a puzzle or a quote of the day.

The success of the W3A approach depends on wide enough acceptance. It is designed with the dual goal of being easy to implement and easy to install by end-users. When there is a large choice of applets available, everybody can customize his browser to his liking. W3A should also make it feasible to experiment with new protocols or data formats, since it won't be necessary to modify the browser.

To give an indication of the size of an applet: agents for HTTP, Gopher or FTP can be written in about 150--250 lines. A viewer for GIF (X Windows) takes about 500 lines, of which 4/5 is GIF decoding and 1/5 is for W3A and window management. A plain text viewer is about the simplest viewer possible: it takes less than 75 lines. A viewer for HTML is much larger, of course, more than 4000 lines.


Argo is part of the PROSA project. It is being developed by:

Bert Bos
Department of Humanities Computing, University of Groningen
PO box 716
E-mail: bert@let.rug.nl

with support from the NBBI. As yet, no policy has been agreed upon for licensing the program. For information, please contact:

NBBI, attn. Anouk Kramp & Leo Pennings
PO Box 90544
E-mail: nbbi@inter.nl.net