• United States

Build better browsers with BrowserBob

Jul 07, 20042 mins
Enterprise Applications

* BrowserBob Weblications

Sometimes you would just like to be able to hand someone a small, custom multimedia browser so that you can deliver Web applications very efficiently. Usually such ambitions require that you get involved with programming and all of the effort and expense that goes along with getting down and dirty with code.

Here’s a product that might well satisfy your cravings to have ’em browse it your way: BrowserBob from BrowserBob Weblications (see links below).

I can’t help but comment on the names: BrowserBob is way too reminiscent of Microsoft Bob (not a good association) and Weblications is way too cute but those are just my opinions …

Anyway, BrowserBob uses the Microsoft HTML ActiveX component and wraps it in a framework that allows for simple graphical skinning. This makes the browser look the way you want it to right through to the complex configurations that add groupings of behaviors, plus the addition of video and audio, JavaScript or VBScript extensions and Flash content.

The simplest customization would be to use your own graphics as frames and backgrounds in the rendering area but if you are more ambitious I have yet to figure out what you can’t build in the way of a customized browser.

To build a browser you simply drag and drop components, set parameters, and add behaviors. When you’re done, you can build you browser, which is saved as a single executable that will run on Windows 95 or above with IE 5.5 or higher.

You can create what are essentially skins for your site so that users running BrowserBob will load the skins when they visit. There’s also support for transparent images so that you can create freeform outlines for your browser.

My only complaints are that there’s a certain Version 1.0 look and feel to the product – the graphics are clunky and the documentation could be more polished. That said, BrowserBob, name notwithstanding, is an intriguing product that could create great marketing tools and really slick intranet Web applications.

BrowserBob Free version (simple skinning) is, well, free while Light (adds interface objects and basic behaviors) costs $59, Developer (adds programming extensions, real time skin exchange, and actions triggered by events) at $154, and the Professional version (adds even more programming features and the ability to create screensavers) costs $336. And there are no royalties on distributed compiled browsers even if you sell them. A very, very cool product.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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