The IBM OS/2 WebExplorer

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By Hartmut Frommert


With the OS/2 operating system, internet working (and thus working on the Web, or WWW) is particularly easy. Starting with version 2.0, a powerful TCP/IP package became available from IBM. With the release of OS/2 Warp (version 3.0), an Internet Access Kit (IAK) was included into the BonusPak which was added to the package delivered to the customer.

And with OS/2 Warp Connect, the TCP/IP package was eventually included into the operating system release, which then became available for less price than that which TCP/IP alone was previously.

As the TCP/IP package was developed years ago when the Web was still primitive, there was initially no Web browser with this package. When the web got more versatile and accepted, employees of IBM developed the Web Explorer as a native Presentation Manager/Workplace Shell program; this was first part of the EWS (Employee Written Software) suite, which was given for free to every (legal) OS/2 user.

With Warp Connect, WebExplorer version 1.01 is included. Unfortunately, this version was outdated when Warp Connect was delivered, i.e. there are many HTML 3 features not implemented in it, such as text flowing around figures. To face this, the current version of Web Explorer is available for free on the internet (and through the online services).

To obtain this (1.03 at this time), choose your nearest site from the following table (more to come soon ! Please email if you know more..):

At release 1.03, WebEx has implemented most features defined by the HTML 3.0 standard, such as tables and flowing inline images. Moreover, WebEx has some extra features which are not standard HTML, but proprietary to this browser (i.e., other browsers will not understand them): Look at a list of Web Explorers proprietary html tags. One should note that WebEx has not implemented proprietary html extensions of other vendors, especially Netscape's frames. Also, at least at the versions I know, some advanced HTML3 stuff such as the mathematical formula stuff, had not been implemented (but I did not yet see any browser with this).

It is a bit strange that there's no native offline HTML browser for OS/2, but you may use the WebExplorer for this purpose also. To do so, you have to install some DLLs from the TCP/IP or the IAK (Internet Access Kit); if you don't want to figure out which, I'd recommend to install the full IAK (which needs about 12 MBytes on HD; if someone has figured out how to install the minimum needed to run WebEx as offline browser, please notify me).

To have a better view of WebEx working, I have provided a screen capture of a html creation session with WebEx and OS/2's Enhanced Editor, EPM.

Eventually, the dominant browser provider Netscape has brought out a version of Netscape Navigator for OS/2, which is included in IBM's OS/2 Warp Version 4 (aka Merlin). On this event, even IBM has widely turned over to Netscape/2 and away from their own browser, the Web Explorer.

For online webbing with slow connections, it is sometimes desirable to have a (faster) textmode browser; people use the University of Kansas' Lynx for that on many platforms. Eventually, Lynx is also available for OS/2, e.g.