What is Bobcat?

Bobcat aspires to be a text WWW browser.

In the big picture, Bobcat is a project that I dreamed up to amuse myself. I like to dabble with code as a hobby. I'm not very good, so things can get pretty messy.

Before Bobcat I played with altering DOSLYNX, but there came a point in which it started frustrating me more than being fun. At that time I knew it was time to try something new. I have always liked Lynx. It is a great web browser! I really wanted to see it work in plain DOS, even though I knew there would be some painful limitations. I also knew there were other people looking into making 386 and Windows versions so I figured I would give it a try.

Bobcat, by definition, means a small Lynx. The name was picked to imply that it is a less mature sibling to the Lynx browser. Bobcat started life as Lynx2-4-2. The reason 2-4-2 was chosen is because starting at 2-5, many files in the Lynx distribution became too big to compile out of the package targeted towards a plain DOS version. There have been many changes since 2-4-2, however, it does support many things that DOSLYNX didn't. I have also made many modifications to Bobcat's original behavior to make it more functional.

Taking the 2-4-2 base, I then added PDCurses2.2, WATTCP, SPAWNO and bits of DOSLYNX and Lynx2-6 code. I then mixed vigorously in Borland C++ 3.1 until it actually compiled. The first step, getting it to compile into an EXE, was deceptively simple. However, as many hackers know, you can get a LOT of code to compile and still not have it do anything.

After that I made personal decisions on what to support. Although it may disappoint some people, news support is not in Bobcat. It never worked correctly in DOSLYNX and I didn't feel it was a priority. Gopher and Ftp should hopefully work to some degree, but they are not the top priority either. The important thing, as far as I am concerned, is good web support. This is the reason for cutting corners on the other features. There is a new feature added to Bobcat that will allow people to define external programs for certain URLs. This product uses the SPAWNO routines by Ralf Brown to minimize memory use while shelling to DOS and running other programs. Hopefully this will help compensate for Bobcat's shortcomings.

This new Lynx for DOS is a big switch from DOSLYNX. It is Curses based, so it looks like the real Lynx. It does not have pull down menus or a multiple document interface. I prefer the real Lynx interface which is partially why I made the switch in development. Other good reasons for starting with a new code base are support for forms, numeric links, view source, history list and other features which were not available in DOSLYNX.

Bobcat does use the same TCP stack that Doslynx did. This means it needs a packet driver to get web pages from the Internet. There are packet drivers for PPP, SLIP, token ring and ethernet (and maybe others) which makes this the most flexable way to handle the networking from a programmers standpoint.

The first versions of Bobcat have severe memory constraints because of the way the original Lynx was designed. In Un*x, programs assume they have unlimited memory and the programs are coded as such. Bobcat has yet to have memory checking added to it, so when you run out of the tiny amount of conventional memory available it will very unceremoniously drop you to the DOS prompt.

Bobcat is NOT a Lynx port. It is a work based on Lynx. This means that it can not keep up with the current Lynx development nor can Lynx patches be added to Bobcat. Hopefully, some of the forthcoming 386 and Windows ports will have this ability.

I am pretty excited about having a new variant of Lynx to play with. I hope other people will be receptive. If you have comments or suggestions you can send them to me.

Please remember that this is a hobby and I do it solely for fun. Flames will be publicly ridiculed. No payment has been given for the work done so far and none is expected for continued use of the program. Obscene, no-strings-attached, gratuitous donations of cash will, however, be gleefully accepted *grin* but if you really have nothing better to do with your money then donate some to a thoughtfully chosen charity.

Big thanks to John Lewis for the pre release definition of requirements, hours of debugging, the help files, the program extract.exe and all the batch files which integrate the package. He truly helped make Bobcat a package rather than just a program!

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