OBrowser: A RISC OS front-end for the Otter Browser engine

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A little while back we took at look at the various web browser options available to RISC OS users, Otter Browser was one of those under the spotlight and for the most part I quite like it.

Otter Browser focuses on being visually appealing and feature rich over performance (although I haven’t had any major issues with speed or stability). Otter comes with a built-in password manager, bookmark and add-on manager as well as content blocking and spell checking tools. It has quite a customisable GUI, which allows the majority of the way it looks to be modified.

Ported to RISC OS from Linux by Chris Gransden and Lee Noar a few years ago, it has won over many as being a good technical achievement it, but in its current state iy has very little integration with the RISC OS enviroment – for example, the look and feel is not in-line with the operating system, it’s lack of an iconbar icon is a good example of this.

Richard Brown and Andrew Rawnsley of RISC OS Development Ltd have now announced a new front-end application for Otter, called OBrowser. This front-end brings the browser in-line with what you’d expect from a RISC OS application. It displays an icon on the icon bar, where you can configure several options including closing the application.

A nice addition is its ability to drag and drop handling any necessary parsing of a file before passing the necessary elements on to Otter Browser.

RISC OS Developments have made this available as a semi-commercial product, but with the express message that the aim of charging for it is not to make profit but to help fund their work – which involves things like helping overhaul RISC OS TCP/IP networking stack. OBrowser is now available in return for a donation to RISC OS Developments’ work – suggested donation levels are hinted to in RISC OS Developments’ press release:

“We suggest two levels of donation – if you’re just using it on one system, and want to make a smaller contribution – 40ukp.   If you’d like to use it on more systems, and/or can afford a larger donation – 80ukp.  You’re welcome to offer more, but that’s down to how you feel about RISC OS Developments and what you can afford.” says Andrew Rawnsley.

“Please only consider our OBrowser CD if you’d like to support our RISC OS Developments work, and/or the enhancements shown above seem worthwile.

We need to stress that the prices mentioned reflect funding RISC OS Developments’ work, rather than OBrowser itself, which was always a bonus item for [RISC OS Development] Shareholders. Indeed, Investors do not need to buy this CD, as they can already download OBrowser free of charge.”

While OBrowser does not add any additional functionality to Otter Brwoser per say, it does turn it a far more polished RISC OS application. It has a proper iconbar icon for a start. It global clipboard, drag and drop and all the things you’d expect from a browser on the RISC OS desktop.

If you look at the browser choices we had on RISC OS five years or so ago, it’s a breath of fresh air to see such a resurgence in the amount of decent and usable browsers on the platform. Otter Browser and in-turn OBrowser being one of them. Javascript JIT support was enabled back in April, meaning that a number of websites that were previously not accessible on RISC OS, are. Google Maps, Gmail, speed test websites and most banking and online shopping sites should now work, although patience is required as performance is not always the best with the ports in their current states.

OBrowser can currently only be sourced directly from R-Comp – contact via email or telephone is best, although Andrew has advised that OBrowser is likely to make an appearance on the Pling Store soon.

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