There are many ways to surf the Web – and until people started adopting broadband in a big way, Web-whacking programs were a quick and easy way to download the content of sites in order to browse them offline and keep phone bills down. However, none offered an easy way to collate the information users actually needed once they’d downloaded it.
This is where Webstractor comes in. It isn’t just for downloading Web sites – its main function is to give the user editing and layout abilities to organize all that information into a useable format. Webstractor is ideal for any kind of research. Students in particular will find it incredibly useful. It’s easy to download and install, and hardly any set-up is required.
The user interface is very browser-like. It boasts an address bar, forward and back buttons and a drawer of thumbnail previews of Web pages that works in a similar way to the History menu found in most popular browsers.
Webstractor captures the pages you visited – then, using the Edit mode, (which works just like a word processor) you can cut out all the flotsam and rearrange the info the way you wish to keep it. Webstractor allows you to cut-&-paste, chop text, change colours and save portions of text. It also lets you bring in your own documents and lay them out in a presentation style or as research notes.
The tool palette consists of a crop tool, a marquee selection tool, all the usual font-style drop-down menus, and text-layout buttons such as kern, centre and justify. Plus you can zoom in on the drawer while in Edit mode and use the thumbnails of the previously downloaded pages to find and add text from different sources. However, it does have problems displaying pages from Web sites that use frames.
If you spend hours browsing massive Web sites for research projects – and then have to spend even longer sifting through piles of documents to extract the bits you actually need, then Webstractor is the application for you. And at £49 it’s very reasonable for the great amount of flexibility it offers.