In the second article in this series, we are going to describe how to use a www4mail server to navigate and search the whole Internet via email. This service is available to anyone, anywhere, and at any time free of charge. You only need to use a standard Web browser and a MIME-aware (Multipurpose Internet Mail Exchange) email client to handle file attachments. For navigation, you need a Web browser that can send email messages or pass subject or body contents to an email program in addition to the address.
Even if at a first glance www4mail is thought of as another Web-to-email gateway like Agora and GetWeb, www4mail introduces new features not available before hence it's being called "The Next Generation." For example, www4mail allows you to query any arbitrary nuclear or molecular database like AltaVista and HotBot, as well as journal and newspaper repositories, with just one simple email you will have your output within minutes.
As mentioned in the first article, simply type the Web site you wish to retrieve in the body of the email message to any public www4mail server. The server fetches the pages in question and delivers them to you.
www4mail Reply as Attachments
Figure 1 displays the original http://www.informit.com Web. As seen in Figure 2, www4mail users will get the complete page with all of its functionality (links, tables, and so on) intact, with added checkboxes (replacing hyperlinks) but without graphics.
To surf the Web via email, view the displayed links, or even retrieve the images, www4mail users can open the attachment received with any Web browser. For best results, use a recent version of the Web browser (note that Netscape 4.x has problems displaying off-line pages correctly).
To view a particular link, select the link's checkbox and click the Get Selected Document(s) button in the Web page footer (see Figure 3). This will send a new, automatic, single email request to www4mail. The browser automatically fills in the From:, To:, Subject:, and body contents.
Figure 3 Click this button to retrieve the information.
When the reply arrives back from the www4mail server, email programs such as Eudora, MS Outlook Express, or Pine, will automatically identify the format of the attachment received and open up your default application such as a Web browser when the attachment is HTML. The Web browser automatically sends (directly or via the email program) a list of selected links (checkboxes) via email messages to the www4mail servers when you click the Get Selected Document(s) button.
This implies that users can continue to follow links as if they were surfing the Web via a live connection; each selection will send an email message to the www4mail server requesting the next page.
There are optional commands through which users can also request URLs and images in a Web page to be automatically downloaded and attached to a single www4mail reply. In addition there are commands to perform other tasks such as obtain quota information, opt for a particular language, and select the old UUENCODE alternative to MIME. For instance, the following are additional options:
source: to retrieve unmodified HTML sources in the body of the message.
tsource: to retrieve unmodified HTML sources as an attachment.
help: to obtain general help file information from www4mail.
In addition, receiving Web documents as an email attachment allows you to save time and bandwidth by reusing the same Web document; particularly when using the same search engine for a later search of the Internet.