Browster Is Gone, But Are Web Previews Here To Stay?

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Snap – preview technology for web sites and blogsThe makers of the Snap search engine recentlyreleased a site preview technology that allows bloggers and webmasters to turn onpreviews for any link on their site. Unlike Cooliris, Snap’s technology is powered byJavaScript that sits inside the page. To activate it, bloggers and webmasters need topaste a small chunk of code into their pages. Also unlike Cooliris, Snap shows a smallerpreview when the user moves the mouse over any link. TechCrunch recently added Snap previews and we sawquite a few readers complain about it getting in the way. Personally, I like the Coolorissolution better – since it requires an additional gesture to get the preview. Written by Alex Iskold and edited by Richard MacManusLast week it wasreported that Browster, one of the firstcompanies to deliver previews of web pages, is done. Browster drew a lot of attention in2005 and was backed by a 6M first round from Advanced Technology Ventures, VanguardVentures, First Round Capital, and individual investors.Browster delivered previews of web pages (before clicking on a link) via a browserplug-in. Cooliris and Snap are companies doing similar things. But the questionof whether previews are actually a good – and viable – idea is still up in the air.Therefore in this post we look at various kinds of Web previews and decide if the conceptis here to stay, or will it go down with the Browster ship.What is a value of a preview?The basic idea behind previews is simple: they save you a click. Instead of clickingon a link to see the content, you can get a preview of the page using a gesture –typically a mouseover. Assuming you can decide if the page is interesting or not based onthe preview, you can save a click and more importantly the page load. The big assumption is thatthe preview is useful, which is not always the case. For instance a thumbnail preview maybe useful if you already know the look and feel of the site, but otherwise you can’treally tell what you are looking at. This is because scaling the snapshot of a page downto a thumbnail results in a substantial loss of information. As we will see below,Cooliris and Snap are using different techniques to avoid this problem.Netflix solves the problem in a different way.Instead of showing you a scaled version of the page, Netflix shows you a synopsis of themovie when you mouse over its link. For movies, this works really well – and it wouldwork well for many other things, like books, music albums and electronics. So it’s toobad that other sites do not do this.Netflix previewCooliris – the preview extension for FirefoxCooliris, one of the Firefox recommendedextensions, offers great quality previews. It works by popping up a little blue square whena user moves their mouse over a link. If the user clicks on the square, a preview of thelink comes up. The secret of Cooliris is its simplicity. Firstly, the previews shownare almost the size of the actual page. Secondly, the previews are not images, but actualpages loaded into an iframe and overlayed on top of the current page. While thisseemingly would be the same as loading the page in another tab, it definitely feelslighter. What helps is that we do not need to close the tab, because once we click awaythe preview disappears. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#search#web Sphere – blog search previews on steroidsTechCrunch also features a completely different kind of preview – dynamic blog searchresults from the blog search engine called Sphere[Ed: this is coming soon to R/WW too]. What Sphere does is very impressive, butperhaps what’s even more impressive is how it presents the results. In a way, Sphere’ssolution is similar to Netflix because it only shows a subset of information. Thisstrategy allows Sphere to generate an intelligent preview of the search results. Acombination of speed and excellent visualization makes this type of preview verycompelling. Monetizing previewsSince quite a few companies are doing previews, we need to understand their benefit.It seems that current preview makers fall into three major categories:Deliver advertising with previews (Browster)Use previews to drive traffic to the site (Snap, Sphere)Enhance user experience on the site (Netflix)The companies listed under the second and third bullets do not concern themselves withmonetization via preview, since they make money in a different way. For the companiesthat choose the preview to be their core business, some form of advertising must be inplace.What Browster used to do in the past was replace the advertisements from the pageswith their own. This made some publishers very angry. Altering the content of web pages is certainly a risky business and spellslawsuits. Augmenting the previews with context sensitive ads, outside the preview frame,seems to be cleaner – but it requires a heavier back-end engine and could cause delays,which would be deadly.Since Browster is out of the game now, it does not need to address this problem. Theircompetitor Cooliris looks to be a university project and so far they do not show anyconcern about making money. If they become serious about monetizing this technology, itwill be interesting to see what route they will take.ConclusionSo in the end we have to ask: Are previews a good idea? We think the answeris: Yes! If done right (and this is a big if), then previews can greatly enhance ouronline experience and save us a lot of time over the long run. Saving one click at a time will make usmore productive and will save us minutes every day. And since there are incentives forcompanies to deliver preview technologies, we expect to see more developments in the nearfuture. So: Browster is dead, long live previews. But let us know what you think aboutpreviews and tell us your favorite ones. Related Posts alex iskold 1 Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img

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