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4.5. Design of the DIAL web pages

This feasibility study has involved the design of a prototype with the emphasis on content, and simplicity of appearance. There was no available budget for graphic design work. Such graphic elements as have been used have been kept very simple, for reasons explained below.

4.5.1. Need to accommodate low-bandwidth users in DMCs

DIALogue caters for users who have limited computing facilities, or are located in countries or regions which only have very slow (eg 2,400 bps or 9,600 bps) connections to the Internet. Frames, large pages, large graphics, and other elements which may cause difficulties for users from locations with low bandwidth access to the web, have been avoided.

4.5.2. Lynx access to a text-only version of web pages

Lynx is a full screen text-only interface to the World-Wide-Web[118]http://www.crl.com/~subir/lynx/what.html]. It does not require any graphical browsing capacity, and can therefore be used without Windows or a mouse. Lynx is fully effective at communications speeds as low as 2,400 bps (ie 2.4 Kbps), whereas graphical browsers such as Netscape or Internet Explorer require speeds of 28.8 Kbps for effective browsing (or 14.4 Kbps as the absolute minimum).

Users can run the Lynx software on their local computer (including Unix, VMS, Macintosh and Windows platforms) if they have a direct Internet connection (such as a PPP or SLIP dial-up Internet connection). Lynx can also be used where a user does not have any direct connection to the Internet , but does have a dial-up connection to another computer which does, in which case Lynx can be run in terminal mode.

Provided that web pages are developed in accordance with HTML standards, they will appear legible and properly set out when read via a Lynx browser. We believe that this has been achieved in the prototype, as illustrated in the pages below. The following page is the Lynx version of the DIAL Index home page.

Lynx version of start of DIALogue home page

All aspects of DIAL work using a Lynx browser in much the same way as they do using a graphical browser. There does not seem to be any loss of functionality in the Lynx version. Further examples of Lynx are given in Chapter 7 concerning the DIALogue e-mail facility.

[118] The Extremely Lynx home pages explain in `What is Lynx?' () :

What is Lynx?

Lynx is a web browser, a software program used by people to navigate the World Wide Web. The Web is a part of the global Internet, a network of computers. By using Lynx (or another web browser like Netscape, Internet Explorer, Mosaic, Chimera, etc.) you can retrieve a variety of information from computers all over the world.

Lynx is possibly the most widely used text mode browser on the Internet. It runs on a wide variety of platforms, including Unix, VMS, Macintosh and Windows. Lynx is a full-featured browser, there is almost no content on the web that Lynx cannot retreive and display, either by itself or by calling on other software designed for the purpose.

Lynx is distributed under the GNU Public License. This means it is free for all to use, modify and redistribute as long as it is kept in the public domain. Many people have tweaked Lynx and adapted it for use in their particular environment.

So who uses Lynx anyway?

It sometimes surprises people that there is a text-mode browser preferred by many over graphical browsers. This is especially surprising for those who have had the web thrust upon them as a "multimedia" environment. Nevertheless, people do use Lynx productively in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes. Some of these are listed below: