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Issue 5.1



Issue: 5.1 (September/October 2006)
Author: Will Phillips
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,974
Starting Page Number: 9
Article Number: 5104
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iURL is, as its name suggests, a URL management tool. The user may create "collections" of URLs, adding new URLs by manually typing them or dropping them onto the collection window (or onto a floating dropbox window). Various types of URLs may be added to collections, including http, ftp, email and local file URLs. Unfortunately, only one collection may be open at a time.

Within a collection window, the user may choose to display all URLs in the collection or may create "smart groups," sets of URLs which share some defined characteristics, much like Smart Playlists within iTunes. For example, one might define a group of all URLs having the .jpg suffix, which can then be viewed as a group. These groups of URLs may be viewed by selecting them in a left pane, with the contents of the group appearing in a right pane. Double-clicking on a particular URL will sometimes do what one would expect: web addresses are delivered to the default browser for display and email addresses are delivered to the default mail program. More on this later.

To this point, iURL more or less lives up to its billing. But there are significant weaknesses. First, the software doesn't focus on its core purpose, the management of URLs. Rather it shoehorns in several other loosely related functions (e.g., an image preview window, a download function, a bandwidth monitor) which don't appear to add significantly to the fundamental purpose of the software. Further, it's not clear how to use some of these additional functions. For example, I was unable to get the image preview function to display anything at all despite trying several different methods and several different graphics files.

Even within the URL management functions of the software, however, there are serious weaknesses. For example, double clicking (or using the contextual menu) on a URL, other than a typical http or email URL, results in no action. That is, the software does not cause a selected text file to be opened by a text editor, or a PDF file to be opened by a PDF reader, as one might expect. There is also no way to open the containing folder of the file identified by the URL, a potentially useful function. There is an "Analyse" function, which presumably is intended to verify whether a connection can be made to a selected URL, but it appears to work on only one URL at a time and does nothing with respect to local files. These limitations, and others, lead one to wonder about the true value of using this additional tool to managing URLs. It appears that there is little advantage over the built-in URL management functions of most browsers.

In short, iURL appears to be the result of a reasonable idea that lost its way. Attention paid to its core purpose, rather than to other functions of questionable value, would probably have resulted in a useful tool. Perhaps subsequent versions will address some of its issues.

End of article.