NetShell - Customized Handling of WEB Information

As its name suggests, the goal of NetShell is to provide a UNIX shell like user interface, around the net. NetShell works by viewing the WWW as just another IO stream. In addition to accepting IO to/from files or windows, NetShell provides an easy way to redirect the IO stream to/from the Web.

By communicating directly with the Web browsers, NetShell allows any UNIX program to operate on information obtained from the Web through any browser. The results of NetShell's actions can go directly to the browser, to special tty window, or to local files. So, with one click, pages can be ``folded'' to include the contents of all links from them, an encrypted page can be decrypted and shown in the browser, or a list of images from the current page can be collected to a file, just to name a few applications.

NetShell has its own GUI, into which users can easily compose commands, and then execute them by a mere click. It is completely customizable. NetShell can also be called directly from the shell or from any program.

NetShell's approach is in a sense orthogonal to the Java approach. The customization is controlled and initiated by the end user instead of by the information provider. Only local programs are used, so there are no new security concerns. Any program, in any language, can be used, even large proprietary programs.

Examples of the use of NetShell

Documentations and the source of NetShell

The following figure shows the user interface of NetShell. For example, a double click on Fold will create a web page that contains all the pages with links from the current page, and show that page on the currently run browser.

Figure 1. Main Interface for NetShell

NetShell was developed by Dachuan Zhang and Udi Manber at University of Arizona, Dept. of Computer Science.