SAN FRANCISCO (03/27/2000) - The Web has a wealth of information, but that information is not always easy to find. So when you need to make a presentation based on Web research, you may welcome Webforia Inc. Reporter 1.1, which is designed to help you organize and share your Web research.
"Reporter allows you to capture information from the Web and compile it in a report where you can add your own analysis and commentary," says Brendan Patterson, a Webforia product manager.
The upgrade became available for download at Webforia's site last week. Priced at $79.95, it's faster than the version released last fall. Also, you can now post your reports to a Web site. It has a custom style editor and better integration with Webforia Organizer. Organizer costs $49.95, or you can buy both products for $99.99.
Organized Surfing Experiment
Webforia delivers on its claim that Reporter 1.1 is easy to use. To create a report, choose one of the templates (Vacation, News, Hobbies, or other) or create a blank report. First, I created a report using the Vacation template, which is designed to research potential trips. I got travel information for New Zealand and Hawaii.
The reports follow a basic outline format, and you can fill in section headings and subheadings. The templates suggest names and outlines, but you can rename, add, or delete sections as you choose. The templates also suggest sites and resources. The Vacation template, for example, links to weather and travel sites.
Reporter's interface resembles that of a browser with a split screen. In the right half you surf the Web; in the left you track the material you're adding to your report. The left column is considerably smaller than the main browser window, although both are easily resizable. The left column has two sections:
Report Outline, which lists your sections and their content, and Display Properties, which details the text for each of those sections.
Populating your report is simple: Go to a Web page, then click an icon in Reporter's browser to add either the entire page or just a bookmark. If you add the entire page, it is viewable when you are offline, but the content remains stagnant. If you add a bookmark, Reporter updates the content, but you can view it only when you are online. (You still see the section and a summary of the page when you're offline.)You use the icons across the top of the page to create the sections of your report that are not Web related. For instance, you can add content from a Word document, JPEG or GIF images, and Adobe PDF files. You can personalize your report by selecting colors, background images, and fonts.
Once you're finished, you can easily return to the presentation mode to view the finished product. You can also easily switch back to the authoring mode to make changes.
Using Reporter 1.1, I created a very polished report--probably a lot more polished than necessary. This program might just be more than you need for simple Web research. For creating business presentations and proposals, it could be worthwhile, but if all you're doing is researching a vacation, the money is better spent on your trip.