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==============================================================================
              Frequently Asked Questions about Plucker
==============================================================================
Last modified: $Date: 2003/03/21 13:01:24 $

If your question is not there, please check the Plucker home page
http://www.plkr.org which may have more recent information.

1 - Introduction
        1.1  What is Plucker?
        1.2  In what way is Plucker different from AvantGo?
        1.3  Where can I get Plucker?
        1.4  Is there a mailing list for Plucker?
        1.5  Is there an anonymous cvs server?
        1.6  What is the status of Plucker?
        1.7  Where can I send bug reports?
        1.8  How can I contact the Plucker team?

2 - Installation
        2.1  What platforms does Plucker run on?

3 - Usage
        3.1  How does Plucker work?
        3.2  Why can't I see any pictures on my Palm device?
        3.3  I have all the necessary tools, but I still can't see any pictures?
        3.4  Why do pages with images show [img 4bpp] instead of images?
        3.5  The protocol is missing when the parser attempts to download a page?
        3.6  How do I pluck a password-protected site?

4 - Configuration
        4.1  How do I configure the parser to create ZLib compressed databases?

5 - Development
        5.1  Why does make only build the viewer application but never the ZLib library?
        5.2  Where can I get zlib?
        5.3  Where can I get prc-tools?
        5.4  Why is the <module X> so messy?

6 - Miscellaneous Questions
        6.1  Can you suggest some good web pages for Plucker?
        6.2  What are some of the features of Plucker?
        6.3  What features does Plucker not implement?
        6.4  What other features can we expect?
        6.5  Where can I find Plucker eBooks?

==============================================================================

*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Introduction:
*-*-*-*-*-*-*

1.1 What is Plucker?
--------------------

  Plucker is a suite of programs which provide an off-line web browser for
  Palm OS systems (see below for compatibility). It's free software under
  the conditions of the Free Software Foundation's General Public License,
  so you can copy, change, or even sell this program without giving anyone
  any money, as long as you make the source code (and your changes, if any)
  publicly available.

  We would, of course, be interested to see any changes you might make and
  possibly include them in a future release of Plucker. There's lots of
  things that could be done better!

  In many ways, the ideas of Plucker are similar to the proprietary AvantGo
  software, though we believe that the implementation of Plucker is utterly
  different from AvantGo. According to their web page, AvantGo implements an
  HTML parser on the Palm device; Plucker implements the majority of the
  parser on the PC/server/desktop machine. There are probably situations
  where AvantGo would be far more appropriate than Plucker (online browsing,
  for example), however, you need an SDK to work with AvantGo.


1.2 In what way is Plucker different from AvantGo?
--------------------------------------------------

  The programs differ in many ways.

  Most importantly (to us, at least), Plucker is Free software, distributed
  under the FSF's General Public License. This means that if you are using
  Plucker, you are entitled to the source code, and you can change it to
  make it do whatever you want (as long as you make the changes publicly
  available).
  
  Other differences that we know of include:

   o AvantGo parses compressed (read: "encrypted") HTML on the Palm device
     itself; Plucker parses uncompressed HTML on the server, and sends an
     interpreted version to the Palm.

   o Plucker appears to render documents faster (though it hasn't been
     optimized for speed, really)

   o The "home" Plucker page is a user-defined HTML document, and is treated
     just like any other. The "home" AvantGo page does not appear to be
     HTML; it's determined by the AvantGo configuration software. So, the
     history buttons don't work from the Home page in AvantGo.

   o Plucker will support DND HTML files. AFAIK, AvantGo does not.


1.3 Where can I get Plucker?
----------------------------
 
  Visit the Plucker home page at http://www.plkr.org/
   
  The development versions ("the latest snapshot") are usually very stable
  themselves, so if you want access to all the latest features (and have the
  development tools installed) you can safely go with these versions.  As
  always, remember to backup any unsaved data before you start playing with
  the development version.


1.4 Is there a mailing list for Plucker?
----------------------------------------

  Yes.
  
  The list for Plucker users, plucker-list, is a fairly low
  traffic list. The developers list, plucker-dev, is intended for
  focused development discussion amongst the core Plucker development
  team. Of course, anyone is welcome to read.

  The Plucker Announce list is where new releases are announced. If
  you are only concerned with releases, this is the list for you.

  To join: visit http://lists.rubberchicken.org/ and select the list(s)
  you want to subscribe to.

  Archives for plucker-list and plucker-dev can be found at,

    http://www.mail-archive.com/plucker-list%40rubberchicken.org/
    http://www.mail-archive.com/plucker-dev%40rubberchicken.org/
    http://lists.rubberchicken.org/


1.5 Is there an anonymous cvs server?
-------------------------------------

  Yes there is. To check out the code from cvs you first have to login,

  cvs -d :pserver:anonymous@cvs.plkr.org:/cvs/plucker -z3 login

  and then just hit ENTER at the password prompt. Check out the code with:

  cvs -d :pserver:anonymous@cvs.plkr.org:/cvs/plucker -z3 co plucker


1.6 What is the status of Plucker?
----------------------------------

  Plucker is in a beta state. While you're more than welcome to take Plucker
  for a spin, it might not work for you. It works for us, but we don't know
  what you've got installed on your machines that may be different from that
  installed on ours. You might lose all the data on your PalmPilot, you
  might need to reboot your machine, it might never be the same again.

  Beware!


1.7 Where can I send bug reports?
---------------------------------

  Fill out the file BUGREPORT in the Plucker distribution and send it to
  plucker-bugs@rubberchicken.org (really), or fill out the forms located at
  http://bugs.plkr.org/ and we'll do our best to fix them as
  soon as we can!


1.8  How can I contact the Plucker team?
----------------------------------------

  Send a message to plucker-team@rubberchicken.org . Unlike the mailing
  list you don't have to be a subscriber to post to this address. However,
  general questions about Plucker should still be sent to the mailing lists.


*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Installation:
*-*-*-*-*-*-*

2.1 What platforms does Plucker run on?
-----------------------------------------

  The viewer should run on any Palm OS device utilizing version 2.0.4 or
  higher of Palm OS, while the desktop tools are supported on Linux, Windows,
  Mac OS X, and OS/2.

  The desktop tools will probably work on any Unix system with Python
  installed, but your mileage may vary, so don't get angry if they don't
  work. If you are able to get it running on a system not listed in
  REQUIREMENTS then please let us know so that it can be added to the list
  of supported systems.



*-*-*-*
Usage:
*-*-*-*

3.1 How does Plucker work?
--------------------------

  Plucker consists of three parts: the parser, the conduit, and the viewer. 
  The parser and the conduit have been merged into one complete Python
  version and eventually there will also be a Perl versions of the parser. 
  The standalone conduit is written in Perl and there is also a conduit
  written in Delphi for the Windows users.

  The parser runs on your main computer (the one with the HotSync cradle or
  IR port physically attached to it, or on a networked machine which allows
  you to connect to it via Network Hotsync). It gathers the web pages you
  specify and follows the links on those pages to a certain depth (specified
  by you).  You specify the web pages you want to gather by creating a
  "home.html" file, which also becomes your home page. The links on
  "home.html" are followed to a depth specified by the optional "MAXDEPTH"
  attribute which you can include in the <A HREF="..."> tag in the home.html
  file.  The parser finds new links to retrieve and also converts the pages
  to a format that the viewer can read.

  The conduit takes the converted HTML files from a directory or from your
  computer's system memory (RAM; using the python parser) and places them in
  a database on your Palm device, or directs them to a file (which is the
  same as the database) on your desktop, which you can sync to your emulator
  or your "real" Palm device at a later time.

  The viewer displays the converted HTML files on your Palm device's screen. 
  It allows you to use the stylus to tap on links which will then display
  the target page. It has a 32-page history, so you can move backwards and
  forwards through the pages just as you would with your desktop browser.

  Rendering is done in part by the parser (which works out things like which
  styles to use) and in part by the viewer (which works out line and
  document lengths, and renders <A>nchors).


3.2 Why can't I see any pictures on my Palm device?
---------------------------------------------------

  Either you have an old version of Plucker (image support was added in
  version 0.03) or you haven't installed all necessary tools. The Palm
  device uses a format called Tbmp (Tiny Bitmap) for its images, and the
  parser in Plucker needs (among others) a special tool called ppmtoTbmp to
  be able to convert images to the Palm OS bitmap format (depending on your
  version of Plucker, you may no longer need to use the ppmtoTbmp tool. It
  has recently been replaced by the netpbm2 package). Check out the
  REQUIREMENTS file in the main source archive for a list of necessary tools
  and where to find them.


3.3 I have all the necessary tools, but I still can't see any pictures?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Make sure that you don't set a too high value for MAXWIDTH. Anything above
  150 pixels (default value) for embedded images will give the result that
  no images are shown.
  

3.4 Why do pages with images show [img 4bpp] instead of images?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

  When you generate 2 or 4 bpp images you have to change the bit depth of
  the screen to view them. The default depth is 1 (Black/White), so when the
  viewer finds images of a higher bit depth it will display [img Nbpp]
  instead (N = bit depth for the image). You change the bit depth in the
  Preference dialog.


3.5 The protocol is missing when the parser attempts to download a page?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Even if you don't tell us what OS you are running we would be very
  surprised if it's not Red Hat 7.0, 7.1, or 7.2.
  
  There is a bug in the python version (1.5.2) include with Red Hat 7.0,
  7.1, and 7.2.

  A solution provided by Joe A. can be found at 
  
    http://home.earthlink.net/~joefefifo/plucker/fix.html
 
  A more detailed discussion of the problem can be found at

    http://home.earthlink.net/~joefefifo/plucker/fix_detailed.html
  

3.6  How do I pluck a password-protected site?
----------------------------------------------------------------------

  We suggest using Sitescooper together with Plucker to pluck various
  hard-to-get-at sites.  Sitescooper has many features for pulling over
  pages that will be slow to appear in Plucker.

  For more information on Sitescooper, see www.sitescooper.org.


3.7  I'd like to use Plucker for (books, reports, etc.) which I sell.
     Is there any way to protect a Plucker document from theft?
----------------------------------------------------------------------

  Plucker documents can be built with an 'owner-id', which must
  correspond to the HotSync ID on a Palm for the document to be opened
  on that Palm.  This is similar to the document-locking schemes used
  by many commercial sites.  Use the --owner-id switch on the parser
  to do this.



*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Configuration:
*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

4.1 How do I configure the parser to create ZLib compressed databases?
----------------------------------------------------------------------

  By setting the compression key in the configuration file (.pluckerrc
  for Unix/Linux, plucker.ini for Windows and OS/2) to zlib the parser will
  use ZLib instead of DOC compression for the databases. You can always
  change this behavior at run-time by using the --zlib-compression or the
  --doc-compression options.



*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Development:
*-*-*-*-*-*-*

5.1 Why does make only build the viewer application but never the ZLib library?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  You didn't read the README in the viewer dir, did you? The zlib package
  must be downloaded separately and put in viewer/ZLIb *before* attempting
  to configure Plucker.


5.2 Where can I get zlib?
-------------------------

  You can download zlib from its home page at 

    http://www.gzip.org/zlib/

  Put the package in viewer/ZLib before you run configure.


5.3 Where can I get prc-tools?
------------------------------

  prc-tools 2.x can be downloaded at:

    http://prc-tools.sourceforge.net/



5.4 Why is the <module X> so messy?
-----------------------------------

  Well, the old legacy parser (a bunch of awk scripts) was only a temporary
  solution and have been replaced with a Python-based parser. That should
  make it easier to comprehend what it actually does! We believe that the
  rendering of documents for the Palm device should be specialized, so we
  intend to continue to render the documents in the parser/viewer.

  If you haven't looked at the viewer since 0.02 then you would probably be
  surprised. The single source file of version 0.02 has been split up in
  several files and the viewer is approaching being optimal, but there are
  some issues, particularly with implied structure coupling, and lack of
  documentation, both of which we wish to address.

  The conduit is not clever. It will upload pages to the database even if
  they already exist and have not changed. This should obviously be fixed so
  that a full 360 degree synchronization process can be achieved.



*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Miscellaneous Questions:
*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

6.1 Can you suggest some good web pages for Plucker?
----------------------------------------------------

  In the appendix of the User's Guide you'll find a collection of links to
  some good web pages for Plucker.


6.2 What are some of the features of Plucker?
---------------------------------------------

   o Plucker is designed for off-line browsing on a small screen. It doesn't
     attempt to make HTML pages look like they appear on a monitor; instead,
     it tries to make them readable and useful.

   o The history buttons always work, even from the home page.
 
   o You can scroll nicely with the scroll buttons or the pen.

   o On-screen indication of visited links.

   o Image support

   o Named anchors (such as <A HREF="#here">)

   o Very impressive compression of records to save space on the device.

   o Support for multiple databases and multiple versions of the same
     content.

   o Search function for current page and all pages in a database

   o Bookmarks

   o Possible to copy URLs to a memo

   o E-mail support

   o There are dozens more features not listed here, go ahead and give
     Plucker a go, and try them all out for yourself.

6.3 What features does Plucker not implement?
---------------------------------------------

  The following is a (non-exhaustive) list of unimplemented features. Apart
  from frames, we intend to include this functionality in the future:

   o Frames (it might be possible to implement this in a links kind of way
     by rendering and converting the frames to tables, much like the links
     browser).

   o Document titles are not currently uploaded to the Palm device.

   o Various HTML tags (e.g. <FONT>, <SUP>, etc) are not supported

   o Javascript, DHTML, Java, CSS

6.4 What other features can we expect?
--------------------------------------

  Here is a list of other ideas for Plucker. No promises! A TODO list sorted
  both by category and by date can be found on the Plucker developer's page.

   o We intend to integrate Plucker with the popular free desktop managers
     (namely, KDE and the Gnome). In these environments it would be great if
     you could Drag-'n'-Drop a URL into the Palm device for off-line
     viewing.

   o The ability to modify parameters, such as the maximum link depth, from
     the Palm device, so that the next HotSync will retrieve more/less data.
 
   o The ability to "send" a web page from the Palm device to an internet
     mail address.

   o Cron-based gathering of HTML pages, prior to a HotSync (to
     significantly reduce HotSync time).

   o Parallel gathering/parsing/conduit (to reduce HotSync time).

   o Smart gathering/conduit; only update a document if it's actually
     changed.  (Reduce hotsync time).

   o Compatibility with AvantGo's .subs files, and the .site files that a
     similar product SiteScooper reads.

  Of course, if you want to help add these (or other) features, feel free to
  implement them.


6.5 Where can I find Plucker eBooks?
------------------------------------

  Apart from the samples you can find at the Plucker web site, there are
  other sites that have eBooks as well.

	Memoware has a growing collection of Plucker eBooks submitted by
	contributors and users of Plucker.

		http://www.memoware.com/

	You can also find several Plucker eBooks at Byron Collins' site

		http://home.clarksville.com/~bcollins/index.htm

	Curt 'n' Dave's Plucker-book Repository

		http://www.pluckerbooks.com/

	Nick Vargish's Bandersnatch Unpress 

		http://unpress.bandersnatch.org/

	The "Linux Documentation Project" (LDP) now releases all its HOWTOs
	and mini-HOWTOs in Plucker format. They are located under the
	'Additional HOWTO-related items' at the following url::

		http://www.tldp.org/docs.html#howto

		or

		http://ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/docs/LDP/pluckerdb