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BrowserHawk 9 by cyScape
Customize your Web visitor's site experience
By: Nic Tunney
Jan. 28, 2006 01:15 PM
I had always wished for a quick and easy server-side solution to handle simple browser and plug-in checking, but had never even fathomed having access to the amount of information that is made available using BrowserHawk from cyScape. If you think this is just another browser detection script, you could not be more wrong. Not only does BrowserHawk detect basic browser settings, it also detects disabled plug-ins, blocked pop-ups, AJAX support, blocked ports, estimated download time, WAP settings, and so much more! BrowserHawk Enterprise can actually detect over 125 properties and settings of your visitor's browser and connection.
There is surprisingly quite a bit of documentation that comes with BrowserHawk; however, some of the initial installation instructions might be a bit complicated for beginners. Unfortunately, some links in the documentation are broken, and the online documentation does not seem to cover the Java installation; however, scrolling down through the documentation, you will find instructions for several different configurations that are much clearer than the initial documentation. There currently is no installer for the Java version, but the rumor at cyScape is that the installer is an important addition that they are including in the next version. It seems that ColdFusion is a big priority on their list. They have also hinted at some additional exciting ColdFusion-specific features, but you'll have to wait to hear about that from them.
Since this is a Java install, the server needs to be restarted at the end of the installation process, but if you followed the instructions correctly, you will be able to test BrowserHawk immediately with the detailed example files that are included in the Zip file. The demo files are all linked through a single index.html page, which makes it very easy to navigate and test with no additional setup.
The custom tag simply takes a comma-delimited list of the properties you want to test for and returns a structure of name/value pairs.
On my system, this returned "FireFox, WinXP". The process is also very fast, and auto-caching is an available feature in BrowserHawk. This seems to be especially useful if you are performing some of the more complex tests like client port detection (that's right, client port detection! I told you this package is powerful).
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