by April 10, 2001 0 comments

eScan Personal Edition

Price: Rs 1,800 single-user
: Anti-virus, e-mail content monitoring, scheduling, automatic virus definitions updation
: Easy to use, detects viruses and malicious content before it reaches the application
Cons: None
Contact: Microworld Software Services E-mail: 
Tel: 22-8265701 
Address: Plot No.80
Road No.15, MIDC
Marol, Andheri (E)

Viruses are finding newer and creepier ways of getting into computers and making our lives hell. So applications that block them also have to get smarter. There is no denying that e-mail is the most common medium for the spread of viruses these days. eScan Personal Edition not only protects your system from viruses, but also follows a different technique to do so. It scans all incoming data before it reaches the applications it’s meant for. Let’s first understand how it achieves this.

All data reaching applications like Outlook Express ICQ or IE passes through the WinSock layer, which is located at the transport layer of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnect) reference model. eScan creates its own layer, MWL (Microworld WinSock Layer), between the WinSock layer and your PC. This way all data passes through the MWL before reaching the application it’s meant for. eScan can therefore detect viruses or malicious content before it reaches the application. Most anti-virus programs, on the other hand, detect a virus after it has entered the application, unless they route your e-mail through their servers. So, if an e-mail attachment contains a virus then your anti-virus will warn you when you actually try to open the attachment. 

eScan is available for different versions of DOS, and Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000. It’s pretty straightforward to install and creates an eScan monitor icon in your taskbar, which constantly runs in the background looking for viruses. All configuration settings can be accessed from this icon. Apart from the normal detection method, it follows two more methods called Heuristic and Reference analysis. 

The Heuristic analysis lets you find viruses that are not yet included in the eScan virus database. The Reference analysis generates checksums for files that are analyzed and compares these sums with the results of the next analysis. This helps it detect viruses that may not have been discovered yet, and have made changes to your files. It also allows you to specify the objects to include while scanning, for example, compressed files, program files, all files, or the file types you specify.

eScan’s other functionality is similar to any other ordinary virus scanner. You can specify certain actions to perform once a virus is detected. You can delete or quarantine the file, remove the virus, stop your scanning, or just log the event. You can scan network drives, provided they’re shared. As with most anti-virus packages, this one too allows you to schedule scans. 

Content Analyzer

The interesting part about eScan is its content analyzer. This can check for specific phrases in your incoming mail content and also scan attachments. It also has a list of files, which are known to be viruses such as KAK.*, and Love*.VBS. eScan will prompt you with a message the moment it finds a virus or unwanted content. You can also set it to automatically delete or quarantine such attachments. You can also specify your own file names or extensions for it to look out for. Another useful feature in eScan is that you can choose to automatically compress all outgoing mail attachments. This is useful as it saves both time and bandwidth. If you are not sure whether the recipient will be able to uncompress your attachments, then you can also send self-extracting zip files. For smaller files, however, this can actually increase the size of your attachment because the self-extracting program also needs space. 

To see eScan’s MWL in action we did a couple of interesting tests. We first set up a filter in Outlook Express to look for the word ‘PCQ’ in all incoming e-mail and move that mail to a specified folder. We then went to eScan’s Content Analyzer and configured it to do the same thing, meaning look for the word ‘PCQ’ in all incoming e-mail. Here, if the word was found, we configured it to quarantine that mail. Finally, we sent a mail filled with lots of text with the word PCQ hidden deep inside. The result was quite interesting. As soon as we tried to receive the message in Outlook Express, eScan prompted us with the message that the mail contains the protected word ‘PCQ’ and is being quarantined. This happened much before the Outlook Express filter got its turn. eScan also sends back a mail to the sender who’s sent a virus or unwanted content. 

Like other anti-virus programs, eScan also has an update utility called the eScan updater, which runs in the background and can easily be accessed from your system tray. It lets you download the updates using HTTP, FTP or your network. If you access the Net through a proxy server then you can also specify its address. If you choose Network then you just have to specify the network path where the latest definition files are available. This could be useful because you only have to download the updates on one computer on the network and the others can pick it up from there. eScan can also be scheduled to automatically download the updates. Overall a very useful package, considering the functionality it provides.

Sachin Makhija at PCQ Labs

What’s good

GoLive has more under its hood than the average user will ever use. But with that power, it hasn’t gone power-mad. The features are all easily accessible, and they don’t intrude into your consciousness until you need them. A much-improved browser-based help guide lets you find step-by-step advice for particular tasks quickly. But you’ll need that help less and less, because GoLive’s consistency reinforces what you already know. 

GoLive has excellent site management features, with a single interface, the Site window, handling all site features. The Files tab has all files and folders used in a site, exactly mirroring the contents of the local hard drive’s organization. Files can be dragged in and out of this tab, new folders can be created, and objects or items can be moved up or down levels. 

Templates created by GoLive are reusable. Double-click a Stationery file and GoLive offers to create a new page with the template elements. Drag a Component from the Objects palette onto a page, and it copies the HTML while making a reference to the source. Changing the source updates every instance throughout the site. These two features help create an assembly line for crafting sites and later updating them. Making a Component out of a navigation bar allows changes in the navigation with a few clicks and a Save. 

External URLs and embedded e-mail addresses (using the ‘mailto:’ resource locator, to be technical) share the External tab of the site window, while colors applied as attributes and font sets invoked via the Font tag have respective Colors and Font Sets tabs.

The Design tab contains the most powerful and extensive of the new features: A prototyping tool that allows a designer to easily ‘sketch’ out new sites or sections of existing sites by combining templates, links, and layout tools. Pages and sections can be dragged in, and link relationships can be added (to be placed into real links on the finished pages later).

The Design tab allows any site to contain multiple designs in progress, and each design can have elements that are separately linked to different areas of an existing site. A simple staging approach allows you to check designs into your existing site, or to recall them if there are problems. This whole structure offers a way to test ideas out quickly and easily, as GoLive tracks all the relationships, rewriting pages and links as you submit and recall designs.

GoLive includes various new site management features including WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning). Nowadays such collaborative working is becoming the norm for large sites. For these advanced, multi-author sites it’s also becoming common to tailor not just templates and library items but the program itself. WebDAV is a technology for exchanging and synchronizing files, much like FTP but with substantially more power or, conversely speaking, much like CVS (Concurrent Versioning System) but with substantially less power.

WebDAV works over HTTP. It integrates with Apache and other Web servers, allowing the system administrator to add it as an extra. It supports file locking and shared locks so that several people can work on a website at once while knowing precisely who has which files checked out. It also allows better two-way synchronization so that newer files from the server can be downloaded at the same time that local files can be uploaded. This is one of the best features the software offers.

GoLive includes a JavaScript-based SDK (Software Development Kit) complete with interpreter and debugger. The idea is to encourage third-party developers to introduce advanced functionality while letting workgroups take control of features such as custom palettes. The SDK is certainly a step in the right direction but it’s by no means as simple as Dreamweaver’s in-built macro recording.

The software also offers a Clean Up Site tool that carries out a number of housekeeping tasks. It can delete any files in the site that aren’t referenced from any link descending from the home page or navigational hierarchy; and it can copy files from elsewhere on your local hard drive or network that are referenced by pages but not contained in the site’s content folder. 

The Export feature offers three options for copying your site to a new folder. Export also offers ‘stripping’ features that can pull out GoLive-specific HTML, as well as extra white space and comments. 

And what’s not

GoLive lets you plan and build your site before going live, but links must still be handled manually. The software has plenty of options for building and applying Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript, but it hasn’t yet gone that extra mile to provide a full implementation of CSS; nor does it have debugging and programming tools for JavaScript. 

GoLive doesn’t let you use the site design to create automatic navigation links and rollovers in the way that NetObjects Fusion does. Initially this looks possible with the New Pages command which lets you specify automatic links to parent, child or sibling pages. Unfortunately these links aren’t actual but rather ‘pending’. In other words, you will be reminded to add them manually.

GoLive’s use of the Layout grid is great for non-coders and those for whom the visual impact of the page is more crucial than its download time, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t offer good direct table handling too. Some features, such as the ability to sort by rows or columns, are impressive but generally the table handling still isn’t either as interactive or as easily controlled as it should be. GoLive still seems to see tables as an occasional add-on rather than the fundamental basis of a clean HTML layout.

Support for advanced media and dynamic data is important, but by far the most important capability for a Web authoring package is its HTML control. GoLive’s HTML editing is left to two alternative views–HTML Source and HTML Outline–in the Page window. Both of these provide powerful editing environments with advanced features such as code checking against browser profiles, color coding with URL and media file highlighting and so on.

Compared to Dreamweaver, however, with its roundtrip HTML, simultaneous page and code editing and its quick tag selection and editing, control is underpowered and awkward. Dream- weaver’s Tag Selector manages to fit the same functionality into the Page window’s status bar. More importantly, GoLive’s palette’s behavior is strange. For example it looks like you should be able to instantly select the link that the cursor is in and quickly copy it within the Source Code palette; bizarrely though everything is selected apart from the crucial surrounding <A>tags!

Dreamweaver retains its coding edge, but there is one area of HTML functionality in which GoLive does move ahead. In the past, its Find and Replace was limited, but now the feature is fully HTML-aware. Using the new Element tab in particular opens up the ability to search for particular tags or tag attributes, with GoLive intelligently prompting you with all available options. With the Actions option you can then set whether the tag, its attributes or its content is changed. As parameters can be saved and reused, this means that you can automate common searches such as for IMG tags without ALT attributes.

Is GoLive 5 for you? It all depends. If you only dabble occasionally with website design and want lots of help putting pages together, then Microsoft FrontPage may be a better choice for you. For those who need the power of GoLive 5 or Macromedia Dreamweaver, which package will prove the best choice may depend largely on workflow preference. With Dreamweaver, you first figure out what you want and then fill in values; in contrast, GoLive allows you to drop in placeholders that can accommodate any kind of object anywhere, and then leave you to figure out the value later. 

All in all, most people updating websites on a day-to-day basis should find plenty to love in GoLive 5. It’s focused on their needs. 

Swati Sani for PCQ Labs

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