Netscape Communicator 4.0 Availaible

Netscape Communicator v4.03, hereinafter called the Communicator 4,  is the latest version of the Netscape suite of programs for Internet Communications. Communicator 4 is currently installed on the Pentium PCs running Windows NT Workstation in room RR-101. You can also download the software to your own computer from a mirror site in Hong Kong

Communicator 4 has many new features and improvements over its previous version, Netscape Gold 3.0.  This article will highlight the new and enhanced features in Communicator 4.
The Communicator 4 provides an extensive Help facility to help you use any component of the software.

Components of the Communicator suite

The heart of Communicator 4 is in the Communicator menu. When it is clicked, all the components of the Communicator suite will be displayed in the pull-down menu.  Navigator, Mailbox, Discussion Groups, and Composer are enhanced components which were already available in Netscape Gold 3.0. New components of Communicator 4 are Conference and Netcaster for the Standard edition.  The Professional edition provides the Calendar, IBM Host-On-Demand and Auto Admin.

Setting Preferences

The old menu "Options" for setting preferences in the previous versions is now placed under the menu "Edit", then "Preferences...".  Double clicking a folded-up category (with a "+" sign in front) will unfold all the levels hidden under that category. Double clicking an unfolded category (with a "-" sign in front) will fold up all the levels under that category. Settings of cache, proxies and disk space are all grouped under the category "Advanced".

This is the browser component of Communicator 4. Clicking on the Navigator component will start a new browser window.

The Communicator screen looks quite similar to the Netscape Gold Navigator screen.  For accessing the Netscape home site, click on the big "N" icon at the far right end of the menu bar.

The Communicator supports the drag and drop technology in all of its components. You can now create your own personal toolbar by dragging the page proxy icon (on the right-hand side of Bookmarks) and dropping it on the personal toolbar.  This makes access to the most frequently visited places even more convenient.  Search on the Internet is made more direct by placing the icons Search and Guide on the browser toolbar.

Printing of any web page can be done by first selecting menu File -> Print Preview to determine the page number of the page you want to print, and then selecting the menu File -> Print and specify the page number.   You can now read a web page, mail, news article or a Netcaster channel off-line to save connection cost by selecting the menu File -> Go Offline.

Clicking the menu Security will display the security advisor which gives you comprehensive information on all Communicator security features and how they can be used.

Messenger Mailbox

This is the Mail component of Communicator 4. Clicking on the Mailbox component will start a new mail window.

You have to configure your Communicator first with all the information about your mail server and your email address by selecting the menu Edit -> Preferences -> Mail & Groups -> Mail Server.

Fill in your host computer account name in the field for "Mail server user name" and fill in in the field for "Outgoing mail (SMTP) server".  For the field "Incoming mail server", you should fill in the name of the host computer on which your e-mail account is created e.g.

For the "Mail Server Type", select POP3 and not IMAP:

You can consult the Help menu for the settings of the other parameters.
 The Mail Window looks like the following:

When the mail window is open, clicking on a mail header once will open the mail in the bottom half of the screen. Clicking on a mail header twice will open it in a full screen.  To return to see the mail headers, click on the green "return" icon  at the far right end of the window.

You can send voice mail by first recording a voice message (a .wav file) and then send the voice file in an ordinary mail.  The voice mail function is located in the Communicator menu of the Conference component, and the documentation for it can be found in the Help menu within that component.

Collabra Discussion Groups
This is the News component of Communicator 4. Clicking on the Collabra Discussions will start a new Message Centre window displaying both the mailboxes and newsgroups.

You have to configure your Communicator first with the name of your news server by selecting the menu Edit -> Preferences -> Mail & Groups -> Groups Server. Set the value of the field "Discussion groups (news) server" to News articles are placed in a folder under the default directory "C:\Program Files\Netscape\Users\username\news\".

The Message Centre Window looks like the following:

Clicking on a newsgroup will launch another window just like the mail window described above. You can view the news articles in a half screen or a full screen.  To return to the Message Centre, just click on the green "return" icon  at the far right side of the screen.

Computer Centre maintains a newsgroup called which is a user forum on computer usage in HKU where users can exchange tips and help each other out. You are encouraged to use the newsgroup for testing purposes until you are familiar with the procedures of posting news.

Please consult the Help menu on how to search and subscribe to a newsgroup, how to post a new topic or respond to a discussion, and all about security issues such as certificates and electronic signatures, encrypting and decrypting messages.

Web Page Composer

This is the Editor component of Communicator 4. Clicking on the Composer component will start a new editor window for writing web pages to be placed on a server. You can then select a new file or an existing file to edit, which will give you another editor window.

The Composer Window looks like the following:


If you are a web page developer, you will like the enhancements in the Composer. Under the Format menu, you will find that you can format your document in any font, size, style, color, even blinking text.

Image handling is much easier in the Composer.  You can now import objects created by other Microsoft software which support the OLE feature (e.g. an Excel table) using the copy and paste function. You can capture a picture from screen (with the Print Screen keyboard button) and insert the picture directly in a web page as the Composer will convert the image into the right format (.gif or .jpg) for you.  The size of an image can also be easily adjusted by pulling on the rim.

The most welcomed new feature for web page authors is probably the spell-checker.  You can find that under the Tools menu or click on the Spelling button on the tool bar.


This is the new conferencing component of the Communicator. Clicking on the Conference component will start a new conference window which allows you to participate in real-time online chats with others on the network.

You have to configure your Conference component first with all the information about your peers in a conference.  In the Conference window, click on the menu SpeedDial  -> Speed Dial 1 (or any menu entry) -> Edit. The following window will appear.

The field "Name" is for ease of identification. The field "Email" and "DLS server" can be filled in if you are sure that your peer, Mabel Chau in the above example, has registered her email address in the specified DLS (Dynamic Lookup Service) server on the Internet.  Otherwise, you need to input the IP address of your peer's computer in the field "Direct address". (The IP address is in the form of 4 numbers separated by periods, like, which identifies a computer on the Internet.)

To start a conference, input your peer's name and IP address (or Email address if s/he has registered in a given DLS server) in the field "Email address" and then click on the Dial button.

It is fun to send and receive voice mail.  Consult the Help menu for details on how to send a voice mail, how to start an audio conference, collaborate on the whiteboard and chat tools and finally how to save the session logs.
Note: You must pre-arrange a time for conferencing with a partner.  In order to place and receive calls, Netscape Conference must be up and running on the computers of both partners.  Also, in order to navigate on the web collaboratively, control of the navigation must be passed explicitly between the partners.


The Netcaster (version 1.0) is a new feature of Communicator 4.  It enables you to subscribe to channels (web sites) and schedule automatic delivery/updating of information from the channels instead of manually searching all over the Internet and saving the web pages and images individually.  You can then read the information at your leisure while you are off-line.

A channel usually carries focused information on a specific topic of interest, and the content is pushed onto your desktop automatically, therefore this is also called "push content delivery".

Note: You have to be connected to Internet in order to update your channels.

Other Components (for Professional edition only)

The Calendar allows you to schedule time tables either on your stand-alone PC or on a server in a timetable shared with others (in which case, a Netscape calendar server is needed).

The IBM Host On-Demand is not applicable in the HKU environment as we do not have IBM Mainframe hosts which require the use of TN3270 terminals.

The AutoAdmin is designed to be used by administrators only.  Web administrators can consult the Help menu on the use of this feature.

Mabel Chau
Tel: 2859 8934


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