Browsing the Web with W3

You don’t need to leave Emacs to browse the World Wide Web if you use William Perry’s Emacs-based browser W3. [43](It’s not part of Emacs by default, but you can get it easily enough; more on this later.) The current version of W3 doesn’t rival a graphical interface (although we hear it’s headed that way), but, once again, the benefit of using W3 in Emacs is its integration with other work. Say you get a mail message with a URL that points to a Web site or FTP site you’d like to visit. [44]By moving to the URL and typing ESC x w3-follow-URL-at-point, you go to the site. If you like what you see, add the site to your hotlist or save the contents of the page in a file (C-x C-w). Emacs saves the file without Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) markup.

If you write HTML, you can browse it without leaving Emacs. Simply type ESC x w3-open-local RETURN filename RETURN. Emacs displays your HTML file using W3. (Chapter 9 describes using html-helper mode to write HTML.)

With W3, you can avoid typing URLs most of the time. You can copy URLs to the kill ring, paste them, insert them in buffers, add them to hotlists, and retrieve them, all without typing them. In addition, when you’re fetching URLs, you can press TAB in the minibuffer to use Emacs’ completion feature, a good way to get an idea of what a given site has to offer.

W3 supports the following URL types:

  • Usenet news

  • HTTP .9 and 1.0

  • Gopher and Gopher+

  • FTP

  • local files

  • Telnet

  • TN3270

  • Mail

Whereas in most cases W3 ...

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