is a popular freeware web browser
from a Chinese
programmer named Anderson Che, which unites the Trident layout engine
built into Windows
(see Internet Explorer shell
) with an interface intended to be more feature-rich, flexible and ergonomic than Microsoft
's Internet Explorer
(IE). It runs on Windows 98
and above, including Windows Vista
. Internet Explorer
must be installed.
As of May 31, 2008, total downloads reached 20,893,636.
Avant Browser is currently available in 41 languages.
History and Development
Avant Browser was largely inspired by Opera
, the first major browser to have a multiple document interface
. The developer's objective was to wrap a comparable interface around the layout engine
used by Internet Explorer, thereby achieving Opera-like ergonomics
without suffering the frequent problems that browser had rendering pages tested only in IE. In fact it was initially released under the name "IEopera", though this was soon changed due to the obvious trademark issues.
Latterly, Avant's developer Anderson Che has concentrated on adding user-requested features, and Avant was among the first browsers to have popup blocking, advertising server blocking, and one-click disabling of potential security vulnerabilities such as ActiveX, Java, and scripts.
In the Avant Browser, unlike most other "alternative" browsers, the default search engine is not Google. Instead it uses a version of the Yahoo! search engine, given a custom look and renamed Avantfind, and it is not immediately evident how to change it. However Google and many other search engines are available via the address bar "Quick Search" facility, and instructions on how to change the default to an engine of the user's choice have been posted by the very active Avant Browser user community
The community has also created other tools and extensions for Avant, including registry files which allow it to use the Information Bar and other security enhancements of XP SP2.
Alongside Avant, the developer has a sister project known as Orca Browser, an Avant-like shell of Mozilla's Gecko layout engine as used in Firefox 3 and has similar approaches as Flock. It is in the final testing stage and a public beta version is available.
Avant Browser 11
Avant Browser 11 (build 25 released on October 23
), introduces more new features than any previous iteration. These include support for many toolbars that are compatible with IE, a facility for users to create their own scripted toolbar buttons, and a password and form-filling wizard. The overall trend though seems to be a gradual movement away from Avant's IE roots.
More radical is the addition of a native bookmark system in place of sharing IE's favorites. These bookmarks may be stored online - as can feeds, autofills, and browser settings. This allows the user to synchronize any number of Avant installations on different computers. Avant can still share IE's favorites. This option was reintroduced by the developer after some users lamented its loss.
Another innovation is that Avant may now be run from a flash drive (or other portable storage device such as an MP3 player) without needing to be installed. In conjunction with Avant's session saving facility, this allows the user to halt a browsing session on one PC, move to another and resume viewing the same web pages.
- User-customizable tabbed interface
- Progress bar on each tab (optional)
- Tab locking, duplication, and drop-and-drag arrangement
- Automatically save and reopen any number of pages
- Can restore open pages after system crash
- Undo menu for last 25 closed tabs
- All pages open in single process, reducing resource demands
- Multiple home pages
- Compatible with many IE toolbars and add-ins, including Google toolbar
- Highlight marker to find keywords on any page (the words also used by the search engine)
- Facility for user to add custom-made function buttons
- RSS feed reader built in
- URL alias facility to create keyboard shortcuts to favorite sites
- Page zoom slider - 25% to 500%
- Full desktop mode - hides toolbars
- Full screen mode - hides toolbars and taskbar
- Compact mode - saves interface space
- Boss button - quickly hides browser
- Tray icon - keeps Avant running in system tray for fast access (optional)
- Mouse gestures (customizable)
- Autoscroll facility for hands-free reading
- Context-activated floating toolbars to save and edit images, text and Flash
- Customisable right-click menu entries
- Quick translation menu
- 15 interface languages available so far
- Automatic page refresh at custom intervals
- Sidebar access to:
- Advanced search
- Blocked URL record
- Fully skinnable:
- Range of bundled skin options
- Accessory application allows user to create own skins
- Highly customizable:
- Toolbars can be rearranged freely
- Most functions may be accessed from either toolbar buttons or menus
- All Buttons and menus are optional
Security and Privacy
- Push-button quick blocking of unwanted items (Popups, Adverts, ActiveX, Java, Scripts, Flash, Video, Sound, Images)
- Customizable black/white lists for popups and ad servers
- Multiple proxy servers may be configured
- Browsing tracks cleaner - can clear traces automatically
- XP Service Pack 2 security extensions can be integrated
- Search bar with separate engines configurable for web, images, groups, directories and news
- Search within site, search within page, and target word highlight buttons
- Quick Search facility - user can configure any engine for searches from the address bar
- Similar websites toolbar - searches in background for pages that relate to the current
Bookmarks and Online Storage
- Online secure bookmark, feed and setting storage - allows access of same browser setup anywhere
- Portable flash drive version allows running of Avant without installation
- Bookmark search
- Bookmark validation
- Bookmark toolbar for fast link access
- Bookmarks can be arranged in task-orientated groups that can be opened together or individually
- Optionally uses IE favorites