Helper Applications

Helper Applications and Plugins

WWW browsers such as NetScape and Mosaic use "helper applications" and "plugins" to assist them dealing with different kinds of files. For example, most sites store software in a compressed form so that in order to use the program you have download you need to uncompress it. WWW browsers can automate this providing you have access to the correct software. This site requires you to have programs capable of handling BinHexed files (Macintosh) or zipped files (Windows).

You can make use helpers to download data files from this site into the appropriate taxonomic or statistical program. For example, a NEXUS format data file, represented by the MacClade icon:

can be associated with the MacClade program. Hence, clicking on a NEXUS data file will load that file into MacClade ready for viewing (assuming that you are using a Macintosh and have a copy of MacClade).

Setting up a helper application

To set up a helper application see the documentation for your browser. Basically you just need to specify a MIME type (in this case "application"), a subtype (e.g., "x-treeview"), and a file extension (e.g., ".tre") which the browser uses to recognise the file.

Microsoft Word

Microsoft provide Word Viewer for Windows free of charge. If you are running Windows but don't have Word, this application enables you to view Word files.

If you are using MS Word 5.x on a Macintosh then Microsoft have a free converter for Word 6.0 files that enables you to read Word 6.0 Mac and Windows documents.

NEXUS data files

Use MacClade 3.0 or later. Set the extension to "NEX". For information on MacClade click here. Alternatively you may want to use PAUP.



To view postscript files you can either print them to a Postscript printer, or use Ghostscript to display them on your computer.

TeX and LaTeX files


TeX and LaTeX files can be viewed using IBM's free techexplorer plugin for Netscape 2.0 or later (requires Windows 95/NT).

ZIP files (PC)

WinZip Now

Windows programs available from this site will usually be compressed using the ZIP format. WinZip is a convenient way to extract zipped files through your browser. Set the extension to "ZIP".

Note that other programs such as UNZIP, PKUNZIP, and Xtree for Windows can also unzip compressed files.

This page last updated 13 December 1996.