Teknidermy Magazine - Issue 5 , Vol. 1
July/August, 2001

Browser Bob, from the inside......
by Doreen

Markus Schueler is one of the people behind BrowserBob, which is a Skinnable Free Form Browser. This browser is totally Fun & Easy to skin, and the sky is the limit with how creative you can get with Browser Bob.

(Click here to meet Markus & Stefan and also ss's of BrowserBob2 )

Keep in mind the screenshots of BrowserBob 2 are shots of it while it is currently under construction and being worked on (the GUI will not look like this in the final version).

Tek: Markus first I’d like to say Thank you so much for doing this interview for Teknidermy =)

Markus: Sure no problem, I think I have to say thank you back;-). It’s very nice to talk to people who understand the topic, first of all, so I think you are the first ones to talk to – and sure I hope it helps BrowserBob too...

Tek: What exactly is your position in regards to BrowserBob?

Markus: That’s not really an easy question you know – we are only two people right now so I’m responsible for everything except the development itself.. but we discuss about all the important stuff anyway and decide together. Same for features and functionality as for all the rest ... so I do the communications and marketing as well as the financial stuff... I hold 50% of the company – our genius developer Stefan holds the other half. From time to time we have some external people helping us out ...

Tek: Would you please share a little of your Background information with us? I always try to find out for the readers and of course for me a little bit of the personal side of the individual I'm interviewing such as age, education, boxer or briefs you know....

Markus: Ok my background...;-)

Let's talk about the back first - it's hurting sometimes as I'm sitting in front of those bloody computers a bit too much... when it comes to the ground I don't like to stay on it all the time, first of all as I like to shape the future of technology a little bit which is easier when you're not connected to the ground too much, and secondly I sometimes like to take off from the ground in small airplanes (which I learned in Florida by the way ;-) and leave all that small earthy stuff where it belongs - even stupidity looks different from above ;-)...

Back to the serious stuff, my educational background is quite serious though, I studied business administration in Germany (you won't know the city so I leave it, it's already enough if you know that Germany does not belong to Russia ;-) and Paris (here again I hope all of you readers will know where that is... the nicest city in Europe at least...) with main topics being information management (computer stuff) and international marketing.

Then I started to work as a business consultant (mainly business process reengineering) ... it's quite an interesting job, I worked for big companies in Thailand, Saudi Arabia and all over Europe but one day I thought it's time to do my own thing and try if I can succeed by myself - maybe you even work more hours than before but you really know that it's for yourself... and it turned out to be much harder than we all thaught in the beginning, but it's more challenging and fun too...

OK and for the boxer or briefs question it's mostly boxer-briefs, as I'm always trying to find the best solution for a problem ;-) - and I've got a regular style in-turned belly-button ...;-) oh yes and I'm 28 years old (or young? who cares...)"

Tek: hmmm that belly button sounds kinda interesting ;) hehe

Can you tell the readers more about what Browser Bob is and the specifics of what it has to offer its users such as its current features etc?

Markus: BrowserBob is basically a browser-authoring tool – you can design a browser based on MS IE functionalities within minutes without knowing anything about programming.

Literally, you just take some pics and sounds put them into BrowserBob and you make a personal internet browser by dragging and dropping them and choosing which one is a button - assign a button functionality like “Back” or “Forward” or a link to a website etc... very easy.

So you can design a freeform Internet browser not recognizable as Internet Explorer anymore but using IE’s features.

Ok this sounds fun and it obviously is, as there is already a nice BrowserBob fan community out there, which really likes to design their own webinterface. But there’s also the serious marketing aspect about BrowserBob.

Big brands are always trying to be different from others and find new ways of communicating with their customers. Here is one powerful new way to do so. The big difference to internet marketing we used to have is, that you can bring the website and content to the user’s desktop via a branded browser.

Aas long as you have something to offer in exchange for this – maybe just nice design, better functionality...even special offers via the browser, or access to designated areas only accessible via the BrowserBob browser...

Tek: Who exactly came up with the idea for Browser Bob? And who created Browser Bob?

Markus: Stefan (the developer) and I came up with it during a discussion in a nice cafe... ;-)

Why shouldn’t you give people an easy way to change the interface of their browser, as they like using skins for mp3 players for example... Stefan says the initial idea was mine, but it doesn’t matter –

so we started thinking about this stuff more and more, and tried to figure out what people could use it for... finally we gave it a try and here we are – with lots more possible fields of application than we dreamt of initially.

Think of Intranet, Kiosk systems, multimedia CD’s etc... It’s really become a powerful app... Stefan did, and still does the whole development on his own – it’s a hell of a job for one person...

Tek: What kind of difficulties if any did you have prior to releasing Browser Bob’s first build?

Markus: I can’t tell you much about that, only that we did not have much experience in internet marketing.... on the development side problems are a bit too specific to describe here, but I guess you can imagine how hard it must be to create an app that is usable for a 12 year old but creates a complex program like a browser...

Tek: When did Browser Bob hit the Internet?

Markus: The first release came out in May 2000, but you can say it hit the internet in September, when we decided to make it available free of charge for non-commercial use...

the skinning community did an incredibly good job making BrowserBob well known on the internet – thanks again for that. We just made them wait a bit longer for version 2. Maybe we should have kept on improving version 1 for a while. But you will see that it was worth the wait ;-) in the end.

Tek: What can we expect to see in Browser Bobs future builds? Any new exciting features that will be implemented/added to the current build?

Markus: I can’t really talk too much about our future plans with Bob, as they are too exciting to reveil too early. Our current version 2 which is coming out soon is incredible enough already. Some feats are hard to explain without showing them but I’ll try anyway:

The current version was limited to basic browser functionality like back, forward etc. whereas our upcoming version 2 will integrate more IE functionality – it’s going to be freeform resizable, you will be able to integrate several web windows into one browser displaying any web content such as banners, and other multimedia content.

Very exciting are the “actions” it will have, meaning you can specify user actions or system events triggering the browser to change into a different design or shape, opening additional windows or work with animations... sounds interesting he? Yeah, and it is!

You will be able to do things you would never have imagined could be a browser functionality... It’s going to take some time though until people realize that this is not JUST a browser any more – we don’t expect this to happen too quickly, but if some really good people get their hands on the tool you will be amazed... let’s wait and see ;-) ...

Our goal is to make BrowserBob not only usable for what you would call an internet browser, but as a tool to create integrated customized front ends for any app based on internet technology – which is going to be the majority of apps in the future...

Just give us some time for further releases ;-) and maybe some more developers...

The technology we use enables us to integrate new features very easily and shape the tool into what we foresee the future “web” will need to enhance peoples internet - usage... I know this sounds a bit of a big goal, but I’m convinced that users will help us to achieve that ;-)

Tek: Most importantly (because everyone keeps asking) when can we expect the next version to be released?

Markus: When this interview is published we should be almost ready for a first beta. We experienced several problems on the way... and as we created a whole new concept we could not really use anything from BrowserBob 1 in terms of components or the like – it’s a whole new kind of grown up program which has nothing to do with BB 1 anymore.

You can really say it’s only limited by imagination now what you can do. It is still an easy to use app for beginners, but at the same time a powerful tool for developers – you could almost call it a RAD Tool (Rapid Application Development ) for customized user interfaces... you’ll have to see it to get the whole point...

Tek: How does Browser Bob compare to all the other Skinnable Browsers that are currently available all over the Internet?

Markus: BrowserBob is not comparable to anything you find out there today, as it’s not a stand-alone skinnable browser. We think it would be stupid to fight against IE for example. BrowserBob just adds to IE - consequently BB browsers are usable on any Computer running Internet Explorer (4.0 or higher).

So it’s pretty obvious I’d say... have you ever seen an app that does the whole skinning job for you without having to read through manuals or edit text files and stuff – just take some pics, position them and done – I don’t know any other app that is so easy to skin today – do you?

We experienced that a lot of people who have never even thought about changing the way their browsers look themselves, did it after finding BrowserBob... the same is true for media agencies who are starting to discover what new possibilities they have without having to outsource the job to specialized developers...

Look at Neoplanet for example, it’s nicely done and has some good features, but it’s just a little more exciting than IE itself and every Neoplanet Browser looks like the other in terms of shape, functionality, position of buttons etc. - very limited and always with ads and stuff. With BrowserBob you are completely free what buttons to use, what shape, what functionality, you can place ads or leave it etc.

It’s a different browser world only standardized to the extent it has to be: the underlying browser technology based on the market leader MS Internet Explorer gives you a lot of security and good technology as a basis for the browser – the rest is up to you...

Using BrowserBob, both as a company or private user, you have a huge creativity advantage, as well as an incredible efficiency advantage... also, you are not forced to use a system connecting to the developers site all the time...

Tek: Anything else in the works from your company that pertains to skinnable apps?

Markus: as I outlined above, BrowserBob 2 will get features integrating controls for other apps with next releases, besides that, NO, but that’s all you’re gonna need ;-) – Remember that “soon” you will find that "some kind of a browser" is all you need as an interface to any computerized task. Other apps with stand-alone interfaces will disappear more and more - or better yet, they will evolve towards web technology – and BrowserBob cares for the customized user interfaces... ;-)

Tek: Well thanks so much for all that you've shared with us Markus and we all look forward to seeing Browserbob 2 upon it's release!

For more information and a link to Download Browserbob be sure to visit their web site at

Doreen, 07-01-01 © Teknidermy 2001