All Hail Plucker

by Chris DiBona

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I used to think that AvantGo on my Treo was pretty keen, if troubled. Imagine my happy surprise when I tried Plucker. Plucker, like AvantGo, is an offline web reader for a Palm based pda. It reads and processes the websites you want to browse offline and presents them to you in a palmish way on your PDA.

It really is a remarkable tool. I spend altogether too much time on planes, so it is very handy for me to be able to read, for instance, O'Reilly network articles on my PDA when waiting in one of the many lines that typify travel in america today.

AvantGo has some subtle annoyances...and not what you are thinking either...I'm not really bothered by ads, but avantgo allows some ads that are larger than the screen so you have to restart the app to get an ad small enough to pass on a 160x160 screen like the treo has. Also, the Avant Go program is always going to its home server...which is odd as I thought it was all offline storage. It makes me nervous when programs call home, and avantgo seems to work when I shut off the wireless networking on the phone, so I don't know what is up with that. Also, avantgo costs money if you want a feed larger than 2mbs. I have no similar restriction from plucker. I can use as much or as little as I want. I'm cheap I guess.

Plucker allows for some very nice configurability, allowing you to chose how deep you want it to spider your favorite sites, whether or not you want images, if you want the data stored in main ram or on an addon card, etc, etc.... the only way that avantgo surpasses it is in the way that avantgo can update on the pda itself via the gprs tcp-ip connection, but that is almost not worth doing.

Plucker isn't perfect, it doesn't understand the Treos 5 way pad, and its interface isn't perfect, but it gets the information to you, and that is what matters. Anyhow, for those of you with groovy palm based pdas, you should really check out plucker.

Plucker, Plucker, Plucker


2003-12-03 12:49:18
Web forms?
One thing I know AvantGo can do is allow you to download forms, which you could then fill in offline. Can you do this using Plucker?

I'm asking here because I can't seem to get to the Plucker home page (, and the SourceForge site doesn't have much info.


2003-12-03 13:16:03
Web forms?
I think their site is down for now. I don't think you can do forms on plucker. So there's a point for avantgo, for those who need that functionality.
2003-12-03 18:13:28
'Real' plucker website
You may want to modify the url for the plucker website to (
2003-12-04 02:13:07
I've been using it for a month.
It's great, but AvantGo has it's advantages for some things.

For a start, there are two Plucker desktop apps. The orriginal is a Python app (you don't need to know that), but there's also Jpluck which is written in Java (you need to know that, because you need the Java runtime). Jpluck has some additional features, like the ability to pluck RSS feeds.

Baicaly both are just spidering apps. Plucked documents are immutable compressed hypertext (no forms) and can include images. You can say how many levels of links you want to spider, tell it to stick to a domain or server, or specify URL wildcards to include or exclude from the pluck.

I used it to pluck the CIA world fact book. The easiest method I found was to download the whole thing, uncompress it on disk, delete everything I didn't want and pluck the rest (just the index and country data without maps and images). Worked fine. It can be tricky sometimes to just pluck what you want though.

Oh yes, Plucker reads Plam DOC files too.

Simon Hibbs

2003-12-04 10:18:25
I've been using it for a month.
Added a link to this article in my own blog: 'Tungsten E Freeware & Resources'. If I knew what on earth Trackback was or how to use it I'd do that, but my web fu isn't up to it. This blogging stuffs great though, eh?

Simon Hibbs

2003-12-30 08:23:07
Treo's 5-way pad
What version was it and what didn't work as expected?

Plucker should work just fine with the 5-way pad on the Treo 600, though. I have a Treo 600 myself and intend to add even better support for it to Plucker (e.g. for a while now it has been possible to access an external link by going online and download it using Blazer).


2003-12-30 08:28:43
Plucker and Palm DOC
Plucker can't read Palm DOC files.

One of the two possible ways to compress a Plucker document is DOC compression, though. The other is ZLib and that is also the default.

Anyway, there is a difference between the DOC format and DOC compression...