Requirements: Apple IIe with 80-column card and 128K memory, or Apple IIc; IBM PC, XT, AT, or compatible, with 256K. (Apple version reviewed here; IBM version differs in some respects.)
Printrix is a program that offers a nice midway step between word processing and desktop publishing. Unlike too many programs lately, this one doesn't pretend to be a full-fledged desktop publisher. Printrix is an interim program—its subtitle is Personal Typsetting Software—that succeeds at what it sets out to do.
Printrix formats text from an outside source into a variety of fonts. Layout is accomplished through a simple but very complete formatting menu in which paper size, margins, tabs, justification, linefeeds, and page numbering are set from an easy-to-use onscreen listing.
Type Styles And Sizes
The text can then be enhanced via Printrix's different print styles and sizes. The program also is able to read fonts from its cousin, Fontrix. Printrix comes with 15 fonts, or type styles, ranging in size from 15 to 70 points. The largest type size produces screaming headlines; in-between sizes can be used for subheadings; and 15-point type produces print somewhat larger than you are accustomed to seeing on normal printed pages.
This last characteristic I consider one of the package's few shortcomings: Printrix would be even more usable with a few fonts in the eight- to tenpoint range.
Since Printrix is, in essence, a graphics printing program, the number of fonts available to you does not depend upon the number built into your printer. The only necessity is that your printer must have the ability to print graphics.
Individual fonts can be reconfigured from a Change Font Parameters menu. This feature lets you select proportional printing, spacing and linefeed gaps, italics, and other typesetting tools.
(In a similar manner, Printrix allows the use of graphics in your published work. Several are included with the program, and you may also use clip art from programs such as Print Shop.)
Text From All Over
Files from almost any word processor may be used. Printrix supports Apple-Works, AppleWriter, Word Juggler, and WordPerfect. For other word processors, Printrix reads files saved in standard ASCII ProDOS format. (ASCII files created with DOS 3.3 have to be converted to ProDOS files before they can be read.)
It's a simple matter to print a file with Printrix. The Text Formatting screen tells you the page size and then tells you to select one of the four fonts on the program disk. (Two double-sided disks are included with Printrix. One holds the program and fonts; the other holds Configuration and more fonts. The second disk contains fonts on both sides.) This will print a document using only one font, but the program is capable of much more than that.
When you start using Printrix, the configuration program prompts you for details as to your computer, printer, interface card, word processor, and so on. This information is saved to the program disk, ensuring that subsequent startups automatically configure the program to your system.
Fonts And Features
Through the use of commands embedded in your word processing file, it is possible to use as many as four fonts per line and an unlimited number of fonts per page. A command for a font looks like this: ^F = 1 (which prints the font loaded in the first position) or ^F-2 (which switches to the second font). Since there is no command for turning a font off, your file continues in font 2 until it reaches a command to revert to font 1.
In contemplating the use of multiple fonts, be aware that each font must be read into memory before it can be used, and that the Font Load and Text Formatting routines allow for only four numbered fonts at a time. To take the program to its limits, you have to pause printing while changing the numbered font designations and then do a great deal of disk swapping to load those fonts into computer memory.
I think the easiest course is to compose your files with only four fonts in mind: one for headlines, one for subheadings, one for standard text, and one special font for calling attention to a particular item. Things will also go easier if you plan your work so that the four chosen fonts are all on the same side of the disk or, if you're using two disks drives, on only two disks.
Start The Presses
Though Printrix will work with almost any graphics printer, it offers an extra feature to users who own printers with reverse linefeed. Should you be one of those, you may choose two-column printing from the Text Format menu. Printrix prints the first column, reverses your paper to the top of the page, and prints the second column.
If you're searching for the news-print look of other desktop publishing systems, two-column printing will bring you a bit closer, but keep in mind that Printrix has no system for dividind columns with lines, as do other new print programs.
On balance, I find Printrix is exactly what it says it is: a text-formatting program. With a variety of fonts, layer functions, an ability to incorporate graphics, and clear documentation the explains how to put it all together, Printrix allows you to get your feet wet desktop publishing and perhaps her you decide whether to pursue the nothing at a greater expense.
Whether or not you elect to go the way, Printrix adds some attention getting visuals to whatever you have print: letters, reports, broadsides, manifestos.
Denver, CO 80203
$65 Apple version
$165 IBM PC version