New Wave 4.0. (graphical user interface) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Richard O. Mann
I welcomed the opportunity to review Hewlett-Packard's New Wave 4.0 because, frankly, I've never really understood what it does. The reviews talk about objects, tools, agents, and task languages. While all those words have meaning to me, until now they haven't added up to an understanding of the program.
Hewlett-Packard bills New Wave as "the premier desktop for Microsoft Windows." As a desktop manager, it replaces the Windows Program Manager and, partially, File Manager. It makes Windows even more Mac-like (even down to the trash can icon for deleting things) and insulates you completely from DOS directories and filenames.
New Wave is built completely around objects and tools. Tools are programs with no data of their own; they merely work on your system or data generated by other programs. The printer tool and the trash can are tools. Objects are usually documents (or files, if you think that way) linked to the program that created them. To create an object, attach a data file to its program, give it a name of up to 32 characters, and put the resulting descriptively named icon somewhere on your desktop. Double-clicking on the new icon launches the program and loads the data file; you're immediately ready to work on the document. You don't need to know the name of the program, the name of the data file, or their locations in your disks and directories. Just click on the icon, and the program's running.
New Wave icons (representing objects and tools) can be on the primary desktop or in folders. Folders can contain other folders--giving you the nested program groups that Windows does not--and can be filed in the file cabinet (another tool icon). With folders and the file cabinet, you can create an organized maze of directories and sub-directories without ever knowing how you did it. This is the first truly effective way I've seen to control the ever-growing army of icons on my Windows desktop.
While Windows 3.1 delivers useful new drag-and-drop features (primarily in File Manager), New Wave expands the concept. To print a document, for instance, merely drag the object incon to the printer icon and drop it there. Delete by dragging items to the trash can. You can even open a file by dragging it from the Windows File Manager and dropping it on the New Wave object icon for its related program.
It's an extremely effective desktop manager, but there's more to New Wave than that. One of the tools is the agent. To use DOS terms, the agent is a combined batch file and macro facility. You can define a complex set of procedures for automatic execution through the Agent Task Language, which is powerful enough to run DOS programs and handle concurrently running programs. You can create dialog boxes with push-button options, schedule agent tasks to run at a later time, or even key them to run when specific events take place.
The agent is definitely in power user country. Using the agent, a savvy PC manager can write procedures that will truly insulate his novice users from any DOS or Windows pain.
A third leg of New Wave is the work group library. You can drag objects to the Object Storage area, where they will be available to other network users. You don't have to know the network drive letters or directories to store or retrieve the objects.
New Wave definitely improves your ability to organize and manage your daily Windows work. If I were an office network manager with a batch of nervous users, I'd love what New Wave could do for me. As an individual computer user, however, I'm not sure the admittedly first-rate desktop management functions are worth the program's price and the more than 7MB of hard disk space that it occupies. And if I were a nervous novice, I doubt that I'd have the insight necessary to configure the program well enough to help me significantly.
But, oh, what this could do for an office PC manager!