Dead reptiles: software evolution. (graphics, design and desktop publishing software) (Buyers Guide)
by Robert Bixby
Low-cost products aren't necessarily low-end. Like PagePlus and GeoWorks, 1st Design provides inexpensive power.
Are you as tired of dinosaurs as I am? If not, check out Jurassic ART from Computer Support (15926 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas 75244-9982; 214-661-8960; $59.95). It's a special packaging of Scenerio (reviewed in an earlier column). Computer Support has always been known for its clip art, and it's brought something new and interesting to the genre--a little flexibility. Jaws and limbs of certain pieces of dinosaur clip art can be ungrouped from the rest of the drawing and rotated to change the pose. Kids will love the drawings you create with Jurassic ART, if dinosaurs haven't gone the way of the pet rock and the Davy Crockett hat by the time you read this.
Lizards have popped up in the chat areas online as well. Among the Rush Limbaugh dittohead clubs and invitations to twisted trysts, Barney (the kidshow dino) is appearing in the names of chat rooms such as Death to Barney.
If you're looking for a GUI with a collection of useful apps like spreadsheet, database, and word processor, GeoWorks Ensemble 2.0 is out--and has been out for some time now. Unfortunately, the folks at GeoWorks (2150 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California 94704; 510-644-0883; $79.95) wouldn't let me write about the product until it was on the market.
GeoWrite, the program most directly applicable to this column, has a lot of new desktop publishing capabilities including master pages and frames. You can use all of the fonts you've been using with 1.2. The new GeoWrite automatically converts 1.2 documents to 2.0 format, but although you can export to several other formats (not just ASCII), you can't export to a GeoWrite 1.2 format.
GeoDraw is now packed with drawing utilities including curve editing and more import filters. At their most advanced level (all apps in 2.0 feature four levels of operation), each of the major applications incorporates GeoDraw, so you can use all of the drawing tools within GeoDraw and GeoWrite as well as within the spreadsheet and database.
GeoWorks Ensemble 2.0 is a faster, friendlier, larger collection of even more useful utilities and applications than version 1.2. Desktop publishers should consider it among other low-cost desktop publishing options. GeoWorks seems to be more interested in third-party support this time around, having already run a "boot camp" for outside developers.
I might as well admit that I love a bargain. GST, the developer of Timeworks' line of desktop publishing programs, is going to introduce a Windows illustration and design program called 1st Design at the incredible price of $49.95.
With 53 TrueType fonts, 1st Design features a simple autotrace, polygons and stars, gradient fills, Bezier curves, blends, and typographical manipulation (like kerning, fitting to path, and spacing) worthy of a product several times its price.
The 1st Design product does lack masking and hole-cutting features, however.
The GST product was released in the U.S. in September, though it's been available in Britain for some time. GST can be reached at Meadow Lane, St. Ives, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England PE17 4LG; 011-44-480-496-789. As of this writing, GST doesn't have a U.S. address.
A second GST program, 1st Press, may also be introduced. It's a frame-based Windows desktop publishing package reminiscent of Ventura Publisher.
There's stiff competition at the low end of the price spectrum from products like PagePlus (Serif, P.O. Box 803, Nashua, New Hampshire; 800-697-3743), which is being compared with high-end desktop publishing programs like QuarkXPress but sells for only $59.95. A fonts package (with 120 TrueType fonts) and a type manipulation package are available for $19.95 each.
Have a DTP tip you'd like to share? Let me know about it by calling (900) 884-8681, extension 7010203 (sponsored by Pure Entertainment, P.O. Box 186, Hollywood, California 90078). The call will cost 95 cents per minute, you must be 18 or older, and you must use a touch-tone phone. Or write to "Art Works" in care of this magazine. And if you don't have a tip, please let me know what you're publishing, what software you're using, and how "ArtWorks" can help.