Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 5, NO. 12 / APRIL 1987


A high-resolution page designer


TypeSetter Elite is a product enabling you to design and print high resolution pages. These pages can include a wide variety of text in multiple sizes, simple graphic shapes drawn within TypeSetter, and more complex graphics imported from other programs. There are a few minor bugs you will need to look out for, and some of the options could be easier to use, although overall the program operates smoothly and is GEM-driven. TypeSetter Elite is not billed as a "desktop publishing" program, although, to a limited extent, it does a nice job of laying out single pages. The quality of the printed output is very good, and the program works with Epson/compatibles, Prowriter, and Gemini 10x printers.

Typesetter Elite offers many options, the bulk of them available in the drop-down menus. The program is arranged into four screens which make up the final "page." There is enough overlap between the four screens so you can see where you are as you switch from screen to screen. Part of the versatility of TypeSetter Elite is the ability to import from many other programs. You can import screens (to any of the four screens) from DEGAS or NEOchrome, import quarter-screen TypeSetter icons from XLENT's Rubberstamp or PM Interface, and load different fonts (TypeSetter comes with quite a few, and you can use fonts created by DEGAS and PM Interface). You can even choose whether to import a page, screen or icon and replace what is on the screen already or just merge the screen and the new file. Text from word processors can also be imported, by a two-step process. First you must import the text into an included utility called "TSE80.PRG." From there, you save the text as a TypeSetter screen, which can then be loaded into TypeSetter Elite. You may also SAVE screens, icons, and the whole page for use in other programs or to print out. Finally, you have the ability to load and save borders, although I didn't try this out as none are provided on the disk.

TypeSetter Elite has some simple graphics tools for drawing lines and shapes to offset different blocks of text on your page. These include a pencil draw mode, Drawto (line) mode, K-line mode (draws only horizontal or vertical lines), rectangle and ellipsoid modes. These last two will be filled depending on the options chosen for "Fill." You are equipped with an eraser, and also the ability to fill any closed shape. The eraser is of limited use, because it is very small. You can erase large blocks by using a rectangle filled with white, then erasing the outline of the rectangle.

You also have other options which can be used with the tools. You can set the pen size, which regulates how big a point or line you will draw with, set the fill index, style and color, and set the write mode. The write mode determines whether your drawing will replace what is underneath, be in the reverse color where it is on top of something (XOR) or just merge with it (overlay). The fill options allow access to a variety of fill patterns, whether to use no fill, a solid fill or the chosen pattern, and what color to use.

TypeSetter Elite allows for cut-and-paste as well. You may grab a rectangular section of the screen using the mouse, and either replace it somewhere else (leaving a blank space behind), or copy it somewhere else, leaving the original as it was. In either case, you have the option of overlaying the new copy on the screen or replacing what was in the new position before. These options are rather limited by the fact that the "grab" rectangle is small and cannot usually pick up everything you'd like. For example, it is not big enough to grab a whole quarter-screen icon at one time. Another option allows you can pick up a whole screen at once, as well.

The text options of Typesetter Elite are the best feature of the program. There are two ways to put text on the screen. The first is to load a custom font into memory. As mentioned above, fonts from a variety of sources will work. These can even be NLQ fonts, which are of higher resolution and more carefully detailed.

Once you've loaded the custom font, you may choose from 10 widths and 10 heights, giving access to 100 different font sizes. You can, of course, load a different - custom font at any time, so you can mix fonts on the page. You can also select the font color. The second text option is to use the built-in system fonts. You may select from 23 different sizes of font, from absolutely tiny to huge. You can also have bold, light, italics, underline and outline, or combinations. (Of course, some combinations don't work very well.) You can specify whether text laid on the screen replaces what is behind it or overlays it. The arrow keys, [RETURN] key, [BACKSPACE] and [DELETE] all work to edit your text. If you are using the system fonts, you can select the alternate fonts that are built into your ST, including Greek, Hebrew and European.

Since you have four screens to work with, there has to be a mechanism for moving between the screens. The arrow keys only move around the currently visible screen. To switch screens, or move the currently visible screen up, down, left or right, you use the Shift menu. This can sometimes be awkward, and I wish you could scroll the visible screen using the arrow keys.

The proof of all this is the final printed output. You can choose the printer type and number of copies (useful for when laser printers are common). You can also look at a print preview, which shows a representation of your page on the screen. In addition to printing out the entire page (all four screens), you can choose to dump just the visible screen, or portions of the screen for 3 x 5 cards, 4 x 6 cards, mailing labels, "Rolodex-size" cards, or a free form (any size) box. If you choose one of the fixed sizes, you will be allowed to position a rectangle to show the portion to be printed. If you choose free-form, then you can move the top, bottom, left and right sides of the rectangle independently to select the print area.

In addition to the mouse-menu controls, there are some function key shortcuts for use as you get more familiar with the program. Such options as selecting the system font or custom font can be more efficiently chosen this way There are also a very few controls which are only available from the function keys, such as setting the right and left margins.

My biggest complaint about XLENT Software's products has always been their documentation. I have often found it confusing to use their products. The documentation which accompanies TypeSetter Elite is a tremendous improvement. The 35-page booklet is clearly written, and addresses every complaint I've ever had. It is divided into logical sections, includes a multitude of diagrams showing what the screen menus and dialog boxes look like, shows samples of all the system fonts (including the alternate fonts, and what keys to press to get aparticular character), and even has an appendix which details all the files on the disk and what they are for. I am thoroughly impressed by the documentation, and hope all XLENT's future products come with a manual this good.

There are some minor bugs in TypeSetter Elite and some functions which could work smoother. First, the bugs:

1.) When you pull down a menu and click on an item, it leaves a mark behind on the screen. You will have to go back and erase all the stray marks when you are done.

2.) Drawing a filled shape over the text cursor or backspacing the cursor while in overlay mode leaves a "hole" which is very hard to repair if it is in a pattern fill. The solution is obviously not to have the cursor where it can be drawn over, and to put text in first, then fill in overlay mode.

3.) If you change the size of the system font, any error messages will be almost impossible to read, since they will be written out in the newly-chosen size instead of switching back to normal size first.

Since you must shift between screens, I was never successful in drawing a line all the way across the screen which lined up perfectly. This is a bigger problem than you might think, since you will often want to set off headlines from the text by using a line. Also, I really miss not being able to import Printmaster icons directly onto the TypeSetter page. You can get at Printmaster icons by using XLENT's PM Interface to translate PM icons into TypeSetter icons, but then the tiny PM icons take up a quarter page and 8000 bytes, most of which is empty space. Not only would it take days to move the PM icon disks into TypeSetter format, but it would take quite a stack of disks as well.

These small complaints aside, TypeSetter Elite from the prolific team of Dennis Young and Len Dorfman is a useful and easy-to-use program. The combination of GEM interface, excellent documentation, graphics, text and printer support at a very reasonable price are sure to make this one a winner.

XLEnt Software
P.O.Box 5228
Springfield,VA 22150
Atari 520ST/1040ST