Although I don't think Macworld Expo had any stunning surprises this year, it did feature more promising new products and solid upgrades than I recall from previous years. Perhaps the hardest part this year was remembering everything that I wanted to write about after the fact, but here are some of the lights, mostly high, a few low.
Best New Interface: Retrospect 2.0 -- Although PageMaker 5.0 added some nice interface elements such as the ability to drag objects from one document to another, they also left in some major interface idiocies, such as one setting that requires navigating through five modal dialog boxes. Thus, the best new interface award goes to Dantz for their clever interface work with Retrospect 2.0. Although Retrospect 1.3 was relatively easy to use once you understood its idiosyncracies, it was never a striking example of good design. From the demo I saw of Retrospect 2.0, Dantz has rectified that error and then some.
Almost everything is done from a main modeless window that superficially resembles a non-scrolling System 6 Control Panel. Five icons line up along the left, controlling functions such as instant backup, scripts, reports, configurations, and tools. When you select one with the mouse or by typing the first letter of its name, additional options appear to the right, and again, you can select items in that part of the window by first letter or by clicking. I especially liked Dantz's use of the keyboard since it makes sense to use the keyboard as a controller device when it cannot be used for text input.
The other main interface element that improved significantly is the scripts, which now appear in a single window, showing you the source, destination, criteria, options, and schedule in a clean and easily understood list. Creating and reading selection criteria has become easier, and once created, modifying and using the criteria is also much better. You can even view the files to archive when you have multiple sources selected for archiving, something which irritated me in the previous version. I could go on, but take my word for it, Dantz did an amazing job on the interface. I don't believe the functionality has changed significantly although Dantz did add a few things like faster compression and additional hardware support.
Dantz -- 510/849-0293 -- firstname.lastname@example.org