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Claris Upgrades

As expected, Claris recently announced Resolve, its spreadsheet based on Wingz technology, and upgrades to MacWrite, MacProject, and HyperCard. All designed for System 7, Resolve, MacWrite Pro, MacProject II 2.6, and HyperCard 2.1 share a number of key features such as help, spell checking, and a number of interface controls. They all support the standard System 7 features such as Publish and Subscribe and Apple Events, and HyperCard 2.1 will be able to control a fair amount of the traffic between them with System 7-specific messages.

I saw a demo of Resolve and MacWrite Pro recently, and I was quite impressed. Resolve looks like a solid spreadsheet contender with a better interface than Wingz, its immediate ancestor. Resolve will not put Excel 3.0 out in the street, but it should combine well with the other Claris products for a powerful suite, although it may be a little confusing deciding whether to automate System 7 stuff with Resolve’s scripting language or with HyperTalk. MacWrite Pro should also do quite well for itself in the low-end word processor market with the addition of nicer interface features such as dockable palettes for styles and tools and whatnot (a dockable palette is one that shrinks to just the title bar and sticks itself out of the way in the upper right corner). Most interesting were the Add-Its, which are Claris’s modules for MacWrite Pro (and eventually for all the Claris products). The Claris rep showed two useful Add-Its, a Post-It Note one that allowed you to stick a note anywhere in your document, and a Table Editor that added table creation and editing functions. Also planned is an Equation Editor, although I personally would use MathWriter 2.0 if I ever wrote equations, which I don’t. 🙂

There’s nothing new in the Claris announcement. What’s more interesting is what’s left out. For instance, we know that MacDraw is moving to MacDraw Pro with the upgrade for System 7, and even though FileMaker Pro already exists, Claris used the ‘Pro’ designation too early since it’s not System 7-studly. There’s no doubt that Claris will make FileMaker Pro System 7-studly at some point, but they may be putting it on the back burner (perhaps until the first quarter of 1992) for a while to finish up the Windows version of FileMaker Pro. Since the Windows database market is wide open, Claris would do well to put FileMaker out to users as quickly as possible, especially since people would be more likely to buy MacWrite and Resolve and MacDraw for Windows if they already had FileMaker and if the Windows versions had the same level of interoperability as the Mac versions. Still, Claris shouldn’t wait on FileMaker Pro for the Mac too long, or it will risk losing out if Panorama or another competitor comes out with a truly System 7-studly version that works with other programs, including the Claris suite. Do note also that these were announcements, not releases, so it may be a while yet before these programs are all available. HyperCard 2.1 is available, since it’s included in the Apple Personal Upgrade Kit, but the full Claris upgrade will be a little longer in arriving, perhaps in mid-June. MacWrite Pro will reportedly show up sometime in the fall, Resolve sometime in mid-summer, and no word on the others.

Claris’s announcement of HyperCard 2.1 has prompted the same level of fear and confusion as did the release of 2.0. Basically, if you buy the Personal Upgrade or the Group Upgrade from Apple, you get a fully-functional version of HyperCard 2.1. In addition, Claris says that if you’ve purchased HyperCard 2.0v2, you’ll get a free upgrade (although I suspect that rests on you having sent in your registration card, so check on that). If you want the upgrade sent directly to you, call Claris now, and put in your name so they know to send it out to you as soon as possible.

Like the version of HyperCard 2.0 that comes with Macs now, HyperCard 2.1 in the System 7 upgrade is set to a low user level and includes only a few stacks and little documentation. It is, and I repeat with emphasis to quiet the continual whining about a crippled HyperCard, a fully functional version. You can either type "magic" in the user level setting card of the Home stack or manually go in and set your user level to five. The word from Kevin Calhoun at Apple is that HyperCard 2.1 can of course use 2.0 stacks, and HyperCard 2.0 can use 2.1 stacks. If you rely on any of the 2.1-specific features in your stacks, there’s no guarantee what will happen if they are used in HyperCard 2.0. The best way to ensure that you won’t have any problems is to check for the HyperCard version number in your scripts and exit the 2.1-specific scripts gracefully with a dialog that informs the user that the script requires 2.1.

Of course, Kevin said, "it should be sufficient to say that I recommend 2.1 over 2.0 or 2.0v2 on System 6.0.5 and 6.0.7 as well as 7.0." Bug fixes (yes, Virginia, there is a bug fix) and enhancements (short of the System 7 enhancements) include the ability to print at any standard size to any printer (including the DeskWriter), the eradication of a rare memory leak bug, the ability to tell HyperCard what character to use in parsing lists (the itemDelimiter), the ability to override "start using," "stop using," and "set," and finally, the ability to tell the Picture XCMD whether or not the window should float, no matter what type it is. Thanks for sending that information along, Kevin.

Claris — 800/628-2100.

Information from:
Jim Lester — [email protected]
Steve Goldfield — [email protected]
Alan Coopersmith — [email protected]
John O’Malley — [email protected]
Jim Gaynor — [email protected]
Kevin Calhoun — [email protected]

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