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ClarisWorks Reigns

We’ve come across an intriguing rumor. It might or might not be true, as with all rumors, and I’m sure Claris reserves the right to deny everything or to change its mind, but it appears that all of Claris’s major products are doomed in favor of ClarisWorks.

That sounds radical and rash, since even the slick ClarisWorks 2.0 doesn’t boast anywhere near the stand-alone power of MacWrite Pro, FileMaker Pro, Resolve, or MacDraw Pro. Those products will continue to exist in name, but their current code will be based on the newer and theoretically better code in the ClarisWorks.

If you think about it, this strategy makes sense. MacDraw and FileMaker have been around a long time, possibly with the same code base, Resolve has never competed seriously with Excel, and MacWrite Pro shipped two years late to mixed reviews. In contrast, ClarisWorks is a recent arrival and has proven immensely popular with its method of contextual editing where simply clicking on a spreadsheet object, for instance, makes spreadsheet menus appear. The only major fault in ClarisWorks is its lack of power and expandability for high-end users.

Consider what would happen if you could have the tight, contextual interface of ClarisWorks and the power of MacDraw Pro, MacWrite Pro, FileMaker Pro, and Resolve. At that point you could complain only about specific features not being what you personally wanted, or perhaps about the cost of purchasing all four programs.

ClarisImpact & ClarisDraw — Although we may have to wait a while to see the benefits of Claris’s decision in this respect, the company is hard at work on new technologies, and just announced two new cross-platform applications that use a new graphics engine. ClarisImpact is aimed at business users working on projects such as flow-charts and diagrams, whereas ClarisDraw replaces MacDraw for general purpose graphics. Both programs sport the same basic ideas embodied in Aldus IntelliDraw – features like automatic sizing, aligning, and connection of objects. Claris’s propaganda implies that the Mac versions of these programs are available now – presumably slated for a splash at Macworld, and the Windows versions should appear in the first half of 1994. Suggested retail will be $399 all around, and upgrades from MacDraw go for $99, unless you bought MacDraw Pro after 01-Jun-93, in which case the cost is $29 for ClarisDraw or $49 for ClarisImpact. Finally (I hope you’re keeping track of this), registered users of other graphics applications, MacDraw II, or ClarisWorks can buy either ClarisImpact or ClarisDraw for $149.

OpenDoc — As long as we’re rethinking Claris’s application code base, why not consider the addition of Apple events and Apple’s OpenDoc compound document technology to the mix. OpenDoc is Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s OLE 2.0 (Object Linking and Embedding), and apparently when Bill Gates found out about the project (code named Amber) he had a fit over the phone at David Nagel, who was in charge of the project at Apple. Could Bill be worried about competition? There might be some, since IBM, Lotus, WordPerfect, and Borland have all announced their support for OpenDoc, a cross-platform, open standard.

OpenDoc allows you to do in any compatible application what you can do today within ClarisWorks. Eventually you should be able to create a document without worrying what type of document it is, and then create the data that you want within your generic document. If you added a picture using a graphics application and then needed to edit it, you would be switched right into the graphics package. However, it wouldn’t be like the clumsy linking we have now, but like in-context editing that would provide the appropriate tools and menus when you selected an object.

Although OpenDoc isn’t out yet, it in theory bests OLE in two ways. First, the OpenDoc alliance has set up a certification program to ensure that all OpenDoc applications will work together, and second, OpenDoc will work over a broader range of platforms, including DOS, Windows, OS/2, and of course System 7. Unix is slated for later support. The certification program seems to be the most important aspect, because there’s no sense in having applications that theoretically work together under OLE if they don’t work reliably.

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