Apple promises future PowerPC upgrades for specific Macintoshes, announces that they turned a small profit last quarter, and officially terminates its relationship with John Sculley. Filling out the issue, we have the latest on Adam’s Internet book including a letter from the publisher, and a call for sumex mirror sites to form a central registry. Finally, Matt Neuburg continues his detailed look at outliners, this time exploring Symantec’s saurian MORE.
The good news
The good news continues, with Apple reporting late last week that they posted record revenues and unit shipments for the fourth fiscal quarter. Apple’s revenue for the quarter was $2.14 billion, a 21 percent increase from the same quarter last year. Of course, revenues don’t mean much if expenses were equally high, and although not impressive, Apple turned back to profitable ways, with a net income of $2.7 million, somewhat less than the $97.6 million the company made the same quarter last year. Needless to say, earning $2.7 million is better than losing hundreds of millions, as had happened earlier this year (although the net income for the year was $86 million). Apple attributes the decline in net income to the fact that gross margins declined from 42.7 percent of sales to 25.7 percent of sales.
John Sculley’s salary
John Sculley’s salary won’t cut into that net income any more, as he was officially replaced as chairman of the board last week by A.C. (Mike) Markkula, Apple co-founder and chairman of the board from 1977 through 1981. I won’t dwell on whether or not Sculley left voluntarily, although he wasted little time in finding a new position as head of a company called Spectrum Information Technologies. No clue what they do.
Ric Ford <[email protected]> noted that the System Update 2.0.1 does not replace the Software Update previously released since System Update 2.0.1 does not include MacCheck, a useful diagnostic utility.
v.what? — A typo bit us in last week’s issue. The article on the PSI PowerModem incorrectly said that the modem uses v.32 error correction and v.32bis compression – those numbers should be v.42 error correction and v.42bis compression. Sorry for the confusion – the modem supports the v.32 and v.32bis communication protocols, which define the connection speed (9,600 bps or 14,400 bps), but are different from the error correction and compression protocols.
Sumex Mirrors, Speak Up!
Liam Breck <[email protected]>, the Info-Mac moderator in charge the sumex reorganization, writes:
Attention administrators of Info-Mac mirror sites:
We are compiling a list of Info-Mac mirror sites around the world so we can inform users where else our archive can be reached and so we can stay in touch with our mirrors about important changes, such as the recent file list format change.
If you are in charge of, or closely associated with, an Info-Mac mirror site, please email me the following information:
- site Internet address
- site location (include organization, city, state, country)
- email address(es) of site administrator(s)
- name(s) of site administrator(s)
- site disk capacity
- site operating system
- how much of the Info-Mac archive is available at site
- how often site connects to Info-Mac for updates
- method used to update site
Letter from Hayden
Dear TidBITS Subscribers:
Thank you for your enthusiastic participation in the special offer on our book by Adam C. Engst, The Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh. Your response has literally been overwhelming, and in between gasps we’d like to extend our thanks to you in making this endeavor a success. As Hayden has done nothing like this online sales offer before, our parent company has experienced some rude shocks in making the new technology mesh with the old (that’s right, they still use PCs and mainframe databases).
We download all of the orders we receive on a daily basis, sort them into international and domestic customer piles, and then route the former to our International Sales reps and the latter to our 800# Sales reps. This is what we were told to do when we first presented the idea. Then we were informed much later, just as you found out last week, that international orders should go directly through our "local" international offices (see TidBITS #197 for that contact information). Add the fact that orders are parallel-processed (entered in sales, shipped from the warehouse), and you can see that some problems were bound to happen. Granted, for our part, we didn’t initially confirm orders via email. We have corrected all of these internal problems now, and we will confirm future orders.
However I’m sure you’re saying, "Great, but where does that leave my order?" You can assume that your message made it through to us. We’ve had no perceptible data loss, and messages that ask what happened to your previous message can worsen an already large volume problem. It generally takes two to four working days to process domestic orders, and then tack on normal delivery time via whatever method you chose to have it delivered. For international orders, the situation is stickier for the aforementioned reasons, so generally allow four days to one week for processing, and then tack on the normal delivery time. Please remember that shipping and handling charges aren’t for us: they’re for the carrier of your choice once your order has been fulfilled. So please carefully check both your packing slip and your carrier receipt (if any) to determine the blame for a delay (and if it’s with us, send me email personally!).
I can’t express enough how grateful we at Hayden Books are for the level of demand Adam’s book has generated. Thanks to your enthusiasm and feedback on our problems, we have convinced our parent company of the importance of having mechanisms in place to deal with the needs, present and future, of the Internet community.
As Apple releases several new computers this week (see TidBITS #195 for more details on those machines), Pythaeus tells us that they’ll be making a strong commitment to upgradeability with a "Ready for PowerPC upgrade" promotion. Officially, Apple will provide a PowerPC upgrade path for the Centris 610, 650, and 660AV; the Quadra 610, 650, 660AV, 800, and 840AV, and the Mac IIvx (probably the IIvi as well) and Performa 600.
Apple created quite a stir when it first began talking about platforms it had slated for upgrading, leaving out the Macintosh Quadra design that’s been used for the Quadra 900 and 950, and the Workgroup Server 95. Early buyers were stunned that the top-of-the-line equipment they’d been buying for almost two years would go no further.
The list of upgradeable Macintosh models leaves out these Quadras and the high-end Workgroup Server, but market pressure may yet convince Apple to produce a tower-sized PowerPC model, and as a result, an upgrade possibility for tower-sized Mac owners. In addition, accelerator-maker DayStar Digital has announced that it will provide upgrades for the Quadra 700, 900, and 950 when Apple ships the PowerPC Macs, and will provide PowerPC upgrades for all color-capable Macs during 1994. Then the SE/30 can burn silicon once again.
DayStar Digital — 800/962-2077 — 404/967-2077
MORE, MORE, Dinosaur
While reviewing Inspiration 4.0 for TidBITS #180, I meant to compare it as an outliner with Acta, but the winner kept turning out to be MORE, which I had never meant to consider seriously, and of which I had only an outmoded version (2.0) to examine. So I took a closer look, and for two months now, I have used the latest version, MORE 3.1, on a daily basis.
I liken MORE to a dinosaur in the best and worst senses. MORE started life as ThinkTank, the magnificent brainchild of Dave Winer, back in the Apple II days. As the Mac came to life, Winer evolved ThinkTank into MORE 1.0. Like dinosaurs, ThinkTank and MORE were vastly successful because they were the best at what they did. If you want to use an outliner as a serious writing tool, MORE remains the only way to go.
But after a Cretaceous heyday, dinosaurs had to adapt or die. Symantec bought out Winer (leaving him free to play God in the brave new world of scripting, with Frontier), and was a good deity stand-in for a couple of eras; but lately its attention has strayed, and MORE is showing signs of being too big and clunky and failing to keep up with the environment. If Symantec doesn’t take it seriously again, or sell it to someone who will, it could easily go extinct. This would be a terrible loss.
The Milieu — An outliner, you recall, works with text (and, in MORE and some other outliners, imported graphics) as topics. Every topic is subordinate to (is a subtopic of) some other topic, up to the main topic (or title) of the whole outline; an immediate subtopic of a topic is said to be one level deeper than that topic. The advantage of this organization lies in how you can view and rearrange topics. Any topic can have its subtopics either collapsed, so that they are invisible, or expanded, so that they appear below and indented relative to the topic. If you cut a topic, its subtopics (and their subtopics, and so on), whether visible or not, are cut as well; likewise, if you move a topic (by cut & paste or by dragging), its subtopics travel with it. This hierarchical structure for storing, viewing, and rearranging clumps of material is indispensable to me for creative work (preparing articles and lectures) and for reference (notes on books).
MORE (like most outliners) also lets you fold a topic, meaning simply that when the topic is visible, only its first line actually shows. This helps with viewing and navigation if topics become lengthy.
Some outliners, MORE included, provide a second entity, usually called paragraphs or notes. Only one note can attach to a given topic, and it can be shown or hidden independent of whether the topic’s subtopics are collapsed or expanded. A frequent use of this feature is to make topics be subject headings only, with the actual discussion confined to notes. You aren’t compelled to do this – in the old Apple II ThinkTank, you were, since topics were confined to 80 characters, whereas now a MORE topic (or note) can be as long as you like – but maintaining the distinction often helps clarity and flexibility.
[By the way, I’m not using the MORE documentation terminology. They call topics "headlines" and notes "comments."]
So much for the basic features that make an outliner an outliner. The devil, however, is in the details. MOREphistopheles comes into its own in the details.
Navigation — A major MORE advantage is that it implements text navigation like a true word processor. Most outliners use or emulate Apple’s built-in TextEdit routines (as exemplified by TeachText), which are primitive, to put it nicely. But MORE gives you text-navigation power nearer the level of Word or Nisus. Double-click to a select a word, triple-click to select a sentence. Up- and down-arrow keys move by line; right- and left-arrow keys move by letter, adding Command moves by word, adding Option moves to the start or end of the topic (or note); and Shift can be added to any of these to select text.
Remarkably, such text navigation melds into topic navigation. Other outliners treat topics as isolated units. In Acta, for example, repeating the left-arrow key in a topic moves through the topic but stops at the first letter; but in MORE, when the start of the current topic is reached, the insertion point just moves on up to the end of the previous visible topic. (Of course you can’t do this while selecting; a selection cannot consist of text split between topics, as this would make hash of the notion of a topic.)
Similarly, other outliners make much of the distinction of whether you are in a topic (you have selected its text) or about a topic (you have selected the topic as an entity). Of course this distinction exists, but MORE lets it break down where convenient. In Inspiration, if the insertion point is within the text of a topic, you can delete text, but not the topic itself; you need to use the mouse, so that the topic itself is selected, before you can delete it. In MORE, with the insertion point in a topic, if any text is selected, hitting Clear deletes the text, but otherwise it deletes the topic; hitting Delete deletes the selected text or previous letter, but if you’re at the start of a topic, it deletes the topic barrier itself, merging the topic into the previous one.
Keyboard navigation between topics is similarly easy and powerful. Command-up- or down-arrow moves into the previous or next currently visible topic; option-left-arrow moves to the topic governing the present topic; option-right-arrow moves to the present topic’s last subtopic. Similarly, keyboard shortcuts let you show or hide notes, fold or unfold topics, expand or collapse subtopics. I hate leaving the keyboard to use the mouse, so I appreciate MORE’s full set of keyboard shortcuts, which is matched by no other outliner.
And if you do choose to use the mouse, the way you use it is great. In most other outliners, you must use the mouse very precisely, to put the selection point right into a topic, or click right on the topic’s "marker" to select the whole topic; with MORE, clicking anywhere to the right or left of a topic lets you select the topic, expand or collapse it (by double-clicking), fold or unfold it (by option-double-clicking). Almost the only time you have to aim precisely is if you elect to use the mouse rather than keys to show or hide a topic’s note.
The way MORE implements notes deserves commendation. A note appears, when made visible, as a scrolling window within the main window, below its topic; subsequent topics move down to accommodate it. Moreover, this window can be resized. If you click outside a note window, it remains, but its scrollbars turn inactive. The result is smooth, clean, and convenient, and not at all buggy, unlike other implementations of notes within outlines.
Another nice feature is hoisting. To hoist something is to focus in on it, removing other material from view. If you hoist a topic, it shows as the first topic (top-left) in the window (in this view you can work with the topic’s subtopics and create new ones, but you can’t make a new topic at the same level). If you hoist a note, it fills the main window.
Reorganisation — When you want to reorganise your outline, MORE provides just about every imaginable tool for doing so. To move a topic, you can cut & paste, or drag, or use keyboard shortcuts to move it a single increment up or down, or deeper or shallower. Keyboard commands also can promote all of a topic’s immediate subtopics to its level, or demote a topic’s co-topics to become its subtopics. You can split a topic into two at the insertion point within it; and you can even merge two topics into one (unlike any other outliner I know).
Especially interesting is MORE’s capability to clone a topic. This is like an internal, mutual publish & subscribe: if two or more topics are clones of each other, any change made to the text of any of them, or to the text or organization of their subtopics, is instantly reflected in all of them. (Don’t worry, if you delete a clone topic, its clones are not deleted!) Also, if a clone is selected there is a command to take you to its next clone. I find this valuable for creating multiple "views" of data within the same document. For example, I summarise a book from start to finish; beneath that I create subject topics and bring together, as their subtopics, clones of the relevant topics from the summary. Now I’ve got two views of the same material; if I make a wording change in one view, it’s reflected in the other; and it’s easy to flip from material in the summary view to the same material in the subject view.
You can select multiple topics: it’s easy to select contiguous or non-contiguous topics one by one; or, with modifier-clicks, all a topic’s subtopics, co-topics, or topics on the same level whether they are subordinate to the same topic or not; or, from the menu, all topics at a given level or range of levels. Once you’ve done this, you can print or export just the selected topics, or even format the selected topics. You can also clone, copy, or cut & paste all the selected topics so that they come together under one topic.
Rulers and Formatting — MORE’s formatting capabilities set it apart from all other outliners. Formatting rules are contained in rulers, rather like those of Nisus: initially there is one ruler, attached to the title topic, but you can add a ruler to any topic; a ruler governs the formatting for its topic and all subtopics, infinitely deep or until another ruler is encountered. Rulers can be copied, cut, and pasted; they can be transferred between documents, and even named and stored in a library. A menu command opens a window in which you can set or modify the formatting rules for the ruler attached to the current topic. These formatting rules govern just about every imaginable aspect of the document’s appearance: not just character formatting such as default font, size, style, and color, but also paragraph formatting such as justification (left, right, centered, or full), margins and paragraph indent, tabs, and line spacing, and even outline formatting such as topic labels and spacing between topics. Paragraph margins can be set relative to the page margins or to those of the governing topic. So every topic is a kind of paragraph (or collection of paragraphs), making MORE not a mere outliner, but a word processor which "does" outlines (superbly).
That’s not all. Every formatting rule has a scope: it applies to topics or notes or both, at a set range of levels of subordination starting with the topic to which the ruler is attached. This means you can have multiple formatting rules within a ruler, dealing with the same subject: for example, this topic should be bold, its subtopics should be italic, and their subtopics down to infinity should be plain.
You aren’t confined to using the ruler rules for formatting either. Character formatting can be set from the menus; paragraph formatting can be set from a Word-style ruler at the top of the window. Combine all this with MORE’s powerful printing options – set page margins, create headers and footers, print all or all visible or all selected topics, set range of levels of topics and notes to print – and what you have is the ability to prepare a polished presentable printed document from entirely within the outliner. I know no other outliner that lets you do this.
A Case of the Clunkies — There are many things I would change to improve the interface to give MORE a stronger market position. I have no idea whether these or any changes will ever take place. The creation date for MORE 3.1 is December 1991; the Mac world has changed radically since then, but all one hears about MORE are rumours (unconfirmed) that Symantec is ready to abandon the program. Here, then, is a wish list that may be utterly in vain.
First, some of the editing and interface details could use improvement:
When you create a new topic MORE automatically places it just below the present topic. If this isn’t where you wanted it, you have to move it. This is silly. Even Acta lets you make a new topic be a co-topic, subtopic, or co-topic of the governing topic at the instant of creation.
When moving a topic by dragging, it isn’t clear where it’s going to be put when you release the mouse. Acta shows an outline of the topic as you drag, so you know just where it will go.
There is no facility to select by paragraph, and no formatting rule to dictate the spacing between paragraphs. There is no keyboard command letting you move the insertion point sentence by sentence. There is no way to keyboard-navigate out of a note; you must either hide the note or use the mouse. There is no quick way to turn a note into a topic or vice-versa.
Most distressing, MORE forgets certain crucial viewing information. You can resize a notes window, but if you hide the note and then show it again, MORE assigns its window a new size. Even worse, if you collapse a topic and then expand it, you can only expand either to just its immediate subtopics or else to infinity; MORE has forgotten the expansion state of the individual subtopics. Acta distinguishes between collapsing so that the current state of all subtopics is remembered, and full collapsing so that all subtopics are also collapsed.
So much for editing and interface. Now, more general comments. MORE is System 7-compatible, but no more. At the very least it wants Publish & Subscribe, so that a topic from one outline can show up in another. (Of the outliners I know, only Acta 7 has decent Publish & Subscribe.)
MORE has extensive import/export capabilities, and does a remarkably good job of maintaining formatting information. But it uses proprietary translation modules, so you’re limited to what it includes. Either it should include more (Acta? Nisus? RTF?) or it should support XTND technology. It also lacks the ability (which ThinkTank had) to export just the notes.
The manual (in six volumes) is huge, daunting, turgid, dull, confusing, uninformative, and inaccurate. It looks and reads like the Think C manual. A simple, stupendously unbelievable example: the "Quick Reference" is arranged by action – for example, it tells you what will happen if you press Enter, or if you option-double-click to the right of a topic. But I can find that out by doing it. I consult the Quick Reference because I want to know how to achieve some desired result; so it should be arranged by result ("To fold a topic…"; "To show a topic’s note…"). The Online Help is even worse; I couldn’t even find out from it how to create a new topic!
MORE itself is too "big". I’m not saying that spell-checking, GREP-searching, summing, phone dialing, calendars, drawing tools, and a 144K graphing utility aren’t nice, but they do make me wonder whether anyone in charge has a vision of what this program is supposed to do that doesn’t involve the words "kitchen sink." I have not even mentioned MORE’s Bullet chart and a Tree chart view of the outline, intended so you (the business type) can make diagrams and slide presentations. Because of all this, MORE costs too much. IN CONTROL is moving high volume with a street price of $85 and a variety of give-away packages; MORE’s size, its battery of features, and its street price of about $260 add up to Pure Stodge.
Here’s my strategy in a nutshell. Now that System 7 is here with IAC and the rest of it, bust up MORE into several small components (outliner, bullet-charter, tree-charter, grapher, calendar), independent but completely capable of sharing data. Improve each component so it’s the best at what it does, and eliminate all tools (such as drawing) that some other program will always do better. Then sell each component independently and cheaply. If someone buys all the components, you make more money than you do now; if not, you still win on volume. And move quickly, Symantec. The Cretaceous period is coming to an end.
Symantec — 800/441-7234 — 408/253-9600