This week’s issue begins with a number of MailBITS concerning Anarchie 1.3.1 and several other Internet resources. It continues with an article about Apple discontinuing the PowerBook 540, commentary on the fallacies of the Windows95 name as the successor to Windows 4.0, and Part II of Tonya’s look at QuickDraw GX. Finally, we conclude with an article about Peirce Software’s Peirce Print Tools, a set of printing extensions for use with QuickDraw GX.
We have relatives visiting this week (which accounts for this issue being a day early), so please don’t expect quick email replies for a few days. [ACE]
Anarchie & Apple Guide — Peter Lewis <[email protected]> has done it again – released a significant update to Anarchie, his combination FTP and Archie client for MacTCP-based Internet connections. Anarchie 1.3.1 adds a number of useful new features, and takes the prize for being the first (or at least among the first) released non-Apple program that fully supports Apple Guide, Apple’s new help system in System 7.5. Anarchie now supports the SITE INDEX command as well as SOCKS, a method of getting out through a firewall. Also, you no longer need worry about which Info-Mac and Umich mirror sites you use most often, because you can configure Anarchie to go to those sites in response to your pasting in a generic Info-Mac or Umich pathname. Anarchie is $10 shareware and is among the most useful Internet tools available for the Macintosh. [ACE]
Preston Gregg of Apple writes to tell us that the new Apple Web server we mentioned last week in TidBITS-243 isn’t official yet, and as such may go up and down a bit over the next week or so. They’re busy moving the server to its own T-1 line, which will make for plenty of throughput. Also, it turns out that the Bug Reporting area is only for bugs or feedback with the Web server, NOT for general bugs with the Mac or any Mac software. Sigh. [ACE]
Chris Johnson <[email protected]> writes:
The Office of Telecommunication Services (OTS) of the University of Texas System now supports an archive site for Macintosh freeware and shareware, which can be accessed with both FTP and the World-Wide Web.
The archives are maintained by Chris Johnson, former and long-time administrator of the University of Texas at Austin Computation Center’s Macintosh archive, microlib/mac, and creator of its WWW interface [And an extremely nice one it is, too. -Adam].
The OTS archives are not an attempt to compete with or substitute for the much more comprehensive collections at Info-Mac and Umich but will continue to grow over time.
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
Apple announced to dealers last week that both configurations of the PowerBook 540, introduced just this May, have been discontinued because "demand has exceeded availability." The popular notebook differed from the PowerBook 540c only in that its active matrix display was grayscale, rather than color.
Right from their introduction, the 500 series PowerBooks were enormously popular, and sales of all models quickly outpaced Apple’s ability to supply the units to dealers. The surge of demand reminds me of the rush on the original three PowerBook models, introduced in October of 1991, as customers quickly decimated the seemingly sufficient introductory supplies.
Widespread speculation several weeks ago suggested Apple stopped production of the PowerBook 540 in order to shift manufacturing resources to produce more of the higher-priced PowerBook 540c. Apple countered this speculation with an official denial, and it seems likely that 540c manufacturing would be more constrained by the supply of high-quality active matrix color display panels than by production resources used for the 540. (Active matrix displays have been a primary hold-up in manufacturing several PowerBook models.)
One likely explanation for the 540’s disappearance is the redirection of production lines towards models other than the 540c. Certainly it’s not because the 540 was unpopular; the model has been backlogged through most of its existence. Nor is it because there’s no need for such a model. Many users prefer the less-power-hungry grayscale displays when portable color isn’t necessary.
What does this mean for prospective buyers? Less flexibility. Those who need the 33 MHz 68040 power of the 540 will have no choice but to buy the 540c and cope with the extra power requirements of the color active matrix display. Those who really want grayscale will be limited to the 520, with its slower 25 MHz processor. (This assumes the backlogs of the other 500 series PowerBooks will ease sooner, rather than later.)
We hope a method to Apple’s madness will be revealed in short order. Meanwhile, we’re concerned by the short life cycle of an obviously popular product.
Microsoft has decided to reinvent the square wheel once more. The next version of Windows, currently code-named Chicago (apparently it was Jaguar before that), will not be called Windows 4.0 as one might expect, but will instead be called Windows95. Microsoft claims customers have trouble figuring out which recent version of Windows is the latest, though I can’t figure out how anyone could get stuck because no matter how you parse the numbers, they proceed sequentially from 3.0 to 3.1 to 3.11. Evidently, the problem is more that, given a single version number, many users have no idea if it’s the latest one, which is at least conceivable. Windows95 would in fact solve that problem, albeit incompletely and temporarily.
(As an aside, the main naming convention that causes problems uses a d for development, since development versions are usually followed by beta versions, which use a b, so in fact NewsWatcher 2.0d17 came before NewsWatcher 2.0b13, the latest version.)
Lest we think Microsoft invented the concept of giving a software product name the name of the current year, think about the history of Adobe Illustrator. First Adobe released the aptly named Illustrator 1.0, then 1.1, and then, in an apoplectic stroke in 1988, Illustrator 88, which made sense at the time because it was pretty clear that Illustrator 88 was the latest version. But Illustrator 88 hung around for several years, and started looking seriously dated (and confusing people, when there was no Illustrator 89 or Illustrator 90), so Adobe came to its senses and next released Illustrator 3.0, skipping 2.0. They later skipped over 4.0 to 5.0 (probably because of the Windows versions of Illustrator). Illustrator 5.0 synchronized the Macintosh and Windows versions.
As yet another example, a friend reminded me of a magazine that started out life as Science 80, and every year changed its name to match the year, Science 81, Science 82, and so on. My friend knew someone who worked at the magazine, and this person said they found dealing with the name change every year nightmarish, since business cards and letterhead had to be redone, ISSN registration resubmitted, and so on.
So although Microsoft claims it will become easier for users to determine the latest version of Windows, the argument is flawed. Although they don’t necessarily plan to release a new version of Windows every year, many people will want to know where Windows96 is once we get to that year (and it’s unlikely Microsoft will release a major upgrade in 1996 if past history is any indication). Also, what happens if Microsoft needs to release two upgrades in one year? Should they increase the year number for a minor bug fix, and what if there are two bug fixes in a single year? Will we see Windows95a, or Windows95 1.1, or perhaps the ever-popular Windows-October95? And, as Tonya pointed out, such a naming convention makes no long term sense. What happens in a few short years when we hit the year 2000? Windows00 is going to look stupid, so they’d have to go for Windows2000, which should confuse customers who figure Windows2000 is older than Windows 3.0, given that two is less than three. Perhaps the Microsoft marketers have too much time to twiddle their thumbs and come up with wacky marketing ideas, given the delay in shipping the product.
The only useful piece of information that comes out of this official name change is that we can be certain Chicago won’t ship until next year. Reports place the realistic ship date in the range of March to August of next year. So perhaps Apple can move past System 7.5 by then – who knows?
The new name has already prompted many tongue-in-cheek comments about how 95 stands for the percentage that will be complete at ship, the number floppies it will ship on, the number of megabytes of hard disk space required, or perhaps the number of minutes to install.
A more serious problem for Windows users is the fact that Windows apparently uses two version numbers internally, major and minor revision numbers, where both numbers are stored as decimals. Thus, Windows 3.1 was major revision 3, minor revision 1. The problem appears when some program checks to be sure the major revision is greater than 3 and the minor revision is greater than 1 before proceeding. Programs that check in this way will fail if the internal version numbers go to 4 and 0 (since the 0 is smaller than 1), as one might expect them to. If these programs actually formed the full decimal, it wouldn’t be a problem, of course, but since some programs, perhaps many, don’t do this, it becomes a real question. This entire issue predates the new Windows95 name, so now the question is what those internal version numbers will be in the shipping version of Windows95.
What a week! The more I learn about GX, the less it turns out that I (or other people) know. I had hoped to explain GX fonts this week, but I’m holding off for next week in hopes of presenting more complete information. This week I’m going to talk about a number of the utilities that come with QuickDraw GX and explain how they work and why (if you use GX) you’d care. Note that if you didn’t read Part I in TidBITS-243, some of Part II won’t make sense.
Turning GX Off — From the behind-the-scenes software standpoint, QuickDraw GX prints so differently from previous methods that you cannot mix and match GX and non-GX methods. As a result, once you install QuickDraw GX, you have two main printing options:
- Use a QuickDraw GX printer driver and print with QuickDraw GX turned on. If you print with GX on, you get to take advantage of the new GX Page Setup and Print dialog boxes, the desktop printers, and so on, which I explained in Part I of this article. On the other hand, you cannot then take advantage of special features offered by the PPDs that go with the PostScript 8.x non-GX printer drivers (such as the PSPrinter, LaserJet, and LaserWriter drivers). In the future, the PPD features should be built into or provided with the GX drivers, but for now, if you need those PPD features, you probably need to turn GX off.
- If you don’t have a GX driver for a printer (or fax modem) that you want to print to, turn GX off. There are a number of gotcha’s here, so pay attention if you think you might install GX, but also might need to turn it off some of the time.
QuickDraw GX Helper — There are two ways to turn off QuickDraw GX. The complete way involves restarting and using an extension manager to disable the QuickDraw GX extension. If you reboot with GX off, the Chooser shows non-GX drivers, you can use Print Monitor, and printing goes exactly as it did before you installed GX. Alternately, if you’re lucky, you can use the QuickDraw GX Helper utility, a System extension that adds a command called Turn Desktop Printing Off to the Apple menu. Using QuickDraw GX Helper can either be an elegant solution or a complete waste of time.
To turn off GX using QuickDraw GX Helper, you go to the Apple menu and choose Turn Desktop Printing Off. The command then conveniently metamorphoses into a Turn Desktop Printing On command, and you get a message proposing an alternate, non-GX printer driver. For as-of-yet unknown reasons, on my Mac, Turn Desktop Printing Off does not appear in the Apple menu unless I am in a non-GX-savvy application (such as WriteNow 3.0, Excel 4.0, Nisus 3.4, and so on). I don’t know if QuickDraw GX Helper only works in non-GX-savvy programs or if this problem is peculiar to my setup (System 7.1.2 on a Power Mac 7100).
In any event, everyone should run into the oddball problem that you only get one choice for that proposed alternate printer driver, and that choice is based on your current default desktop printer icon. For example, just for fun, I installed every ImageWriter driver that I have. With GX on, I made a serial ImageWriter correspond to the default printer icon, launched Nisus 3.4, and turned off desktop printing. The Mac offered to make ImageWriter 2.7 the default driver, so I accepted the option and checked out what changed. Here’s what I found:
- In Nisus, I could print using the ImageWriter driver version 2.7.
- I was still signed up to use the ImageWriter GX driver in all other applications.
- My Chooser still only gave me access to GX drivers.
- The reason QuickDraw GX Helper offered me the 2.7 printer driver was that the driver’s icon name (IW 2.7) fell earlier in the alphabet than the other Image Writer drivers that I installed (IW 6.0, IW 7.0, and IW 7.1). This seems a strange way to determine which driver you get when you turn GX off, since chances are you’d want to use the latest installed version, not the earliest. On the other hand, once you know that QuickDraw GX Helper picks the first driver it encounters alphabetically, you can rename your drivers so it picks the one you want to use. For example, when I tried this same procedure, but with LaserWriter GX as driver that goes with the default printer, the Turn Desktop Printing Off command could have chosen from drivers named LaserWriter, LaserWriter 6.0, LaserWriter 7.2, or LaserWriter 8.1.1. It chose LaserWriter, which happened to be the icon name of LaserWriter version 7.0.
Although the GX Helper seems like a reasonable idea, it doesn’t let you access printer drivers that do not have matching GX drivers (such as the DeskWriter, whose GX driver is expected in a few weeks, and which is reportedly not the recently-released version 6.0). Since one of the main reasons you’d want to turn GX off is to print with a non-GX driver, it seems that Apple missed the boat with QuickDraw GX Helper. Nice try, poor execution. Let’s now look briefly at the other QuickDraw GX utilities.
Portable Digital Document Maker — This item works much like a printer driver (you choose the PDD Maker GX driver in the Chooser and turn it into a desktop printer in exactly the same way), except that when you print to it, you create a document on disk, which Apple calls a "portable digital document" (PDD). When you create a PDD, you indicate to what extent the fonts should be preserved in the document, with choices for all fonts, non-standard fonts (all fonts except Times, Helvetica, Courier, Symbol, Palatino, Geneva, New York, Monaco, and Chicago), or no fonts. The document can be viewed and printed from any Macintosh running QuickDraw GX, and (assuming the fonts work out properly) it looks fine. You can’t do anything with a PDD except print or view it. On my Mac, PDDs opened in SimpleText. Although I could read and print a PDD, the lack of a Find or Copy feature makes PDDs of limited utility. In random testing using "standard" fonts but saving with All Fonts chosen, the PDD Maker turned a 9K SimpleText document into a 54K PDD, and a 23K Word 6 document turned into a 117K document. Neither Nisus 3.4 nor WriteNow 3.0 could print to it at all – they aren’t sufficiently GX-savvy.
Especially since options for printing to an EPS or PostScript file have disappeared, it seems that an important use of PDDs will be for bringing files to service bureaus – if you preserve the fonts in the PDD, the bureau won’t require the fonts in order to output the job. It will be interesting to see how the PDDs will affect or compete with Adobe Acrobat, Common Ground, and Replica, all of which do much the same thing.
PaperType Editor — This program enables you to create custom paper sizes, which then show up as options in your Page Setup dialog box, right along with Letter and Legal.
LaserWriter Utility — QuickDraw GX comes with LaserWriter Utility 7.7 for downloading fonts and PostScript documents and the like, and you must use that version if you have QuickDraw GX turned on.
New color controls — QuickDraw GX completely changes the interface used to pick a desktop or highlight color. The old method involves a color wheel – you’ve probably seen it at one time or another – one way to see it is to open the General (or General Controls) control panel, and then double-click one of the eight desktop pattern color squares. The new method lets you select different color picking methods. The Apple HSL method resembles the old color wheel, but the Apple RGB makes it easier to see and anticipate how red, green, and blue will work together to form different colors.
QuickDraw GX Extensions — A GX Extension is a third-party add-on of some sort, and it enables you to take advantage of one or more cool printing capabilities, such as making a watermark or printing thumbnails. At this time, the main examples of GX Extensions appears to be Peirce Print Tools, which I’ve reviewed later in this issue.
Now that you know how to turn GX off and about a few of the related utilities, stay tuned for next week, when I’ll write about GX fonts.
Pierce Guide to GX Printing, a free paper from Peirce Software.
Contact Peirce Software (see above) to request a copy.
Getting Started with QuickDraw GX (an installation guide in the
Peirce Print Tools software package)
"Inside QuickDraw GX Fonts," by Erfert Fenton, Macworld (Oct-94,
pg. 122). (An excellent article!)
"OK," you may be thinking, "I read parts I and II of the QuickDraw GX article, and I now know a lot about printing with QuickDraw GX. I run five programs regularly and only one of them even supports the GX printing architecture. I’m all in favor of progress, but what’s the use of upgrading?"
Good question, and it’s one you must consider carefully.
The problems in upgrading may outweigh the benefits, unless you add a few more benefits to the QuickDraw GX mix. For example, you might use Peirce Software’s nifty new Peirce Print Tools (it works with System 7.1 and newer). Peirce Print Tools offers a collection of tools that enhance printing, and shows off GX frills and features. Of course, to use Peirce Print Tools, you must have the hardware horsepower to accommodate QuickDraw GX and be prepared to deal with the transition to GX. Peirce Print Tools comes with five disks. Four disks contain QuickDraw GX (in case you don’t already have it from System 7.5), and the fifth contains the Peirce Print Tools software along with a well-thought out collection of templates and utilities, including the GX-based utilities that normally come with System 7.5.
After installing Peirce Print Tools, you take advantage of its tools through the Print dialog box. If you print from a GX-savvy program (see Part I of the GX article in TidBITS-243), Peirce Print Tools shows up as a More Choices option, and gives you friendly, quickly-comprehensible dialog boxes for each tool. If you print from a non-GX-savvy program, when you open the Print dialog box, a Peirce Print Tools icon shows in the menu bar, and you can access different tools from the menu that drops down from the icon.
The dialog boxes are easier to use than the menu, especially when you are new to all the tools. If you use many non-GX-savvy programs, you’ll want to explore Peirce Print Tools in a GX-savvy program (you can always use SimpleText or the Finder), so you can see the dialog boxes. Once you get up and running, though, the menu shouldn’t pose problems.
Design Tools — Peirce Print Tools gets around the problem of most programs not offering features for page borders, watermarks, and fold-over pamphlets. The Border tool offers about ten possibilities – nothing super fancy or unusual, but a decent basic selection. You can’t control where on the page the border lands, so the borders may prove frustrating in certain design situations, though they do print as close to the edge as they can, given your chosen paper type.
You create watermarks with the WaterMarks tool. A watermark can print on all pages of a print job, only the first, or all but the first. You can pick among several watermarks or create your own, using text or images. You can also set the darkness of the watermark.
The Pamphlet tool helps you print a one-fold pamphlet, such that the pages print out correctly and all you have to do is to fold the pamphlet (this task becomes onerously complex without the help of something like the Pamphlet tool for all but the most spatially gifted once you get past about four pages). To use the tool, you must set your margins appropriately, as explained in the manual. The margins are not hard to set, but Peirce Print Tools also comes with pre-made pamphlet stationery files for WordPerfect 3.0, Microsoft Word 5.1, MacWrite Pro 1.5, and ClarisWorks 2.1. To use the tool and print double-sided, you still must have a few spatially alert brain cells, and the DoubleSider tool should help with longer pamphlets.
Printing Tools — Two of the tools, BackToFront and DoubleSider, help you print in reverse or print to both sides of each page. Another tool, the PaperSaver, enables you to print thumbnails, where you end up with, for example, four pages printed in reduced form on one physical page. The InkSaver tool works much like Working Software’s Toner Tuner utility (see TidBITS-175). You can set a "Savings Level" for printouts, either by selecting radio buttons for High, Medium, Low, and Very Low, or by creating a custom percentage.
Administrative Tools — Administrator types should especially like the Log tool which logs a large and flexible amount of data about each print job and can be exported as tab- or comma-delimited data. You can optionally query users for up to two items of information each time they print. Peirce Print Tools even comes with Excel and FileMaker templates for analyzing the data.
The CoverPage tool lets you choose among five sample cover pages, each of which shows basic information about the print job and either a picture or a message. In a GX-savvy application, the dialog box shows a thumbnail preview of each cover page so you can see what you are choosing. You can also create your own cover pages, with a custom picture or message. You can set exactly what basic information will print, with choices for Page Count, Date/Time, User Name, and more.
If you use the new QuickDraw GX printer sharing feature to "capture" a printer, you can force any job printed to the printer to have a cover page of your choice or to be logged.
You can also take all the various settings that you set among the tools and assign them to a particular desktop printer icon. For example, you might set up a draft watermark and set the InkSaver feature to conserve a lot of toner. You could then assign these settings to a desktop printer aptly named "Draft Printer." You can make more than one desktop printer for the same physical printer, so you might make another desktop printer icon called "Final Copy Printer" and assign it to always print a watermark representing your company’s logo and only save a tiny amount of toner.
Similarly, you can take a set of settings that you feel go together and turn them into a Group. Peirce Print Tools comes with a few sample groups, such as "Turn All Off" and "4 up with borders," but you can create your own and then (when you want to use a group) just choose it. Groups are particularly handy for printing from a non-GX savvy application, because they conveniently show at the bottom of the Peirce Print Tools menu.
In a GX-savvy application, the Summary tool lets you configure any of the tools via of pop-up menus. The menus might overwhelm you at first, but once you become familiar with the various tools, the Summary tool provides a convenient way to set up a print job.
Many of the features in Peirce Print Tools can be found elsewhere, but by putting the features together in one package and adding the grouping and summary capabilities, Peirce Software has created a unique and, depending on your needs, tremendously useful utility. My main complaint is that you can’t change the font of custom text in a custom watermark or cover page (though you could make a custom PICT that used any font you wanted). For the $129 suggested retail price (about $90 mail order), you won’t buy Peirce Print Tools unless you plan to regularly use the features, but given the feature set and overall implementation, the program is definitely worth the price.
Even if you don’t want to ante up the money for Peirce Print Tools, if you have the System 7.5 CD, look for special versions of the PaperSaver and WaterMark tools. They only work with GX-savvy programs and aren’t quite as flexible as the versions that come with Peirce Print Tools, but they should give you the basic flavor of how they work in the full-featured package.