As Adam and Geoff put the finishing touches on the CD-ROM for the fourth edition of the Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh, I’m wrapping this issue and making sure they eat. This week we bring you news of updates to Claris’s Emailer and FileMaker Pro, as well information about LibMoto, Motorola’s PowerPC math library. You’ll also find the start of a multi-part article about the PowerPC chip and a detailed review comparing Suitcase and MasterJuggler.
No TidBITS Next Week! Don’t look for TidBITS next week, because it won’t be coming. We typically take two to four issues off over the course of the year to attend trade shows and spend time with family, and we plan to take next week off, partly because of the Fourth of July, which is Independence Day in the United States. Look for the next issue on 08-Jul-96 – see you then! [GD]
Emailer 1.1v2 Updater — Users of Claris Emailer can now update to version 1.1v2. Claris has made two updaters available; one that updates any release of Emailer to 1.1v2 (about 2 MB), or a smaller version that updates version 1.1v1 to 1.1v2 (about 350K). Improvements include support for Claris’s new OfficeMail, the capability to drag & drop text files into messages, improved address handling, and the capability to send folders as enclosures. [GD]
FileMaker Pro 3.0v3 Updater – Claris has also released an update that updates the U.S. versions of FileMaker Pro 3.0v1 or 3.0v2 to 3.0v3. The update corrects problems with calculations, ScriptMaker, and AppleScript, and improves relational portals and file recovery. The Macintosh updater is about 1.4 MB in size. Claris is also set to ship a version of FileMaker Pro 3.0 which (finally) supports Windows 3.1 as well as the currently supported Windows 95 and Windows NT. [GD]
Official Motorola Library — In TidBITS-322 we mentioned a PowerPC math library compiled from Motorola’s PowerPC SDK. The library was later withdrawn due to licensing concerns and Motorola’s intent to release their own version. Though it’s a few weeks late, Motorola has indeed released LibMoto, which improves the performance of some floating point math functions on Power Macs. The shared library is available for free (a developers version is also available), although Motorola asks users to register online to download the library. If you don’t do extensive number-crunching or graphics work on your Power Mac, you probably won’t significant benefit from this library, but some users could see worthwhile performance improvements. I’ve seen unconfirmed reports of problems using LibMoto with the GeoPort Express Modem and some fax software (surprise!), so be sure to take normal precautions before installing this (or any) system software. [GD]
I choose my fonts the same way I choose my clothing. I like to experiment – spreading them all out and trying them on one at a time. Although the Macintosh is legendary for its typeface flexibility, maintaining a large wardrobe of fonts has never been straightforward. To make a font available, you must quit and restart your programs before you can use it. It’s like having to strip naked just to don a hat.
That’s why Symantec’s Suitcase and Alsoft’s MasterJuggler have long been essential components for anyone seeking sartorial freedom in dressing their words. For nearly four years, users suffered with Suitcase’s antiquated interface as the product moved from Fifth Generation Systems to Symantec with barely a glimmer of support or continued development. In the meantime, Alsoft seized the opportunity to put the shine on MasterJuggler 1.9, with its rock-solid Power Mac compatibility. Now, Suitcase 3.0 offers an entirely revamped interface, and Alsoft has made moderate improvements in MasterJuggler 2.0 Pro, which began shipping in early June.
Both programs are now Power Mac native stand-alone applications. Their goal is the same: to liberate your fonts from the confines of the System’s Fonts folder, thereby enabling you to organize fonts on any storage device. You load only the fonts you need when you need them, conserving system memory and (often) drastically decreasing program launch times.
Organizing Your Fonts — The first and most tedious step of font management with either program is organizing font suitcases on a server or local hard disk. You should remove all fonts from the System Folder’s Fonts folder except Chicago, Geneva, and Monaco. If you use Adobe SuperATM or Adobe Acrobat, you should also leave behind Adobe Sans MM, Adobe Serif MM, and Symbol. You can then organize your other fonts any way you please – by project, by client, alphabetically, or even by vendor. Postscript font files must be stored in the same folder as their companion suitcases. In my graphics department, we first organize font suitcases into folders named for classifications – Serif, Serif Display, Sans Serif, Script, and Dingbats. [In typographical terms, a dingbat is an ornamental or decorative symbol. -Geoff]
After setting up your font suitcases are set up, you use MasterJuggler or Suitcase to create sets that can be opened together. If you did a good job organizing your font suitcases, you can usually mirror that hierarchy in your sets. For instance, I store the font Times on my hard disk in a folder called Serif, and it is also a member of a MasterJuggler or Suitcase set called Serif.
Creating and managing these font sets is the core of how Suitcase and MasterJuggler differ. I’ll discuss each program individually.
A Brand New Suitcase 3.0 — In Symantec’s Suitcase 3.0 ($64.95, $34.95 upgrade), Symantec has kept the best aspects of the old program while totally revamping the interface. Suitcase 3.0 takes advantage of several Apple technologies including Apple Guide, AppleScript, and QuickDraw GX fonts.
Creating font sets in Suitcase 3.0 that mirror the hierarchy of your font arrangement is easy – you simply drag individual font suitcases (or folders containing font suitcases) into the Sets window, and the program creates font sets with the same name as the folders. If drag & drop isn’t available (it requires System 7.5 or higher, or System 7.1.1 or 7.1.2 with the Macintosh Drag and Drop extension installed), you can also create sets with the Add button, and an Add All button can snag an entire folder of fonts at once, although you must create font sets one at a time.
Suitcase sets can contain individual fonts, font suitcases, or even another Suitcase set. I created sets for each folder of my font archive (e.g., Serif, Sans Serif, and so on) before creating additional sets for each client or job. For instance, I created a set for making maps that contains my entire Dingbats set as well as some sans serif fonts.
Suitcase provides two special font sets. First, it offers a permanent Startup Set that loads when you boot your Mac. Second, there are Application Sets, which load fonts whenever you launch a particular application. You can have as many Application Sets as you have applications; at home, I immediately created a MacInTax font set for those aggravating TaxType fonts which serve no other purpose, and you can do the same thing with most CD-ROM applications that come with custom fonts.
Suitcase’s Sets list looks like a Finder-style outline list, and it allows easy renaming, deletion, and sorting of font sets. You can easily view a set’s contents by expanding the triangle next to it. Another Suitcase window provides details about exactly which fonts are open, which fonts remain stored in the System Folder, and which fonts are temporarily open.
Suitcase 3.0 retains its ability to show fonts in their faces in all your applications’ Font menus, although other font utilities offer more flexibility. Suitcase 3.0 can still compress fonts to save storage space, but they will not be recognized by Suitcase 2.0, MasterJuggler, or the System Folder’s Fonts folder. Suitcase can also automatically resolve Font ID conflicts.
Suitcase has a font database file that can be moved to another Mac in order to share font sets with other users. However, in my testing, moving the font database file did not always prove to be a straightforward task. For instance, I found that referenced fonts in the sets must reside on a shared volume or Suitcase’s reference to the fonts’ locations will break. Suitcase can be scripted to automate the creation, deletion, and opening of fonts and font sets, but Suitcase is not a recordable or attachable application.
Symantec has released a patch to Suitcase 3.0.1 which fixes several bugs. Note that the patch comes in three different versions: 68K, Power Mac, and Universal (Fat). If you installed Suitcase 3.0 using the Easy Install option, you must use the Universal patch.
A Somewhat New MasterJuggler Pro 2.0 — The new MasterJuggler Pro. 2.0 ($49.95, $29.95 upgrade) is not a radical revision, but it eliminates many annoyances from version 1.9. Its new features include automatic font corruption detection and automatic reloading of temporary fonts (see below) after a system crash.
Creating MasterJuggler sets that mirror your font’s folder organization is a tricky exercise that must be performed one folder at a time. The operation involves dragging each folder – Serif, for instance – onto the MasterJuggler application while pressing the Option key. (My timing was off once, and I had to close a mess of individual font suitcases one at a time). If you have organized your fonts into ten folders, you must drag & drop ten times. It would be easier to create sets individually from within the MasterJuggler program, but even there you must wearily add font suitcases one at a time because the program fails to offer an Add All button. At least closing fonts has been made easier: you simply drag fonts or font suitcases onto the MasterJuggler Drop Closer application.
Unlike Suitcase, MasterJuggler sets have never been stored in a central list within the program. Instead, each MasterJuggler set is an individual file that can be located anywhere on your hard disk or network. Whether this as an advantage or disadvantage strikes me as a matter of personal preference. Set files can make it easy to share font sets with other MasterJuggler users (such as a pre-press service bureau). The sets are independent files, and you can rename, move, and delete a MasterJuggler set like any Macintosh file.
And that’s also the downside. You can’t rename or delete a set without tracking down the set’s file on your hard disk. I decided to keep all of my MasterJuggler sets together in one folder because even viewing a set’s contents requires you to track down its location. MasterJuggler’s directory pop-up menu does list the last ten folders from which you have opened files with MasterJuggler, but it’s still not as straightforward as always having your sets staring at you from within a master list.
MasterJuggler’s interface, comprised of two scrolling lists and ten buttons, is starkly reminiscent of System 6. The upper list, Available Files, is used to navigate to a font set or individual font. Once found, you can view the font set, edit it, or open it. Once you open a set from the upper list, it appears in the bottom list, Open Files. The font will now load at startup – unless you remember to press Command as you click the Open button.
The Open Files window allows little flexibility. Individual fonts and font sets are mixed with minimal organization. Icons identify each item as either a font or font set (and as temporary or permanent), but you cannot sort within the window or edit an open font set.
MasterJuggler 2.0 addresses two common annoyances with 1.9. The first involves MasterJuggler’s insistence on adding all font sets as permanent. Unless you press Command as you add a font, that font will be with you every time you boot your Mac. In version 2.0, a preference setting can reverse that behavior. Second, with 1.9, I often spent ten minutes or more opening fonts as temporary only to be stung by a crash at some later time. Now MasterJuggler intelligently reloads any temporary sets after a crash.
MasterJuggler shares many of Suitcase’s advanced features – and occasionally surpasses them. It performs font compression (not compatible with Suitcase), and on-the-fly font conflict resolution. Font Guardian, a new addition, can scan a folder full of fonts and list problem areas such as corrupted fonts and missing PostScript files. Also unique to MasterJuggler is the ability to collect font files in a folder for output at a service bureau. It’s a great idea, but it needs more intelligence: you must use an Open dialog to locate every font or font set one at a time before clicking the Gather button.
Wrap-up — My preference for Suitcase 3.0 over MasterJuggler 2.0 is mostly based on my personal perspective of how each font manager adapted itself to my work habits. Some users may prefer MasterJuggler’s Finder-based font set management, but I feel Suitcase’s interface and ease-of-setup stand head and shoulders above MasterJuggler’s. New users will find Suitcase more intuitive, but users who have already invested time in creating custom MasterJuggler sets will ease their daily lives by upgrading to MasterJuggler 2.0. Personally, I’m through struggling with MasterJuggler’s interface, and I’m planning to use only Suitcase 3.0.
Suitcase’s supremacy is not firm. Adobe may shake things up with Adobe Type Manager 4.0, which looks strikingly similar to Suitcase 3.0 in form and function. Symantec will have to show continued commitment to honing Suitcase if they wish to compete with ATM, a third-party utility that in many ways has become an essential part of the Mac OS.
Alsoft — 800/257-6381 — 713/353-4090 — 713/353-9868 (fax)
Symantec — 800/441-7234 — 541/334-6054 — 541/334-7400 (fax)
+31 71 535-3294 (Europe)
When Apple introduced the Power Macintosh back in 1994, it pulled off an engineering feat that’s rarely been equalled in the computing industry: Apple successfully migrated an operating system and the vast majority of existing applications from the 68000 family of processors to RISC-based PowerPC processors. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the jargon, 68000-based Macs are often called "68K" Macs, and RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computing.
More than two years after their introduction, however, understanding the relative merits of PowerPC processors can be confusing, and Apple has further muddied the situation through its use of cryptic model names. What’s the difference between a PowerPC 601 and a 603? How much does clock speed matter? What’s a Level 2 cache? And what does any of this say about the difference between a Performa 5400 and a Power Mac 7600?
Answers to questions like these are hard to find, and are all but absent from materials Apple and other Mac systems manufacturers make available. Further, news sources (TidBITS included) rarely explain these terms, since we have much to do just to keep up with the latest releases. So, with that in mind, what follows is an overview of PowerPC processors and some of the terms and technology associated with them. Next issue, I’ll cover real-world aspects of PowerPCs, including emulators, system software, and performance tuning.
Worth the RISC? All PowerPC processors are software compatible, so as long has you have a PowerPC chip in your Macintosh, you can run any PowerPC-native Macintosh software. PowerPC-based Macintoshes can also run older software written for 68K Macs, but in emulation mode, which tends to be a little slower than what you’d expect from machines touted as blazingly fast. 68K Macs, however, cannot run software written solely for the PowerPC.
This doesn’t mean 68K Macs suddenly become useless; most of these machines will be useful for years to come. I certainly plan to continue using mine. In a way, this is a problem for Apple and other software developers, since this long life span means plenty of people will use 68K Macs for years into the future, and these people will want to be able to upgrade their software in order to take advantage of new features.
But, the writing is on the wall. As time goes on, current system and application software will increasingly only work with the PowerPC. It’s unlikely that System 8 will be available for 68K Macs, although certain technologies will probably be broken out and made available for older machines. Similarly, software will be optimized for better performance on more recent PowerPC processors, so more recent processors have potential benefits.
Of Clocks & Cache — I’ll just take a moment to define some terms commonly used to describe PowerPC-based Macintoshes:
- Clock speed: Clock speed measures how fast a processor processes instructions, and clock speeds are measured in megahertz (MHz); 1 MHz is one million operations per second. Current clock speeds on PowerPC-based Macs range from 50 to 180 MHz, and you can expect 200+ MHz models soon. Before you get excited about a Mac carrying out millions of operations per second, note that – unfortunately – this doesn’t mean millions of menu commands per second! An operation is a tiny thing – moving data into a memory location, moving data out of a memory location, or performing a logical transformation. Choosing a menu item requires untold thousands of operations. Similarly, one assembly-language instruction can conceivably consume hundreds of operations – particularly if it’s emulated.
- Level 1 Cache: A Level 1 cache is a bit of high speed memory built into PowerPC processor. The processor can cache frequently-needed data here and access it rapidly, saving it the trouble of requesting data from RAM or disk. Level 1 caches vary among PowerPC designs, but loosely speaking, PowerPCs have between 16K and 32K of Level 1 cache. Because the cache is built into the processor, you can’t upgrade it separately from the processor.
- Level 2 Cache: A Level 2 cache works much like a Level 1 cache, but it is separate from the processor and you can upgrade it. Some Macs ship with no Level 2 cache, though most currently ship with a 256K Level 2 cache, and you can often upgrade to 512K or 1 MB. Results vary, but increasing Level 2 cache can improve performance somewhere between 5 and 30 percent, with best results for processor-intensive functions common to science, engineering, or high-end graphics applications. For many users, increasing the Level 2 cache is an inexpensive way to improve the performance of their Macs.
A problem with Level 2 caches is figuring out how much you have – the About This Macintosh dialog doesn’t report such information, and it’s tough to figure out unless you know what your Mac model shipped with or you feel like opening your Mac and reading cryptic numbers on the cache module. Newer Technologies has a free tool that reports on a Power Mac’s Level 1 and Level 2 caches (up to 1 MB). Its results have been accurate on machines I’ve tested.
- Clock Multipliers (or Bus Divider Ratio): A clock multiplier allows a processor to run faster than a computer’s bus oscillator, and it’s one way recent machines have achieved such astoundingly high clock speeds. As an example, the PowerTower 180 sports a PowerPC 604 running at 180 MHz. Power Computing did this by using the 3x clock multiplier built into the PowerPC 604 in combination with a 60 MHz bus speed on the PowerTower motherboard. Similarly, Apple’s Power Mac 9500/150 runs at 150 MHz, three times the unit’s 50 MHz bus speed. Different PowerPC chips have different clock multipliers available; for instance, the Performa 6300 uses the PowerPC 603e’s 2.5x multiplier to get to 100 MHz using a 40 MHz bus, speed. The upcoming PowerPC 603e-200 and 604e also have 4x, 5x, and 6x multipliers.
Current PowerPCs — Here’s a brief outline of the PowerPC processor family as it relates to the Macintosh.
- PowerPC 601: The 601 has the honor of having been the first PowerPC processor available, and it’s at the heart of many systems from Apple, IBM, Power Computing, Radius, and other vendors. Mac systems based on the 601 range from 60 to 120 MHz. Development of the 601 has basically ceased in favor of newer processors; however, 601-based systems are certainly still viable today.
- PowerPC 603: The 603 is intended to be a low-power version of the 601, aimed at laptops and other devices where power consumption and heat are significant design factors. The PowerPC 603 typically uses between one-quarter and one-third the power of a PowerPC 601 running at the same clock speed. The 603 is also supposed to be equivalent in performance to a 601 at the same clock speed. However, that didn’t prove to be the case in Apple’s early 603-based 5200 and 6200 series LCs and Performas, or prototype PowerPC-based PowerBooks, mostly due to the 603’s small Level 1 cache. A 75 MHz 603 delivered roughly the same real-world performance as a 60 MHz 601.
- PowerPC 603e: The PowerPC 603e (also known as the 603+) is basically a 603 with a larger cache and higher clock speed, and is equivalent in performance to a PowerPC 601 at the same clock speed. Most 603-based Mac systems shipping today (including desktop units and PowerBooks) use the 603e chip. Machines based on the 603e should be around for some time, and their speed and performance should continue to improve. Right now, shipping 603e systems peak at 120 MHz.
- PowerPC 604: At the moment, the PowerPC 604 chip comes at the high end of the line, with configurations currently shipping at speeds of 120 to 180 MHz. The PowerPC 604 is intended for high-end workstations and servers, and a PowerPC 604 is, roughly speaking, about 50 to 75 percent faster than a 601 running at the same speed, making it the chip of choice for users with processor-intensive tasks. It also consumes two to three times the power of a 601, so don’t expect to see a 604 in a laptop or hand-held device.
- PowerPC 602: The 602 is a lower-end chip intended for set-top boxes and similar devices. I don’t know of any Macintosh-related projects using the 602, but 3D0 plans to use it in a 64-bit game console codenamed M2.
Future PowerPCs — The PowerPC shows no signs of slowing down in terms of developments of faster processors. Future processors should include the PowerPC 603e-200, which is essentially a 200 MHz version of the PowerPC 603e, sporting that processor’s low power requirements and higher clock multipliers. If you’d rather think about improvements to the 604, think about the PowerPC 604e, an enhanced version of the 604, offering higher speeds (166, 180, and 200 MHz, to start with), larger clock multipliers, and increased processor cache size. Quantities of the 604e are shipping right now, and you can expect to see high-speed 604e-based machines from Apple, Power Computing, and other vendors later in 1996.
If you think the 604 is fast, the forthcoming PowerPC 620 is the first 64-bit PowerPC implementation, and it’s an even higher-performance processor designed for very high-end systems. The PowerPC 620 uses the same basic design process as the 604e. Although the 620 has been delayed more than a year by problems with technology and reported staffing problems, I expect to see 620-based machines available from Apple and other vendors by early 1997, and some manufacturers have versions of the 620 in-hand now, reportedly running at 200 MHz. The 620 is geared toward multi-processor implementations and transaction processing, and could support up to a whopping 128 MB of Level 2 cache.
IBM and Motorola are currently the sole providers of PowerPC chips, but a little company in San Jose could change that. IBM has granted Exponential Technology a licence to develop PowerPC-compatible processors. Headed by CEO Rick Shriner, a former Apple vice president, and other industry veterans, Exponential plans to use BiCMOS technology to form its processors’ core logic, while using more conventional CMOS for on-chip memory – sort of the reverse of the way Pentium chips are manufactured. Although Exponential hasn’t made specific speed claims, it anticipates achieving twice the performance of today’s microprocessors, which would put their processors in the 300 to 400 MHz range. Exponential still has to prove the feasibility of its technology, but the company has significant financial backing from Apple and other investors, and it claims that its chips will be ready in early 1997.
Stay Tuned — Next issue, I’ll talk about emulators, system software, real-world performance, and how to use this information when buying a Power Mac. Please note that we’ll be taking a brief vacation for the Fourth of July and there will be no issue next week.