REVIEWS

The Wizard of Graphics

TIFF, GIF, TGA, PICT. No, this isn't a list of government agencies, it's the range of graphic file formats, supported in different combinations by different graphics software programs, that are a familiar irritation to users who need to move graphics files from one application or platform to another. PixelMagician, a new utility program from Bacchus Software, eases the pain by converting files between the most popular formats with the wave of a mouse.

With PixelMagician, you will never need to worry about being able to open or save graphics file again. It supports 16 different formats: BMP, EPS, GIF, IFF, MacPaint, PCX, PICT, PNM, PS, PXM, RAST, TGA, TIFF, XBM, and XWD. In addition to file conversion, this program will change color bit depth, adjust precision, crop, rotate, resize, and much more.

PixelMagician works either as a stand-alone application or through NeXTstep's Services menu, allowing you to bring a variety of images seamlessly into many applications. For example, WriteNow supports only EPS and TIFF images; with PixelMagician, you can import a GIF image that has been invisibly translated into a TIFF image before being placed in your document.

For those who write technical documentation, 72-dpi screen captures can easily be converted to 92 dpi, exactly matching true screen size. Large scanned images can be converted to smaller pictures, keeping the data intact. An image can be assigned a new background color. Multiple images can even be composited with 14 different alpha channel composite operators. Images can be saved without the alpha channel for platforms that are unable to cope with it.

For file viewing, PixelMagician solves the old need to open different apps to view images saved under different formats. Select a document of each image type in the Workspace and bring up the Inspector from the Tools menu and then Tools from the pop-up list. Click on the PixelMagician icon and OK to make PixelMagician the default application for these formats.

Bacchus Software did a great job designing a workable and elegant user interface. Most of the program's features run via simple panels. The main thrust of the program format conversion is straightforward, using a large panel to select the origin images, their destination format, and final location. Our only quibble is that the Inspector panel is not active while saving.

PixelMagician ships on one floppy diskette as an easy Installer Package. A complete paper manual (not available at review time) is included, but a simplified version is also included on-line. Bcchus provides unlimited technical support via e-mail or telephone.

The missing card in PixelMagician's hand is support for the JPEG format, which isn't particularly common yet. (Bacchus plans to support this format in future versions.) The only other problem with the program is that it requires correct extensions to recognize files. It failed to recognize a .eps file renamed as a .tiff. This may seem like a tall order, but files are always getting confused and an automatic check feature would be nice.

There is not much to struggle with in deciding whether to buy PixelMagician. For anyone who needs to work with multiple graphic-file formats, its absence is painfully obvious as they struggle with time-consuming workarounds. This is a key piece of software to add to your bag of tricks.

by Rick Reynolds


PixelMagician

4 Cubes

A must-have universal graphics-format converter for desktop publishing and graphics work of all sorts. Quick, intuitive, and effective, the only thing missing is support for JPEG.

$299

Bacchus Software, 2210 Wilshire Blvd. #330, Santa Monica, CA 90403.

310/820-9145.