Reviews Desk

Even with NeXT's move to enterprise-sized applications, many smaller developers are continuing to make a living in the expanding NeXT marketplace. Most important this month is, finally, a decent icon-creation utility. Developers everywhere will be thankful for this unexpected windfall. Dan Lavin

This month's gang: Eliot Bergson (EB), Lee Sherman (LS), Simson L. Garfinkel (SLG), Rick Reynolds (RR), and Myself (DL).

IconMaker

4 Cubes

$150

BlueSky Software, P.O. Box 57096, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

818/989-4928 fax; eronike@cerf.net.

The hardest thing about drawing icons is learning to think in square pixels mapped to an unseen grid. With IconMaker, you don't have to. Instead, you draw natural curved lines and let the software snap them onto the grid for you. It works with text, too: Type normally, and as soon as you click outside the selection, the text becomes a bit map. Instead of offering a painting program for miniatures, BlueSky has provided tools that are specifically designed for quickly gaining access to, and editing, icons. An icon browser lets you modify any icon in any application. With the addition of an eraser, multiple undos, and commands for flipping, rotating, and mirroring, IconMaker could be the icon editor NEXTSTEP has needed since its inception. LS

Trilithon ViewFont, FontCase, MacToPfa

3 & 1/2 Cubes

$69 each

Trilithon Software, 2 Ohlone, Portola Valley, CA 94028.

415/325-0767.

With the rise of font offerings from both type foundries and "flounder- ies," Trilithon ViewFont can help you decide what's worth adding to your library. The software allows you to drag and drop any font Mac, PC, or NEXTSTEP, installed or not in your system onto a grid that shows all encoded and unencoded characters. Clicking brings up a larger view that provides information about x- and y-coordinates as well as character widths. The MacToPfa utility (as well as a PfbToPfa offering for PCs that was not ready for review) easily converts and installs fonts but slows down dramatically if you have a large font library. FontCase brings familiar Mac Suitcase capabilities to single-machine users or small graphics-firm networks; installation requires some UNIX coding and serious rearrangement of /LocalLibrary/Fonts. Rather than just re-hashing Adobe TypeView or Font Installer from the MetroTools pack- age, Trilithon's products offer integrated font-management capabilities for NEXTSTEP users. An Intel version is scheduled for Q4. EB

DateWise Version 1.0

1 & 1/2 Cubes

$69

Ciusa, 3208 W. Lake St. #133, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

612/822-1604; info@ciusa.com.

DateWise is a rewrite of Stained Glass Software's Calendoscope, and its 1.0 version is unfortunately al-most as weak as the program it re- places. DateWise keeps track of one or more individual calendars and combines them all into one group calendar view. It's not a group calendar program, though only one person can access a DateWise calendar at a time. DateWise 1.0 has a new set of icons but keeps Calendoscope's clunky user interface and a few of the bugs. Version 2.0, which was released at press time, may ad-dress these problems. In any case, serious calendar users might be better off with Ciusa's forthcoming Day Tripper 2.0, which promises true group calendaring, an improved interface, and more features. SLG

PowerGuardian and Smart-UPS Smart-UPS 400

3 &1/2 Cubes

$149.95 PowerGuardian; $449 Smart-UPS 400

BenaTong, 1057 Racine, Columbus, OH 43204.

614/276-7859.

American Power Conversion, 132 Fairgrounds Rd., P.O. Box 278, West Kingston, RI 02892.

401/789-5735.

BenaTong has created a system that protects your NEXTSTEP computer from power fluctuations or failures. PowerGuardian talks to, and manages, the functions of any of the popular Smart-UPS line of uninterruptible power supplies by American Power Conversion. It also configures and starts a special UNIX daemon that constantly mon-itors the current condition of your UPS, giving it commands as necessary via a serial cable (which is included). PowerGuardian is a utility that allows any user to check line-voltage conditions, power reserves, and more. In a power failure, back-up current is supplied by the UPS until reserve power levels drop to your specified settings, at which time your workstation is gracefully powered down. This product works with Motorola- or Intel-based NEXTSTEP machines, but you must have an available serial port. Also, the UPS can't accommodate laser printers, which draw a lot of power but aren't really harmed by a sudden power loss anyway. RR

Pro Lexis Version 1.1a

3 &1/2 Cubes

$395 Canadian Plexus Distribution, 189 rue Wiseman Outremont, Quebec, Canada H2V 3J6.

514/270-1831.

Pro Lexis is a French-language dictionary and spelling checker of 500,000 words and is designed to work with WriteNow and WordPerfect running under NEXTSTEP 2.1 or 3.0. Pro Lexis is easy to use and very thorough. It has no problem recognizing the difference between two words and one word with a space in the middle or a word which should have a ligature. If you can't remember a proper verb conjugation, helpful grammar references are available at the touch of a button. Pro Lexis is especially necessary for those, like me, who don't use their French skills every day. RR