Reviews Desk

Scale is the name of the game in the NEXTSTEP marketplace. Small products with appropriate expectations and limited overhead are bringing in good income for many small developers. Often, a consultant can transform a solution for a single customer into a commercially available palette of objects or even a shrinkwrapped product. The Reviews Desk gang suggests that all consultants look in their bag of tricks for such opportunities. Remember, disks cost only $1 each. – Dan Lavin

This month's gang includes: Eliot Bergson (EB), Simson L. Garfinkel (SLG), Dan Ruby (DR), and myself, Dan Lavin (DL).

TaskMaster 1.5

4 Cubes

$1395

Lighthouse Design, 2929 Campus Dr. #250, San Mateo, CA 94403.

415/570-7736, 800/ 366-2279, 415/570-7787 fax; taskmaster@ lighthouse.com.

The first general release of Lighthouse Design's project-management package brings numerous interface and other improvements over its limited-release 1.0 version (see "Project Progress," NeXTWORLD, September 1993). The single Project panel is now two downsized inspectors, with functions that are better organized for easy operation. The outline views now support drag and drop for setting dependencies, multiple selection for assigning resources, and pop-up lists for setting constraints. More options are available for user configuration, including variable time-display and outline-numbering for- mats. New filter services support direct import and export of Micro-soft Project and Claris MacProject files. Another filter provides easy one-way PERT charting using Diagram! 2, though the absence of true interactive charting remains TaskMaster's biggest flaw. With this release, TaskMaster takes its place among the premier NEXTSTEP business applications and becomes competitive with leading project-management programs on other platforms. We are raising its rating from three to four cubes. DR

SuperDebugger 3.6

3 & 1/2 Cubes

$99

Impact Software Publishing, 36–32 34th St., Long Island City, NY 11106.

718/472-0600, 800/822-3385, 718/472-0160 fax; suggest@ impact.com.

SuperDebugger 3.6 is a graphical front end for the GNU debugger (GDB) that NeXT provides with the NEXTSTEP Developer Edition. The software integrates program editing and debugging much as the GDB mode in GNU EMACS does, but with a spiffy graphical user interface that includes browsers for all of a program's functions, stacks, break points, and variables. The interface, while a little cluttered, is much easier to use than GDB's command-line mode, though it does take some getting used to. The program features extensive on-line help, a great aid in getting started. Unfortunately, as good as it is, SuperDebugger is still no match for interpreted development environments. SLG

conText 1.0

2 Cubes

$919 (with one spelling dictionary); $474 each spelling dictionary; $227 each translation dictionary

Lots Scneiders Kraft GbR, Werderstraße 14, 67655 Kaiserslautern, Germany:

49/631/ 109.91, 49/631/109.92 fax.

Translation is more than looking up words; it's words working together in context. So we had high hopes for conText, a self-described "tool for spell checking and translation needs." We looked at the first version but found it to be of limited use. Highlight a word you want translated in the document window and the Translation panel gives you a list of equivalents from which to choose – but without any grammatical guidance as to gender agreement, plural forms, or subtle differences in usage. Some hyphenation suggestions are downright wrong. And this first shipping rev offers German-only documentation (an on-line English help system provides little more than basic assistance). We would like to see hypertext search capabilities to make conText more useful. As it stands, it allows you to translate into your mother tongue but doesn't help you effectively write in another. EB

BarCodeKit 2.0

3 Cubes

$495 (basic edition with five bar codes); $1795 (comprehensive edition with 17 bar codes); individual bar codes from $149 to $695

Hot Technologies, 75 Cambridge Pkwy., Cambridge, MA 02138.

617/252-0088; Robert_La_Ferla@hot.com.

Hot Technologies has palettized its BarCodeKit and changed its pricing structure for the newest release. Perhaps the ultimate example of niche-market ObjectWare, BarCodeKit is a must-have for those who need to generate bar codes for documents, envelopes, or inventory tracking – and not much use for anyone else. The objects, however, perform as advertised. A variety of new target/action methods makes it considerably easier to develop bar-code applications from within NeXT's InterfaceBuilder application. Release 2.0 ships in fat-binary format. SLG

DiskMaker 1.5

4 Cubes

$115

SmartSoft, 2220 E. Linnwood Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211.

414/964-8864, 800/424-8864, 414/964-4672 fax; smartsoft@mixcom.com.

Anyone who uses standard methods to copy disks is accustomed to the long delays as UNIX chunks through each file individually. And unless you do things just right, you run the risk of trashing file-creation times, permissions, and disk labels. SmartSoft solves all of these problems with DiskMaker, a speedy utility for mass duplication of diskettes. First, DiskMaker creates a file with an "image" of the disk to be copied. The user then calls up any of these disk images on file, inserts blank floppies, and the computer starts spitting out exact duplicate after exact duplicate. The program worked flawlessly in our tests, creating copies good enough to fool the computer. DiskMaker's cost and two-step process make it most useful for those making multiple copies, such as developers and corporate MIS personnel. DL