Reviews Desk

NEXTSTEP remains the home to some of the best developer tools and ObjectWare on the planet. We were blown away by the quality of this month's StringKit. It joins the ZyXEL modem as our only current holder of a perfect five-cube rating. At the risk of sounding pedantic, we encourage budding object designers to study the way Objective Technologies does business. Look at the quality of its objects and documentation. More importantly, look at the kinds of problems the company solves. They're nontrivial yet of general use. These objects are designed to save time for other programmers. Look at your own library of homegrown objects, think about the needs of others, and put in some time crafting some gems. The rewards are there: Just ask five-cube holder, Best of Breed winner, and successful object vendor Objective Technologies. Dan Lavin

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

StringKit 1.2a

5 Cubes

$649 per developer machine; source code available.

Objective Technologies, 7 Dey St. # 1502, New York, NY 10007.

212/227-6767, 212/ 227-3567 fax; info@object.com.

Objective Technologies' StringKit is a model object library that should set the standard for other NEXTSTEP developers. In one fell swoop, Objective Technologies provides developers with a comprehensive object for handling all aspects of string manipulation, from simple operations to copying and searching, as well as complicated behavior like parsing and retrieving string information as integers, floating-point numbers, or time and date values. But instead of stopping there, StringKit goes on to add OTStringExtensions categories to NeXT's classes to support its string objects. As an added bonus, StringKit contains a system that the company has developed for managing temporary objects in a global name space. These methods are implemented as categories on the Object class, so they are available to every part of an application. Get StringKit today and end your fixed-buffer overrun bugs. SLG

Crash Catcher 1.1

4 & 1/2 Cubes

$749

WhiteLight Systems, 350 Cambridge Ave. #200, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

415/321-2183, 415/321-2083 fax; info@whitelight.com.

Unexpected application crashes can be one of the most frustrating bugs for a developer to uncover. "It just crashed," complains the customer, who is often unable to offer further details. Well, no longer. With Crash Catcher, a library that you simply link into your existing applications, it is as if all of your users are running your application from GDB. Bus error? Invalid message sent to an object? No matter: Crash Catcher catches the error, generates a detailed back trace (better than GDB's), and gives the user the option of printing it or e-mailing it back to your technical-support department. No serious developer should be without it. SLG

Doom 1.2

4 Cubes

Free

ID Software, Town East Tower, 18601 LBJ Freeway #615, Mesquite, TX 75150.

214/ 613-3589, 800/534-2637, 214/686-9288 fax.

Doom is an outstanding game presented as a public service by the good people at ID Software. The company actually wrote Doom for the PC market but developed it first on NEXTSTEP to take advantage of its rapid prototyping. It sells the PC version but gives away the less complete NEXTSTEP version to support the NeXT community. Overall, Doom is an excellent game. You move through an alien base picking up objects, shooting baddies, trying out new weapons, and exploring in general. It sports terrific graphics, lots of intricacies, and hidden tricks without losing sight of its basic role as a shoot-'em-up game. As ID says, you can have a slugfest without requiring the reflexes of a hyperactive eight-year-old. Available at all major archive sites. Highly recommended. Would definitely get more cubes except for its unfinished status. DL

ArtFonts, CoolFonts, BrushFonts 1.0

4 Cubes

$49 (CoolFonts, BrushFonts) and $59 (ArtFonts)

Ciusa, 3208 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN 55416. 612/822-1604,

612-922-4426 fax; ciusa@cup.portal.com.

While the demand for typefaces used in body copy is always greatest on any DTP platform, the need for display faces those fonts specifically designed to add zip to headlines or posters is usually overlooked. Ciusa's latest offering, three sets of sometimes wild, sometimes elegant display faces, reaffirms the company's commitment to the NEXTSTEP publishing market. Each set comes with FontAide, a "mini TypeView" utility, as well as documentation that could be glitzier (this is, after all, a font package). Ciusa is planning to include an installer from Metrosoft in the future that should make the clumsy NEXTSTEP installation process easier. Aside from wondering why certain fonts were included only Anthony Perkins at his worst would use Psycho, while Exclusive sets new standards for unreadability these packages are well worth the introductory pricing. Get 'em now. EB