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Article #27 (74 is last):
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.reviews
From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: The Editor V.2, Video Meister, Super Label 2 / utilities / comm.
Posted-By: xx004 (aa700 - Michael Current)
Reply-To: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Date: Wed Feb 12 00:03:36 1992


Reprinted from the A.C.E.C. BBS (614)-471-8559


NOTICE: This article originally appeared in the November, 1988 issue of the
Michigan Atari Magazine and may be freely distributed or reprinted in
non-profit User Group publications as long as the article's author and
Michigan Atari Magazine are credited AND this notice is reprinted with the
article.  All other publications must obtain written permission from Unicorn
Publications, 3487 Braeburn Circle, Ann Arbor, MI 48108, Phone: (313) 973-8825
before using this article.

Graphics Utilities from Irata Verlag:
"The Editor V.2", "Video Meister" and "Super Label 2"
By Bob Retelle (MACE & WAUG)

This has been a very difficult review to write.  The programs reviewed here
have obviously had a lot of work put into creating them, but they suffer from
some unfortunate hindrances.

Irata Verlag is a German company which has been producing software for Atari
computers for some years and as we've seen, especially in the ST world, some
of the best software has been coming from Germany.  Unfortunately, the
language barrier is something which stands in the way of these particular
programs.  All the menus and prompts are in German, and the documentation,
while translated into English, is still very unclear in many areas.  I feel
that a program which is to be marketed in a particular country ought to be
re-written in the language of that country, whether it be French, German,
English, or whatever.  Even a few minutes with a disk sector editor to change
the menu selections directly on the disk would have been a great help!

The first of the three software packages is the "Editor V.2."  This program
will let you load a picture file and modify it in several ways.  You can't
draw a new picture or make drawing changes with the Editor, so it works as an
accessory to a drawing program such as "Micropainter," or Atari's "Paint"
program.  The Editor will let you add text to a picture using loadable fonts,
cut out sections, move them to new locations and "paste" them in place, and
save sections to disk.  You can flip the blocks both horizontally and
vertically, and inverse the colors.  When you've finished creating the final
picture, you can save it back to disk, and print it out in several different
sizes.

The Editor uses an "icon" menu for selecting its main functions which helps a
lot with the language barrier, but once an icon is selected, all the prompts
are in German.  One of the most noticeable differences is the need to hit "J"
(Ja, in German) for "Yes."  Once you get used to these differences, and have
figured out what the prompts are asking for it's not too bad, but it's still
very awkward.  Many of the prompts will let you escape back to the main menu
by pressing "*" or the ESC key, but there were times I found myself trapped in
a function with no choice but to load a picture or re-boot the program.

There were a few more serious drawbacks to using the Editor, the first of
which is that it will only load Micropainter format pictures. You can't load
in Koala compressed format .PIC files which in my experience make up the large
majority of available pictures.  (There is a function in another of the
programs in this series which will let you convert Koala format to
Micropainter format for use with the Editor, as an extra step.)  When adding
text to the pictures, there is no easy way to erase mistakes other than by
going over the mistake pixel by pixel.  Finally, while the menu and
documentation indicate the program is set up for Epson printers, it doesn't
say which Epson model.  My Epson MX-80 printed out nothing but garbage, while
my Panasonic 1092i (which emulates an Epson FX-80) printed just fine.  There
is a menu option to create a printer configuration file for other types of
printers, but I wasn't able to figure out from the documentation what data was
needed for this to work properly.

Also on the Editor disk are three other related graphics utilities.  The first
is called "Pic-Mix,"  and will allow you to load in two pictures, one on top
of the other, then save or print the results.  The version on the Editor disk
only works in Graphics 9 mode, even though the Editor works in Graphics 8
mode.  The method of loading a picture is a little confusing and takes some
getting used to.  The Load option on the menu doesn't do anything by itself,
but only works after you've used the Directory option to step through the
contents of a disk and select the picture you want to load.  When you get back
to the menu, then L will load the selected picture into memory.  It works, but
staring at that German menu wondering why pressing L just makes a keyclick
sound can be awfully frustrating until you figure it out!

The other two programs on the Editor disk are utilities to convert PrintShop
icons and "Screen Magic" pictures into Micropainter format for use with the
Editor.  These work well, and I found the Directory functions in them worked
much more logically than in the other programs.

The next set of programs from Irata Verlag is called "Video Meister," and is
intended to be used to enhance pictures created with the ComputerEyes Video
Digitizer.  Again, the menu is in German.  The documentation provides a
translation of the menu items, but doesn't go into any detail about what the
functions do.  You can adjust aspects of the picture such as brightness and
contrast and set the graphics mode.  Unfortunately, while I have some Graphics
9 digitized photo files, I was never able to figure out how to Load a picture
into this program.  The "Load Picture" option described in the documentation
was missing from the screen menu, and there didn't seem to be any other way to
do it!  Thus, I was never able to test this program.

Included on the Video Meister disk is a different version of the "PicMix"
utility.  This one includes some options to modify the appearance of the
pictures, again in Graphics 9 only.  You can change the contrast and
brightness,  inverse the entire picture, and set the colors.  There is also an
interesting option to "soften" the picture, much like a "soft-focus" lens on a
camera.  This utility doesn't let you print the picture directly, but you can
save it to disk, and use the other program on the Video Meister disk which is
a printing utility.  This one will load in pictures in either Graphics 8 0r 9
modes, and then you are offered several different printout sizes to choose
from, and the ability to inverse the picture before printing.  Once again, I
couldn't use my Epson printer, but the program worked fine with the
Panasonic.

The last of the three program disks is "Super Label 2."  Of the three programs
tested, this is the only one which wouldn't run on my 48K 800.  It seems to
need the extra memory of an XL or XE. This one shows some very nice touches,
like a multi-color Graphics 0 main menu.  It allows loading in Micropainter,
Koala or PrintShop Screen Magic formats, and there's also an option to load 62
contiguous sectors directly from a disk, without specifying a filename.  (My
guess on this last loading option is that it would let you load in a picture
from a boot disk, like a game title screen, but the documentation was very
unclear.)  Once you've loaded a picture in any of these formats, you can save
it back out to disk in Micropainter format, so it can be used with the Editor
V.2 program.   There's an option to load in a custom font and use it to add
titles to the picture you've loaded, or you can just work with a blank screen
to create text-only labels. (I never did find a way to erase a picture, once
loaded, without re-booting the program.)  I assume the labels on the disks
were printed using Super Label, but I may never know, because when it came
time to print out my masterpiece, the program wouldn't work with EITHER of my
printers!  Again, the documentation indicates the program is set up for
"Epson" printers, but the output had no line feeds in it, and the entire label
printed on one line.

There are some nice features in these programs, but based on my experiences, I
wouldn't be able to recommend them to anyone until English language versions
are released, more complete documentation is included and the compatibility
with different printers is improved.
-- 
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: currentm@carleton.edu / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
     BITNET: currentm%carleton.edu@{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700





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