MacExpo: Bursting at the seams


Author: Chuq Von Rospach
Date: 17 Jan 1988 5:11 am

This was the year the Mac went Hyper. If I never see the word Hyper again,
I'll be happy. A few months ago, in Boston, Apple announced Hypercard. This
month, in San Francisco, the Mac Vendors went Hyper.

There were three new HyperCard books at the show, with announcements for
more. The only one worth looking at is Hayden's HyperTalk Programming by Dan
Shafer, which lets Goodman act as reference and really hunkers down and
teaches you to use the program. It looks hot, and I'll have more on it when
I finish poring through my copy (as an aside, it was the ONLY thing I bought
at MacExpo this year, more on this later).

Two HyperCard add-on products: the disappointing HyperDA (it lets
you read HyperCard stacks with all sorts of restrictions -- no writing, no
xcmd support being the major ones. It works, but only for simple stacks. I'm
waiting for the what HyperDA ought to be. To quote from the literature:
"HyperDA understands a full subset of the HyperTalk language" -- now what
does THAT mean?) and REPORTS!, which grafts on the output functions that
HyperCard really needs. Initial details look real interesting.

Commercial stacks are arriving. Hypersoft has The DTP advisor, an AI stack
that helps you design a pretty newsletter. Hypernews is a new, monthly,
Hypercard Magazine On A Disk, at $60.00 a year. HyperPress Publishign has
HyperSpell, a spelling corrector/verifier that works inside HyperCard;
ScriptExpert, a HyperTalk helper, and Icon Factory, a HyperCard based Icon
designer (this one looks really neat -- I am planning on grabbing a copy
when I see it at ComputerWare).  

Everyone is on the HyperCard bandwagon. HyperCard is arriving. I just wish
folks would stop putting "hyper-" in front of everything. It's making me

Speaking of hyperventilating, trying to breathe was an interesting exercise
at this years MacExpo. It's interesting to put things in perspective. Two
years ago, MacExpo was at Brooks Hall, sharing it with the Apple II. Last
year, it moved to Moscone Center, sharing it with a boat show. This year,
the boat show is gone, more than doubling the size of the exhibits over last
year. Friday, normally the slow day, was walking gridlock. Getting from one
side of the hall to the other was a non-trivial problem, due to the size of
the crowd. I'm frankly surprised the fire marshall didn't move in. It was,
in no uncertain terms, a zoo. If you occasionally see something where I say
"look interesting, I'm going to get more info" it's because I saw something
I was interested in but could never get close enough to the booth to grab
marketing material, much less talk to someone.

Anyway, on to the show. First, since I've covered it in detail and because
it really was the highlight of the show, is Ann Arbor Softworks and
Fullwrite Professional. Anyone who was at the show and saw the effort and
cost put out by AAS would immediately realize how silly all these buyout
rumors are (the latest being Ashton-Tate). AAS has a lot of ego and
reputation in FWP. Selling out now would be admitting failure or lack of
nerve. One thing AAS has no lack of, however, is nerve. They're in this for
the long run, and they probably will pull it off.  

Major Kudos to the AAS folks. They had a marvelous sense of humor about
their vaporware status, down to the demo folks telling some rather sharp and
nasty jokes about themselves. The demos are bloody amazing, by the way. They
had open Macs in one part of their booth (they had the prime position of the
show, and the second largest booth, after Apple's -- no shrinking violets,
they). They handed out a two disk demo set of FWP to everyone who wanted one
at the show, which says more than any marketing demo can. I took mine home,
plugged it in, and went gaga. I'm a word processor junkie. This is a great
fix. 'nuff said.

The AAS folks, despite the vaporware, the jokes, the bad press on delays,
are persevering and shipping a Gamma version of FWP to pre-paid customers
(gamma is the time honored tradition of software companies when it is almost
ready but can't wait anymore). According to folks at the booth, 6,000 copies
were shipped, and I've got independent confirmation that it arrived at a
couple of places. When they do finish the product, everyone with Gamma will
be shipped the rest of the documentation and the final program, at AAS's
cost. These folks firmly believe that despite the long delay to market and
the hassles, they're going to walk in and waste Microsoft and Word. They may
well be right. The demos are rather impressive, so is the demo program.  

'nuff said.

Speaking of Microsoft, they had a big, bland booth. Nothing interesting.
Among other things they were demonstrating was Microsoft File 1.0, a
wonderfully out of date program that had its last update in 1984. I found
this amusing as hell, considering how old and moldy the program is.
Microsoft should either update or dump the program, and considering it's
been supplanted by products like Reflex Plus and FileMaker+, dumping is
probably a lot cheaper and easier. The only folks who haven't abandoned
Microsoft File by now are the silly, the stupid, or the folks who have very
simple needs.

Speaking of FileMaker+, if you are an owner of FM+ and bought the program
while while it was being sold by Forethought, the new owners want to talk to
you. When Forethought was bought by Microsoft for Power Point, the rights to
FM+ reverted to Nashoba, the original designers. The customer list didn't.
The Nashoba people would LOVE to have you re-register the program with them.
There is a new release of FM+ available, version 2.1, which cleans up mac II
and printing problems and fixes a few bugs. They'll send you a copy if you
re-register. To do this, send the following information to
        Nashoba Systems
        FileMaker Registration
        1157 Triton Drive, Suite A
        Foster City, CA 94404

Serial Number (from back of disk)
Company Name
City, ST, ZIP
Day Phone
Purchase Date (Approx)

I would expect a new, improved release of FM+, probably for the next
MacExpo. It's interesting, by the way, that Microsoft didn't pick up FM+
when they bought Forethought, even though it's a logical replacement for
Microsoft File and one of the best regarded low end Databases. Rumors on the
floor (NOT from the Nashoba booth, since they didn't want to talk about it)
say the Microsoft tried, but their offer was amazingly low and insulting, so
Nashoba turned them down. Grain of salt time, here.

On to Apple stuff. First, Claris. Claris, the software company spun off by
Apple, spread its wings with new versions of the standard Apple programs and
a couple of new toys. The new toys are forms generators, which I won't
cover. The important things are the updates of MacWrite, MacPaint, MacDraw
and MacProject.  

Everything now runs on Mac II's and under Appleshare, and is compatible with
Multifinder. To get a Claris upgrade packet, call 800-544-8554. These
programs are no longer bundled with the Mac and no longer handed out free by
dealers. But the upgrade prices are reasonable for the new functionality,
and Claris is putting together a Tech Support organization to support them.
I don't see how anyone can complain (although I expect it'll happen).

MacWrite 5.0. Upgrade $25. Available now.
        o Spell checker, 100,000 word dictionary
        o create your own dictionaries
        o keyboard shortcuts
        o arrow keys
        o decimal tabs
        o undo

MacPaint 2.0. Upgrade $25. Available now
        o tear off palettes
        o nine documents at once
        o auto scrolling
        o magic eraser (it'll erase what you painted, a layer at a time!)
        o startup screen support
        o  adjustable grid
        o lots more (my fingers get tired. It's neat)

MacProject II. Upgrade $145. Available now.
        o Hierarchical subproject consolidation
        o customizable calenders
        o 1500 resources/project
        o plotter support
        o task relationships

MacDraw II. Upgrade $100. Available Spring
        o 3 to 10 times faster
        o mulitiple layers
        o zooming
        o libraries
        o up to 2000 dpi resolution
        o color
        o plotter support

Those are just highlights. Looks like Claris is off to a good start.

For apple proper, there are the three new LaserWriters. They're cute. About
half the size (and weight!) of the current ones. The lower end printers are
upgradable. The paper trays hold twice the paper, and there are more of
them, including an envelope tray.  

The interesting new hardware to me was the MIDI port. Apple gets serious
about music, and seems to be trying to legitimize a new market that the Mac
has made inroads into. This announcement says a lot without affecting many
third party vendors -- a nice touch.

No scanner, it's due out later. Rumor mill has two new machines near the end
of the year, one possibly a portable, the other possibly a 68030 machine.
We'll see.

Now, into miscelanea:

Avery now has laser printer labels. These are different than copier labels
in a couple of ways:
        o they're designed to be printed in laser printers without wasting
        labels along the top and bottom.

       o they're designed to be put in the paper tray and automatically fed
        without coming apart and gumming up the works.  

The technology is impressive. For folks who run mailing labels, this is a
big step forward.

The big battle, if there was one at MacExpo, was in graphic programs and
retouching. Aldus came out with Freehand, which is going head to head with
Adobe's Illustrator. From my initial glances, I think Freehand may be in the
lead, but Adobe has a new release, Illustrator 88, that does color
separations and some other stuff, so it's hard to tell. Letraset's Image
Studio image touchup software is frankly amazing and impossible to explain.
You have to see it in action to appreciate it.  

Let's put it this way. In five years, you'll be able to take a $1.00 bill,
scan it into your scanner, you touchup software to put your face on it and
turn it into a $300 bill, then print it out on your color laser printer, and
it will be damned hard to tell it's counterfeit. Image Studio is the first
serious entry in the graphic touch up world, and will probably come to be
seen as being as revolutionary as PageMaker, or Lotus 1-2-3, or VisiCalc
were. It's gonna be fun to watch....

DTP programs in excess. I got stuff on PageMaker 3.0, RSG 4.0, Scoop,
Xpress, and Interleaf. RSG is still on top, in my eyes, although PageMaker
is better for shorter, more graphic pieces. The others, in general, keep
both products on their toes waiting for someone to slip. Except for
InterLeaf. I don't like Interleaf on the Sun (I like Frame), and I don't
like Interleaf on the Mac even more, because they completely ignored the Mac
user interface in favor of the Interleaf user interface. And they're
significantly more expensive than any other product, with less
functionality. Expect this product to bomb royally, except in shops that
have already committed to interleaf on other machines.

Other things. aesthetics will paint your mac any color in the Panetone
system, or special marble, granite, or wood grain colors. It'll also color
all your accessories, hard disk, and laser writer to match. Colors are about
$300, up to marble and wood at $900. Expensive, but you should see the
results. Truly awesome, and pure ego.  

Finally, SuperPaint 2.0, to be available 2nd quarter fro $199 new, $50
upgrade. new features include:
        o autotraciing of a bitmap into a draw layer
        o bezier curves
        o multigon tool
        o new air brush
        o free rotation of objects and text in the draw layer
        o multiple draw layers
        o graphics libraries
        o page size dependent on memory
        o TIFF support
        o laserbits is now one big page.

um, wow.

This year, I bought home over 4 inches of paper, a new record, and I didn't
come close to seeing everything, primarily grabbing stuff I was at least
marginally interested in. These are the highlights. If you weren't there,
while there weren't any major product annoucements or surprises, it really
was an event, and proves (1) the Mac is here, and (2) that the next year is
going to be fascinating.

One thing I have to wonder, though. MacExpo has definitely outgrown Moscone.
There were too many people and not enough vendor room. I wonder what they're
going to do next -- Las Vegas?


MacExpo: Bursting at the seams
117 Jan 1988 5:11 amChuq Von Rospach
218 Jan 1988 12:43 am|- Eric K. Olson
(was MacExpo: ) now Claris & SuperPaint
318 Jan 1988 6:31 am|- William S. Graefe
MacExpo: Bursting at the seams
419 Jan 1988 12:31 am|- Scott Bayes
519 Jan 1988 1:55 am|- Paul Ausick
619 Jan 1988 7:20 pm\
719 Jan 1988 11:26 pm   \ Chuq Von Rospach