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Review: Magic Publisher
By: Bohus Blahut
A 4 CD rom set with hundreds of megs of fonts, clip art, and other
publishing utilities. The set includes Final Writer SE and WordWorth SE.
Four CDs, eh? That's a lot of material for a computer that isn't really
considered a publishing computer. What could a user find useful in four CD
roms? Moreover, how hard will it be to find _anything_ in four discs?
Fortunately, the set isn't aimed at any one type of user. Magic Publisher
is aimed at everyone from the seasoned publisher to an Amiga user who
doesn't even have a word processor.
One of the unusual features of this full-bodied CD set is that it includes
not one but two SE (Special Edition) of the two most popular word
processors for the Amiga; SoftWood's Final Writer and Digita's WordWorth.
This means that even the publishing newbie can explore the world of print
with a single investment in this CDrom pack.
I tried installing both WordWorth and Final Writer on an '040 2.1 OS 2000
with 16 megs of Ram. Final Writer is the program that I've used most, and
after installing the "light" version it worked fine. For those of us
accustomed to the many features of this fine program, most of these
features are absent, replaced with a window telling you how great the full
version is. There is a special upgrade price to users of this collection.
Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get WordWorth to work. Not only did it
come up entirely in German, but it was impossible to get started. I know
that the full version WordWorth does in fact work (I'm writing this review
with it), and it's a good program. I'm surprised that the "light" version
didn't function. There is a special upgrade price for WordWorth as well.
However, the focus of these CD roms isn't on these softwares. The CDs are
ideal for owners of full versions of publishing software. The bulk of the
disks are full of several formats of scalable fonts, and iff format clip
art. The first disc contains the two special edition programs,
FontMachine, PasTeX, along with Intellifont format fonts. Disc two has the
iff format clipart along with Adobe (postsctipt) versions of the font set.
The third CD has the font set in TrueType and DMF format, along with Bitmap
and Color fonts. The final disc has all of the files archived for sysops
to put on their BBS.
The biggest value in this collection is the included booklet. It
illustrates every font, every clip art. Too often, I've seen similar
collections opt to include some PD picture cataloger with mini-thumbnails
depicting the contents of the disc. I don't think that this electronic
filing is any easier than the paper medium. Having several fonts spelled
out per page makes comparisons between fonts easier for the creator. GTI
have done their customers a great service by taking the time to print the
reference material. It's great to be able to choose what fonts to install
before committing to the hard drive space.
The idea of having the same font set repeated several times throughout the
discs in various formats is quite valuable for cross-platform work, but I
didn't find it to work. I created a number of titles in a video using
fonts from this collection, and figured that it would be pretty slick to
have the labels and the packaging use the same font as in the video. When
I took the discs to my friendly print studio and tried to load up the Adobe
version of the same font into their Macs, it didn't work. Granted, it may
have something that we were doing incorrectly. I'd like to hear from
someone who's has cross platform success with this set.
The clip art is all IFF format. This means that if you are counting on
taking advantage of the "cross-platform-ability" of this set, you'll need
to do some converting since IFF is not especially supported outside of the
Amiga. The clips also originate in the public domain, so there's nothing
especially new here. It is handy to have them all in one place, and well
categorized in the booklet. For example, there is not only a category for
"Food", but also subcategories like "Vegetables" and "Drinks". This kind
of care is what makes this collection special (though I wouldn't categorize
popcorn under 'puddings'). The clips are all black and white and vary
widely in quality, but even the worst would serve as a good starting point
in a good graphics program.
While the CDs aim at the world of desktop publishing, let's not forget one
of the growing forms of publishing, the World Wide Web. Again, the Amiga
shows its graphics muscle in bridging the worlds of electronic media and
print. I've used these fonts on several web projects, and as I mentioned
earlier, I've used several of these fonts with Monument Designer on the
DraCo. Some fonts didn't totally survive the conversion through
Intellifont, showing some missing characters, or showing no characters at
all. Since these fonts are from the Public Domain, there's really no room
to complain, but I wish that GTI had screened the fonts more carefully.
All in all, the set is an excellent value. If you don't have a modern word
processor, this is a good way to get started. If you're already the proud
owner of one of the Amiga's word processors, or a graphics person
(especially a Toaster user who is sick of the few useful FontBank fonts
included with CG!), this is a necessary addition.