We begin our recap of the last meeting with a multiple choice test. Here's the question: What attracted over 300 people to this meeting?
a) A chance to hear Guy Kawasaki talk about Apple software plans.
b) A chance to hear which Systems and Finders work, and which
c) A chance to learn about graphics applications.
d) A chance to win the door prize.
e) All of the above.
f) None of the abovethey were all looking for an alumni meeting and got lost.
The answer is "e," and with 300 people attending, it seems SMUG must be doing something right.
Guy Kawasaki is responsible for software product management at Apple. His visit included a short slide show, plus a long, and highly animated question-and-answer session. Apple's policy is now to avoid leaks and pre-announcements, so Guy didn't say much new. Nonetheless, he said it well, and here are the highlights.
There are three trends in Mac software. The first is to position the Mac as a power tool. Apple erred by overstressing ease-of-use in the past and that created an aura of low function. Now Apple is trying to correct that misconception. That's one of the reasons (probably not the main one) that MacPaint is no longer bundled with the machine. It demo's well, but business executives find it makes the machine look like an Etch-a-Sketch.
The second trend is toward second generation products, which build on the pioneering products that came before. Excel is the best example, and it is probably the best spreadsheet-style program for any computer today. And the third trend is toward vertical software. Guy showed slides of screens from a dental application, a civil engineering application, and several others. In the dental application, you click on icons of the teeth with cavities, while a small window at the bottom of the screen adds up the bill...
In response to questions, Guy made a number of remarks worth noting. On word processors, "There will come by year-end the Excel of word processors. It will be so good, it will make your heart stop." Needless to say, this man isn't given to understatement. On updates to Apple software, "Frankly, we're redoing all the Mac software." But it won't all be available overnight because resources are limited.
On the next Mac, "We understand what is required-- slots, a bigger screen, color, and faster chips. They will all be available next year." The next Mac will be software-compatible with today's Macs, but it may support MS-DOS or UNIX in addition. It's amazing what you can do with plug-in boards. The next Mac will be positioned as a higher-end machine. There is no price set but the $5,000 range is possible, which means that 512Es and Pluses may remain on the market too. The new machine will aim at the kind of function one now sees in Suns and Apollos.
There were a number of questions about Apple technical support. There's nothing like that sinking feeling that the beast isn't working, and you've run out of your list of people to call for help. Guy said that Apple's policy is not to offer technical support to end users. It's a problem of limited resources and a need to maintain good dealer relations. Still, several in the audience reported good experiences calling into Apple in Cupertino for help. Guy pointed out that Apple is, above all, a company that listens. If you really want more support, write to John Scully and say so. In the meantime, Apple will continue the practice of maintaining MAUG, on Compuserve, as an up-to-the-minute source of technical information.
Incidentally, SMUG receives the technical notes that Apple sends to dealers, and is developing a program to make those notes available to members. Prices will be announced next month.
Before Guy, there were three presentations on graphics applications. First Chuck Walker demonstrated FullPaint which is essentially MacPaint plus all the (p. 5) fixes and enhancements you ever dreamed of. FullPaint can open up to four documents at once (3 on a 512K Mac), and is smart about using the screen. The tool palette, fill patterns and menu bar can all be turned on or off, and the former two can be jockeyed around and put where you want them. FullPaint is smarter about printing too. And it has additional options such as rotate, skew, perspective, and the ever popular distort.
The list of goodies is too long to enumerate. What is more interesting is that FullPaint is heavily copy protected. Chuck commented that the copy protection seems to add 35-45K to the program size. Another reported successfully loading FullPaint onto a hard disk using the utility provided, but finding no way to erase it once loaded. When he sold his Mac, this user eventually gave up and included FullPaint in the bargain.
The consensus seems to be that FullPaint is a super program, but the copy protection is a major annoyance.
Next, Brian Cutter gave some tips on MacDraw. Brian knows this program well, since his brother, Mark, wrote it. The talk and demonstration included a brief overview together with lots of hints. Brian, together with members of the audience, also mentioned a few bugs, but none of them are serious and none cause system bombs. By the way, there is a patch available to allow more than 11 fonts in MacDraw. [See the next article.]
Finally, Paul Draper, of LaserWrite, presented MacDraft, which attempts to improve on MacDraw. MacDraft adds zoom in and out, improved rotation (but text is still limited to 901 increments), and some nice engineering and architecture features. It's not quite as bug-free as MacDraw, which Paul demonstrated when his demo ended abruptly with a bomb. However, he was using a beta copy of version 1.2 which is not planned for release until August 1. That version will be worth waiting for because it is the first MacDraft to support PICT format which is required for transfer to Pagemaker.