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Washington Apple Pi General Meeting Report

April, 1997

by Don Essick, Vice President, Macintosh

This meeting had lots of potential for disaster. Not only did I find out at the last minute that the projector would not be there, but my flight schedule was changed at the last minute and I had to catch a 1:55 flight to Denver to attend a convention. Fortunately, the LCD panel and overhead projector solution worked just fine. Our resident guru and Secretary, Lawrence Charters also chose to find some lame excuse to skip this meeting (thats about two he's missed in the last 4 years) so Tom Witte with some minimal help from yours truly had to field the Q&A.

This also being election time, we allowed all candidates for office who wanted to make a statement do so. I was gratified to see that there were more candidates than positions for a change. It was a refreshing change to be able to pick and choose from a slate of candidates for Director. Thanks to all the candidates who chose to run for office.

Since John Dellaria had come prepared to show off just about anything Adobe, depending on the mood of the audience, we turned the stage over to him right away. He began with the latest incarnation of Adobe Acrobat, 3.0 and its companion, Exchange 3.0. In order to demonstrate creating an Acrobat document, John first launched Microsoft Word (to a chorus of hissing from the audience.) After waiting the requisite minute or so (on an 8500) he demonstrated how Acrobat replaces the printer in the Chooser. Printing to Acrobat 3.0 creates a platform independent document which will be viewable and look just like the original on any platform which runs Acrobat with graphics, tables, fonts and other goodies intact.

There are caveats to this, of course. If you want the document to look exactly the same, you will need to imbed the fonts in the Acrobat file. This can end up making the file much larger, but gives the best rendering. John did say that this latest version only includes the necessary font characters to render the contents of the document. You can also choose to let Acrobat approximate the fonts using Adobes Multiple Master Font technology, which usually does a pretty good job.

Acrobat 3.0 now has a browser plug-in which lets you use Acrobat to publish documents on the Internet. You can also create indexes, links, buttons, list boxes and other browser-type goodies in the document. We also saw how you can use the capabilities of Exchange 3.0 to imbed notes and do other collaboration functions. For those in the publishing industry, Adobe provides a Macintosh only plug-in to do four color separations from Acrobat 3.0.

An audience poll dictated that we next see PageMaker 6.5. As John explained, PageMaker has undergone some major interface modifications as part of a plan to standardize the interfaces of all Adobe products. What this means is that when a tool exists in multiple products, it will have the same options, dialog boxes and functionality in all products. This elicited some grumbling from a few audience members who thought that some of the choices made for some tools were perhaps not the ones they would like to see.

Its easy to see why PageMaker is the most popular page layout software in the market. There are so many options, we could have spent the entire meeting on just this one package. John demonstrated how layers are used to separate and manipulate elements and some of the grouping and masking features available as well as the ability to drag and drop from other applications. As is the custom when seeing a demo, we were treated to a spectacular crash during the attempt to import text into multiple frames. And, as usual, it worked the second time.

As the Mac was re-booting, John discussed the coming of Postscript Level 3. In case you are unaware, Postscript is the page description language which drives most of the high-end laser printers and almost all commercial imagesetters.

Next we were treated to a brief overview of Illustrator 7.0. Once again, the layers interface and most of the tool options were very similar in appearance and operation. While it may not be universally popular to those who have been using these products for many years, it will probably be a help to those new to the product line.

John concluded with Photoshop, constructing a photo montage from pictures of the New York skyline, Statue of Liberty, American flag, etc. showing off the properties and capabilities of the various layers and tools to manipulate various objects.

Adobe generously provided us with some software to give away at the close of the meeting. And the winners are:

Congratulations to our drawing winners and thanks to Adobe and John Dellaria for the great presentation. Thanks also to everyone who makes this meeting come together 10 times a year. We wrapped up the equipment, cords, etc. and I raced to Dulles to catch my flight. Fortunately, the airport was deserted and I encountered no problems. My luck must be changing (I hope.)

Next month - the Third Annual Washington Apple Pi QuickTime Festival. Stuart Bonwit, the QuickTime SIG chair has promised us some more entertaining and fascinating examples of QuickTime. I'll try to find the exploding whale movie for sure. If you haven't seen it, its not to be missed.

Coming in June, the semi-annual Computer Show and Sale on June 7th, right across the hall in the gymnasium. On July 26 Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus will be here along with some of the new Motorola StarMax boxes. No, he won't be giving one away, but he has promised to bring some nice giveaway goodies including a Motorola modem. Coming soon - Corel, Aladdin, Microsoft, Apple, Canvas and more! Watch this space for details.

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dee 5.15.97