Graphics Cataloger Is A DTP Godsend
BY DAN FRUCHEY
Desktop Publishing,/Word Processing Editor
How many times have YOU searched for a particular graphic, knowing it exists in your software library, only to give up after sifting through a dozen disks with no success? And when you finally do find the right disk, do you forget what you named that particular graphic? After 20 minutes of fruitlessly loading picture after picture, searching for the right one, you finally give up in frustration.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Well, there's help. Image Cat is
a utility package from Wiz Works that locates your graphics files quickly
with a minimum of fuss. It's particularly useful to those who use a wide
variety of graphics with page-layout programs and document processors.
512K, any rez
This excellent clip-art
Image Cat's Main Menu
Eight Programs In One
Image Cat isn't just a single program. There are actually eight programs and a desk accessory on a single-sided disk. Once run, the installation program asks for your name and then creates a customized version of each cataloging program from data files on the disk.
Although the installation process is primarily designed to reduce piracy, the installed programs display your name on screen once they're loaded, along with a personalized salutation when saving defaults or quitting. I find this form of copy protection refreshing and reasonable. It doesn't interfere with creating backup copies, yet it still requires users to responsibly manage their copies of the programs.
There are three main cataloging programs on the disk, comprising the bulk of the utilities. The Cat programs - Image Cat, Pic Cat and Mac Cat - will print catalogs of picture files which have been saved in Image (.IMG), normal DEGAS (.PI?), compressed DEGAS (.PC?). NEOchrome (.NEO), Tiny (.TNY, .TN?) and MacPaint (.MAC) formats.
While each Cat program has distinctive features, they're essentially designed to operate in the same way. I'll first discuss Image Cat, the program after which the utility collection is named, and then make a few comments on the other Cat programs that will help you identify their individual merits.
Image Cat is designed to print image (.IMG) graphics in catalog format. This extremely flexible utility lets you select a variety of page-layout options that make locating and using graphics easier.
Image Cat does not use GEM drop-down menus or windows, but it does make use of the mouse, file-selector box and a series of alert-box menus. Actually, complete conformity to the standard GEM interface would slow down program use and in its present form. Image Cat simply doesn't need windows or drop-down menus. Most options are accessed by selecting the appropriate button combinations and, since Image Cat is highly configurable, it's usually only necessary to indicate the location of pictures before printing begins.
Image Cat can print six, 12, or 15 graphics per page. The program can display any message you choose at the top of each page including disk names, file locations and copyright notices. Pages are automatically numbered and the program can display the name and pixel size of each picture for easier selection and identification. A dotted or solid line can he placed around each graphic to clearly delineate the area defined in each picture along with its contents. Pictures can he printed using their actual aspect ratio or enlarged to fit the dimensions of the space they have been assigned on the catalog page. Image Cat contains a built-in viewing utility so you can see individual graphics before printing them. A stand-alone version of this utility is also included on the disk in desk-accessory and program versions. Image Cat can automatically search through folders on your disk drives to find picture files. This lets you keep your files sorted without having to load them all into a single location for printing.
Image Cat will access a wide variety of printers using either draft or final-print modes for output. It currently supports the Atari SLM804 laser printer, the HP Deskjet, HP Laserjet and compatibles. and Epson-compatible 9- or 24-pin dot-matrix printers.
Image Cat is actually
Pic Cat is identical to Image Cat except that it is designed to print DEGAS, NEOchrome and Tiny format pictures in all resolutions. The program contains an adjustable dithering function that lets you convert color graphics to grey scales for greater detail in black-and-white printouts. Pic Cat includes a sort feature that lets you define the types of pictures printed and the order in which they are placed on the page.
Mac Cat is especially useful to Spectre GCR owners. The cataloging program lets you print a collection of pictures designed for the Macintosh. Other than this difference, Mac Cat works the same as Image Cat.
The Image Cat disk includes several supplemental utilities that make the cataloging programs more useful. These include a desk accessory that lets you view image graphics before using them, a shareware program that will print an index page for your clip art along with the size of graphics in inches or centimeters, and another shareware program that helps you locate files on hard disks and floppy drives.
All of the programs in the Image Cat package are self explanatory and quite easy to use. Each utility complements the others and brings added versatility that increases the usefulness of the entire package. My only wish is that the utilities be included in one program. When indexing pictures in a variety of formats it is necessary to switch utilities frequently and, although a utility called the CatsPaw Dispatcher speeds up the process, it is still time consuming to shift back and forth between six individual programs. Additionally there are a few options available in only one of the Cat programs, such as the sorting option used by Pie Cat, that would be better shared by each program.
I spoke to Chet Walters, Image Cat's author, about future versions of the program. He told me that the current utility set is being expanded to include cataloging features for GEM vector graphics and the icons used by NeoDesk and DC Desktop.
Image Cat allows full access to your clip-art library without the hassle. It's a godsend to any desktop publisher or graphic designer and it can save you many hours of work. Even if you own a relatively small clip-art collection, Image Cat is well worth the price.
Dan Fruchey is START's Word Processing/Desktop Publishing Editor. He was recently married and lives in Rohnert Park, Calif.