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February 2000

View From the End (User)

By: Don Eitner (freiheit@tstonramp.com) The 13th Floor - http://www.tstonramp.com/~freiheit/

PMView Goes Gold in 2000

Nearly a year ago I spent a couple of months here discussing the then beta-test PMView 2.0 for OS/2. A lot has happened in that year, among which was the release of PMView 2000 for both OS/2 and Win32 systems. The slightly touched up name, presumably to make it more attractive to WinDOS users brainwashed into thinking that newer is always better, came up at the end of 1999 along with a new registration key system designed to keep piracy down (which sadly failed, making me extremely disappointed in some OS/2 users).

Through the course of the pre-release testing phase, numerous bugs in the PMView 2.0/2000 code were found and corrected, new features were added very nearly right up to the end, and the finished product is one of the most spectacular software programs I have ever had the pleasure of using on any platform!

During my initial examination of the PMView 2.0 betas, I was using a Cyrix P166+ system with 32megs of EDO RAM and a 2meg S3 graphics card. Today I am using an AMD K6-2 400MHz system with 64megs of SDRAM and an 8meg Matrox G200 graphics card. A noticeable improvement, to be sure, but even with that in place since last summer, I have seen the speed of PMView increase over the course of the beta period up to the final release of PMView 2000. I believe that, running it today on my old P166+, I would notice the speed improvement over those early beta test releases, even if only slightly. It was not actually slow on that system, just that certain very complex graphics ran out of memory and began swapping to the hard drive for more memory space, which slows down everything. 64megs of RAM has been consistently good for PMView 2000.

A lot of the changes made to PMView 2000 between my original pre-release review and the final GA release were cosmetic and/or performance related. Screen captures don't adequately demonstrate the power and flexibility that lies within the almost completely rewritten PMView core. If you missed my early reviews (March and April, 1999) then the user interface will look shockingly different than the 1.x releases. All the UI components (title bar, menu bar, toolbar, status bar, etc) can be toggled off and on by way of a context menu item (if you toggle off the main menu, then right clicking on the image viewer area brings up the same menu so you can toggle the menu bar back on) and there are several ways in which the mouse can be used. For example, you can move the whole PMView window using the mouse on the viewer area, or you can lay down a rectangular selection area from which you can cut or copy the area to the clipboard or crop the area as a new image of just that size. The toolbar also allows for one click loading of the next or the previous image in the current directory, deleting of files, and zooming.

Above you see the PMView 2000 for OS/2 File Open Container (FOC). Unlike in version 1, this new FOC allows full drag and drop of image files from the resizable right-hand pane to drives and directories in the left-hand tree view. One of the changes made in later beta releases is that you can select a new drive and directory in the tree view without changing the contents of the right-hand pane. This is helpful if you are moving a group of images onto a different drive or into a deeply nested folder. Such movement is then performed by selecting all the files to be moved and drag'n'dropping them to the destination folder.

The File Save Container (FSC) works in a similar way and looks almost identical except for save specific options down the right side of the container.

Context menus abound in PMView 2000. In the FOC or FSC, right click in the tree view to get some directory specific options (such as whether to display hidden folders and longname EAs). Right click in the FOC pane to get options on thumbnail size and type (on-the-fly memory thumbnails or regular icon (EA) thumbnails that we all know and love from PMView 1.x, whether to display longname EAs, and whether to display image files in thumbnail mode, as text only, in full details mode, and so forth. The new FOC is very flexible to work the way you want it to. The FOC/FSC now also give a bright red error marker around any image found to contain corrupted data or some minor yet repairable error.

Printing in PMView 2000 for OS/2 now involves a helpful preview display of your image's position on the output page(s). Printing can span multiple pages depending on what settings you use for margins and output image dimensions. As you see in the screenshot above, I have spread a single tall image across two output pages and the preview is currently showing page 2 of 2. From the print preview dialog window, you can also change the printer gamma, landscape versus portrait printing mode, and access your printer driver's settings for the additional print options it may provide.

If you are seeking a fast, flexible, and award winning image viewer with some editing, scanning, and numerous format conversion options, PMView 2000 is a must have! Its support for all the major and a stunning array of minor image formats is enough to keep any PC user happy. Importing and exporting of formats such as GIF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, PSD (PhotoShop), EPS (Encapsulated PostScript), PIC, OS/2 and Windows bitmaps including some Win95 formats, OS/2 and Windows icons and mouse cursors, and much much more is just a mouse click away at all times. You can mass convert files from the FOC or on a per-image basis during viewing.

Slideshow capabilities make PMView 2000 an excellent presentation tool so long as you do not require fades and audio/video effects between slides. From the FOC's tree view, you can create slideshows from an entire directory or even an entire directory tree right from the popup context menu for that drive or directory. Slideshows are saved into a special file format so they are portable to other systems, including those running the Windows version of PMView 2000.

Among its hundreds of new features, PMView 2000 provides fully configurable shortcuts keys to all menu items. If you do not like using ALT-S to save the currently displayed image, then change it to SHIFT-CTRL-P if you wish. If you don't care for PMView 2000's default shortcut key layout, there's a one click button to set up the older 1.x shortcut keys.

The once cryptic filters for image editing are made somewhat easier in PMView 2000 by human comprehensible names such as blur, sharpen, unsharp mask, edge enhance, emboss, and mosaic. If you wish to edit your own filters to create your own visual effects, that option is also still available to you.

If you wish to set the currently displayed image as your WPS background image, it's in the File menu and will allow you to select Centered, Tiled or Scaled for the display method on the desktop.

With all these high praises, surely there must be some problems with PMView 2000, right? Well some users have complained about a few cosmetic glitches in the release version. For instance, some buttons display in grayed out (disabled) form but are still usable as they should be. I thought I had discovered a bug in taking screen captures with the Activated By... option enabled, but it turns out my video card's BIOS was going bad and after upgrading it the problem in PMView is oddly gone.

So that's it? No major flaws? No rampaging bugs? You got it! PMView 2000 is a solid product which makes me proud to still be an OS/2 user. The few blemishes it has could just as easily be found in multi-hundred dollar commercial software developed by major corporations (I've seen that firsthand -- haven't we all?). I cannot fault Peter Nielsen's programming talents nor his dedication, and for less than US$50 for a new license (remember, if you already had registered PMView 1.x before the 2000 release, you are entitled to free lifetime upgrades) and with a flexible registration trade-in scheme (for instance, if you wish to trade in a PMView 1.x lifetime license for a PMView 2000 for Windows limited license) there is no reason why any sighted OS/2 user should be without this most incredible program! It won't allows you to paint or draw brand new images from the ground up, but there are plenty of options for importing or scanning in graphics to be edited in PMView and put out in multiple formats for use in print publications or on the Web.

PMView 2000 can be downloaded and registered through http://www.pmview.com/.

Don is the Assistant Editor of the VOICE Newsletter. Besides his monthly End(User) column, and frequent articles, Don has been responsible for the VOICE Newsletter OS/2 News pages for the past two years. Proudly running OS/2 Warp since 1995, you can visit Don at his personal website http://www.tstonramp.com/~freiheit/

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