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September 1999

View From the End (User)

By: Don K. Eitner (freiheit@tstonramp.com)http://www.tstonramp.com/~freiheit/

The Best Things in Life Are Free

Those who know me and/or pay attention to my View From The End (User) articles are aware of my love for TrueSpectra's Photo>Graphics Pro vector image program for OS/2. It's highly intuitive, stylish, surprisingly powerful, and allows task automation and user input through the REXX scripting language which is included in every copy of OS/2 Warp.

Early in 1999 there came sad news that TrueSpectra was discontinuing this product (as well as its Win32 equivalent) and replacing it with a Win32-only variant which runs on a webserver and costs US$1,000 or more. It's essentially the same old Photo>Graphics but it's geared toward websites such as electronic greeting card companies and online stores where you may wish to mix and match items and view them together in a single image.That was always one of Photo>Graphics' strong points -- the ability to work with individual objects within a project, changing size and color and rotation, and rendering them into a standard graphics file format
such as PNG, GIF, or JPEG. The newer webserver version, from what I can tell, just seems to add a scripted interface for the changing of those objects and automates the task of rendering the project to one of those standard raster/bitmap file formats.

Recently there came additional news which is both good and bad. TrueSpectra are not planning to release an upgrade to Photo>Graphics and they are actually discontinuing all support for it as of December 31, 1999. However... they have made both the OS/2 and the Win32 versions of this older product available for free on their website, so if you never experienced the joy and splendor of the best image creation software available for OS/2, have a look at http://www.truespectra.com/support.html. You can download a fully-functional 30-day demo version there and, by sending e-mail tosupport@truespectra.com you can receive a free registration code to unlock the product to full status. The only things missing in the download are the collection of images, pre-made object files, and possibly a few of the REXX scripts found on the CD.

Editors note: Truespectra has recently changed the process for obtaining the registration key. Please see the message on their support/download page, but as of September 15, 1999, it now says the following: "To obtain a registration key please e-mail Support@TrueSpectra.com . Please ensure your subject line reads "Photo>Graphics Registration Key 28934."

So download it now! You won't regret it even if you don't consider yourself to be an artist. I know I'm no artist and I grew to love Photo>Graphics Pro within days. You can turn out some really powerful and professional graphics with minimal effort, and since the native file format of PGPro keeps all the "objects" separate from one another, it's remarkably simple to change some text here or a color there and render it as a new image.

Helpful Hints

A few helpful hints for using Photo>Graphics Pro for OS/2 are in order.

  1. If anti-aliasing (getting rid of "jaggies" along the edges of text and other objects) is important to you, try saving your images in Photo>Graphics at 2x their needed size, then load the image into another program such as PMView (www.pmview.com) to resize down to the size you need. PMView has a feature to "interpolate pixels" which will help your image to look the best it can.
  2. In order to quickly change the output resolution (measured in pixels) of a project, select the Inches or Centimeters measurement and change the DPI setting. This will then fill in more resolution without actually changing the size of the output window. If you just change the number of pixels itself, the output window resizes without resizing your existing objects.
  3. Read the REXX scripting tutorial which is included with PGPro. It's the index.htm file in the \help\ subdirectory. This explains the specific REXX scripting commands that are provided with PGPro as well as examples of their use. You will also find sample scripts in the \scripts\ subdirectory which are easily modified.
  4. Two websites to check for additional REXX scripts for PGPro are Glassman Graphics at http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Vista/7567/graphics/english/index.html and my own PGPro Scripts at http://www.tstonramp.com/~freiheit/PGPro_Scripts_40.zip. Glassman also has some interesting new object files (with an .orc extension) which are just collections of regions and effects created in Photo>Graphics. You lay out something you'd like to reuse and save it as a single file which can then be imported into any project. The best part is that you can still ungroup that object within a project to make changes!
  5. Two very powerful tools in Photo>Graphics are the Custom Region and the Custom Fill. Play around with these to see what can be done -- it's almost limitless once you get the hang of it! See below for a simple example of what can be accomplished with custom regions and custom fills.

Custom Region and Custom Fill image

I for one would hate to see TrueSpectra vanish amidst the mire of Windows applications and would ask that anyone reading this go and download Photo>Graphics Pro for OS/2 and send a kind and encouraging e-mail to support@truespectra.com asking them to consider supporting at least one so-called alternative platform, be it OS/2 or BeOS or Linux. Offer them money for an updated version for your favorite platform. Offer them kind words of support and remind them that the platform where they began is still alive and well and that there are several other impressive platforms to choose from. Windows is not and should not ever be the one and only choice for anyone wanting quality software, and Photo>Graphics is one of the highest quality programs I have ever had the pleasure of using.

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