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February 2000

Printing and Scanning
on the OS/2 Platform

by Tony Butka

Wow, another month already. Well, this month the clear lead is for Peter Nielsen and the PMView program. His new version, PMView 2000 for both OS/2 and Windows (95/98/NT/2000) is now shipping, and it's a big winner.

Sadly in this day of corporate standardization, most of us have to use one of those "other" operating systems at work, and at least for me it's tough to keep up skills for our favorite OS/2 programs when I'm not using them all the time. PMView is a great way to keep these skills honed, since it uses the same command structure, and gives nothing up to the opposition in terms of function and ease of use. (I've decided to use PMView 2000 instead of my trusty old JASC Paint Shop Pro for Windows.)

I have four favorite new features in the 2000 version:

  1. The new file directory structure when you use the file --> open command. It displays a collapsing tree structure like FileStar with the drives and directories on the left. Handy for large drives, and you can use drag and drop to move images.
  1. New options in creating thumb nails. In the past, in most viewers, you could not create or display thumbnails for read-only media like CD roms. With PMView 2000's "on- the-fly thumbnails" you can now do this, and there is a mixed mode that will let you combine icon thumbnails with on-the-fly thumbnails. I didn't even know I needed this feature until it was available, and now I don't know how I got along without it -- very neat for clipart CDs.

  2. A much better print dialog (hey, this is about printing after all). You now have a choice from the menu to map an image to the printer by
    1. pixel,
    2. image resolution, or
    3. print to fit.
    There is even a print preview window that displays with the dialog, and allows you to use drag and drop to set margins. As you change the image size using the dialog choices, the image resizes in the preview window. And the printer choices/settings are also directly integrated into the dialog box.

  3. A really nice feature that lets you map your own shortcut keys. I hate trying to remember all the various programs hot keys to make things faster. Now you can "roll your own" through the view --> preferences --> shortcut keys dialog.

There are other goodies as well, but these are the hot ones for me. It may just be me, but image support seems better (crisper displays and better color matching when printing) and I think there is better TWAIN support (more later as I test this). All in all, Peter has done one heck of a job. And for registered users, I believe that the upgrade was free on the OS/2 side, and around $30 for the Windows version. A real keeper and one heck of a price! There is no excuse for not upgrading this one. Available from BMT Micro.

On the word processor front...

Lotus has updated their office suite to SmartSuite for OS/2 Version 1.5. I don't have this version (and likely will not), so check out Walter Metcalf's review of WordPro at

I generally concur with his analysis that WordPro is the OS/2 leader in traditional word processors (of course I would, having also started with [WordStar and then] Word Perfect). Supposedly the key new features are in the area of import/export filters to MS Word and Excel, and in html/internet support.

The reason I'm not likely to personally try out the upgrade is that Lotus, figuring that they're the only game in town and trying to recoup some development money, have seen fit to charge $159 list for what even they bill as essentially a bug fix and update. Hey folks, get real. Of course if you're a company that wants a few hundred copies, I'm sure they will make a deal. Sigh.

Maybe I'll reload the patched version to see if I was wrong, but as I recall the suite was slow and quirky, although it did match the Windows versions in features.

There has been an update to the Poor Mans PDF Writer (PMPDF), but I've simply run out of time without being able to test it (v 0.1.5). If anyone out there has, please let me know how you like it.

See you next month! Write to me at

You might want to read last month's Ink.

By day, Tony Butka is a bureaucrat for Los Angeles County. In his other life he lives in a loft surrounded by computers, printers, and a host of vinyl records.