PMView v0.92- by Steven Atchue

Almost Picture Perfect

For those of you who do any image viewing, the newest version of PMView may fill an enormous gap. Any of us who have been using OS/2 for any time at all may have been forced to use different programs to view many types of graphics. Well not any more!

The latest release (v0.92) of the PMView (12k gif) graphics viewing package does a superb job of handling a vast variety of graphics types. Not only does PMView do a great job displaying graphics, it is also extremely easy to use; testing was effortless. PMView's menus are well organized and well constructed. According to the documentation, PMView is primarily written in C++ and is dynamically multithreaded (able to spawn and kill threads as needed). It is apparent from its performance that it is programmed to take full advantage of the 32 bit OS/2 architecture and multithreading. Additionally, WPS features such as drag and drop and registering of object classes have been implemented.

Many of PMView's features have been around in other programs for a while. However, they have never been grouped into one package - until now. Most high end commercial packages, primarily for Windows, do not even come close to the robustness of features in PMView. Abilities such as being able to zoom in on a picture or flip it are common among the average shareware program. PMView, however, goes further to include more advanced features and doesn't disable or cripple them in the shareware version. The viewing options available seem endless; simple options and more advanced ones almost guarantee that a beginner will not be intimidated and an expert will fall in love.

The File->Open window (30k gif) actually has thumbnails (small images) of your graphics. No guessing - just click on the thumbnail and the graphic opens. Users can choose to create these thumbnails automatically when File->Open is chosen. The program then creates the thumbnails in the background as you use your computer, so the next time you open the directory, the thumbnails are displayed. You can also choose to create thumbnails manually or when graphics are loaded. This is probably the wiser choice when you have directories with hundreds of graphics such as on CD-ROMS.

A recall option allows you to reload any of the last eight viewed files with one mouse click - very nice for authoring or just playing around. You can also print any displayable graphic, which can be kind of fun (I am sure that some of you will find this very useful). Printing can be achieved on any OS/2 supported printer and is done completely in the background freeing up the computer almost immediately. I found print quality to be above average considering I was printing on a 24 pin color printer. A slideshow has also been added within the last couple of revisions of PMView. This feature is a wonderful tool for anyone that is looking to achieve professional presentations.

One of the more useful editing features is the capability to change file formats, which in PMView is simple. All you do is choose the File->Save as... and a pull down menu displays the available conversion types. This a useful feature if your current draw program is not capable of saving files in multiple formats. (editor's note: this is a life saver! PMView has allowed us to work with many other cranky OS/2 programs which would not save to either .gif or .jpg.) Another use for format conversion is creating background bitmaps for your desktop. PMView will pretty much change any file into bitmap format to be displayed on your desktop or in any of your folders. Windows 3.x bitmaps can also be created using the same conversion method. With a little creativity and exploitation of PMView's other features, some very nice backdrops can be crafted. All of the remaining conversion filters (way to many too list) have advanced options that can be implemented by seasoned graphics professionals or enthusiasts.

PMView can save GIF files in interlaced mode and has options for transparent color and background color indexes - very useful tools when authoring WWW pages. JPG (JPEG interchange format) options include quality, which allows you to control the size of the file by reducing or increasing the quality; smooth, which allows cleaning up of the image; and progressive JPG, which allows the display of the file progressively, much like interlaced GIFs. BMP, DIB, and RLE (Bitmaps) can be saved cross platform for use on any version of OS/2 or Windows.

Another handy feature is the ability to capture a screen or window. This has a lot of usefulness if you do any presentations, HTML, technical documentation or other type of work that may require screen shots. You can capture the whole screen, a portion of the screen, a window or the interior of a window. This feature alone could save hours capturing screens for technical documents or HTML because you can save them to GIF, BMP or JPG right in PMView without cutting or pasting.

As the name implies, PMView is not a draw program, but it does allow editing of graphics files. It is somewhat similar to a Windows program called Graphic Workshop allowing you to do photo retouching tasks such as cutting and pasting.

There are also more advanced image manipulation controls and options. Some of these include: brightness control; RGB balance; negative; gamma correction; palette editing; and picture conversion (black & white, grayscale (7k gif), 16, 256 or deep color). Options such as dithering and color conversion are very useful tools that can be instrumental in touching up images. This is what separates PMView as a viewer from its competitors.

As with most shareware you don't get a printed manual so you must rely on read me files or on-line help. On-line help is available and for the most part is very thorough and to the point. Choosing help from any area of the program navigates you precisely to the subject in the help file and also gives jump points to related subjects that are available. The contents and index are adequately structured and easily referenced.

Installation is done from the command line and is not very intuitive. Let's just say installation is not one of PMView's strong points. First, you must know how to unzip files, create directories, and edit your config.sys file. If you can do these, you are home free. Once you get past the hair pulling stage, however, the installation does do some integration with OS/2 by creating an icon on the desktop and also some trickier things like registering the objects with the WPS and providing all the correct associations so you can double click any graphics file and OS/2 will open PMView. I am sure that if the authors sat down and wrote an actual graphical install program, it would be as wonderful as PMView. But for now...

Digging into the history of PMView reveals that development is ongoing. Features such as Twain scanner support and expanded paint and drawing capability are planned for the future, so I would be willing to say that these guys are in it for the long haul.

After using PMView for the past few months, I don't think I can do without. Some of you may get hung-up on the installation but don't give up. It is well worth it. Others may breeze through the installation and not find it as exciting as I do, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Personally, I think it's a keeper!

 * PMView v0.92 (611k)
Author(s): Raja Thiagarajan & Peter Nielsen
Registration: US$40.00
Steven Atchue has been doing computer consulting for the past four years. He has been in the computer industry since the birth of the AT. Currently, he is doing product reviews, freelance writing and for fun he is building his own house. Steve can be reached on CompuServe as 75250,3726.

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