the Beta File

Welcome back to the Beta File, your source for the latest breaking news in OS/2 beta development. Every month we scour the OS/2 world to bring you interesting news of OS/2 software in development. If you have a product that you're sure is going to be the next killer app, or you want a little free exposure for your beta test drop us a note!

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Well, it's official, Merlin mania has arrived. Just as with that other company's operating system, announcements of products for Merlin have started before Merlin itself is even available (to most people)! Last month KrazyDog Software released a beta of what is, to our knowledge, the first Merlin specific app to be widely available, the TransWarp PlusPak.

Author Michael Neice says, "TransWarp PlusPak was an idea sparked during my beta testing of Merlin. The Merlin developers had enhanced the look and feel of OS/2 with new icons, schemes, and 256 color backgrounds. However, the great looking backgrounds, like the nature background, only look so good in 256 colors, so I decided to put together my own Desktop schemes that use 65,000 color backgrounds, and then decided to build an app so that others could benefit."

The TransWarp PlusPak is a Desktop utility that enhances the look of the Merlin Desktop with mini-schemes that change the Desktop background and the six icons installed by default. As of July 2, there were four mini-schemes in the beta (Blue Sky, Space Shuttle, Outer Space, Horror). All are cool, and "Horror" (complete with blood dripping from the Shredder icon) is sure to please.

The beta test started early in July and anyone is welcome to join. Just download the product from the KrazyDog Software web page and send your feedback via e-mail. System requirements are OS/2 Warp 4.0 beta (Merlin) and a video card with color depth of at least 65,000 colors. Expect Version 1.0 of the TransWarp PlusPak to be available one week prior to the release of Warp 4.0. And expect the price to be right -- it's freeware!

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For all you web heads out there, Panacea Software is looking for beta testers of its new HTML page design software, HTML Studio. HTML Studio is a 100% 32-bit OS/2 Presentation Manager application used to rapidly design custom world wide web pages. HTML Studio allows you to create web pages that truly stand out without having to know the HTML tag language. Some of the features included are:

Panacea Software is planning to open the beta test as of August 2nd so there is still time to sign up. The beta is only scheduled to last a month though, so sign up early (drop by the Panacea WWW site for details).

One reason for the short beta cycle is the tentative release date for the software of August 30th. While not yet decided, the eventual price for HTML Studio should be between US$25 and US$30. The program will be shareware.

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Moving right along to the more business oriented side of things, we have the upcoming Prominic Warp Cloner. Prominic (tm) Warp Cloner lets a single OS/2 Warp machine act as a server to another computer. This is accomplished by creating boot disks for the client and running a small server process. The client can then copy the entire OS/2 installation (all HPFS and FAT drives) from the server, thereby "cloning" the original machine.

Ongoing for about a month at the time of this writing, the beta test is open to the general public. To join the program see Prominic Technologies, Inc.'s web site. But get there quick, the Warp Cloner is scheduled to be released some time in August.

When it is released, MSRP for this commercial product will be between US$40 and US$50 and a "demo/shareware" version will be available.

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From the "not quite beta, not quite finished" department comes Marcus Better's HFS/2. HFS/2 is an Installable File System (IFS) for OS/2 that reads and writes Macintosh diskettes with Apple's Hierarchical File System. Yep, you read that right, it reads and writes Mac diskettes right from your OS/2 system! Support for other media (hard disks, CD-ROMs, etc.) is expected in future releases.

The program can be downloaded from Marcus' web site, where new versions will also be found. The first beta version was made available to the public in late June/early July but there is no organized beta programme. Those interested in banging on HFS/2's tires should just download the program and jump in. Accordingly, the software has no official expected date of completion. It's a "work in progress" for now and the foreseeable future.

HFS/2 is, and will remain, Freeware. And for the technically inclined, source code is included.

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If you have been looking for the latest in Pascal compilers to play with, SpeedSoft GbR has announced the beta test of their upcoming, SpeedSoft Sibyl 2.0. Jens Hofbauer of SpeedSoft Customer Support tells us that anyone is welcome to join in on the beta and there is no special procedure to do so. Just grab the code from SpeedSoft's web site and get started.

Hofbauer also said that, "with Sibyl, SpeedSoft has given you the ultimate freedom in building your applications: you can write modern, high-performance programs with a minimum of effort." The key-features of the compiler are a visual development environment for Pascal and a portable class library for OS/2 and WIN32.

As would be expected, this will be a commercial release, targeted for September/October of 1996. The expected price is 250-300DM (German Mark's).

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For some time now (since November of '95) a text mode program called DMP has been available to the OS/2 community. Currently the program's author has set his sights on a new project, a Presentation Manager version of DMP called, originally enough, DMP/PM. The first beta version of DMP/PM was released last December and the code is now up to v0.75. Both versions of DMP (text and PM) are available in a single package that you can find at Julien Pierre's web site.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, DMP stands for Dual Module Player. A "Module" in this case is a music module. DMP/PM is a Presentation Manager player using Julien Pierre's OS/2 port of Otto Chrons' Digital Sound & Music Interface.

DSMI/2 is the sound engine used by DMP and DMP/PM to play "modules". It is a commercial library aimed at developers of OS/2 multimedia applications or games. It allows developers to use 32 digital audio channels simultaneously on any OS/2 supported sound card. It also provides functions to play modules and includes the source code to DMP and DMP/PM.

Dual Module Player itself though, is a program for playing music modules on different sound systems on IBM PC compatible machines. It uses the DSMI sound programming interface to achieve high quality sound and wide sound card support. Currently DMP supports following module formats:

There are already hundreds of beta testers using DMP/PM but more are welcome. DMP/PM will be freeware when released.

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And finally this month, that veteran of everyone's Desktop, PMView is finishing up its latest beta cycle. The new v0.93 (will these folks ever reach v1.0?) will be in beta most, if not all, of August. Developer, Peter Nielsen hopes to have the final release ready for the public in early September though.

Just in case there are any OS/2 users out there that are not familiar with PMView, you can find details on the BMT Micro hosted PMView web site. For those of you that are familiar, here's a sampler of some of the new features:

The program will remain shareware and the price is not expected to go up from its current US$42 which gives users a lifetime license for this indispensible program. This new beta is available (as far as we know) only to registered users of PMView and only directly from the developers.

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