Exploring Warp 4's Manifold Offerings- by Larry Ayers

Introduction

When I eagerly opened the new Warp 4 box a couple weeks ago I was a little overwhelmed by the quantity of software included. Luckily I had recently installed a larger hard disk so I had plenty of room in which to install the various packages.

Unfortunately, the documentation for Warp 4 is sorely lacking in several areas, so I have decided to share some of my experiences with installation and use of several of the pieces of software which came in that box.

Optional Components of Warp Itself

Installing Warp 4 can be quite an involved and lengthy installation, especially if you aren't using an Ethernet or LAN connection to a network. My sole network connection is a heavily-used dialup PPP link to my ISP, and I found that it wasn't apparent just which of the various networking components I really needed. I'm certain that there are several entries in my CONFIG.SYS file which load unnecessary drivers, but as of yet I haven't found the time to track them down. This post-installation tinkering shouldn't be necessary with Warp; I get my fill of that in my Linux partitions.

I can't really comment on the VoiceType feature, as my 80 MHz 486 groans and labors while attempting to run it. One of these days I'll spring for a Pentium board...

The integrated Java support has worked really well for me. I was rather disappointed that the WebExplorer 1.2 which was installed with TCP/IP doesn't support Java, though the Netscape Navigator beta's support makes this rather easier to tolerate. Bear in mind that Navigator's Java support is not enabled by default; it needs to be activated in one of the Preferences screens. Navigator's ability to download and run applets from the Internet seems roughly comparable to that of the Linux port.

Last spring I installed a beta of the Java Developer's Kit and tried it out for a few weeks, off and on. The version included with Warp 4 shows substantial improvement and the version shipping with beta 2 of Navigator is even better. The real test for Warp's Java support will be when actual cross-platform Java applications begin to arrive.

The OpenDoc package I found to be cryptic; just what is this intended to be used for? I realize that IBM is trying to encourage developers to make applications "OpenDoc-enabled", but the times I've tried to actually create a document with OpenDoc I've gotten unhelpful error messages which the Help documentation hasn't helped me understand.

Demos, etc. on the Application Sampler CD-ROM

I can not even begin to review all the applications on the CD Sampler. To list just a few, there are: Again, that is just a fraction of the sample programs included. Below, I'll mention a few that caught my eye and that I found particularly interesting. Lotus Word Pro '96

The Lotus Word Pro demo (an uncrippled beta dating from last June) worked pretty well for me. Though it is slow to load and rather ponderous in executing tasks, it did all that I asked it to, from loading Word 6 files with copious graphics to printing out heavily formatted and font-laden text. This is one of the first Windows-to-OS/2 ports compiled using IBM's new DAX libraries or Open32 as they are now known, and as such it is interesting to compare it with native-compiled OS/2 applications, such as Clearlook, which is a speed demon in comparison.

The help system is well done and complete. I did notice that when scrolling text, video artifacts (one-pixel-wide vertical lines extending out of the program window) were very apparent. Clearlook does this occasionally, although on a much smaller scale. (It's possible that this is unique to the S3 video driver I use.)

ColorWorks The ColorWorks version 1 demo is great fun to explore. I'd never used ColorWorks before and found it impressive. This demo version will doubtless gain SPG some new customers. The save facility is disabled, as is the ability to load images not included with the program. SPG includes a varied selection of images, though, giving the user ample scope for experimentation.

American Heritage Dictionary The American Heritage Dictionary has suffered from a buggy initial release and a resultant unfavorable review in OS/2 Magazine. The "Concise" version 1.2 offered as a fully functional program on the CD is a really useful and well-behaved utility. The dictionary is smaller than the one included in the commercial version, and there is no thesaurus, but the program is easy to use and even includes an anagram-search facility. I believe DUX Software will benefit in the long run from this approach. Of course there will be users who will continue to use the "light" version and never even consider paying for the full version, but those with the need for a higher-powered dictionary will be left with a good impression of the program's quality; I know I'm thinking of buying their product!

The Device Driver CD-ROM

The Device Driver CD-ROM is a great idea; if something like it had been included with Warp 3 life would have been easier for many new Warp users late in 1994.

The CD is well organized, using HTML files as an indexing and retrieval utility. I haven't needed any of the drivers yet, but it's a good feeling to know that if I buy additional hardware it's likely that what I would need is on this CD.

Another advantage of using HTML as the access method is the possibility of including URLs for some of the hardware suppliers' web sites. In effect, this causes the CD-ROM to be self-updating.

Conclusion

Many of the better-known and well-established programs included on the Sampler CD, I elected not to discuss here, as they have already been well-reviewed in the pages of OS/2 e-Zine! and elsewhere.

Aside from the lamentable lack of documentation in the Application Sampler CD-ROM, IBM has done a good job of providing an overview and introduction to just what is available now for OS/2. This material would be invaluable for the beginning OS/2 user, and even for an OS/2 veteran.


Larry Ayers lives on a small farm in Northeast Missouri, where he operates a portable bandsaw mill and does general woodworking. He has been running OS/2 since the release of Warp 3.

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