JView v1.0 and JView Pro v1.0- by David Seldon

Until recently OS/2 users had few good alternatives in the low to medium end market for graphics viewing, conversion and manipulation. PMView was one notable exception to this and more or less the only tool that satisfied the needs of the more than casual user. At the first of this month though a shareware program previously called JoeView was reborn as two separate applications (JView v1.0 and JView Pro v1.0 by Crunch Products) and changed the face of the OS/2 graphics market.

I have had a few weeks to play with the release versions of both JView v1.0 and JView Pro v1.0. Mainly this review focuses on JView Pro since it is a superset of the standard JView (it contains all JView's functionality plus some additional abilities including paint features--yes I said paint features!). Where there are differences in the two I've attempted to point them out.

Installation

JView Pro is still a relatively small program. It comes on one floppy disk which contains the base program executables, a few add-ons for the paint and image manipulation features, and a command line installation utility. Installing is a text mode operation and will ask you whether you would like your config.sys modified (the install program also explains that this is not necessary, just convenient). After installing, assuming you did not change your config.sys, you will be able to run JView from the program object in the JView Graphics folder which was added to your desktop without rebooting.

The first time you run JView you will see a reminder that all menus are accessed by clicking the right button on your mouse--there are no file menus or button bars across the top of the window in JView. This gives you a little more room if you are working with large images and if you prefer, you can also turn the title bar off for maximum viewing area.

Features

JView (both versions) is, first and foremost, an image display and manipulation program. While you might think that this limits how much there is to say about such a program, this is not the case. JView is one of the most powerful and capable low or medium-end graphics packages I have ever seen for on any platform. Included are all the standard abilities: displaying or saving files as GIF, JPEG, TIFF, BMP, PBM, PCX, PNG, Sun Raster, Targa and X-11 (with sub-options for most formats); a slideshow feature; printing of pictures; making icons for your pictures; cropping, resizing, rotating and flipping images; and some zooming capabilities.

On top of this, JView Pro adds many "extras", such as image transformations (GIF 6.9k), advanced color manipulation and reduction (GIF 8k), and screen capture, similar to features found in less expensive products such as PMView. But JView Pro goes much further than any other low or medium scale competitor in the OS/2 market. Its major strength is, of course, its painting and drawing abilities.

Bit by Bit

Crunch Products has really thrown the kitchen sink into v1.0 of JView Pro as far as painting features go. While some options are only available when working on 24 bit color images, it is a simple matter to convert any image (even a grayscale) to 24bit (by clicking Colors->Make 24 Bit; this does not change the image quality). Opening the Paint Kit displays two tool bars (GIF 8k), one for drawing tools and one for color tools, and a Paint Kit dialog. This dialog is a little annoying since it takes up almost half the screen when running in 640x480 resolution but it does not remain on top of other windows and can be hidden.

In this dialog, the user can customize any of the drawing or color tools. For drawing tools there are: AirBrush; Pencil; FloodFill; Clone; Chalk; Rectangles, Ellipses and Freehand (filled or unfilled, for selecting areas or drawing); and a Stamp tool (a quick-clone) and Magic Wand (for selection). For color tools: Adjust Color; Black & White Conversion; Blur & Sharpen; Color; Emboss; Erase; Gradient; Grayscale Conversion; Replace Color; Use Pattern; and Shadow. All the tools are extremely configurable.

The color tools are used in conjunction with the drawing tools; for example, using the emboss tool with the text tool will print embossed (or engraved!) text on your picture. This makes the Paint Kit in JView Pro extremely powerful. In short, JView Pro gives users most of the power and abilities of some more higher end products.

Readers should note that while the Paint Kit (including the Magic Wand) is not included with the base JView product, a Magic Wand selection tool is available in both versions in the Selection menu.

The Down Side

Don't get the impression that there is no room for improvement though. A built in selection mask for common file types would be nice in the File->Open dialog. While you can specify the file mask, and include multiple masks (*.gif; *.jpg; etc.) in an options notebook, this should be done automatically. The File->Save feature is also a little obtuse. There is no "direct" save option; the user must view a "Save As" dialog and click "OK" every time he or she wants to save an image, even if it has just been modified slightly. And some of the windows in the File->Save dialog are somewhat cramped and difficult to use.

Also, the drawing tools could be improved beyond their "very useful" status to "excellent" by the addition of at least a limited Anti-Aliasing capability. As it is, circles, text and other non-square objects drawn to a picture will have fairly bad "jaggies".

The program occasionally crashed on the test machine but this may have been due to flaky video drivers and was not overly common. Also, the interface sometimes seemed unintuitive. For example, it is impossible to save an image while the Paint Kit is open.

Other than this, the only problem I had with JView Pro (and JView) was its prehistoric graphics. The default image, program icon and the buttons on the tool bars look like they were drawn by my five year old nephew. You would think that a program meant for graphics manipulation and titled "Pro" would attempt to put a better face on things. Of course, this is just cosmetics.

Conclusions

Both JView Pro and the base JView are available right now from BMT Micro and will also be available from Indelible Blue by June first. If you do not need the drawing features of JView Pro, you may find that the base version (JView), with a substantially lower price (only US$39), is a much better option for you. If you want to do image retouching and painting but feel the power of a package like ColorWorks is overkill, JView Pro may be the perfect solution.
 * JView v1.0 and JView Pro v1.0
by Crunch Products
MSRP: US$39 (JView); US$99 (JView Pro)
David Seldon is a part time language teacher and part time student. When he's not travelling or playing games he enjoys surfing and skiing.

Send a letter to the editor.

Our Sponsors: [BMT Micro] [ChipChat] [EmTec] [Indelible Blue] [Mt. Baker]


Back to Contents |  Previous Article | Next Article


This page is maintained by Falcon Networking. We welcome your suggestions.

Copyright © 1996 - Falcon Networking