the Beta File

Welcome back to the Beta File, your source for the latest breaking news in OS/2 beta development. From the ton of tips on beta development we received this month it looks like the floodgates are breaking (even wider) on OS/2 development. Or maybe we here at OS/2 e-Zine! are just getting more diligent (or more notorious!). Whatever the case, we've got a bag full of apps to talk about this month...

Of course, during any given month, we don't come across every company currently in development. What's that you say? You want to help fill out this column? You have a product that you're sure is going to be the next killer app? You want a little free hype? Well get off your keister and drop us a note!

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Shall we start off with Stardock this month? Why not! From the horse's mouth itself, "After the delays in Avarice and Entrepreneur, Stardock decided that it wouldn't release betas until they were quite far along. Trials of Battle is already a fully playable, networkable, fast paced action game for OS/2 along the lines of DOOM crossed with Wing Commander in a hover craft."

What's that you ask (with excitement)? A DOOM-esque and Wing Commander-esque game!?! Where can you find out more? Right here of course! Trials of Battle is a first person action game, being developed by Shadowsoft and published by Stardock. Among other things, it promises to have extended multi-player support, and I'd believe that if I were you -- the folks at Stardock are notorious network-game addicts and they'd settle for no less. We hear Trials of Battle was a big hit at the IBM Technical Interchange in April.

Starting this month, registration for the beta test will be limited to 1000 people or the end of June, whichever comes first (but my money is on the former, so get there early). As is standard with Stardock's betas, the beta will cost money (US$38) but testers will receive the final game free (and have significant input into its final appearance and playability). Call Stardock at 1-800-672-2338 to get on the team.

Expect Trials of Battle by November or possibly sooner. If you're not fortunate enough to get on the beta test the final price of this commercial software will be US$59.95.

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Next to the plate is yet another HTML editing program for OS/2. HTML-Ed is currently at version 0.94b and even though it is widely available and the author is taking registrations (hence our review in this issue), it is still technically being worked on. The author, Ian Prest, says the beta test continues, "Not [because] I'm having a lot of problems, but because users are just suggesting so many great features that I want to implement . If I stopped constantly adding new features, I could probably end the beta test in a few weeks. HTML-Ed is one of those shareware products for which the line between beta and GA is somewhat blurred."

HTML-Ed's key features are the built-in TEST function (allowing you to almost instantly view your web page via the use of the WebExplorer DLLs), and the fact that it's small and fast (written completely in C for speed and size). Interested Websmiths should pop over to the BMT Micro Home Page for more info and to download a copy.

The registration price is currently US$20, and it is expected to remain there when v1.0 is released. This shareware is and will remain fully-functional but with a nag screen/delay when the program starts.

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Another product now in beta testing that promises to make your HTML lives a little easier is HTMLView by Software Technologies. Martin Alfredsson has put together a small package for the speedy viewing of HTML pages without loading a lot of the overhead that traditional WWW browsers require. HTMLView lets you view HTML pages off-line, but it also works as an on-line viewer. It has basic features for navigating but is sparse on bells and whistles since the purpose of the software is speed.

The first version was released May 15th so the tests have not been that extensive yet. However, Alfredsson claims the feedback has been great. The beta(s) are public but anyone that registers as a beta tester will be able to get feedback (and fixes) much faster. To join up, send your name and e-mail address to mail@jmast.se. Or if you just want to have a look, pop over to hobbes and find the file (HTMLVB0x.zip) in the incoming/, network/tcpip/ or editors/ directories.

The product should be released around August or September. The pricing will be set when the features are finalized (there are some planned that have not been implemented yet). Expect it to be around US$30 and sell as shareware.

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From our correspondent across the Atlantic we received news this month of a new graphics package, S.P.A.C.E. Draw (thanks Nico!). The company developing this product is "Ingenieurbuero BARDIC Software Karlsruhe", but being uni-lingual, I think I'll just stick with BARDIC Software. In an amazing twist, BARDIC does not seem to have a WWW site or an e-mail address! Wow.

Nevertheless, we were able to determine from our insider beta tester that S.P.A.C.E. Draw will be a 3D vector paint program with all basic 2D functions making it easy to produce 3D bodies, with handling for bitmaps included (laying them on surfaces of bodies). It will first be available for OS/2 in German, then US English.

The beta test has been running since April 96 with no set date for the end available. They did say, however, that the release version is expected around August or September '96. It's not clear how many people are currently testing the product but BARDIC is still accepting participants. Beta testers receive the test version for half price and the full version for free when available. For more info, contact:

BARDIC Software
Neckarstrasse 52
D-76199 Karlsruhe
Fax/Phone: 0721/892554
Expect this commercial software to run around DM328 including tax (sorry, our monetary conversions are a little rusty). It will require only a 386, OS/2, 8 MB RAM, 15 MB HD and a CD-ROM drive.

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Another enterprising developer is currently working on an Internet dialer to replace the "Dial Other Providers" program shipped with Warp. Bjarne Jensen is working on this new 32 bit SLIP/PPP dialer, InJOY, which will autolearn scripts, support terminal mode, have a fast PPP implementation (written from scratch), show line statistics as bar graph and numbers, have autostarts, reconnect ability, redial and, IP masquerading.

While the beta test may be closed to further participants by the time you read this, you can find out for sure and get more information from the InJOY home page. Currently there are around 100 testers and it has been in beta for less than a few months. InJOY is free now but in the future it will most likely be a shareware application.

Jensen claims that InJOY will be ported to the Presentation Manager later and he, "still takes requests for developments!"

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From the "truly amazing" category this month, we have Virtual GameBoy/2. In case you're wondering, it's probably exactly what you're thinking it is. Virtual GameBoy/2 is a port of similar software for other platforms that allows you to play GameBoy games (yes, Nintendo GameBoy games) on your OS/2 desktop! All that is required is a DIVE-compatible video card (most are) and Warp (and, of course, some GameBoy games).

The original Virtual GameBoy engine was/is developed by Marat Fazyullin and the OS/2 Port is being done by Joe LoCicero with help from Thomas Ahn Kolbeck Kjaer. At the time this article was printed an OS/2 specific VGB web site had not been set up but you can get more info from Fazyullin's site.

So far, 50-100 users have been banging on the code for over a month. This is an open beta though, so you can FTP directly to hobbes and grab vgb206bx.zip in either the incoming/ or games/ directories.

This project is undertaken in the spirit of generosity and it will be freeware upon completion, as it is now. To sum up: "VGB/2 allows OS/2 game fanatics to benefit from the large base of software already developed for the Nintendo GameBoy platform. With this one program, over 200 "new" games can be played natively under OS/2. Information on how to make file images of GameBoy cartridges you may have is available from http://www.freeflight.com/fms/VGB/."

VGB/2 is the first in a series of emulators being ported to the OS/2 platform. The finished product (as of yet unnamed, but with a working name of LEGS for Legacy Emulation Gaming System) will be a modular system that allows different emulation back-ends to be plugged in. Platforms to be emulated include the GameBoy, the MSX, the Apple II, the C-64, and the Nintendo.

Please, do not e-mail the authors asking for GameBoy images or where to find them. GameBoy cartridges, like all software, are copyright material and are not freely distributable. If you own or purchase cartridges, however, check the site mentioned above to see how to enjoy them on OS/2.

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Ascent Solutions Inc. is hoping to win your file compression dollars with its new ZIP OS/2 product, currently in beta testing. Initially a small beta test which started in May, ASi is still accepting new testers and the test should run for the month of June as well -- further details are available on their web site.

At the time of release, ZIP OS/2 will be a shareware application with a registration fee of US$47.00. ZIP OS/2 is 100% cross platform compatible with the rest of ASi's compression line that includes PKZIP multiplatform and Nico Mak Computing Inc.'s WinZip. With it, users are able to control the rate and amount of compression while compressing an archive file, as well as add comments and embed passwords into Zip archives.

For more information contact ASi at the above web site or by phone (513) 885-2031.

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Also this month, we have a new file manager which just went into beta last week (at the time of this writing). Clear & Simple, Inc. have just announced their new product, The OS/2 DiskJockey. Expect the beta to last until the mid to end of June with a release date of early July. The beta is public and anyone interested can find the file at Clear & Simple's website or on CompuServe in OS2AVEN - Library 1.

The DiskJockey is Clear & Simple's answer to file management for OS/2, and promises to focus on speed and simplicity of navigation. With the ability to perform file maintenance operations such as copy, move, delete and rename, coupled with quick and easy-to-use file compression utilities and internal file viewing facilities, the DiskJockey should be a winner.

No final price has been decided for the program but Anthony Pereira has stated that Clear & Simple wants users' feedback on this. In his words, "The beta program will be very interactive, we are open to suggestions. We know what we need this [product] to do, but recognize that others may have needs that we didn't think of." Clear & Simple can also be reached by phone at (860) 658-1204.

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Finally this month, InnoVal has announced the beta test for their next generation e-mail client, Post Road Mailer v2.0. The beta code is scheduled to ship, "no later than June 15th," so by the time you read this you may already be able to get it. If not, you shouldn't have long to wait.

Due to press deadlines few details on upcoming features of PRM v2.0 were available. The beta, however, is open to anyone who uses OS/2 and is interested and participants will receive a 50% discount on the final version (regular MSRP will be US$59). No fee is charged to join the beta program. Final shipping of version 2.0 is expected in late July. If you're interested, check out InnoVal's beta information.

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