First Looks: PMView 2.0 - by Chris Wright
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If you have PMView 1.x, you should immediately upgrade to version 2.0 when it becomes available. If you don't have PMView, you should seriously consider getting it when 2.0 becomes available.

I create a comic strip on the web called Help Desk. I do this using all OS/2 tools.

OS/2 graphics tools are a mixed bag... most of them have some really amazingly great features, but are sadly deficient in other key areas. Because of this, I wind up using three or four different programs when I create and post my comic strip.

One of the tools I use is PMView, and it is a jewel among OS/2 graphics programs. I wouldn't give it up for the world: it is the most useful graphics viewing and conversion utility I have used, on OS/2 and the Windows operating systems. I rely on it.

This venerable utility is about to released again, this time with a brand spanking new 2.0 designation placed after the name. I've been beta testing the application for quite some time, and since Peter Nielsen (the developer) has announced its about to go gold I feel I can let you in on all the nifty details.

PMView 2.0 is a wonderful improvement on the 1.x releases. It has all the same features, but they're easier to use and they work better. What's more, PMView 2.0 is now multiplatform -- there are both OS/2 and Windows versions available.

I joined the beta program at the very beginning, and I stopped having problems with the application since the third or fourth beta release... and there have been more than twenty. Granted, I only use a subset of PMView's functionality... but from all accounts, PMView is a stable and reliable utility, capable of working with extremely large file sizes.

What can PMView do? Well, it's not Photoshop, but it is a Swiss army knife of graphics functionality. With PMView, you can:

  • Take screen captures
  • Crop graphics
  • Mirror, rotate, and resize graphics
  • Apply basic filters and effects to graphics
  • Modify brightness, contrast, gamma correction
  • Increase/decrease color depth
  • Convert to a large number of graphics file formats
  • Set up slideshows
  • Apply customized key combinations for commonly used tools

... and more.

PMView sports a new user interface which includes a brand spanking new toolbar of some of the more commonly used commands. That, along with the new Shortcut keys tab in the PMView Preferences window, ensures that almost all of PMView's functions can be removed from nested menus and be used quickly.

PMView comes with a lot of tools to help you optimize the file size of your graphic. One of the ones I use a lot is its ability to drastically reduce the color depth of an image. GIFs, for example, can have as many as 256 colors in them -- but they don't have to, and many don't. By reducing 256 colors down to something smaller, say 64 colors, you can discard a lot of unnecessary information and pare down the size of your graphic -- useful for people creating graphics for web sites. PMView does this very well, and without much loss of quality.

PMView supports a dizzying number of file formats. All the basics are included (EPS, PNG, GIF, JPEG, TIFF, TGA, BMP) and a lot of formats I've never even heard of were thrown in as well.

PMView's File Open dialog has been greatly enhanced. It's a lot easier to navigate than the older version, and it can be set up so that it will remain open even after you've loaded a graphic. This allows it to be more like a File Manager than just a file open dialog box -- and the OS/2 version is of course fully drag-and-drop compliant, allowing you to drag graphics from one directory to the other, or to drag them to the desktop, etc. This means that the File Open dialog can even work with other WPS aware OS/2 applications.

There are a lot of powerful and useful tools in PMView, but it's not Photoshop. Its filters and effects are pretty basic stuff, and there's not a lot of tweaking you can do with them. It's ability to reduce colors and image sizes is very good as long as you stick with increases/decreases of 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%. If you try for any other settings the image quality will suffer somewhat.

PMView makes a good "last step tool" for graphics designers. After I finish drawing everything for Help Desk, I use PMView to crop out any unwanted elements, resize the graphic to its actual size, and optimize the color depth to keep the image file sizes down. I use PMView to anti-alias graphics: create the original graphic at 200% it's intended size, then use PMView to reduce it by 50%. Instant anti-aliasing. This trick is very useful if you do a lot of drawing with Photo>Graphics PRO, which doesn't support anti-aliasing.

As you can tell, I'm a lot more interested in the image processing capabilities of PMView than I am in the slide show capabilities it has. PMView isn't lax in this department, however: you can set up any number of slideshows, and save the slide shows for later viewing. You can set them so that the slides will change at the click of a mouse, or you can set them as timed so that each graphic will be displayed for a specific interval before moving to the next image in the show.

A few things to add: PMView is licensed to use the GIF format, so any GIFs you create with PMView can be displayed on your website, corporate or otherwise, without any legal hassles. Also, if you use CFM Twain for OS/2, PMView integrates with it so you can initiate and view scans from within PMView instead of CFM Twain's cruder UI.

The newest version of PMView looks like a stellar improvement on the older version. Look for it.

PMView: by Peter Nielsen
Shareware. Pricing information is available at the PMView website. Will be available for purchase at BMT Micro.

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