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Producing quality text composition on the desktop is no easy feat. While desktop publishing applications have made many aspects of page production far easier, for those users who place value on (or even appreciate) high-quality typographic aesthetics, most desktop applications fall short. Many programs fail to provide sophisticated (some might even say adequate) typographical features. And for those programs that do offer more advanced controls, the options' implementations have been far from stellar, resulting in difficult, multistep processes that most people find too time consuming to use. Traditional features such as hung punctuation, optical alignment of non-punctuation characters, ligature sets and true-drawn small caps have faded from view and given way to simplistic alignment and justification schemes, anemic-looking small caps and bare-bones character presentation. In short, producing quality text today is tough.
But there is hope. Manhattan Graphics has released ReadySetGo GX, the seventh version of its software. (Manhattan Graphics markets the product as Ready,Set,Go! It is our standard practice in this Report to remove oddities in product names that infringe upon the ease of reading, hence ReadySetGo in this article.) What makes this entry unique is that it is QuickDrawGX savvy, enabling it to take full advantage of the many sophisticated text and graphical features found in Apple's QuickDraw GX graphics architecture. In fact, much of what is new in the program is a direct result of GX. And results are worth a look.
But before we delve into the program, an understanding of the QuickDraw GX architecture is paramount.
QuickDraw GX primer
QuickDraw GX, first announced in mid-1992, is the Apple imaging architecture designed to be its answer to PostScript. In general, it provides Mac users with much better graphics and text capabilities as well as improved printer support.
The original QuickDraw was based on a specific screen resolution of 72 dpi. The Mac roms provided both type and graphics based on the one-point increments that the resolution implies. This was a major hurdle for the first generation of desktop publishing programs. Along about 1990, Apple decided that unifying the screen and printer imaging models was important for true wysiwyg output, and the model had to be capable of handling any effect that a screen or printer could render. Finally, and most importantly, it did not want to use Display PostScript. (Microsoft reached a similar conclusion. In both cases, the reason was not technology, but business necessity: Neither firm could allow a core technology to be controlled by an outside firm.) So, Microsoft added features to its Windows gdi, and Apple created GX.
The GX graphic model was designed to provide all of the capabilities that PostScript offered, plus some extras that PostScript did not offer. (These extras, such as transparency modes, are not really as important to a paper-oriented graphic model as to a screen-oriented model.)
Specfically, GX provides resolution-independent rendering of graphic objects such as lines, curves, polygons, paths, images and text. These objects can be scaled without distortion, rotated and sheared. It also supports device-independent color. The operating system transparently handles both one-byte (Western language) and two-byte (ideographic) character representations, such as those used in Japan (a major market for Apple) and in China (which someday may become a major market).
To print using QuickDraw GX, each document must carry a format specification that describes the target printer's margins, resolution, color space, etc. Thus jobs can be sent to different printers, and each printer's device driver will do its best to carry out your intentions without your having to recompose the page.
In addition, support for various paper trays and drag-and-drop printing to printer icons is included. (For a complete overview of QuickDraw GX, see Vol. 6, No. 9.)
QuickDraw GX intent. With QuickDraw GX, it was Apple's intention to compete better with Microsoft's Windows environment by making GX the platform of choice for sophisticated, flashy applications. Since its official rollout late last year, GX has not taken the market by storm and increasingly has lost visibility to the Windows 95 rollout saga. There are many reasons for this. GX needs a lot of ram, so Apple made it optional. GX is complex, so applications developed to utilize it have been slow in coming. As a result, few people are moved to install it. Thus, no one demands applications. Furthermore, surveys of the installed base show …