Exploring Lisa's New Office System
Apple's primary goal at the recent National Computer Conference in Las Vegas was to show off as much new Macintosh software as possible, but Lisa users also received some interesting news: announcement of the third release of the Office System software, now named Lisa 7/7. Seven sevenths (the seven applications) make a whole, get it? Soon after the announcement, and two days before dealers were scheduled to receive their new Lisa software demo kits, we made the short drive over to Silicon Valley for a presentation by Tim McNally, 7/7 product manager.
We weren't expecting to find too many new features in the product, mainly because there were so few improvements over 1.0 when 2.0 was released earlier this year. We had heard rumors about better cutting and pasting between applications and about some kind of spelling checker in LisaWrite, but not much else. It wasn't long after our arrival in Cupertino before we found out just how wrong we were. After seeing Tim's two-hour demonstration and pouring over Apple's press releases and the new 7/7 documentation, we've been able to compile descriptions of just about everything that has changed...
Lisa 7/7 is a major improvement over the existing Office System, and consists of new versions of all seven of the Lisa applications and their manuals, bundled together into one price and package. (Lisa packaging has certainly see-sawed. The original Lisa software was bundled, then it unbundled with last year's price drops, and now it's bundled again.)
New Lisa buyers can purchase 7/7 for $695 in August, while existing 2.0 users can upgrade for $150 in September. What you get for your money is one 5" wide slipcase that holds all eight manuals, seven for the applications and one for the Office System. The slipcase also contains a book-like holder for the 14 disks containing the software. In the spirit of the Apple/32 product family, all of the Lisa manuals are now spiral-bound paperbacks just like the Macintosh documentation.
Every manual has been completely overhauled. The portions we've read so far are definitely an improvement over the old versions. Most explanations have been expanded, and there's more material on Lisa techniques and methods. The Getting Started sections in each manual are still there, but the Tutorials have been reworked into chapters that explain features without requiring the user to move step by step through long examples, reportedly because most users never tried the Tutorials anyway.
Changes and improvements to the Office System and the applications have been made everywhere. One new feature becomes apparent while installing 7/7, because you are given the option of partitioning the hard disk. This allows a portion of the disk to be used for Macintosh files that are saved while using the new version of MacWorks that's due in September.
Once 7/7 is up and running, one immediately observable difference from 2.0 is a new pull-down menu called Desk, which lists all windows and icons currently on the desktop, along with a check mark if the document is already open. Like File/Print, Desk is available in every application. Selecting an icon or window listed in the Desk menu moves the document to the front of the display and opens it if it is closed. This nicely solves the problem of finding a document on a crowded desktop. A recent Icon article by Jeffry Spain suggested a Move Window To Back menu selection, but Apple's solution is a lot more powerful. Users who upgrade will probably be surprised at how much they end up relying on selecting windows from the new Desk menu.
Good news if you share a Lisa with other users but need some privacy for your files. A new File/Print menu option is called Attributes Of..., and displays a dialog box that, besides showing an icon's edit dates and size, lets you create or change a document's password. Any document or folder can have a password assigned, after which it cannot be opened, thrown away, moved or duplicated unless the password is given first.
Once an application window is opened, the File/Print menu now also includes a Print As Is selection to allow printing to start immediately, bypassing the dialog box for checking the current format settings. One major 7/7 improvement is that more than one document can now be queued for printing. Tim mentioned this to us, as did Apple's press release, but we couldn't find any description of this feature in the documentation.
In some tools, Format For Printer now supports arbitrary paper sizes, with dimensions input by the user. Instead of storing printer formats with each document, we still think a better design would have been to support printer icons, each with its own paper specifications. Printing would be accomplished by moving a document icon over to a printer icon. That way, a document wouldn't have to be opened before printing, and different printer icons could represent different paper types, even if they all physically share the same printer.
A few new capabilities have been added to disk handling. Just as we wished in our last issue, documents larger than one diskette can now be individually backed up, with Lisa automatically prompting for extra diskettes. Also, a dialog box that appears whenever a diskette icon is duplicated now allows one diskette to be copied to another. And, probably mostly of interest to software developers, the Lisa will now mount disks not in Lisa format.
We discovered a few other interesting new features described in the Office System manual. The Shift-Option-7 key combination copies a screen dump to disk for later printing, but how printing is then actually accomplished wasn't described. Also, the desktop's Edit menu has a new selection called Copy Reference, which copies the name of a selected document to the Clipboard to allow non-Lisa applications (for example, an encryption program) to access Lisa documents. Copy Reference will also be used in AppleBus networks to allow operations such as moving a document from a file server to a Lisa.
The good news for peripheral makers is that device drivers can now be installed and removed separately from the operating system, under the control of the Preferences window. One new device now supported by the Lisa is an 86 megabyte disk with 1/4" tape backup. The unit is built by Priam and distributed by Tecmar. Lisa can also now print in color, using the Canon PJ-1080A ink-jet printer which will be retailing for somewhere around $795.
Tim set up the Canon printer for us straight out of a new shipping carton, but got stuck when he couldn't find an interface cable, so we haven't actually seen one in action yet. Its resolution and speed are reportedly not quite as high as the Imagewriter's, but the sample color output we saw was quite striking, and the repeatability of the dot positioning seemed better than the Imagewriter. The unit holds two cartridges, one for black ink, the other for the three colors (which when blended in various combinations produce a really nice spectrum of available hues).
All of the seven applications have been improved to some degree, and some more than others. The application with probably the most changes is LisaDraw. Many of the enhancements were necessary to support color output (to the printer, not the screen). The old Shades menu now appears twice, once as a Fill menu showing the usual 36 patterns that can be used to fill objects, and again as a Pen menu to allow your pen to draw not just solid lines, but lines composed of any of the 36 patterns, just like MacPaint.
The line and fill patterns don't have to be black and white, either, since a new Color menu provides a selection of white, black, yellow, green, red, magenta, blue and cyan. Overprinting those colors builds other colors. Also in the Color menu is a Background selection, so the chosen color can be used for the inside background color of patterned objects.
Two cues help the user "see" colors on the black and white screen. First, a Color Box appears in the lower left corner of the window above the Line/Fill Box. The Color Box contains the initials of the foreground pattern color and the initials of the background fill color of the currently selected object or palette symbol.
For the second cue, the Color pull-down menu provides the selection named Show Background Colors, which causes each colored object to be filled with the initials of its color. Showing the background color for a green square changes the square's pattern to lots of small G's, for example. The selection Show Fill Patterns returns the insides of objects to their normal patterns.
The cues are better than nothing, but they sure don't measure up to a good color display. Perhaps the availability of color hard copy will now speed up the development of color monitors.
Type Style menus in LisaDraw and in the other applications are now all organized as just two faces, Modern and Classic, with each face allowing eight sizes (two more than before): 8 point 20 pitch, 8 point 15 pitch, 10 point 12 pitch, 12 point 10 pitch, and 12, 14, 18 and 24 point proportional. This is a much better arrangement than the old scheme, but unfortunately a Mac-like font mover and font editor are not available.
Three new options in LisaDraw's Edit menu allow selected text to be all lowercase, all uppercase, or "titled", which means the first letter of each word is capitalized.
The Round Corners option now includes a choice of zero, so rounded rectangles can be made square, and vice versa. The Round Corners dialog box also includes an option to force all rectangles to be rounded.
The Arrangement menu now includes Paste In Front and Paste Behind (shouldn't those be in the Edit menu?), and Rotate Left, Rotate Right, Flip Horizontal, and Flip Vertical, just like MacPaint. Draftspeople are really going to love these features. Any object, even text, can be rotated or flipped, although a line of text then loses its little alignment indicator and becomes just another object, so that you can't, for example, insert a character in an upside-down piece of text. However, if the text is unrotated back to its normal position, the alignment indicator returns and the string of characters again becomes text that can be edited.
Smoothing and reshaping are somewhat different now. Smoothing a freehand line or a polygon turns either one into a "curve", and unsmoothing any curve turns it into a polygon, even if it originally was a freehand line.
Reshaping a freehand line (not a curve, since it has not been smoothed), works as before, but reshaping a polygon or a curve (remember a curve is a smoothed polygon or a smoothed freehand line) now allows selecting single or multiple handles and duplicating or removing handles for more reshaping power. Use of the Option key allows two points on one object to be placed exactly on top of one another, so that objects with both curves and angles can be drawn and reshaped.
Important additions to the Page Layout menu are Reduce To Fit, Reduce To 70%, and Show Actual Size. Like LisaProject, these selections work for drawings of any size and support editing of any non-text object. The reductions are only for the display and don't affect printed output.
The only change in the Lines menu is that a Switch Arrows selection will move an arrowhead to the opposite end of a line. The obsolete Black/Gray/White selections have been dropped, of course, since lines can now consist of any pattern from the Pen menu.
The first big news for LisaWrite is the addition of spelling checking and correcting functions using the American Heritage Dictionary of "80,000 most common English words in all their forms" along with a user-definable personal dictionary of up to 750 words. Making good use of these dictionaries are a number of functions provided in a new menu called Spelling.
The Find Next Misspelling choice from the Spelling menu will find and select the next word after the current insertion point that is not in the two dictionaries. The Suggest Corrections option will display suggested alternative spellings for the currently selected word, and also provides a Paste option so that any incorrect spelling can be immediately replaced.
Since the Suggest command uses the currently selected word, the word being checked may be the result of a previous Find Next Misspelling search, or it may be a word directly singled out and manually selected for spelling checking by the user.
Put In Dictionary is a menu selection to add currently selected words to the personal dictionary if not already there, while Remove From Dictionary drops words. To allow easy editing of your personal dictionary, the Write Dictionary To Document selection copies the contents of the personal dictionary to the current (and usually blank) document so it can be edited with LisaWrite. Last but not least, Clear Dictionary can erase the personal dictionary. With these menu selections, and with the ability to move dictionary words back and forth from LisaWrite, a user can easily create any number of custom personal dictionaries, stored as LisaWrite documents and swapped in and out of the on-line personal dictionary as required.
The other major enhancement to LisaWrite is more general cutting and pasting with other applications. Cells from LisaList can now be pasted in, and, just like the MacPaint and MacWrite dynamic duo, LisaWrite can now paste in LisaDrawings, LisaGraphs and LisaProject charts. LisaDrawings pasted into LisaWrite can print in color.
LisaProject can now schedule in one of two distinct ways: parallel scheduling, which assumes an unlimited supply of each resource so one resource can simultaneously do multiple tasks, or resource scheduling, with limited resources doing only one task at a time.
Like MacProject, the Lisa version now also supports costing, and provides new Chart menu selections for Resource Cost Entry, Task Cost Entry, display of the Cash Flow Table, and display of an all-but-the-kitchen-sink Task Table perfect for pasting into LisaCalc. Resource and task displays now include cumulative and incremental costs running along the top of the chart.
Apple's press release claims LisaCalc's speed has been improved, but doesn't say by how much. New options in LisaCalc's Page Layout menu include Preview Page to display a table showing where page breaks will occur.
LisaCalc's Printing Options dialog box now provides the optional output of page numbers and titles, grid lines, and column letters and row numbers. The For Your Information selection provides details on the speed and number of recalculation passes and the amount of memory used.
LisaCalc's Protect menu now includes Invisible and Visible selections for hiding or revealing cell contents. The old Calculate menu's Circle choices have been reworked into a Circle dialog box that allows circling of cells that: are invisible, are involved in a move (in other words, are on the clipboard), are missing data, are protected, are involved in a circular reference, or are dependent on selected cells. The former Find Next Missing Values is now Find Next Circled Cell, and general purpose Find What? and Find Next Occurrence options can search formulas or values or both for a given value or formula.
The Function Hints selection shows that correlation and regression functions, hyperbolic sine, cosine and tangent, standard and modified internal rate of return, and net future value functions are now supported. There are even functions to compute a determinant and to solve a system of linear equations.
Changes to LisaTerminal include the addition of a 19,200 baud rate option in the Computer Compatibility dialog box for the Setup menu, optional word wrap in the Comfort dialog box, and a Character Sets menu selection to allow a match to foreign non-ASCII host systems.
A new and separate Ruler pull-down menu controls the ruler for tabs going into LisaTerminal as well as a separate column ruler to define how LisaTerminal text should be divided into columns for copying to other Lisa tools. Instead of just one Copy option, the Edit menu now instead offers Copy Text for copying tab-free text padded with spaces as displayed on the screen, and Copy Columns for copying text with tab characters inserted at the positions defined by the new column ruler.
Three new graph types have been added to LisaGraph. The Graph pull-down menu now lets the user select Stacked Bar to get all the column bars for a row to stack on top of one another instead of displaying side by side. Or, Solid Bar can be selected to give some shading and depth to the standard bar graph. The third new type is Area, to shade in the area under each line in the standard line chart. Solid Bar and Area are actually fairly minor improvements to LisaGraph, since the same effect could be accomplished under 2.0 by pasting the graph into LisaDraw and then adding bar shading or filling the area under lines with various patterns.
LisaGraph's Customize menu has added Show and Hide Regression options to draw or delete a regression line and associated confidence factor showing the best fit across data points for a selected column, and Show and Hide Data Points options to control the display of the little endpoint markers on line and area charts.
Apple's brochures claim that LisaGraphs can be printed in color, but the documentation doesn't explain how, unless they mean by first pasting the graph into LisaDraw and coloring it there.
As best we can determine, LisaList has "only" improved in that it can now cut and paste with the other applications.
After seeing an essentially unchanged Office System for the last year and a half, 7/7 is a refreshing revision that certainly adds a lot of power to the Lisa. The above descriptions of changes, enhancements and new features should make it clear why our feeling is that users should run, not walk, to their dealers as soon as their upgrades are available. Unfortunately, the release date of the 3.0 Workshop compatible with 7/7 has not been announced yet. That means that unless Workshop users are willing and able to maintain both a 2.0 Workshop and a 3.0 Office System, they may have to delay their upgrades until the 3.0 Workshop is ready. (Apparently it's the documentation, not the software, that's currently keeping Workshop 3.0 in the lab.) When the new Workshop is released, its major enhancement will be QuickPort, which allows a Workshop program to be executed from a window in the Office System.
Wouldn't it be great if Lisa could improve this much every eighteen months?
Stanford Making Mac Tools
A group of researchers at the Stanford Medical Center are finishing up a Macintosh development system to allow programmers to write their software in C on a VAX, then compile and download the object code to a Mac. The system is in alpha test now, and hopefully will be done by the end of the summer, when magnetic tapes containing the system would become available for distribution. To use this system, your VAX needs to be running Berkeley Unix, and your Macintosh needs MacTerminal so downloaded files can be received using the modem7 protocol. To keep informed on the progress of this project, you should monitor the info-mac bulletin board on the Usenet network. A good description of Usenet starts on page 219 of the October 1983 Byte.
The Latest On Three Mac User Groups
Kiran Narsu is organizing a Macintosh users' group for the Capital area, tentatively called CAMUG. If you're interested in participating, write LELA Computer Suitors, 1695 Route 9, Grand Union Shopping Center, Clifton Park, NY 12065.
Victoria's Macintosh User's Group (notice how each group has their own idea of where to put the apostrophe?) in British Columbia is tentatively called Victoria'SMUG by their newsletter editor pending upcoming name and logo contests. This month saw the creation of their newsletter's first edition, a Mac-generated eight page publication with lots of news, hints and comparison shopping. (American readers have to be careful to remember that the prices are in Canadian dollars.) For more details about this group, write in care of Apples Victoria, Box 5338-B, Victoria, BC V8R 6S4, Canada.
We plugged the for-profit Club Mac group back in May, and since their newsletter competes with Signal for advertisers, we really hadn't planned on mentioning them again, but they sent us a copy of their 30-page second edition, and it's so good we felt we should at least let you know about it. So, for the last time: to join up, send your $35 to 735 Walnut, Boulder, CO 80302. If you can talk them out of a free issue of The Club Mac News for you to check out first, you'll probably then have an easier time convincing yourself to spend the money.
This Month's Mailbag
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! As you suggested in the March 19 issue of Signal, I checked the DIP switch setting on our dot matrix printer and lo... our printer also was not configured as the manual recommends. I changed it to use the entire 3K print buffer. Now thanks to you I am printing this letter in about two-thirds the time it would have required before.
--- William A. Ackel, San Diego, CA
I have the following comments in response to articles and letters in Signal #13. Please make sure that your forthcoming review of Habadex and any other software is objective. Too many computer publications, especially the smaller ones, seem to pander to their advertisers.
Regarding MacDraw, I too am interested in mechanical drawing with the Macintosh since I am an engineer and Mac owner. But, I have a real problem in accepting computer-aided design because of cost versus benefit and practicality. If I spend 20 hours per week drafting with pencil and paper, and using a computer cuts that down to two hours per week, then I am interested. If the potential savings is only five hours per week though, I doubt if I will be able to justify thousands of dollars in equipment purchases. Besides, how am I to do large assembly drawings with a Mac? What will I print out on that can give me the 24" x 36" format that I need? I think I had better contact Bruning rather than Apple if I want to get into hard-core computer-aided design.
Regarding Lisa software, the lack of third-party software for Lisa should not be surprising. The amount of software, especially third party software, is directly proportional to the number of machines sold, and inversely proportional to the price of that machine. A $10,000 Lisa does not get many takers. A $2,500 Macintosh will generate enough sales volume to attract the attention of software developers. The question is, will the number of programs for the Macintosh ever approach the number written for the Apple II series? I seriously doubt it.
As a parting item you mentioned the cost of diskettes. My dealer ordered a box of ten Memorex diskettes for me recently. He paid $39.90 and he sold them to me for $49.90. A "cheap" diskette for the Macintosh may be a ways off yet for two reasons. One, the diskette is composed of more pieces than 5-1/4" floppies. The hard shell and spring-loaded shutter spell added cost. Two, volume is not on our side yet. My personal feeling is that the added cost is justified by their convenience. I just love their 400K capacity and they really do fit in a shirt pocket!
--- Rick Edwards, Jamestown, TN
There would have been a lot more Lisa software by now if the Toolkit or even just some Pascal library routines for desktop management had been available when the Lisa was first released. Apple simply did not make available the necessary tools so that developers could create applications similar to the ones written by Apple's own programmers.
Our local office supply store sells ten Maxell diskettes for $44.99 and Memorex at $49.99 (but only small quantities of Memorex are available). -Editors
I'm sure that MacWorld and St. Mac will do a good job of reviewing new products. What I would like to see are more technical features on interfacing hardware to the Mac, and on writing applications that use the mouse, dialog boxes, pull-down menus, sound generator, etc. With the impending release of the Mac assembler, and Creative Solutions' Forth Level II, it should be possible for the average Mac owner to really grab a hold of the power of the machine.
--- Brett Sher, Campbell, CA
We continue to try to work with Multiplan with mixed results. Version 1.02 was some improvement. At least we could save a sheet without garbage. The new version, however, has its problems too. When run on the Lisa 2 with MacWorks, quitting a worksheet can mean locking up the system with an "ID 33" (full directories). The only way to get going again is to turn the computer off and start over. After some very frustrating moments and some serious hacking, I found that if you replace the Finder in Multiplan with the new version 1.1 Finder from the revised MacWrite and MacPaint, the problem seems to go away. It also puts the icon over to the far left of the screen, out of the way, on start up. Life gets easier!
--- Gary Ingram, Davenport, CA
See also the letter from Vic Treutel in the July St. Mac. You'd expect the Mac to remember a disk icon's last position, wouldn't you? -Editors
I am using my Lisa at home to support my position as a software development manager at a local aerospace firm. My wife also uses the system extensively in support of her work as a senior buyer at a small electronics manufacturing company. I find the Lisa extremely useful, but wish for a good data base management system. LisaList is not exactly what I have in mind! It seems a strange deficiency in an otherwise outstanding computing tour de force.
I have experienced a number of system problems which the dealer has helped in a vigorous manner to solve. In the process, however, all of the electronic innards of my Lisa have been replaced, as well as one of the system software disks and the Profile. While I appreciate the support from the dealer, the magnitude of the replacements has me worried. When I go off warranty in another three weeks, how much will I have to shell out to keep the system running? I'd be curious to know what experience other owners have had in long-term reliability.
--- George T. Elerding, Santa Barbara, CA
We once had an old twiggy disk start to make strange sounds, so it was replaced under warranty. Otherwise, all of our Lisa and Mac equipment has always worked perfectly. -Editors
As a consulting architect and "overseer" of a Lisa 2/10 and a Mac, I found your eleventh issue short, sweet and helpful, particularly the item on dumping the Imagewriter file from MacPaint disks for additional memory. Where does one get Lisa Pascal, and/or information thereon? Many architects and designers with Lisas are using Pascal to develop custom programs, or employing programmers who use Pascal. It's a language I'd like to learn, since upcoming Mac Pascal isn't going to get programs running under Lisa 2.0, or deal with screen distortion when running Mac programs on Lisa. All of us Mac hackers will probably have all the resources we need as time goes on. We Lisa hackers will probably need all the help we can get, but isn't it fun?
--- William S. Adelman, Chicago, IL
We'll have to make some tests: now that the new MacPaint has a Print Final menu selection to provide high resolution output, it may require the Imagewriter file. Go to any Lisa dealer to get the Lisa Pascal Workshop, but be aware it's designed for experienced programmers. To first learn the language, Mac Pascal is much better. -Editors