SwiftPRINT Review
by PJ Herrington

By now, most of you are aware that I really enjoy computer graphics. I am usually the first kid on the block to snatch up any new graphics programs as soon as they are released. SwiftPRINT was an exception. I did NOT rush out and buy it, because I thought its main attraction was the ability to use a color printer. I do not HAVE a color printer, so I didn't bother. It wasn't until ADAMCON, while chatting with Tony Patterson, that I discovered some of its other capabilities. Later, Tony, Eric Danz, and I used some of its features in a joint project. The next day, I took advantage of special convention pricing and bought it
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Since then, Solomon Swift has told me repeatedly that this is the software package he is LEAST proud of. When I asked him WHY, the only reason he gave me is that it's "too slow". Well, yes, it IS slow to load. If your only criterion for choosing software is speed, maybe you would be unhappy with SwiftPRINT. But, frankly, I didn't even notice. After all, I have put in my share of time waiting for tape drives to spin; so what? I judge a software package on what it can do for me that makes my life easier (or more fun!) And this program does allow me to do things I couldn't do before.
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SwiftPRINT will never be my primary print utility, because it prints out only one to two screens at a time. (If you want to, though, you CAN get a continuous page, by printing out as many two-screen sets as you like.) Most of the time, I still use PowerPAINT. But for some applications, I find that only SwiftPRINT will do. For example:
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First off, there is the matter of getting more life out of printer ribbons. Graphics printing EATS ribbons. What do YOU do with a ribbon that is still dark enough for ordinary jobs, but is too faded for important work?
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SwiftPRINT has a "laser intensity" option for printing DARK copy. And I do mean DARK. If you choose this option, the print head makes nine passes! Slow? Of course it's slow! I leave the room and do something else while it's printing. But it's a lifesaver when I have both a semi-faded ribbon and a project requiring superior print quality. (Magazine editors won't even GLANCE at washed-out graphics.) For me, this feature alone makes SwiftPRINT indespensible.
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Ever look at a color screen and wish you could capture some of that variation in hard-copy? Until now, the only way you could do that was with a color printer. But SwiftPRINT has a unique option that allows you to shade in shades of grey. And it prints BOTH foreground and background, whereas the background is ignored in all other print programs. This is only partially successful. The various tone values are not dissimilar enough if you are using a new ribbon. But it DOES work with old ribbons, which are useless for anything else. (Just Imagine NEEDING a worn-out ribbon!)
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Another feature I find extremely useful is the "flip screen" option. You can load a picture and flip it horizontally, or vertically, or both, and save the results of each operation. This is very useful for letterheads, when you want the same picture on both sides, facing opposite directions. It's even more useful if you want to draw a full-page border. You can design one corner of the border with a design program, load it into SwiftPRINT, and flip every which way. Saves a LOT of work, especially if your design is very elaborate. If you design your own greeting cards, you can flip the screen that belongs inside the card. Then it's easy to lay out your page so that everything faces upright when it's folded.
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Then there is the matter of format. There are quite a few different ways of saving graphics pictures. Many graphics programs recognize only one type of file. PowerPAINT will load all of them, but will save them only as HGR pictures or binary 10k files. SwiftPRINT will convert almost any kind of graphics file into any other graphics format, and that is invaluable for people who like to work back and forth among different graphics utilities.
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There is one more super feature, but it's accessible only to those who have a larger memory expander (128k, or greater.) It's a special text entry function, which allows you to type text in your choice of 5 typefaces and 4 sizes. Nice, but not unique. You can do that in PowerPAINT. The difference is, you can choose to "flow" text between cells... that is, type in one continuous line from the left edge of the first cell to the right edge of the second cell. In PowerPAINT, you can enter text in only one cell at a time. This way is a bit faster, and you don't have to keep track of where you left off in the previous cell. (There's no option for user fonts in SwiftPRINT, though.)
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Like most Digital Express programs, this one contains little extra touches that aren't integral to the package, but are nice to have: color selection, for example, and options for initializing media in various ways.
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The only quibble I have... and it's a minor one... is with the "user interface". The menus are user-friendly and quite attractive, but the options are selected with the arrow keys I personally find it more convenient when a single keystroke is used to select options. That shaves only a fraction of a second off the process, but somehow it SEEMS more efficient.*
Still, that IS a pretty minor point.
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You do not need PowerPAINT to use SwiftPRINT, but you DO need at least 64k of expanded memory, and either a dot matrix printer or an Okidata color printer.
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SwiftPRINT is available from most ADAM vendors. Suggested retail price is $15.95.
 

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