Kenn Garroch reviews an aid to the popular Stop Press desk top publishing system from Medway and King.
One of the consequences of using a desk-top publishing system such as Stop Press is that large files are produced. The detail required to produce high-quality pages of. pictures and text means that a great deal of information must be stored for each page. X-Press is a utility program for use with Stop Press which adds a number of useful functions. It allows pages to be previewed, printed, crammed - compressed - built - decompressed - and queued for printing. Files can be stored on disc in either of two formats, normal Stop Press or X-Press crammed. The latter are produced by the X-Press Cram facility which can reduce page files to as little as 6K, depending on the contents. Normal cramming will reduce pages to around 25K or so on average. All the functions operate with both file formats in one way or another.
The operation of X-Press uses a form of the ubiquitous WIMP front end. The screen is split into five static windows - they do not move round as in other WIMP systems - each having its own function. Selecting an operation type, e.g., View, print and the like is a matter of moving the pointer to the Activity window and clicking the required icon. The state indicator below the icon then goes from OFF to ON and information will appear in the Prompt window. At this stage this is usually a disc file, or User selection. Again, placing the pointer in the required place and clicking Select gets things moving.
The mouse used with X-Press is the AMX system. For those who do not have it the cursor keys will move the pointer round the screen with shift slowing it - F4, F5 and F6 being Select, Reduce and Cancel. Select is used, as the name implies, for selecting things. They can be icons, file names, activities, options. In some circumstances the reduce key has the same effect as select but more normally is used to change the user number. Why the authors did not use an icon to change the user number I do not understand; it would have made more sense.
Perhaps the fact that the mouse has three buttons made them want to use the middle one for something. It is also used to take pages out of the printer queue, i.e., 'Reduce' the queue. The Cancel button/key generally quits the current activity and moves back to the previous position. Moving the cursor to the View icon and pressing select turns on viewing mode and allows either compressed or normal files to be displayed. The image is shown in a condensed format which reduces a whole A4 page to allow it to fit in the Preview window. It occupies one-third of the width of the screen and can show either A4 or foolscap. To get the latter, two A4 pages are combined to form a longer image. In one form, the top one-third of an A4 sheet makes up the top part of the foolscap, the other A4 sheet effectively being placed on top of it but further down. Alternatively, the full A4 sheet can be on top with the bottom sheet showing its lower third.
The print option allows pages, either A4 or foolscap, to be printed in one of five modes; high-resolution -fast NTQ - high-resolution condensed, draft, draft condensed and draft high speed for proofing. The condensed mode gives a 25 percent reduction vertically for standard A4 pages and 25 percent more lines on foolscap combined pages.
Selection of the print mode is a matter of positioning the mouse over the required mode and pressing select. The program then loads the age into the preview window and uts up a 'printer ready' icon. Printing starts when select is pressed. The ESC key will pause printing if pressed once and stop if pressed twice. Overall, X-Press is a reasonably good aid to Stop Press. Its facilities for cramming pages and queueing printouts are useful, as is its ability to print-out faster - around four times faster then Stop Press.