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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) May 11, 2000


This newsletter sponsored by: Dynamic Concepts, HearMe.com, Actuate Software and Affiliate Solutions


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article! 2. CONTEST: Subscribe & Win HotDog Professional 6.0! Or Buy It Cheap! 3. FEATURED ARTICLE: PhotoImpact 5 Packs an Affordable Punch 4. NET NEWS: * Law Falls Behind Computer Crime * Newest Version of 'Desktop Java' Faster & Smaller * Squeaky Mouse to Tackle RSI * Which Web Sites Are Making Money? * Study: Net Increases Contact

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article!

Every Thursday the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. We encourage you to submit your own article ideas. Your words could be here, being read by over 90,000 people!


This week, we review PhotoImpact 5, an affordable and productive graphics editing program, designed with Web developers in mind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. CONTEST: Subscribe & Win HotDog Professional 6.0!, Or Buy It Cheap!

Come one, come all, and see the amazing new WebRef Subscribe & Win contest! Sign up for the Webreference Update newsletter, and you could win a registered copy of the new HotDog Professional 6.0 Web authoring tool from Sausage Software. Each week we'll draw new winners from our new subscribers - you could be next. Already a subscriber? Not a problem - just fill out the form, and you'll be automatically entered to win.

This week's winners include Dan Paspalovski of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Mark Lybrand of Olympia, Washington, and Dr. Praveen Soti of Hyderabad, India. Enjoy the software!


>Or Buy it Cheap!

Didn't win? Don't trust your luck? Webreference is pleased to announce a special offer only available to subscribers of the Webreference Update. Buy HotDog Professional 6.0 today, and get it for %20 off - a discount price of only $79.95!



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************************************************************adv.** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. FEATURED ARTICLE: PhotoImpact 5 Packs an Affordable Punch

A little earlier this year, we were able to give some of our newsletter readers a software bundle featuring SoftQuad's HoTMetaL Pro 6.0, Ulead's Cool 3D 2.5 and Ulead's PhotoImpact 5, through our "Subscribe & Win!" contest. I've been a fan of both companies' products, so I was happy to have the opportunity to hook some of you up with free copies. It was only in the last couple of weeks, however, that I finally got to sit down and try out PhotoImpact 5 for myself. What I found was both unsurprising and satisfying - a solid, full-featured and affordable image editor geared at Web developers and others that need to make high-quality graphics and images, without necessarily becoming graphics professionals themselves.

>Standard Features:

The PhotoImpact interface is sensible, and will quickly make sense to those with experience with other graphic editors. The program has all the standard basic drawing and selection tools that you would expect a comparable editor to have in the year 2000. Newcomers to the world of graphics will have to spend a little more time with the help menus, and power users will want to take a look at the differences in the way that PhotoImpact deals with masks, layers and objects, as compared to PaintShopPro or Photoshop. As you would expect, the program comes with a comprehensive collection of filters and effects, ranging from the artistic (watercolor and oil paint effects), to the practical (despeckle), and the somewhat silly (flaming text).

You begin to see some of the beginner-friendly features when you examine the easy drag and drop effects in the EasyPalette gallery. Despite the name, EasyPalette isn't a color selector. Instead, the Palette that you are choosing from is a collection of some of the most useful and commonly used effects, filters and processes in the program, laid out in a easy-to-browse hierarchy. These range from automatic bevelling for buttons, and common color correction procedures, to lighting and particle effects. (Need to put bubbles in your fish photo? No problem! Make your text look metallic? Piece of cake!) Just because these effects are predefined doesn't mean that they're not customizable - one click, and you can edit all the parameters for a given preset.

Those with either an experimental or nervous disposition will appreciate the 99 levels of undo - I know I sure did! (I actually fall in both categories, so it was doubly useful for me..) If you're looking for raw material to use in your projects, PhotoImpact comes with bundled with 1000 photos, 1000 pieces of clip art, 450 GIF animations, 300 textures, and 30 Fonts. It also comes with the Quick Album media organizer program, which makes keeping track of your images easier and more efficient.


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It's when you get into the Web-targeted features of the program that PhotoImpact 5 starts to really shine. These are geared to make the most common and most tedious Web graphics tasks painless and quick. The Background Designer, for example, is a seamless tiler tool, making the creation and editing of smooth background images a breeze.

The Component Designer makes Web graphics especially easy for newbies. The user is provided with a set of the most commonly used Web components (buttons, banners, etc.), and is then led step by step through the process of customizing these components to their needs. Graphics pros might sneer at this approach, but those with little-to-no background or skills in the visual arts (and a deadline!) will appreciate it.

I especially liked the interactive Image Optimizer. This feature allows you to optimize GIF, JPG, and PNG images, altering parameters (image quality, color depth, etc) on the fly, and making bulky pics more bandwidth-friendly. Both the original and optimized images are displayed simultaneously, allowing you to evaluate the changes that are being made to your image before you commit to them.

The Image Slicer tool helps you quickly create image maps or split images into segments for insertion into tables (allowing for quicker page loading and previewing). You can define areas in the Image Slicer either by drawing in custom shapes onto your image, or by allowing the program to split it up evenly and automatically into columns and rows. In either case, HTML code is generated that you can easily cut-n-paste into your own projects. More code is generated automatically by the Rollover Assistant, which spits out JavaScript for easy and attractive rollover effects on your Web pages.

Admittedly, a lot of comparable tools are available in other software packages, but PhotoImpact combines these and other features into one well-conceived program. It's clear that the designers at Ulead put a lot of thought into making this a productive package for Web developers. You can even set up PhotoImpact to automatically publish your images on your site with a single mouse click.

PhotoImpact 5 is bundled and integrated with GIF Animator 3.0. GIF Animator isn't a plug-in; you can run it as a stand-alone program if you so desire. It's also launched automatically from PhotoImpact when appropriate. Several of the effects in PhotoImpact have a "storyboard" feature, for example, which allows animations to be created based on variations of the effect's parameters. GIF Animator is a neat program on it's own, and the tight integration between the two programs adds greatly the usefulness of both.

>The Verdict:

PhotoImpact 5 doesn't have some of the higher-end features found in Photoshop, but it's not really geared (or priced) for the high- end crowd. You're not going to be using PhotoImpact to do image compositing for glossy magazine ads, or to create photo-realistic bumpmaps for the next Toy Story movie - you're going to be creating your site's interface graphics, making rollovers and banner ads, and cropping pictures of your dog to email to your mom.

Released in 1999, PhotoImpact 5 is not brand new, but it's solid, useful and designed to help Web designers become more productive. Priced at under $80, that's hard to beat.

PhotoImpact 5 is available for Windows 95/98/NT, in either boxed version or via secure download at http://www.ulead.com/pi/ .


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By Eric Cook, Assistant Editor, WebReference.com Comments? Contact me at: ecook@internet.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 4. NET NEWS: Law Falls Behind Computer Crime, Newest Version of 'Desktop Java' Faster & Smaller, Squeaky Mouse to Tackle RSI, Which Web Sites Are Making Money?, Study: Net Increases Contact

>Law Falls Behind Computer Crime

Delays in tracking down and arresting suspects in the "Love" bug case have again highlighted the challenges that governments and industry face in keeping pace with rapid change on the Internet. http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2567093,00.html ZDNet.com, 000510

>Newest Version of 'Desktop Java' Faster & Smaller

Sun has released the newest version of 'desktop' Java 2, designed to run faster and use less memory than its predecessor. The performance improvements, mainly through use of Sun's Java HotSpot Client Virtual Machine, are vital if Java is to be more viable on client computers. http://www.infoworld.com/articles/hn/xml/00/05/09/000509hnsunjava.xml InfoWorld.com, 000509

>Squeaky Mouse to Tackle RSI

A new touch-sensitive mouse aims to make life on-line easier for millions of computer users. The mouse prompts a computer to squeak when the user presses it too hard. The goal is to help reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI). http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_742000/742446.stm BBC.co.uk, 000510

>Which Web Sites Are Making Money?

A year or so ago nobody worried too much about Web sites making money. But the atmosphere has changed. Stock markets have lost their unquestioning faith in the future profitability of dot coms. Which begs the question, which Web sites actually do make money? http://www.webdevelopersjournal.com/articles/sites_make_money.html WebDevelopersJournal.com, 000510

>Study: Net Increases Contact

Far from encouraging social isolation, the Internet enhances communications with friends and families, according to a newly released study from the The Pew Internet and American Life Project. This is, of course, in direct opposition to the study released in February by professors at Stanford University and the Free University of Berlin that found that too much time on the Internet makes some people reclusive and less likely to interact with people face-to-face. I suppose it just goes to show that the Internet has got a little something for everyone... http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-1849901.html CNet.com, 000510

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

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