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ATPM 9.12
December 2003





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by Chris Ward,

Mac Expo 2003 (London)

I’m sad to report and admit that the UK Mac Expo this year was a little lack-luster, and unfortunately, I’m one of the many who share this opinion. The Mac-related lists I lurk on are also full of disappointed UK Mac addicts. Apparently, stand prices were hiked this year, thus ruling out a lot of the smaller companies and leaving only the big boys to ply their trade, and with most of the bigger companies such as Apple, Adobe, and Macromedia having already announced their major product releases earlier in the year, there really wasn’t much to talk about.

While Apple has achieved almost blanket marketing and advertising across London with its current iPod campaign in an attempt to woo countless iPoders currently roaming the streets of London into buying other Apple-related products, it has yet to be proved that this strategy will work. Anyway, enough talk of the Mac industry’s state of play. Here are a few of the more interesting items I noticed on my wanders:

For budding developers, Metrowerks has announced its usual update to CodeWarrior to accompany a major Mac OS release, again with little change to the user interface but with a marked improvement in Cocoa support. Another more intriguing tool is Eggplant from Redstone Software. Although I’m a little vague on exactly how Eggplant works, its premise is that it allows developers to remotely control and monitor applications, including Web applications, running on a variety of platforms.

Final Draft from Velocity, the de facto choice for professional screenwriters, with pre-defined templates for radio, TV, and film, is now in its sixth incarnation. It takes the hard work out of the formatting of scripts, allowing writers to get on with what they’re good (or bad) at.

I’m sure you all know about Adobe’s new Creative Suite range of software, but for those of you in the UK who don’t or who want to know more, Adobe is holding an Adobe CS Acceleration Tour hosted by design guru Guy Gowan.

As always in the Mac market, it’s the smaller companies with the most interesting products and the best values. CS Odessa, a small company based in the Ukraine, released Concept Draw V, a schema and diagram design package pulling together aspects of its existing product line into a feature-filled package including cross-platform compatibility, a vast collection of library and wizard objects, database connectivity, scripting, and an array of powerful drawing tools.

Finally, Extensis was out in full, showcasing its ever-expanding range of software including new versions of Suitcase, Portfolio, and its suite of Photoshop plug-ins, which are now also available bundled into Imaging Suite. The highlight of this suite has to be pxl SmartScale. Many programs claim to be able to increase the resolutions of images without a loss of quality. They use a variety of tricks, which usually involve a mathematical representation of images as opposed to a pixel-based representation. All have their own advantages and disadvantages and none is able to increase a photo taken on a £99 camera to billboard size, but where pxl SmartScale excels is in its interface and integration with Photoshop, maintaining a smooth and simple workflow.

• • •

This year’s UK Expo wasn’t the most inspiring of occasions, but according to the organizers it recorded the highest visitor turnout to date, and rest assured that the Mac presence is slowly but steadily increasing in the UK and Europe. With an ever-growing number of expos, conferences, and seminars appearing throughout the continent, it may not have been an exciting Expo, but it was certainly far from discouraging.

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