Happenings in the World of Amiga

Announcements, Events, and Ideas over the last month

By Michael Webb, Editor-in-Chief, MikeWebb@CompuServe.COM

When I wrote another article by the same name a month ago, I wasn't expecting it to become a regular item, but I ran across several interesting things over the course of the month that didn't fit elsewhere.

Softwood Announces Final Writer 97

The long-anticipated update to Final Writer 5 is now available. Most registered FW owners probably received the customary Softwood flier and brochure over the last week or so, announcing yet another update to this well-established Amiga Word Processing/DTP program.

It sometimes doesn't seem like it, but it has been almost 10 months now since Final Writer 5 was announced. With this, Softwood certainly surprised a lot of people who were undoubtedly expecting "Final Writer 6" by adapting the recent Microsoft naming convention of using the last two digits of the year a product is introduced as a pseudo-version number. Of course, it's what inside that counts.

If you thought Final Writer had good Desktop Publishing capabilities before, you're likely to be surprised by the focus of this update. According to the mailing, Final Writer 97 "...eliminates at least 95% of the reasons Amiga owners use a desktop publishing program." Included is a list of new DTP-ish features. There has already been some online grumbling by those who wanted to see some more word processing-oriented features in this update. Others, on the other hand, seem quite interested. Not having used a "real" DTP program, I personally look forward to seeing this. At the same time, it will be interesting to see if Softwood made any other little improvements on the side.

The mailing includes several upgrade offers. The base upgrade price is about $29.95 US if you order before April 30, and it can be lowered to $24.95 if you also purchase another Softwood product at a reduced price.

This may be an update to a major Amiga software product, but what is perhaps more important is that an important Amiga company has once again reaffirmed its commitment to the platform, despite recent tough times, while many others left, one by one. Many members of the Amiga community have reciprocated by ordering the upgrade promptly, I among them; I will therefore review Final Writer 97 at the first available opportunity.

Sassenrath's LAVA, now REBOL

In the February issue of AM, I mentioned Carl Sassenrath's new programming language LAVA in the "Happenings in the World of Amiga" article. Several things have happened over the last month.

For one thing, LAVA is now REBOL. For those who don't know, REBOL, according to Carl Sassenrath himself, is "...a small, flexible language for sharing content (documents, databases, programs, multimedia) between people, computers, processes, or networks."

What does REBOL mean? Well...that's just it. It doesn't mean anything, just yet. Carl Sassenrath said it originally meant "Relational Environments in a Basic Object Language." Now, he has decided that it would be best for the language to have contextually-influenced (not absolute) meaning, right in line with the general implementation of the language itself. In any event, there is reportedly a naming contest going on.

The following is a recent press release concerning REBOL:

Date:    13-March-1997
Contact: Cindy Sassenrath cindy@sassenrath.com

Carl Sassenrath Publishes the REBOL Reference Manual, Part 1

The first part of the REBOL(tm) Reference Manual, entitled "REBOL Values: The Building Blocks" is now available on-line at http://www.sassenrath.com.

This manual, written for both novice users and programming experts alike, serves as an introduction to the first and most important concept of the language. It also includes seven example scripts written in REBOL that clarify the use of the language.

"With just a glance at the examples it quickly becomes apparent why REBOL is a simple, yet powerful alternative to the future operation of our computer systems and the distribution of computer content on the internet", comments Sassenrath.

He goes on to admit: "I realize that the REBOL language is not for everyone, but there are a lot of us who believe that personal computers have turned into a bad dream, with endless layers of bloated software being forced down our throats by huge stockmarket-driven bureaucracies."

An "educational pre-release" of the REBOL language is expected to be out this month and is intended for people who want to try a few examples of their own, using what they have learned from the manual. Incremental releases of the language will be made over the next few months, with a 1.0 version slated for June 1997.

Subsequent parts of the manual will be published to the Internet as they become available.

The development of the REBOL language is being supported by contributions and will be freely available for personal non-commercial use on a range of computer systems. Corporate licenses and custom versions will be available for a fee.

REBOL is a trademark of Carl Sassenrath.