J. Michael Farmer, University of Wisconsin-Madison
DataViz's new release of its MacLink Plus file translators contains a number of new features and translators for several upgraded applications. Version 8.0 now supports translations for MS Word 6.0, Excel 5.0, WordPerfect 3.x, Claris Works 1 & 2, and a number of DOS/Windows applications. Also included in this upgrade is DataViz File View, a quick-view utility.
Since DataViz has been including scaled-down versions of its translators with upgrades to System 7.5, this product is lurking on many users' hard drives. It is designed to work with the Macintosh Easy Open extension, providing options for opening files when the original application cannot be found.
In testing MacLink on a number of different file formats, I found it to be reliable and fairly accurate. Translating PC files to Mac files was easy. Simply double-clicking the file icon brought up the MacLink dialogue, allowing me to choose the application that I wanted to open the file with. For example, a DOS QuattroPro spreadsheet opened easily in Excel. Opening WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows files in any Mac wordprocesser was also easy and accurate. Most formatting and graphics remained intact in these file translations.
For Mac-to-Mac file conversion, MacLink offers a drop converter application. By double-clicking the converter icon, a dialogue box offers options for conversion. After selecting a choice, the converter then remains as a drop-converter for that particular file format. If you use Word and need to trade files with a colleague who uses WP, you can create a *to WP* converter. To convert the file, simply drag the file onto the converter, and a converted file then appears on the desktop.
My conversion of various wordprocessing documents found the MacLink translators to handle text and formatting very well. Graphics came over nicely as well. Although I did have some problems with converting a newsletter done in WP 3.0 to NisusWriter. A text box was not converted at all, and I had some irregularities in my columns.
Another glitch was in the handling of non-Roman script. While I did not expect MacLink to be able to translate my Chinese text, I was surprised to find that it completely wrecked the rest of the file translation. For example, an English language document with some Chinese characters mixed in the text translated fine up to the point of the first occurrence of Chinese. From this point on, the conversion sometimes lost formatting, but more often than not, just lost the rest of the document.
Also, Apple's Mac Easy Open extension has a tendency to lock up and not offer the choices afforded by MacLink. This requires the preference file for Easy Open to be reset in the Control Panel. Easy enough to fix, but infuriating when you can't figure out why you can't get to the translators that are supposed to be available.
For users who need to translate files either between Mac applications or between PCs and Macs, MacLink Plus is a good tool. If you need to translate from a lot of different PC applications, then the commercial version of MacLink may be for you. If you don't do much, then the scaled-down package that ships with System 7.5 should be sufficient.