ASAP does a lot with less
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1996. First
published in Computer Player, February 1996
Software Publishing Company
P.O. Box 54983
Santa Clara, CA
Computers get more powerful-- software adds more
features-- users get
more confused-- software adds more features to make it easier for
requiring more powerful hardware, allowing software to add more...
Sound familiar? Are you really using all the advanced
features of your
word processor, spreadsheet, page layout or presentation software?
yes-- but if most of us are honest, we use the advanced features of
sophisticated products about as often as we drive at 180 km/h.
One such product that helps buck the trend is Software
ASAP. It?s from a company whose Harvard Graphics defined the field of
graphics, beginning a decade ago. But trying to do any kind of graphics
in the non-graphical DOS environment was inherently complicated. Newer
products for the Mac and Windows environments stole away much of the
and took advantage of the relative ease of working in these graphical
to add features and complexity.
Fancy dissolves between slides, integrated sound and
backgrounds... all marks of a classy presentation. Requiring fancy
the last couple of presentations I made using Lotus Freelance resulted
in 4 meg data files-- I can?t simply copy those onto a floppy disk, put
it into my pocket, and waltz in to give my speech.
But many, if not most presentations accompany speeches
that are written
or modified at the last possible moment-- and the presentation graphics
need to be created as soon as possible. Hence ASAP... no multimedia
just an attractive presentation, that can be created in a few moments,
from an outline from your word processor.
ASAP, in fact, adds itself as a toolbar button to
Word... write an outline
of your speech, click the button, and the outline becomes the text of
presentation. Select one of 17 colour schemes and your choice of 13
designs, then leaf through the slides, picking the most effective of 22
formats for your individual slides. Slides can look like organizational
charts, agendas, graphs, tables or more. Finally, if you want, add a
or a few enhancements-- you can be done in 15 minutes or so.
This minimalist program comes on a mere two floppy
disks, with no manual--
just a tiny Getting Started Guide, and a 20 page ?Guide for Compelling
Presentations?. The data file I created with it, following up on a pair
of Lotus Freelance behemoths weighed in at a svelte 160kb. Requiring a
humble 3.5 megs of drive space and 1 meg of ram, it will run happily on
a older Windows 386 or under-powered laptop... and will be positively
on any more modern, more powerful machine. It doesn?t try to recreate
wheel-- it makes use of the clipart manager and wordart that Microsoft
ships with virtually all of their applications, or can use other
clipart formats. (It does, however, come with yet another spell
It doesn?t do everything... in many cases, it doesn?t
try to do everything.
However, I couldn?t add a title slide, after the fact-- I simply
find a way to insert a page at the beginning. It?s awkward to try to
pages around-- there?s no thumbnail view, like in its more
competitors. I miss being able to print handouts with 6 of my slides to
a page, like I can in Freelance. But it does what it claims to do-- and
generally quite well.
No Wizards, no bundled clipart or fonts... just an
that you can probably be up and running with in half and hour or so. It
lists for under a hundred, US dollars... and you can buy it locally for
Put it on your laptop, and use it for all those times
you need a presentation
right now. When you?ve got a month lead time, let the art department
you something fancier, using all those other sleeker power-software
If you?re still not convinced, Software Publishing is prepared to let
try a free trial version that does everything that the full product
but only for a couple of weeks. You can download this 2 meg file from
(GO SPCONLINE), AOL (keyword SPC), or on the Internet