While hanging out on Arcnet, one of the IRC variants on the Internet, I had a chance to speak to Danny Amor, the creator of the Fresh Fonts CDs and an excellent allround good Amiga guy. Danny was talking about a new project he'd been working on called Magic Publisher, a four CD DTP archive for the Amiga.
Danny knows his stuff so I was really looking forward to it. When I saw that Cronus (nee Amiga Library Services, Fred Fish's retail arm) was selling it, I jumped and bought a copy.
Magic Publisher is indeed a four disk CD set. Disk one contains special editions of FinalWriter 4 and Wordsworth 4, a complete PasTeX installation, Fontmachine and a slew of Intellifonts. Disk 2 has clipart and postscript fonts. Disk 3 has Amiga bitmap fonts, colour fonts, Truetype fonts and SoftLogik format DMF fonts. Disk 4 has the same thing as the first three but all archived for a BBS. The package also comes with a small booklet with examples of all the clipart and fonts on it, as well as a brief description of the bundled software.
It's (sadly) not that good. When I bought the package, I'd not actually heard that one of the CDs was purely repeated content so I was quite irritated about that. Then I discovered that the two Wordprocessing packages are not so much 'special editions' as severely mutilated demo versions, and one of them isn't even in English. That little fact again wasn't mentioned anywhere. When I asked Danny later about the German only version of Wordsworth, he mentioned Digita (the authors) refused to give him an English one, but that I should be able to get an American locale library from somewhere to make it at least comprehensible... Then to top it off, Danny commented that Final Writer was so much the better program that I need not even bother playing with Wordsworth...
The copy of FontMachine, a bitmapped font creator, is another badly mutilated demo version. I found it unusable.
I can't complain about the PasTex installation. It's a port of the TeX typesetting tool and works. I just don't happen to care for TeX system much, despite its much touted capabilities.
The booklet is a nice idea; I have many clip art CDs I don't use primarily because I cannot find anything on them. The other reason I don't use many of them is because they have low quality poorly scanned black and white graphics on them. The Magic Publisher collection has many of the same drawbacks in terms of low quality clip art, but there is some good stuff there. The problem is finding them. Remember that booklet I referred to earlier? It's not very handy as the reproduction of the graphics within is atrocious. While it gives you an idea of the graphic and location, frequently the images are indistinct to the point of being invisible.
The fonts are of an excellent quality, and the booklet really does work in this case. Instead of the traditional "ABC...abc" printout of the font, they're arranged in sentences to give a feeling for how they'll actually work when used properly. Since each font comes in several flavours (Type 1, DMF, TrueType and so forth) you don't really need to worry about converting them.
The CD also comes with a very large printer driver collection which is handy if you still use the Amiga's lacadaisical printer support instead of going to Postscript or the much more effective replacement ones such as the Canon Printer Studio. There's a further collection of PD web authoring tools too should you need them.
My personal feeling about this CD set is that unless you want the fonts (which are very good) or more clip art, you'd be better off buying the Aminet CDs. Those frequently come with full versions of DTP software (TypeSmith 2.5 and PageStream 2.22 were on Aminet 10) and have much of the other resources on this CDs, plus a heck of a lot more.