City Services

While the early settlers in the City of NeXT were willing to comb the Internet for utilities that make computing life easy, the masses that followed preferred commercial services that bring utilities to the front door. Chief among the shrinkwrapped utility sets now available for NeXT is the $129 MetroTools package from Metrosoft.

All six MetroTools utilities a screen saver, a file locator, an application launcher, an archiver, a font installer, and a sound importer are duplicated in shareware and competing commercial packages. But the others may be more difficult to obtain or use.

The screen saver is the product you're most likely to use every day. It relieves worries about burning in your MegaPixel Display and, optionally, provides attractive alternatives to NeXTSTEP's uniform gray background. Stepping away from your workstation, you can choose to hide your work; nosy coworkers need your password to restore the work-space. There's a choice of five backdrops and you can add the popular BackSpace modules as well.

Since NeXTWORLD took an earlier look at the MetroTools's Application Launcher ("Boots and Suspenders," Summer 1992), Metrosoft has added greater functionality to the Dock extender, providing quick launches for documents and applications in frequent use. The addition of small tiles (one-quarter-size application icons), simultaneous access to multiple groups of icons, and the ability to launch entire groups makes this launcher more versatile than Atherton Software Works's Engage, a popular favorite.

MetroTools's File Locater runs no faster than Workspace Manager's, but it adds optional search criteria (file size, date, time, and owner), with adjustable tolerances for approximate filename matches. It's a handy way to find all the large files eating away disk space, though you'll likely have the patience to run the File Locator only when a file is desperately misplaced.

The Archiver is useful after you've found the largest files on your hard disk and wish to group or compress them for storage elsewhere. It beats the UNIX utilities' tar and compress/uncompress for convenience. But other vendors' utilities offer the same function- ality (see "Safe or Sorry," NeXT-WORLD, Fall 1992), often via the Services menu or easy double-clicking for file uncompression. The MetroTools Archiver can't claim to be the best of its breed.

The Sound Importer allows you to move Macintosh sound files to the NeXT. Just as there are more fonts and clip art for the Mac, there are also more sounds. This utility is a great leveler; the truly perverse can substitute the Apple Programmers and Developers Association's signature dog-cow "moof" as their NeXT system alert.

MetroTools's Font Installer is the most useful utility for the new NeXT user. A new NeXT needs fonts badly and few are available in NeXT's slightly special format. Now that NeXTSTEP 3.0 reads Macintosh floppies, it is especially easy to use the Font Installer to twist Macintosh-format Adobe Type 1 typefaces into a format that a NeXT can use. You don't need to read a manual: Just drop the font file into the Font Installer icon well and click. Unless you track down the elusive mfrc freeware utility, the Font Installer justifies the full $129 price of the MetroTools grab bag. One caution: Macintosh-formatted PostScript fonts don't always conform to the Adobe Type 1 standard. Not every Mac font will work.

These utilities all work as adver-tised. With accompanying toll-free technical support, they are a welcome addition to the tool box for NeXT users who prefer utilities delivered to their door instead of roughing it on the Internet.

by Daniel Miles Kehoe


3 Cubes

Metrosoft's six tools are useful, and though similar utilities are all available elsewhere, convenience and value recommend this bag of tricks.


Metrosoft, 712 Vanitie Ct., San Diego, CA 92109. 619/488-9411,