Waterproof Markup

Specifications. Reports. Contracts. Bids. Every business has documents that must pass through an approval cycle. Traditionally, the revision process is done using hard copy, with each reviewer marking up the document with comments and symbols. Other organizations circulate the actual computer file, with changes inserted in the original text.

Redmark, from Epitome, introduces the notion of the paperless review cycle to the NeXT platform. With Redmark, reviewers mark up what amounts to a transparent overlay that sits on top of a Post-Script screen image of the original document. Similar in concept to Mainstay's Markup on the Macintosh and Capsule Codeworks's Red Pencil for Windows, Redmark adds the advantages of NeXT's workgroup-computing environment. While its interface is more complex than it needs to be, we think Redmark will prove useful in organizations flexible enough to adapt their work procedures to it.

To use Redmark, you must first create a saved PostScript file for the document you wish to annotate. That's easy enough to generate from NeXTSTEP's Print panel just select Save. Redmark can also use document images produced on non-NeXT computers, as long as the application produces conforming PostScript or EPS files. Once you have the PostScript file, launch Redmark, select a New Review, open the PostScript file, and you're off.

Redmark's tools draw on an invisible overlay located above the document to be edited. The program provides 42 different tools, including common proofreading symbols as well as basic graphics. Drawing, or "marking," with the tools is much like using a drawing program. You may also attach text notes and voice annotations.

More than one reviewer can edit the same document, and each review layer is tracked separately with any color, if you wish, although red ink is the default. You can display previous reviews in a different color. Marked layers can be printed individually or together with the document.

Since the document in the illustration shown already contained the color red, I chose to mark it up with purple ink to preserve some contrast. Other reviewers' layers could show up in other colors. Each layer can be managed separately, individually secured with a password, and set to be visible or invisible to other reviewers.

Beyond the basic editing tools, however, the user interface begins to lose its clarity and simplicity. With four inspector panels and three separate tools for "distribution," this application lacks the clean, smooth interface of programs such as Adobe TouchType.

The main advantage of Redmark over paper markup comes in distribution. A document annotated with Redmark can be sent via e-mail, shared over a network, passed on a diskette, or (like those on paper) faxed. Other than this and a few other advantages, however, the program's functions duplicate, rather than enhance, the process of marking up hard-copy documents. Organizations looking to standardize the document-review process will find Redmark useful; others may find it more of a solution looking for a problem.

by Rick Reynolds


3 Cubes

Easy enough to use and professional in approach, this document-mark-up package manages to match, but not improve on, document review on paper.


Epitome, 716 Summit Lake Ct. #100, Knoxville, TN 37922-3156.