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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Tue Jul 14, 1998  7:39 am
Subject:  SignWriter 5.0 Focus Week

July 14, 1998

Dear SW List Members:
July is a month of working behind the scenes, preparing for the new school
year. There is much to do, but we have also made much progress.

Last week, we had a "focus week" on SignWriter 5.0. It is our new computer
program. For those of you who are new to this list, you can read previous
messages about SignWriter 5.0 in the SignWriting List archives:

SignWriting List Archives

Great news!! SignWriter 5.0 is up and running on four computers in my
office - two IBM compatibles, and two Macintoshes. This is a big
accomplishment, because in the old days (grin) programmers had to program a
separate program for the Macintosh, and another separate program for
Windows. You can imagine how terribly costly that could be. It was also
very frustrating because the two separate programs would not be compatible
with each other.

But today, the Java programming language has solved a lot of those
issues...and we now have a "cross-platform" program that can be used on
both the Macintosh and Windows. This means that if you have the Java
Runtime Environment installed on your machines, you can type a document on
the Mac and then open the document on the IBM and there will be no
compatibility problems.

We hope to have the beta test version of SignWriter 5.0 ready for release
around September 1st.

Our programmers, Rich Kadel and Chris Priebe, focused last week on the
mathematics of making the old files convert to the new format, plus 100
other little details that only programmers have the patience for! And I
also had tremendous patience...I had to edit and improve the symbols that
appear on the screen. From the user's perspective, one symbol is one
symbol. But from the computer program's perspective, each symbol can be
flopped and rotated and many other changes occur too, while people type.
So...when I edited one symbol, I really had to create 24 different possible
positions for each symbol. So I worked 14 hour days for 10 days in a row -
but I finished the large font! Yeah!

The symbols look much better in the new program - they are more refined,
because there are more dots per inch. Those of you who work with SignWriter
4.3 will really see a difference in the quality of the symbols in
SignWriter 5.0. I also plan to design a small font and a medium font later,
but for now the large font will have to suffice. I got a kick out of
testing the rotations on the screen. I typed the symbol for the tongue
sticking out of the mouth - and then I held down the rotate key - and the
tongue went around in a circle - it was almost like animation! Really
adorable :-)

Perhaps some of you would like to be beta testers in the fall? It will take
some patience on your part, because you will need to learn the new program
and then see if everything works. Then, when it has been tested, we can
make an official release.

If you would like to be a beta tester, you will need to have a fairly
modern computer...

SignWriter 5.0
Hardware & Software Requirements

Windows Intel PC Computer
A Pentium 133MHz at a minimum. A 200MHz is preferred.


Power Macintosh
A Power Macintosh 7300 at a minimum. A Power Macintosh G3 is preferred.

NOTE: When it comes to hardware, one thing is clear. The Java based
SignWriter 5.0 runs best on the faster computers.

You will be able to use SignWriter 5.0 on older computers, such as a
486-SX, but it is VERY slow. We will continue to use SignWriter 4.3 for
MS-DOS on the older computers. SignWriter 4.3 is a good program for that
purpose, since it was designed for the older computers. It still will be
useful for people who cannot afford to update.

All the best -

Valerie Sutton :-)

Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
(619)456-0098 voice
(619)456-0010 tty
(619)456-0020 fax

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