(Adapted from the Help file)
The Grolier CD-ROM viewing software for the SF Encyclopedia has a number of tiresome limitations which the present software tries to remove. Here are some examples.
- The fixed-size 640x480-pixel bitmap presentation of the Encyclopedia is unsatisfactory when viewed on a high-resolution display.
- The text display window is confined to an even smaller area of this graphics presentation, to the point of serious inconvenience. It cannot be resized to a full-screen window as is expected of a Windows program, its non-optimal font cannot be altered, and even the unattractive cross-reference link colour is fixed.
- The headwords display window is smaller still, and most headwords are therefore shown chopped off on the right.
- There is no simple single-click "Back" operation to retrace one's path through the cross-references. The History list allows a measure of retracing, but does not preserve the cursor position within the revisited entries.
- Global text searching does not locate the found text within an entry but merely presents a list of headwords whose entries contain the text.
- There are no facilities for searching or repeat-searching within entries. (SFVIEW 1.14 added backwards searching within entries, for quick backtracking when you overshoot.)
- The "prelims" information -- introduction, editorial practice, etc -- is obscurely tucked away under "About" in the Help menu.
- Quick consultation of the SFE is delayed by the loading of two large graphics images in succession, after which it is necessary to select Archives, wait for a further graphics screen to load, and then select All Entries (or another option) simply to reach a headword list. We believe that serious users want to go straight to this list, or to conduct an immediate search.
- SFE graphics images are displayable at one fixed size only, and cannot be shown at the same time as the relevant text entry. Separate text and picture windows seem desirable.
- Some segments of SFE text are missing from the CD-ROM owing to presumed conversion errors. These include the entire entry for Simon HAWKE (formerly Nicholas Yermakov), and much of ANTIMATTER, CANADA, LATIN AMERICA, MONSTERS, Patrick MOORE, NUCLEAR POWER, SPAIN, and others. All thanks to John Clute for granting permission to restore missing text as part of the viewer facilities.
This text-oriented viewer corrects these problems and introduces new facilities such as global keyword search on any reasonable number of keywords, and specialized searches on italicized or boldfaced text only. At present it ignores sound recordings, which the Grolier interface handles well enough. Regrettably there are technical difficulties in linking images to their copyright and photographer credits. This may be improved in a later SFVIEW release; meanwhile, the information remains available through the Grolier interface.
Some other SFVIEW facilities:
- Easy saving of entries to disk in TXT or RTF format.
- Append entry to existing TXT file -- save all the entries you want to consult for a particular project as a single working document.
- Quick copying of any entry or image to the Windows clipboard.
- "Sticky" settings: your preferred window sizes and positions, display fonts (independently selectable for headword list and entry display), global search configuration, file format for saves, etc etc, are all "remembered" from run to run.
- "Custom" image resizing: drag the bottom edge of the image display window and the image is resized to your specification (but stays in proportion).
- Statistics of headword categories (Authors, Movies, Themes etc) instantly available.
- Instant word count of any entry.
- "Repeat find" option in both local (within an entry) and global (across the whole SFE) searching.
- Global searches can be restricted to individual or multiple categories (e.g. Authors and Themes) or to particular search text styles (e.g. italics = titles, bold = publication dates and series titles), and you can choose whether to go straight to the found text or display a temporary headword list of matching entries.
- Such temporary headword lists can be copied to the Windows clipboard for reference and use elsewhere.
- Global searching extends beyond the CD-ROM text to the addenda provided with SFVIEW.
- A short cut in searching: when you follow a link from (say) KUBRICK to CINEMA, the local search text is automatically preloaded with KUBRICK, so that "Find Next" operations will locate mentions of this name in CINEMA without your needing to type it.
- The last 100 entries visited are stored (along with the cursor position in each) for easy backtracking.
- Where headwords have multiple images associated with them -- e.g. several different covers from a particular magazine -- you can cycle through them all in turn.
- And yes, SFVIEW does also cure the famous errors whereby Terry Pratchett's and Mike Resnick's photos are swapped around, Kristine Kathryn Rusch is represented by the homely features of Charles Sheffield, etc etc.