Mediating the Super Platforms
Can you imagine the Cold War without translators? As difficult a time as the superpowers had communicating, if not for bilinguists, the Cold War would have heated up quickly. In many ways, the world of computers runs parallel to diplomacy.
Cross-platform connectivity software allows the two superpower platforms, Windows and Macintosh—and workhorse operating systems like UNIX and Linux, to communicate with one another. Whether they are converting files from one format to the other or allowing multiple varieties of operating systems to interact with the same hardware, cross-platform connectivity is essential to a smoothly operating publishing environment.
One way to make sure that an application in one platform can read a file from a different platform is to simply convert the file. A variety of programs can accomplish this task; however, in many cases, the platforms themselves prevent flawless conversion. Jim Cline, vice president, Timberwolf Press, illuminates one difficulty he's encountered: "In some cases, Windows has security features that don't exist on a Macintosh. When we create a Windows version of a Macintosh file, sometimes it doesn't quite meet the Windows format."
In spite of some irreconcilable platform differences, many file conversion programs can be effective within a limited range. The following list, while by no means exhaustive, represents some of the many options available.
Conversions Plus by DataViz can convert files from different word processing, spreadsheet, graphic and database formats, so you can actually open and edit them in your own programs—as if they were created natively. Document formatting such as bold, italics and even embedded graphics are retained, eliminating the need to reformat or restyle content.
Debabelizer by Equilibrium offers translation of more than 100 Macintosh and Windows file formats, in addition to batch-processing and image-editing functionality.
According to Jerry Antner, director of computer graphics at Rich Art Graphics, Debabelizer is especially useful when it comes to 3D graphics. "It's geared to the video and multimedia industries and has a lot of 3D abilities. Sometimes clients send in photo formats from strange applications. I use it to crack files that I can't open with anything else."