|Author:||J. Kelly Robison|
|Title:||Thumbs+Plus v. 4.00 and Thumbs+CD/32|
|Publication info:||Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
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Thumbs+Plus v. 4.00 and Thumbs+CD/32
J. Kelly Robison
vol. 2, no. 2, August 1999
|Article Type:||Software Review|
Thumbs+Plus v. 4.00 and Thumbs+CD/32
Cerious Software, Inc. www.cerious.com 1999. $79.95
Pentium 90 (It will actually run on a 486, but not well!). 16 Mb memory. 20 Mb hard disk space. 256 color display. Windows 95, 98, NT4.0 or Windows 2000 (NT 5.0)
Pentium 166. 64 Mb memory. 20 Mb hard disk space. Truecolor (24 or 32-bit) display. Windows 95, 98, NT4.0 or Windows 2000 (NT 5.0)
As more academics are putting together web sites for their classes and bringing computers into the classroom itself for presentations, the issue of image management becomes more important. A plethora of graphics programs allow the user to scan, manipulate and print out image files, but one question remains: how does one view a collection of images in a database so that the correct image is chosen for a given situation? Photoshop, MS Paint and many other programs allow the user to view each image individually, but if that image is not the one the user wants, then the user must open a new window and so on until the correct image is found. This author currently has a collection of over 6000 images, which makes remembering the name of each individual image difficult at best. Thumbs+Plus allows all images in a folder or database to be viewed simultaneously, allowing the user to pick the correct image.
Thumbs+Plus can be found as shareware on Cerious Software's internet site or the complete program can be purchased for a reasonable price. Installation is a snap. With version 4.00 the interface is smoother and more appealing to the eye than version 3.30 and has the added benefit of automatically creating thumbnails when a given folder is opened. The Thumbs+Plus interface has a drop-down menu with detailed tasks and a taskbar with the more common features.
>Beneath the taskbar are three windows. The window on the top-left contains a tree of drives and folders on the computer (including networked drives) while the bottom-left window shows tasks that are to be done or have been completed. The main window contains the thumbnails and the names of the images. Using this window and a presentation program such as Corel's Presentations or MS PowerPoint, the user can view an image catalog and simply choose which image to import into the presentation.
Another feature of Thumbs+Plus is its ability to view fonts. While most word-processing programs also allow the user to view fonts, the fonts must be viewed one at a time, much like images in graphics programs. Deciding on a particular font is made simpler using Thumbs+Plus to view all the fonts in the Windows directory.
Whether one has a thumbnail catalog of a font directory or an image folder, printing is the thumbnails is easy. From "Image" on the drop-down menu bar, select "Print Catalog" and then select the print format. A dialog window appears with options such as the name of the catalog, the font in which to print the information, size of the thumbnails, margins, number of columns, and, importantly, what information to include with the image. The image catalog can be printed without any information or with the name, file extension, size, resolution and path—a very nice feature.
Viewing thumbnail images of an entire folder is the most outstanding feature of this software, but certainly not the only one. While there are certainly more complete programs that perform graphic manipulation better than this one, Thumbs+Plus does contain some handy tools. Thumbs+Plus includes some basic image tools such as crop, rotate, resize, flip, etc. But it also allows the user to use these tools as batch processes, something usually only more expensive programs allow. Granted, these tools are not perfect. Case in point is the autocrop feature. Using autocrop, white spaces outside the actual image can be cropped out. However, this tool, especially when used in a batch process, works only moderately well, leaving a small area of white out side the main portion of the image.
Creating wallpaper from an image scanned by Thumbs+Plus is also easy to do. On the main taskbar is an icon that, if clicked while an image is selected, will turn that image into wallpaper. However, this feature does not move the image to the Windows directory and the image will cease to be the wallpaper if it is moved to another directory.
Another nice feature of Thumbs+Plus is its ability to create web pages of the image folder. As with printing the catalog, the web page wizard directs the user through the process of creating a web page with thumbnails of the images. The images are clickable, allowing the viewer to see the larger image. The web page wizard allows for many options, including background, title, and so forth.
Thumbs+Plus version 4.00 is a program well-worth having if one uses images in any quantity. Once the images in a folder are scanned by the program, the time-savings when one needs to find specific images in a large database will be tremendous and worth the $80 charge. Better yet, download the shareware version if the more advanced features are not needed. Thumbs+Plus v. 4.00 gets a thumbs-up.
The same is not true of a companion to Thumbs+Plus, Thumbs+Plus CD Creator. One of the major benefits of digital images is their transportability. Slides can be used by only one person at a time, whereas two history professors teaching the American history survey can both show digital images of Wood's "Parson Weems' Fable" in two different classrooms on opposite ends of the campus. Getting images from one person to another should be simple enough. With small numbers of images, a simple diskette or attaching an image to an email will suffice. Zip disks, MOs and other mass storage media offer the capability of passing larger numbers of images from one person to another. However, if like the author one has 6000 plus images to share, the best answer is a CD, provided a burner is available. If such is the case, then Thumbs+Plus CD Creator would seem to be the answer.
But, this author was never able to get the program to work as it claimed. Like the web wizard and the catalog printing wizard, the CD creator wizard is pretty straight-forward. However, there are some tricks. The first problem is that the volume label that the user must assign to the CD must be the volume where the image catalog is physically stored. So, if the images are in drive D:, the volume label must be drive D:. It seems odd to have to create a partition especially for this program, yet that is the best bet. The second problem the author encountered, one never resolved, was upon completion of the CD burn and testing of the CD, the shareware version of Thumbs+Plus would appear with less than half of the thumbnails visible. In some folders on the newly-burned CD, only one of every five thumbnails was apparent while the other places for the thumbnails contained the words "Thumbnail Not Available." Upon receiving information via email from Cerious Software that this was a long file-names problem (and the help desk was quite helpful), the author tried a number of different tactics to remedy the situation. None were successful and, between the two design flaws encountered, the author created seven useless CDs then gave up. While the idea behind CD Creator is a good one, in operation there are some significant problems.
Despite the problems with the CD creator portion of the program, Thumbs+Plus is an excellent little graphics program that is well-worth the money. It is not a full-scale graphics manipulator like Photoshop, but certainly gives value. The instructions that come with the program are well-written and easy to understand, while the online help available from Cerious is quite good. A good value and much recommended.