Reflection for ReGIS Graphics 8.0, by WRQ
Posted: 2-Apr-2001

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: WRQ Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: PRODUCTIVITY


Related Reviews: Reflection for Macintosh

Reflection for ReGIS Graphics (PC Reflection) is a terminal emulation program for Windows 95/98/ME/NT. It allows any PC user to access a Unix or OpenVMS system, emulating terminals ranging from VT52 to VT400 to WYSE to UNISYS, and a handful of others.


PC Reflection is feature rich, supporting customization for just about everything from windows characteristics, font types and sizes, logon scripts, keyboard mappings, terminal answerbacks, toolbars, and much more. It supports double-height and double-width characters as prominent in VMS systems, and also supports swapping from 80 column mode to 132 column mode. These features are not supported in the freeware emulators, nor are many of PC Reflections customization features. The only PC emulator which I found that comes close to PC Reflection is OnNet by FTP Software. It is also a commercial emulator, and supports most, but not all, of the features of PC Reflection.

OnNet does not provide the extensive window and font customizations as PC Reflection. It provides some basic customizations, but PC Reflection beats OnNet hands down on windows customizations. OnNet also provides the capability of a logon script, but it is not nearly as powerful as PC Reflection's scripting feature. PC Reflection's scripting language allows for serious programming, and can be utilized in just about any way possible. With OnNet, the logon script must halt at the password prompt to collect the password by way of the server system's password prompt. PC Reflection, on the other hand, is password "smart", meaning that you can script right through the password prompt. When you start a logon script under PC Reflection, the first thing it does is provide a Reflection dialog which collects the password ahead of time, and when the script gets to the actual password prompt, it passes it in for you. It's both slick and secure.

Another excellent feature that I could not find on any other emulator is PC Reflection's ability to control the connection. For administrator, this emulator is a godsend. One of the problems with other emulators is that users can quit from the emulator without properly disconnecting from the server. Some emulators will provide a warning prompt, but still let the user disconnect by virtue of closing down the emulator software. PC Reflection allows you to set the parameters such that a user cannot quit the application until properly disconnecting from the server within the terminal window. Proper logoffs ensure proper file closings, which can be a necessity on some systems. To compliment this setting, another setting can be set to quit the application automatically once the user does properly logoff the server.

These logon and disconnect features make for the most seamless and fluid emulator program I have ever seen, but the features don't stop there. You can customize colors, fonts, toolbars, keyboard mappings, menus, hot spots, events, file transfers, and macros. You can saving various settings, such as color settings, or keyboard mappings, in separate files to easily be used by other terminal sessions. You can create and save settings files which incorporate all the desired settings, so that all a user has to do is double-click the settings file to run the logon script and have all the other custimizations automatically loaded. For further control, you can hide the menu so that users cannot change these settings (which prevents them from messing them up by accident and calling admin for help).

PC Reflection also supports terminal sessions which are more than 24 lines long, and senses when those settings change. On an OpenVMS session, if I told the server to switch my session from 24 to 60 lines, the PC Reflection window would automatically resize itself to accommodate this new setting. On the flip side of that coin, if you resize the PC Reflection window, it doesn't change your settings on the server; rather, it actually changes the window font to fit the emulated screen in the newly sized window. These are extremely powerful features.

I was hard-pressed to find anything wrong with this software, but I can list a couple of things that bothered me.

First, I discovered a bug in the software when running the emulator on Windows Millennium. One of the cool features of PC Reflection is the ability to scroll the window to see past screens. This can be extremely helpful if you needed to see something on a previous screen, and very easy to use. On Windows NT or Windows 98, you are able scroll using the scroll wheel on any supported Mouse. However, on Windows Millennium this feature breaks in a serious way. The software freezes for a couple of seconds, then the screen flickers blank, freezes again, then returns to where you were. The work around is using the mouse to highlight some text, and with the mouse button down, drag up past the top of the window and the window will automatically scroll. The bug has been reported, and recognized by WRQ, and hopefully a fix will be out soon.

Secondly, while I found PC Reflection to be phenomenal, its counterpart on the Macintosh side is less than appealing. Had WRW worked both products to the same specifications, they would have had the ideal emulation software package for environments with both Macs and PCs. According to WRQ, no work is planned for the Mac version to bring it up to speed with PC Reflection, which is too bad. Their Reflection for Web product, claimed to be the solution for mixed environments, does not support all needs, requires software on the server as well as the client, and it not nearly robust as Reflection for ReGIS Graphics.

Pros

  • Supports highwide and 132 column features
  • Extensive range of terminals supported
  • Dynamic window resizing
  • Excellent connection control features
  • Customization features best on the market
  • Supports ANSWERBACK and other server features
  • Scroll wheel support for viewing screen history

Cons

  • Scroll wheel feature breaks under Windows Millennium
  • Would have been the perfect solution for mixed platform environments, but the Mac version falls far behind the PC version, and no plans to bring them both to the same specs


Overall Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Mice.