MacWise 10.7, by Carnation Software
Posted: 21-Feb-2006

2 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Carnation Software Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: INTERNET

Introduction
MacWise is a terminal emulator for Mac OS X. It allows a Macintosh to be used as a terminal, connected to a host computer directly, by modem, local area network or over the Internet. The emulators support video attributes such as dim, reverse, underline, 132-column modes, protected fields and graphic characters sent from the host computer, as well as enhanced Viewpoint mode. Features include phone list and dialer for modems, on-screen programmable function keys, connection scripts and more. MacWise emulates ADDS Viewpoint, Wyse 50, Wyse 60, Wyse 370, Televideo TV 925, DEC VT100, VT220 and Prism terminals.

MacWise supports the following connectivity:

  • Built in Modem
  • Telnet / TCP/IP
  • SSH Secure Shell
  • Serial ports via USB to Serial adaptor.
  • Directly with the Mac unix shell

Features to note in MacWise is it's scroll back buffer, and it's support for AppleScript. MacWise can scroll back to the past 40 pages of data. It remembers the last 40 pages that appear on your screen, regardless of whether the data has scrolled across the screen or the screen has cleared. Video attributes such as inverse and underline are also saved, including colors. This means that you can use the scroll bar to scroll back to previous screens to look at the data or print a scrolled back page or copy a selection into the clipboard.

MacWise supports AppleScript commands as well. Many functions of MacWise can be controlled by a script (such as transferring data to and from the host, sending commands to the host and messages to the MacWise user). Scripts compiled as applications can be run from "Run AppleScript" under the Special Menu. For instance, you can write a script to transfer data from the host to a file on your Macintosh and then tell another application to open that file.

Other Features

  • Multiple-session support for up to ten windows simultaneously.
  • The user can connect to several different hosts, or run multiple sessions simultaneously with one host.
  • Transparent windows. Transparency is adjustable by the user.
  • On-screen text can be copied into the clipboard as an object or as editable text.
  • Clipboard can be pasted back to the host computer.
  • Programmable function keys.
  • Large font option for easier reading.
  • Host menu item selection by mouse click on screen
  • Connection scripts automate the login process.
  • Page forward/back capability
  • Supports ANSI color and Wyse 370 Esprit Color
  • Capture text and save to a file.
  • Send a text file to the host.
  • Secure settings for company managers prevent users from making changes.
  • A separate telnet tool is no longer required. MacWise version 10 has telnet built in.
  • AppleScript support - Over thirty AppleScript commands available to use.
  • ANSI and SCO ANSI ( SCO-ANSI)


Review Note
If you have read the past Mac Guild reviews on terminal emulators, it is important to note that the Mac Guild emulator reviews focus on terminal emulators "above and beyond" standard emulation. For the purposes of this review, the focus will be on emulating a VT320 terminal on a host running OpenVMS. The OpenVMS host applications use a variety of terminal attributes, from 132-mode, to wide, highwide, bold, underline, and reverse video. This test environment is likely the most rigorous test to put an emulator through. These tests reflect my continued search for the "ultimate emulator" for Mac OS X. I have already found such an emulator in the Windows world, Reflection for Regis Graphics, by WRQ, so some comparison will be made there, as well as to a rival Mac OS X emulator, dataComet-Secure (by dataBeast).

Requirements


Price

$95


Setup
MacWise is downloadable from the web. Downloading the software places a MacWise Installer into your downloads folder. The installer requires authentication, and provides you the option to install the main program into your Applications folder, or you can select a different location. After installation, you are given a warning that you have the MacWise demo which expires in two weeks.

To unlock the demo, you need to go under the "Special" menu (there's a blast from the past), and choose Register MacWise to display the register screen. It displays a "Program Number" which you provide to Carnation Software when you purchase the product, and they then provide you a registration number. You enter the registration number on the register screen, and the demo is unlocked. The back and forth business to get the registration number seems a bit much for unlocking a Telnet client.

In Use
To create a connection with MacWise, you have four options: Secure Shell, Telnet, Serial Modem, and Mac UNIX Shell (connects you directly to your Mac OS X system in lieu of using Terminal). For the purposes of this review, I will be using the Telnet connection to access an OpenVMS server.

When I first start up MacWise, by default it uses the Mac UNIX Shell connection, and automatically connects. Changing the connection type to Telnet did not change the window. I chose Close Connection, and it appears to have closed off the connection (aka, I couldn't type into the terminal window anymore), but it did not do anything visible to the window to indicate that it closed the connection. The short cuts for opening and closing a connection are Option-O and Option-C. The keys I would have guessed at would be Cmd-O and Cmd-W, which are the standard Mac OS open and close shortcuts. MacWise reserves Cmd-O for opening a settings file, not to be confused with preferences, which are opened via Cmd-Semi-colon. Overall, I found the menu structure and short-cuts to be unintuitive. There are even a few menu items where graphical icons are inserted into the menu (e.g., Quickdial had a phone icon and Screen Capture Sound had the sound icon). The icons seemed to be used arbitrarily, adding very little value to the menus.


MacWise Connection menu

Establishing a Telnet connection requires you to first select Telnet Connection from the Connections menu, and enter in you host information (such as host address, port, and terminal type). I entered the DNS name for the server, left the default port at 23, and used terminal type "vt220". I then chose Open Connection, but nothing happened. Unbeknownst to me, I had to actually press RETURN to activate the connection. Once I pressed RETURN, I then received the familiar logon prompt for accessing my server, sans the lines of text normally displayed prior to the username prompt. Upon subsequent logons, I did receive the logon banner, but it was not in the proper "highwide" format. In all cases, after I logged in, the cursor jumped up towards the top of the screen, which is the wrong behavior (see below). I have not see in any other Telnet client, not even the free Terminal program that comes with OS X, experience this behavior.


MacWise version of OpenVMS logon


dataComet version of OpenVMS Logon (how it is supposed to look)



Even Mac OS X's Terminal program gets it right

Unfortunately, the problems seemed to get worse from there. For my needs, it's critical that a terminal emulator be able to support the VT terminal features of "wide" and "highwide", as well as 132-character mode, when running under OpenVMS. MacWise makes an attempt at it, but is riddled with problems. The first test, shown below, is a 132-character wide screen. Instead of adjusting the font and window to contain the screen, the overflow of text ends up wrapping around, making the screen difficult to work with. There is an option for 9-point and 12-point font for 132-column mode, but these did not seem to help the problem. In lateer tests, instead of the wrapping, the text just get truncated (if you manually widen the screen, the truncated text starts to show up, albet there were refresh problems during this). The way it should work (and the way dataComet and Reflections works) is that it should sense when the session switches to 132-column mode and automatically change the font so that everything fits nicely within the given window (or at least automatically widen the window so it fits).


MacWise viewing a 132-character wide screen

There were also problems with refreshing screens. Sometimes characters from previous screens would linger on the next screen when they shouldn't be there. And very often when I did a screen refresh, MacWise got confused and converted text characters to graphics (see below).


MacWise screen with random graphics in heading

Moving past the display attribute issues, MacWise does provide a decent number of options for customizing your Telnet connection. You can alter the color attributes, as I did in the above screens, change keyboard mappings, and alter a number of connections settings. As shown above, there is a toolbar of function keys that sit at the bottom of the screen. This is a nice feature, and you can alter the function and title of these keys simply by double-clicking on the key. Double-clicking on the button opens up the edit window below.


Editing function key buttons

In this edit window, you can change the title of the key, as well as the function. It was easy enough to change the title of a key, but when it came time to change the command, I was pretty much lost. The input field contains a bunch of internal codes that don't mean anything to me. There is a set of buttons in the lower portion of the window lets you insert special characters, but I couldn't find an easy way to set the FKey to a DEC terminal key. There are a number of predefined function key sets, such as Mac unix fkeys, Viewpoint Fkeys, VT220 Fkeys, and Wyse Fkeys, to name a few. But when I wanted to define the Mac "home" key as a VT "Insert" key, I had no idea what to do. I would have thought that it would be part of the VT220 Fkeys set, but if it is, it's disguised as something else.

Other emulation options including changing the terminal type, along with settings for Regent Graphics, Backspace, Video Attributes, and more.


MacWise emulator options

There are plenty of options available in MacWise to make a Unix user happy, but OpenVMS users will not be happy with this emulator. There are simply too many attribute problems, refresh problems, and keyboard mapping confusion, and not enough features. MacWise could also do with an overhaul on its menu structure and UI. The imbedded icons in some of the menus (seemingly arbitrary where graphics are used in the menus) give the application a Mac OS 7 feel to it (aka, outdated). A lot of the functions within the app, such as creating session files and editing keyboard mappings, could be made more intuitive. Lastly, the Mac-to-Host file transfer did not work (resulted with a spinning beach ball that went on forever, basically requiring a force quit). Overall, this is not what you would expect from commercial software.

The following features and improvements would make MacWise a much better product:

  • Full support for VT terminals running under OpenVMS
  • Proper behavior on switching between 80-col and 132-col modes
  • Clean screens (no carryovers from previous screens)
  • Intuitive interface for creating session files
  • Intuitive interface for keyboard mappings
  • Built-in Scripting language
  • Ability to launch connection with logon script
  • Ability to download from OpenVMS session to Mac hard drive


Documentation
MacWise comes with an RTF document manual the explains many of the functions that are in the emulator. The manual, however, seems to be quickly written and organized, and does not provide a lot details on various aspects of the program. It also does not include an easy way to jump to chapters and sections the way you would typically do so in an elaborate PDF users manual.

Summary
As a basic VT emulator, MacWise is a decent product. It supports the primary VT terminal emulation needs for working on a UNIX system. The interface is not the most intuitive for configuration and preferences, but once you get through the setup process, you can save the settings in a session file and not have to worry about going through the process again. Editing keyboard mappings is not very intuitive either, and the menu systems could do with an overhaul. The biggest problem I had with MacWise, however, is that it does not support VT attributes running under OpenVMS very well. Most of the time, my screens ranged from slightly off to completely unreadable. The documentation did not help. Interface and attribute issues aside, the emulator connection was stable, and for UNIX users, this may be a viable option (although the Terminal program that comes with Mac OS X may also be fine). MacWise has a lot of potential, but it currently falls short of being a strong VT emulator for OpenVMS.

Pros

  • Good UNIX emulator
  • Customizable toolbar for function keys
  • Customizations for sessions, including colors and keyboard mappings
  • Supports a variety of terminal types

Cons

  • Does not provide full VT attribute support under OpenVMS
  • Mac-to-Host file transfer did not work (freezes app)
  • Interface is not very intuitive
  • Poor support for toggling between 80-col and 132-col modes
  • Difficult to adjust keyboard mappings
  • Documentation is lacking


Overall Rating:

2 1/2 out of 5 Mice