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Author:dhomas trenn
Published by:NewTekniques magazine (US)
Date:June 1999

Most programs have a custom file format, whether it be for word processing, graphics, sound, video or something else. Many standards have been created to deal with some of these problems; but, unfortunately, standards aren't always as well supported on the Amiga as we would hope. In these cases, we have to rely on conversion utilities, if available, to smooth things over.

Language Translation
If you have used the AltaVista search engine, you may already be familiar with their Babel Fish language translation service. This service can translate French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish from/to English. It is very fast and claims to be very accurate. If you have a web browser, such as IBrowse, you can already access this service using it's HTML submission form. But, there's a better way.

Provided that you have internet access on your Amiga, Cristian Gallas' Freedom Translator (freeware), can give you access to this service directly from various Amiga applications. ARexx scripts are included for FinalWriter, WordWorth, Yam, IBrowse, AWeb and AmIRC; and others can be easily created. FTranslator (Freedom Translator Client API) can also be used stand-alone.

The Babel Fish service limits the amount of text that you can translate at one time; but, it is easy enough to break up a larger document into smaller pieces.

If you have a need for language translation, such as for video sub-titling, this might be worth taking a look at.

Microsoft Word Documents
Unfortunately, the world seems insistent on forcing the Word document format on us non-Microsoftians. It's like a virus that is spreading uncontrollably. Fortunately, something is available to help.

Word Converter (aminet: text/misc/WordConverter.lha), by Peter Drapich, can read documents created with Word and export them in ASCII (text), AmigaGuide, HTML and RTF formats. Support is included for various DOS,Windows and MAC versions.

Currently, formatting codes and text attributes, are ignored; but, support is expected in an upcoming release. ARexx scripts are provided to facilitate importing Word documents into PageStream 3 and CygnusEd; others could be created, too.

Word Converter is shareware (US$15). A limited demo version is available.

Clip-Art
If you need to work with clip-art or drawing formats that are not supported by Amiga applications, Henk Jonas' MetaView (aminet: gfx/conv/MetaView.lha) might be just what you need.

MetaView can import files in the following formats: AmigaMetaFileFormat (AMF), Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM), CorelDraw (CMX), Drawing 2D (DR2D), DrawStudio Drawing (DSDR), Drawing Exchange File - AutoCad (DXF), GEM Metafile (GEM), HP Graphics Language (HPGL), Windows Metafile (WMF), WordPerfect Graphic (WPG) and XFIG.

Export support is included for: Adobe Illustrator (AI), AMF, CGM, DR2D, Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), GEM, HPGL, Interleaved Bitmap (ILBM), Java Metafile (JMF), WMF and XFIG.

ARexx scripts are provided for adding support to Art Studio, Draw Studio, Final Writer, PageStream, Pro Vector, SuperView and WordWorth.

MetaView is shareware (US$20). The only limitation of the unregistered version is that it can't save images through it's ARexx port (useful for doing batch conversions).

HTML
As nice as HTML can be, it's not practical for all uses. Sometimes simple text is best. There are numerous HTML to text convertors available, one of the better ones is HTTX (HTTX.lha).

HTTX includes many options to control the conversion process, including: line length, indentations, ANSI, horizontal lines, alignment, file comments, headers, image text, file appending, file inclusion, and more. HTTX is freely available.

FinalWriter / ProWrite
If you use FinalWriter or ProWrite, and often have to search through old documents to find something, you know that it can take a long time. With Arian Kulp's MultiRead (aminet: text/show/MultiRead.lha) this process can be made much faster.

MultiRead will read a FinalWriter or ProWrite file and output the contents as standard text. By doing so, you can view these files without having to first start the wordprocessor.

It is even more useful if you use it in conjunction with a file manager, such as Directory Opus. Once configured to do so, you would be able to read these wordprocessor files at the click of a button - just like you would any text files.