Description: Amiga Aktuell Ausgabe 9/98
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[url=https://www.amigafuture.de/app.php/kb/viewarticle?a=1931&sid=c1fb0b3c0f13a86805b398f111985a71]Artikeldatenbank - NewsRog[/url]
Softwaretest: Newsreader NewsRog (von Justin Smith)
»REVIEWER: Justin Smith
DATE: August 7, 1998
NewsRog version 1.0
NewsRog is an online/offline NNTP newsreader for the Amiga.
Name: ShadowWorks Software - developer
Address: 405 Pulsar St.
Fort Collins, CO 80525
World Wide Web: http://www.frii.com/~srk/ShadowWorks/
Name: Questar Productions - distributor
World Wide Web: http://www.questarproductions.com
Go to http://www.frii.com/~srk/ShadowWorks/Preview/NR.html then
follow the "Ordering" link for info on the demo.
The demo limits users to only a few newsgroups and won't allow saving
of settings. Also, some header caching is disabled making the demo
slower than the full commercial product.
SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
8 MB RAM is recommended, and more helps.
8 MB hard drive space is required.
68020 or better processor is required.
68040 or better processor is recommended.
Graphics card supporting at least 800x600x8-bit is recommended.
AmigaDOS 3.0 or better is required.
Magic User Interface 3.8 is required.
AmiTCP, Miami, or equivalent networking software is required.
Standard Commodore Installer program
A WWW browser (for the online documentation)
Access to an RFC 997 NNTP News Server
Keyfile (in the main program directory)
MACHINE USED FOR TESTING
Warp Engine 4040 40Mhz
48 MB Fast RAM, 2 MB Chip RAM, 3.2 GB IDE hard drive
Kickstart version 39.106
Workbench version 39.29
Picasso IV graphics card with Picasso 96 v.1.40
ASDG Multi-serial port card
A2065 Ethernet card
U.S.Robotics Sportster 33.6 External Faxmodem
The software comes in a real box, with a full-color cover. It
comes on 2 HD floppies formatted to 880 KB.
The installation is done with the standard Commodore Installer
Installation was relatively straightforward, with one exception
detailed in the BUGS and VENDER SUPPORT sections.
The installer asks for the command line to send a URL to your
preferred WWW browser. The default is set for IBrowse. It might
be a good idea to look this up beforehand.
Ever since switching from my 200Mhz Pentium powered Windoze NT PC
to my Amiga for internet usage, I've been searching for a good
newsreader to keep me from regretting the switch.
I had been using Outlook Express on the PC, and was looking for
something that could at least equal it on the Amiga. I was in for a
big disappointment. I searched the internet and downloaded all of
Amiga newsreaders I could find that had available demos, but I
couldn't find one that was stable, easy to use, and able to
compete with Outlook Express in terms of features.
When I first heard about NewsRog and checked out the available
web page with screenshots and a features list, I decided to put
my last bit of Amiga newsreader faith into it, and eagerly
awaited its arrival. When it came, I ordered it online
immediately, before the demo was even available.
I was not disappointed. And now, my first Amiga product review:
Configuration can be a bit complicated because there are so many
features and options. It doesn't take long to get a minimal working
setup, however. Just enter in your news server name type in the
name or names of some groups you want to read into the "News Groups"
The initial configuration is aided by a tutorial in the HTML
documentation called, aptly enough, "Initial Configuration."
Beyond the simple minimum configuration, the configuration options
for the advanced user are numerous. Just about everything can
A big part of this configurability comes from the modular design of
NewsRog. Can you say plugins?
27 plugins come with NewsRog and can be turned on or off and
configured while running, individually for each newsgroup!
They are responsible for everything from UUDecoding and un-MIME-ing
binaries to hiding headers and signatures to changing the
way the text is displayed. This makes all of these features
upgradeable and replaceable. I can't wait for more plugins to arrive,
and more should follow from users once the developer's toolkit is
These plugins, as well as filters, can be turned on or off and
configured individually for each newgroup, or can be set globally.
NewsRog's layout is based on several separate windows to control the
program, and separate windows for each open newsgroup.
The main window, the "Launcher" features some nicely done pictures
for buttons to open the other windows - "Groups," "Servers,"
"Network," "Posts," "Multimedia," and "Config," described below.
Each window can be opened independently from the Launcher buttons
or by menu.
Groups: this window is the main controller for subscribing to and
maintaining newsgroups. Each newsgroup can be attached to
separate severs. This and other options are controlled from this
starting point. A simple display tells you if NewsRog is in online
or offline mode, but a toggle button to change this would be nice.
Servers: this window is where you enter and maintain the NNTP servers
you use. It displays a lot of interesting information, including
the name, # of successful connects, # of failed connects, connect
success percentage, and whether posting is allowed.
Network: from here you can control and get information on NewsRog's
open network connections. It even displays the speed of the
connection, and you can disconnect from any of them at any time.
Posts: this is the posting queue, from where you write and edit your
posts. Writing posts requires an external editor, which you
specify. Saving the text in the editor brings the text into the
displayed post in the posting queue. You can open a file requester
to attach a signature file, but no fancy signature options are
Multimedia: this window controls the handling of different file types
and their associated actions. Files can be recognized by a bunch
of different methods, but this section is probably the most
confusing for the beginning user. A large selection of types
built in would be a plus.
Config: this is the main base of control for many major configuration
options, including such essentials as the user's name and email
address for posting. This is also where global filters and plugins
are controlled. I won't go into all of the options in this review.
SO, HOW DOES IT WORK?
The answer: it works great!
I haven't had the time nor the need to try out a lot of the
features, but I'm already very happy with what I do need and use.
It reads both on and offline, allowing the caching of articles, so
I can download my favorite groups at night and read them later.
One of my first stops in Usenet land was
alt.binaries.pictures.fractals, where I could test how NewsRog handled
binaries. In order to see the downloaded pictures (in-line!!!) I first
had to turn on the UUDecode plugin for the group, then I started
downloading pictures. They displayed beautifully (in-line!!!), and
above every picture appears a control box displaying some information
and providing buttons to save the file to RAM: or save to another
Non-binary groups are great with NewsRog as well, especially the
filtering and kill options which are much more powerful than
It's a lot faster to read and follow Usenet conversations with
article prefetching. You can set the number of articles to prefetch
for each group you subscribe to.
Multithreading! This is what really kills Outlook Express. I can
read multiple groups at the same time. I can read articles while
other articles are downloading, or even while the headers are still
downloading. I can begin to subscribe to groups while they are
still downloading from the server. No waiting, ever!
At any time, I can abort any specific downloads. No more sitting there
waiting if I accidentally start loading headers from a group or
start reading a huge binary post.
With multithreading and easy aborting, I'm in control. This is what
it should feel like to use an Amiga, something that several other
Amiga newsreaders could learn from.
Full AREXX support is coming soon, the documentation says, and a
developers toolkit. These things will make it the ultimate
newsreader for Amiga power users. Catalogues in many languages
and integrated email support are also promised.
NewsRog does want a better than average system to be put to best
use, which is no problem with me.
So, download the demo and give it a try. If you're looking for a
good newsreader for your Amiga, NewsRog could be just right for
you as well.
NewsRog shipped with only a simple features list and instructions to
start the installation as printed documentation. The rest of the
documentation is in HTML format and is installed during the
The HTML documentation is very extensive, while at the same time
being easy to use for beginners. It even covers what Usenet is,
giving a brief history and a brief lecture on posting etiquette.
A web link is provided to a Usenet FAQ.
Interspersed within the documentation are screenshots detailing
the topics discussed.
A series of 14 tutorials is provided to walk the user through the
program. A reference section provides details on all of the
Just about every button, gadget, etc. is enhanced by MUI online help
bubbles, giving brief descriptions of what everything does. I've
found this very useful when trying to figure out what all of the
various buttons are for.
The demo of NewsRog comes with the full HTML documentation, so
download it and check it out yourself.
Multithreaded! Multithreaded! Multithreaded!
Abortable networking, plugins, article prefetch, great documentation,
ease of use, configurability, etc. I could go on, but it's easier
to just have you download the demo and try it yourself. I won't
quote the feature list for you, but it is impressive.
DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS
I'd like to see a button on the "Groups" window to switch
NewsRog back and forth between online and offline modes instead
of having to use the menu.
The functions available through the toolbar buttons in the various
windows should also be available from the menus, at least the major
ones. It's a lot easier to scan through a list of text menu options
than slowly moving the mouse pointer over the buttons, waiting for
the MUI help bubbles to pop up.
Optional NewIcons icons would be nice, as the provided MagicWB icons
show up completely scrambled on my display.
It would be nice to be able to change the options for a subscribed
group without having to open up the group, causing the loading of
I would like the "Save As" for UUDecoded and un-MIME-d binaries to
remember the directory you're using rather than defaulting to RAM:
The signature support could be expanded. It would be nice to be
able to specify separate signatures for posting to different groups
or hierarchies of groups. Built-in random signature support could
be added as well.
COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS
I've tried just about every Amiga newsreader I could find
(admittedly betas and demos for some), and NewsRog tops them all.
Thor would seem to be the only one that could possibly compete on
features, but Thor was so complicated I never did get it fully
working. NewsRog is easy to set up and use.
So far, NewsRog has never crashed like many other Amiga newsreaders
I've tried. It is very stable and professionally done.
I've never had to wait long periods or disconnect from the internet
in order to stop NewsRog from downloading something, like I have
with some other newsreaders. Every download in NewsRog is abortable.
NewsRog just seems the most professional overall, from the layout to
the features to the documentation.
On other platforms, I've found NewsRog more useable and powerful than
both Netscape's newsreader and Microsoft's Outlook Express. It's
also a lot more stable.
The major bug I encountered arose from special circumstances. The
first 12 copies of NewsRog shipped apparently had duplication
errors on the first disk. My serial number indicates that I got
copy number 2!
Before I even received NewsRog in the mail, an email from Questar
Productions told me I was sent one of the first 12 copies,
informed me of the problem, and provided a fix to the disk.
There's a "Known Bugs" section in the HTML documentation, with a
pledge that these bugs are being worked on.
My only contact with the vender so far has been emails providing
bug fixes. The first such email I received detailed the problem
with the first 12 copies of NewsRog. Questar, the distributor,
had contacted me and provided a solution to the problem, and
this was before I had even received NewsRog in the mail and could
send in my registration card.
I received another email from Questar this morning, providing
a replacement file for another fixed bug.
This is a lot better support than I'm used to from dealing with
some Amiga companies. There are great ones and very bad ones.
From my experience so far, ShadowWorks Software and Questar
Productions appear to be on the great side. I expect nothing
but rapid responses to any technical support I need as well as
continued updates and bug fixes.
NewsRog does not come with any kind of warranty.
NewsRog is the best newsreader I've ever used, on any platform. It
still needs some work, as evidenced by the "Future Plans" section of
the HTML documentation - things like full AREXX support, integrated
email support, and a PowerPC native version if the demand exists.
Because it's still a work in progress, although great already, I'll
give it 8 points out of 10.
My final impression is that I'm glad I spent the money for
NewsRog, and will continue to pay for upgrades and newer versions
in the future.
Copyright 1998 Justin Smith
Distribute this freely if you wish.
-- Justin Smith«