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Cross-Platform Macintosh Software Roundup

By Jack M. Germain MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Nov 1, 2006 4:00 AM PT

The Mac user base may soon experience a growth spurt, according to industry watchers, spurred by popular Apple-based music and photo services for consumers and enhancements made to the Mac operating system.

Cross-Platform Macintosh Software Roundup

Software vendors that have created both Mac-only titles or ported Windows products to the Mac platform are another driving force.

"We are seeing more interest in small business and larger corporations embracing what Apple is offering," said Ryan Kish, vice president of marketing for AEC Software, a developer of cross-platform software for Windows and Mac systems.

With an eye on the shifting landscape, MacNewsWorld has assembled a roundup of some of the latest cross-platform Mac-based software, including a Cutting Room application and a few office productivity programs.

Postmap Fills a Void

One of the hottest newcomers to the Cutting Room "floor" is Postmap, developed by Studio Network Solutions (SNS), which markets optimized audio/video shared storage and networking technologies for the media and entertainment industries.

Postmap fills a void between simple OS-native search tools and more complex digital-asset management applications, offering new approaches to optimizing post-production workflow, including file search, cataloging and metadata-management features.

In order to reduce search times, users can create and attach enhanced metadata to describe and classify specific files and folders. Other features allow workgroup members to share production notes and organize customized files, enhancing the workflow process.

Postmap's back-end components -- the Postmap Server, Indexer and Database -- can be installed on a single computer or distributed across multiple computers on any Ethernet network. This distributed architecture enables users at any location to search the indexed contents of all scanned storage devices, including SANs (storage area networks), file servers and removable storage such as FireWire/USB drives, CDs and DVDs.

Other features include a Postmap database search capability that lets a user find a file and determine if it is part of a workflow and, if so, what steps have been completed. After scanning and searching, users can create a searchable online database of file metadata. The criteria can include file name, location, author and more. This metadata store can be queried by all Postmap clients, even if the scanned storage is online, offline or remote.

Postmap, which comes in both Mac OS and Windows flavors, is currently available to the industry as public beta and is scheduled for launch by the end of 2006.

FastTrack Schedule

AEC Software recently released FastTrack Schedule 9.1. This Mac-based project-management tool bridges the gap between different departments within an organization, allowing the Mac to be more prominent among Windows-based systems.

"Cross-platform files are becoming common," said AEC's Kish. "With FastTrack Schedule, we are trying to stay on the bleeding edge by making migration from one platform to the other seamless."

FastTrack Schedule enables users to plan projects, present plans clearly with colorful time lines, track performance precisely and share project information. Typical of all Mac-based applications, FastTrack Schedule is easy both to implement and use, according to its developers, which encourages high adoption rates and more successful project management initiatives. For instance, Microsoft Project users can integrate information captured in FastTrack Schedule.

FastTrack Schedule 9.1 costs US$349. Upgrading from a previous version runs $149.

Plaxo Address Book

Plaxo's smart address book for Windows now has a sister product, Plaxo for Mac 1.0, which allows users with a PC at work and a Mac at home to maintain a single, current set of contacts on both systems.

"We wanted to develop a Mac client for some time because of the growing user base on the Mac platform," said Mark Jen, Plaxo's product line manager. "In general, we feel that the Mac is taking a bigger user share."

For users who manage multiple e-mail and instant messaging accounts, Plaxo Address Book keeps contact information in a single place. With Plaxo for Mac, users running Mac OS X 10.3 Panther or Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger can synchronize their Mac OS X address book with Plaxo's online service and a number of popular communication tools and services, such as Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, AOL Instant Messenger and Mozilla Thunderbird. In addition, users can import contact information from Netscape, Palm, Yahoo and Hotmail accounts.

Plaxo for Mac and Plaxo for Windows are free.

FileMaker Pro 8.5

Perhaps the best solution for growing the Mac software user base will be found in applications that provide seamless data exchange between platforms. That's what the cross-platform FileMaker Pro database product has offered for years, said Kevin Mallon, senior manager of public relations at FileMaker.

FileMaker Pro has an installed base of approximately 12 million users worldwide, he pointed out, and is used by most of the Global 500 companies. "It allows both Mac and Windows users to easily exchange business critical data seamlessly. Further, FileMaker plays well with other mainstream software applications such as Excel," he said.

Running on both the Mac and Windows PCs, the latest database manager from FileMaker -- FileMaker Pro 8.5 -- features easy setup and database-design wizards; task modules to manage customers, clients and vendors; support for pictures, video and other multimedia files; customizable electronic forms; and mature cross-platform support.

New in Verson 8.5: the ability to view live Web-based information associated with database records from within FileMaker. Data in specified record fields, such as a customer's address or a product name, can associate live Web links with every record in a database. Possibilities include integrating street maps based on a customer address field, shipping status information based on a shipment tracking number and stock performance charts based on a stock symbol.

With FileMaker Web Viewer, users can create links that search through Web sites and display information based on data in a FileMaker database. In addition to linking to public Web sites, the FileMaker Web Viewer can interact with Web-enabled commercial and custom solutions. For example, a FileMaker database of sales information can connect to an internal Web-based solution, pull down shipment information, and display it as part of a FileMaker database record.

The upgraded product line -- which includes FileMaker Pro 8.5, FileMaker Pro 8.5 Advanced, FileMaker Server 8 and FileMaker Server 8 Advanced -- features Universal Application support for OS X running on Intel-based Macs. Based on the vendor's benchmark testing, FileMaker Pro 8.5 delivers 116 percent faster performance when measured against its performance on a Power PC.

FileMaker Pro 8.5 costs $299 and FileMaker Pro 8.5 Advanced lists for $499. Existing users can upgrade from FileMaker Pro 8.0 or FileMaker Pro 8.0 Advanced for $99.

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