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Drobe looks at MW Software's Artworks modules

By Chris Williams. Published: 23rd Dec 01:31:54 | Permalink | Printable

Sometime ago, Martin Wurthner announced that his two Artworks module collections can be purchased online. For those who don't know, Artworks modules are separate programs that intergrate with the Artworks graphics application to provide extra tools and effects- like a modern day web-browser plugin. BMExport, Grids and the well received Textarea expansion tools for Computer Concepts' much loved vector graphics application are all available in the bundle.
Speaking in his public announcement, Martin was happy to announce..
"I have signed up with UK Shareware Registration Ltd., an online ordering service, so you can finally order some of my products using your credit card. The online ordering facility is currently available for TextArea and the New Full Set Collection."

Described by some on the newsgroups as a "thorn in Cerilica's side", Martin has been a keen developer of Artworks modules and provided many RISC OS graphic designers with a good range of tools to play with. We caught up with Martin, who is a registered drobe.co.uk user, and asked him about the history of MW Software.

At AcornWorld '92, Martin was the second person to buy a copy of the first release of Artworks. After a few hours of playing, Martin had already begun to notice a few missing features like proper text handling and hatching and pattern fills for his, back then, monochrome laser printer.
"I was thrilled by the creative potential of the product, but as it always happens with software, there were a few things I would have liked to be different and a few features I would have liked to be added.
"I wanted real text areas. I would not have believed it if someone had told me then that I would eventually provide all these features myself..."

Like a gourad rendered bullet, Martin was one of the first to pick up a copy of the Artworks Software Development Kit. It wasn't until three years later in 1996 that Martin got round to developing his first modules with the SDK. Translate and Polygon were created, Polygon being inspired from CorelXara's QuickShape tool. When Polygon was released as shareware, the number of registrations were low until Martin offered Intersect to registered users.
"The number of users who were prepared to register was very small. That changed dramatically when I created the Intersect module (for clipping shapes) and offered it to registered users of Polygon only".

Looking back fondly, Martin recalls back to Spring 1997 when he finished his first major tool- Hatch. For £20, you could get 5 customisable vector fill patterns. At that price, Martin was naturally anxious in his wait for orders.
"I was not sure how many people would want to buy it. However, I was stupefied to find my mail box full of letters for several weeks. Sales have been beyond even the most optimistic expectations! Fortunately, Computer Concepts was kind enough to co-distribute Hatch, which relieved me of some of the distribution work."
Next followed AlignPlus, Filter, QuickCopy and Replicate before HatchPro was finished and released. By then, Martin was working full time at a research institute which prevented any serious developement and threw his current project, BMexport, into serious doubt.

In July 2000, Martin quit his job and made the brave step to self-employment.
"I was wondering whether it would still make economic sense to produce more ArtWorks modules. I finished BMExport and released it and was again surprised at how many people are still using ArtWorks and are interested in new features."
The Grids module was developed before Martin started a project to add full text handling capabilities in what was to be "the most ambitious addition to ArtWorks".
"Again, I was wondering whether this would make any economic sense because creating the TextArea module was a massive investment. At the moment, I cannot say whether it will break even, but current sales figures look promising.
"Since the beginning, user feed back for all my modules has been very enthusiastic and I have been inundated with praise, requests for new features and new ideas. If I wanted to implement them all, I would have work for a few years. Since the beginning, it has been a pleasure to meet users of my products at shows and together with the e-mails and letters I receive this is what really makes this job worth while."

MW Software: www.mw-software.com

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