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ArtIcons 3.21 Pro Review

Bitzenbytes.com - Home of the CompuClues Forum
© Bob, CompuClues @ Bitzenbytes.com
Source: www.bitzenbytes.com/archives/reviews/aipro.htm

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Software Review: ArtIcons Pro 3.21
         

Program Description

  
Product: ArtIcons Pro 3.21
Category: Software
Type: Icon Graphics Editor
Synopsis: ArtIcons allows you to edit, find, extract, import, export and create icons.  It manages icon libraries.  You can create and edit icons in many image formats in standard or custom sizes with color depths up to 32 bit true color.
Reviewer: Bob
Date: 6/14/2002
Note: The comments of the reviewer(s) are the opinion of the reviewer and are based on use of the program by the reviewer.  Compuclues @ Bitzenbytes

An icon is a small graphic that represents a system or application object — those pictures, on your desktop, are icons.  The pictures in your start menu are icons.  Icons allow for rapid recognition of the screen coordinates for a method used, through pointer device manipulation, for deploying commonly used programmatic objects.  Icons are used as a method of identifying and manipulating menu items, and they allow menus to be formatted differently than in the traditional hierarchical tree.  The typical windows based computer system presents, at least, hundreds of icons.  Some systems may have more than a thousand.

Icons are small bitmaps of varying size and resolution.  They can have a mask so that transparency can be implemented, or "layers" so that the icon can accommodate various screen resolutions.  Icons quite often contain more than one set of bitmaps and masks per file, so that the system can switch the icon automatically if you change the resolution or color bit depth on your screen. Icon files are not quite as simple as you might initially think. Microsoft recommends that icons be provided in pixel sizes of: 48X48 pixels, 32X32 pixels, and 16X16 pixels. In fact, for XP, you should have a total of nine image formats for an icon.

Sometimes, it helps to use task or data specific icons for wherever they might be used. Finding a source for these unique little markers can be less than easy, particularly if you don't like, or find meaningless, the few icons to be found in the standard Windows implementation.   You could go looking for the icon artwork of other people, but you will not find anything unique, and it can be difficult to find something that really fits the task.   Most of the icon libraries available, found in various places around the net, are collections of time worn icons that are no more meaningful than those found in Windows files on your system.  In fact, many of the icons presented in available icon collections, were taken from those files.  Is anybody using Paradox 3.0 any more?--that icon should have been dumped from moricons.dll long ago. When icons designate tasks, or access to data, that are unique in your world, it helps if the icons seem to have some associated meaning.  As you might expect, a good icon editor is required to create and change icons.  Not infrequently, I'll have a half dozen or more shortcuts stored in one place, and I assign them custom icons to gain quick recognition.  You would be hard pressed to create proper icons without a good icon editor.


Which brings us to a nice shareware icon editor, ArtIcons 3.21 by AHA-Software.

Features: With ArtIcons, you can create and edit icons with image formats in standard and custom sizes, and in color depths up to 16 million colors.  This includes Windows XP type icons in 32-bit color depth with 8-bit alpha channel.  You can import image files into icons and you can export icons to image files.  You can extract icons from Windows executables, DLL files, Norton Icon Libraries, cursor and animated cursor files.   You can create icon libraries (.ICL) for more efficient icon storage.You can sort icon formats inside icons and icons inside icon libraries.  Images can be modified with drop shadow, mirror, roll, and rotation effects.  Dragging, dropping, moving, copying, and pasting between library files is all made easy.

I found ArtIcons easy to use.  I tested the Pro version ($29.95). Without reading the documentation, I manipulated icons in an .NIL file, imported icons from libraries and made new ICL libraries, converted GIF images to icons (using the logo from our friends at BeeNet), changed 256 color icons to 16M color icons, and made a rudimentary picture icon (a bookshelf with books) by editing at the pixel level.  The usual editing tools found in most icon editors are here.

icon editor

Want to know about the nitty-gritty of XP icons, editing favorites icons, modifying folder icons, or changing icons embedded in various files?  Both the help file and the Aha-Soft website have the information you need.


   Ease of Use: Beginners can use this.  A little education about icons and graphics formats will permit full use of the software. Browsing features work well. While I found creating icons pixel by pixel to be a bit tedious, the import capabilities are extensive and thus, you can use a wide variety of authoring software and use ArtIcons for what it does best--manipulate icons and icon formats.  Installation is simple. Directions are clear.
Quality: Good Stuff. It doesn't crash and it isn't ugly.  The tools and menus are laid out in an orderly and expected manner.  The software lets the user effectively do what the software claims it can do.  This isn't indispensable software, but if you want to manipulate and work with icons, it's pretty good.
Hardware: Minimal needs.  If you don't have enough hardware to run this, you probably aren't interested.
Audience: Anybody who must make the user interface look just exactly the way you want it to look
Updates: Mostly frequent.  Updates seem to come along at more or less irregular intervals, but the updates for XP show that the author is interested in keeping the product current and capable.
Other views: ArtIcons has been reviewed by ZDNet, TuCows, Dave Central and others and gets high marks.  I see no reason to not agree.  I like it.

If you need an icon editor, this program will work for you.  Order from the Aha-Soft website.


Name: Aha-Soft ArtIcons Pro 3.21
Status: Shareware (30 day trial)
Language: English (also Chinese, Russian, French, etc.)
OS: Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
Size: 969 KB Zip file, 1.08 MB installed
System Reqs: P-133, 16 MB RAM, 2 MB HDU, True Color
Author: Aha-Soft
Published: 19-Apr-2002
Installation: Install/Uninstall
Price: $19.95/$29.95/$39.95 (depending on product version)
Home Page: Aha-Soft

Good pictures that might serve as a source for an icon, typically might arrive as a BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, or WMF (and others) file, and Art Icons can handle Import and Export for those file types.

Supported File Formats

Color Palettes

Icon Formats

Import

Export

.ICO
  Win 3.x
.ICO
 95/98/ME
   NT/2000
    XP
.ICO
  multi-

  resolution
.ICO
  web site
  bookmark
.ICO
.BMP
.JPG
.GIF
.PNG
.PSD
.IL
.NIL
.ICL
.CUR
.EMF
.WMF
.WBMP
.ANI
.EXE
.DLL
.VBX
.SCR
.OCX
.DPL
.BPL
.CPL
.ICO
.BMP
.JPG (JFIF)
.GIF
    normal

    transparent
.PNG
.PSD
.RC
.ICL
.CUR
.EMF
PAL
ACT
BMP
RC
    


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