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OpenDoc Suckers

by Tonya Engst <tonya@tidbits.com>

Impatiently waiting for the wonders of OpenDoc? Wait no longer! You can now have your OpenDoc cake and eat it too. A software startup from Georgia has announced CodeSucker, a program that beats Apple to the OpenDoc punch. The company, Sucker Software, uses early OpenDoc technology and a patented coding technique.

CodeSucker will list for $69, require System 7.5, and work on any Macintosh newer than the Plus (Sucker Software couldn't get around certain Plus ROM problems), although reports from beta sites indicate that it tends to be quirky when running on docked Duos (the MiniDock is fine, of course). Installed, the program consumes a mere 400K of disk space, and its minimum RAM allocation is 700K, but you can expect a minor increase (perhaps 5K) for every Feature module that you add, but with a cap of 10 percent per year above inflation, and a lifetime cap of 32 percent.

Getting Started -- To begin using CodeSucker, you use its Starter Control Panel to create a document - aptly named a Feature List - that lists the features you want to use with later with CodeSucker. Where do you get the features? You select them from software currently installed on your hard disk. CodeSucker looks into the code resources in your programs and creates a list of features, in much the same way that an AppleScript editor can see a list of AppleScript "commands" inside an application. For example, when I tried my review copy of CodeSucker, I sucked the Outline and Heading styles feature out of Word 5.1, the envelope printing feature from Now Contact, and the Transaction Register from Managing Your Money. (I was trying to create a humdinger of a billing system.)

Because you can only create your Feature List from software installed on your hard disk, Sucker Software maintains that they have made a reasonable effort to avoid piracy problems, though a few issues remain. Lesly Smith, Sucker Software VP of Legal Affairs, estimated that Sucker Software's venture capital set aside for legal issues would last until "well past the year 2075." She also said that the company would pay for any legal costs incurred by its customers as a result of using CodeSucker Feature modules.

After saving your Feature List, you send it to Sucker Software. The company's programmers (and yes, they are hiring in droves - email <jobs@sucker.com>), then use Code Sucker technology to suck out the code for features you want to use in CodeSucker. The code gets converted into a set of Feature modules, and the folks at Sucker Software guarantee a two week turn around time. (I got mine back in nine days along with a t-shirt that says in big letters, "Code Sucks" on the front and "Suck Code" on the back.)

CodeSucker's interface lets you create most anything you'd like, within the confines of a Macintosh window. The CodeSucker interface is elegant, with a fruity nose, and somewhat strong oak overtones. My billing system worked wonderfully, and I feel as though I've been sucked into the Macintosh even further.

Pricing -- The $50 fee for CodeSucker includes the conversion of fifty-one features, with two free shipments of completed feature modules, and a free lollipop with each shipment. Additional features cost $1.57 each.

Ordering additional modules is a bit quirky - due to the religious beliefs of the company's CEO, customers must always own an odd number of Feature modules. This relates to the philosophical belief that you should, "never give a sucker an even break." Plan to always order such that you end up with an odd number of modules, and add an extra dollar per module for any software older than three years.

After your initial two rounds of free shipments, additional shipments cost $5.00 to customers in the U.S.; prices vary for other parts of the world. Expect prices in excess of $20 for shipments to Mars and other planets.

Future Plans -- CodeSucker currently only runs on the Macintosh, and your Feature modules must come from Mac software, even if you are running SoftWindows or a DOS Compatibility Card. Sucker Software does have cross-platform plans, with versions planned for OS/2 and the NeXT OS. (According to sources, Steve Jobs is a member of the company's board of directors.) Will Sucker Software develop a product for Windows? "Frankly," I was told by Marketing Manager Jim Smith, "according to our market research, there are few features in Windows programs that people want. However, Windows users are interested in a product that would port features from other platforms, and we are currently discussing how we might best implement such a product." Smith is optimistic about the company's future success. The way he sees it, "there's a customer born every minute."

Sucker Software -- <info@sucker.com>