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Media: patching and compression.

These are tough times for developers who'd like to trim software manufacturing costs. World-w/de disk shortages have pushed media costs skyward just as the number of disks in a typical package--especially for graphical applications--has begun to double and even triple.

Recently, though, we've run across a couple of creative solutions that developers are beginning to adopt. We don't ordinarily endorse commercial products, but we expect that these approaches reflect the beginnings of a major change in how software is delivered:

* Custom compression: Ken Skier, a commercial developer with a knack for tweaking system-level code, recently began experimenting with compression algorithms. Skier points out that generic compression tools like PKZip typically do a good job of squeezing executable code, but are much less efficient for many kinds of data-intensive files, such as graphics, text, audio, and animation. If a product incorporates a high percentage of data files, says Skier, there's a good chance he can apply a specialized compression technique that will dramatically reduce disk requirements. (In one case, he lopped six disks off an already-compressed 13-disk clip art product.) Skier also has an interesting way of guaranteeing his results: His development fee is based on the media savings he achieves after a customer uses generic compression methods.

Ken Skier, president, SkiSoft, 28 Fairlawn Lane, Lexington, Mass. 02173; 617/863-1876.

* Patching: A more drastic way to trim disk costs for upgrades and maintenance releases, suggests Thames Goodwin of Pocket Soft, is to deliver code "patches" that update just the parts of an application that have changed. Pocket Soft's .RTPatch utility has a good deal of intelligence for identifying even very subtle differences between versions, and for tracking down files anywhere on the user's hard disk. (Microsoft now encapsulates localization elements in patches that can be applied to the core English version of Windows 3.1, so European hardware OEMs can supply multi-language sets by adding just a few extra disks.) Moreover, says Goodwin, users seem to appreciate the fact that installing a single patch-based upgrade disk is much easier than having to reinstall a new version of the whole application.

Thames Goodwin, marketing director, Pocket Soft, Box 821049, Houston, Tex. 77282; 713/460-5600.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Soft-letter
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Date:Sep 26, 1992
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