Open almost any file

Although Windows is the dominant desktop OS, other OSs and applications create different file formats. You might not be able to open these files if your office application differs from the application that created the file. DataViz's Conversions Plus 4.6 is a file conversion utility that lets you read and use files regardless of their origin.

The software converts word processing, graphic, spreadsheet, database, archive, and encoded files (one of the software's flaws is its inability to convert HTML files) to a variety of different formats. The software also includes two other DataViz products: Attachment Opener 2.0, for opening email attachments, and MacOpener 4.1, a Macintosh conversion program.

I installed Conversions Plus on a Windows NT server and an NT workstation. The installation wizard quickly loaded all the components, and I had to reboot my system to accommodate the MacOpener drivers. (DataViz should eliminate this reboot requirement.)

The software was easy to use with its Windows Explorer-like interface. To convert a file, I simply located a file and selected the Convert button on the toolbar. The Convert Window appeared and included a list of file formats, as Screen 1 shows. Conversions Plus matches the file you select to a format based on the file's extension. (You can change this default selection.) I clicked the Convert button, and the product cranked out a new file.

Group file conversion is the software's most useful feature. You use the Shift and Ctrl keys with mouse clicks in the file pane to select groups of files to convert. This process generates a log file that you can examine to detect any problems during conversion.

Conversions Plus supports word processing applications, including Microsoft Word, Lotus AmiPro, Apple ClarisWorks, and Corel WordPerfect. The product has a smaller list of supported graphics file types than most graphics applications, such as Adobe Photoshop. Conversions Plus works with Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), TIFF, JPEG, and Macintosh PICT files. The product's word processing and graphics conversion let you choose only the source file type. Most graphics applications have options such as compression and resolution settings.

Conversions Plus' list of compatible spreadsheet files includes Lotus 1-2-3, Corel Quattro Pro, ClarisWorks, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Works. The product doesn't support Comma Separated Values (CSV) files. Although ClarisWorks and Microsoft Works users might benefit from Conversions Plus, Excel supports numerous file types, including CSV files.

The database list contains SCO FoxBase, Microsoft Works, and ClarisWorks. Surprisingly, the product doesn't work with ODBC sources and Microsoft Access database files. The product doesn't let you use the spreadsheet and database file formats interchangeably—most database and spreadsheet programs support this feature. For example, Excel can open a dBase file as a spreadsheet or save a spreadsheet as a dBase file.

The archive file types are more useful than the database support, but less flexible than some freeware and shareware alternatives, such as PKWARE's PKZIP for Windows. Conversions Plus works with ZIP, tar, and Gzip formats. My only gripe with the archive file support is that it is read-only.

The encoded Macintosh file formats include BinHex and MacBinary formats. Macintosh files consist of a data fork and a resource fork. Conversions Plus puts these two forks into one file that any PC can handle. You can use the formats to exchange data between compatible Macintosh and PC applications, such as Adobe PageMaker. Conversions Plus also includes Name Doctor, a feature that lets you access Macintosh files over a network by resolving the incompatibilities between Macintosh filenames and Windows-supported filenames.

Conversions Plus handles the most common conversion situations (the software can't convert UNIX or Linux disks). The product is worth the investment if you encounter important documents your existing applications can't open.

Conversions Plus 4.6
Contact: DataViz * 203-268-0030 or 800-733-0030
Web: http://www.dataviz.com
Price: $99.95
System Requirements: Windows NT or Windows 9x