Inso's Quick View Plus gives you quick access to a variety of document types

Today, when you receive a Microsoft Word document, you can pretty much count on being able to read it. What happens, however, when a document author decides to buck the Word tradition and use something such as Nota Bene to wax poetic? You've probably never heard of Nota Bene (I certainly hadn't), but if someone sends you a document in that format, Inso's Quick View Plus (QVP) lets you read it without having the application installed.

QVP is a document viewer that lets end users view any type of document at any time, regardless of whether the host program that created the document is installed. By integrating itself with the operating system, QVP provides an infinitely easier alternative to hunting down eccentric and obsolete programs just to view a file.

QVP ships on a handful of disks. The program's wizard interface offers quick and easy installation. Once installed, the viewer supplants Windows NT's bare-bones Quick View applet. The viewer replaces NT's Quick View menu entry with a menu entry that launches QVP, and you will find an additional Quick Print selection in the menu.

QVP is intuitive. Viewing a screenplay in Word format is as easy as navigating to the directory that houses the file, right-clicking on the document, and selecting Quick View Plus from the context menu. As you can see in Screen 1, QVP displays the document and identifies the file type on the status bar.

Inso included string search and clipboard support in the program, and QVP lets you export information to other applications. The product supports embedded Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) 2.0 objects within its document viewing subsystem, as well as Uuencoded files sent over the Internet. The more popular MIME format is unsupported, however.

The number of supported document formats is impressive. In the word-processing realm, QVP fully supports files formats ranging from older versions of AmiPro to MultiMate to Wordstar. Spreadsheet support is just as comprehensive, encompassing even outdated applications such as Microsoft Multiplan. The only file format still in use today that isn't supported seems to be ClarisWorks. QVP also supports a variety of image formats.

Despite Inso's pushing QVP as a universal file viewer, I used the viewer mostly for intranet work. QVP's HTML support lets you click on hyperlinks to move between documents, easing Web page development. Because the viewer requires less overhead than a Web browser, checking my pages with QVP made a lot more sense than firing up Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator and incurring a 5MB to 10MB system RAM hit.

QVP is a handy program for users who work with multiple document types on a daily basis. The ability to quickly cross-reference data without loading host applications is particularly useful for consultants. If you don't need to contend with eccentric file types of unknown origin, however, the stripped-down Quick View applet in NT is more than adequate for document viewing.

Since I reviewed QVP 4.0, Inso has released version 4.5. The new release adds supports for additional file formats, including Office 97 file formats, and can be integrated into both the Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator browser.

Quick View Plus 4.0
Contact: Inso * 617-753-6500 or 800-733-5799, Web: http://www.inso.com
Price: $59
System Requirements: Windows NT 4.0, Windows 95, or Windows 3.1, 7MB of hard disk space