LJ Archive

New Products

James Gray

Issue #273, January 2017

Panther MPC, Inc.'s Panther Alpha

Functional, powerful and there when you need it, unobtrusive when you don't—that's how Panther MPC, Inc., sums up the company's new Panther Alpha personal micro PC that features the company's powerful, easy-to-use Linux-based Panther OS. Panther Alpha combines full desktop functionality with an ultra-customizable Linux OS that fits in the palm of your hand. Panther says its new device could be possible only now thanks to a culmination of years of industry innovation and development, namely the power of today's ARM chips and an improved emphasis of Linux on ARM. The Panther Alpha is whisper quiet, with no fan or HDD noises, and is powered by an energy-efficient ARM quad-core chipset. Unlike most micro PCs, asserts Panther, the Panther Alpha offers a true desktop experience with mouse, keyboard input, microSD card slot, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB functionality. The portable and compact shape allows it to integrate seamlessly into any environment—business, home or school. “The only PC you'll ever need”, adds the company.


Rogue Wave Software's TotalView for HPC and CodeDynamics

New versions of not just one but two dynamic analysis tools from Rogue Wave Software were unveiled recently to pleased developers everywhere. Upgraded TotalView for HPC and CodeDynamics, versions 2016.07, improve the diagnosis and correction of bugs, memory issues and crashes at execution. The heart of these tools' innovation is support for 64-bit ARM v8-A architecture. ARM's presence continues to expand the ecosystem for the HPC space and enables highly integrated, energy-efficient solutions. With TotalView for HPC and CodeDynamics, customers using ARM platforms have a robust, scalable dynamic analysis solution for their complex HPC clusters and codes. Also included are overall enhancements, platform updates and improved support for operating systems and compilers.



Helping people overcome the challenges of building and growing an online business is what the PrestaShop open-source ecommerce platform is all about. The significant PrestaShop 1.7 release provides innovations focused on three themes: sell faster, create easier and code better. PrestaShop 1.7 users will sell faster due to the entirely redesigned UX that helps merchants with the daily management of their stores via more effective back-office management and a drastically reduced time to place products online. PrestaShop 1.7 users will create easier with new features like the starter theme, a simple and flexible tool with all the functionality needed to design the perfect store. The starter theme gives web designers significant opportunity for creativity and customization. Finally, PrestaShop 1.7 users will code better with the incorporation of new tools and standards, including the popular Symfony framework and PHP 7 compatibility. The goal is to improve site performance and code security as well as to facilitate better development. PrestaShop 1.7 is already available in 25 languages and through community crowdsourcing, it gradually will be available in many more.


VMware's Clarity Design System

By combining user experience (UX) guidelines and patterns with the front-end code in one solution, VMware's Clarity Design System represents a new concept in the design systems space. Clarity Design System is VMware's open-source project—“designed by designers and built by developers”—that unites UX, HTML/CSS and Angular for creating cohesive experiences for any application. VMware began building Clarity based on readily apparent needs for an internal design system that unified VMware's portfolio of products and accelerated product development through reusable components. Building alongside product teams, the Clarity team was able to tackle the complexities of enterprise use cases while striving for simplicity familiar to consumer applications. Now dozens of VMware product teams have adopted Clarity internally in their work.


Goldtouch Semi-Vertical Mouse

“A brilliant combination of ergonomics, comfort and performance” thunders Goldtouch, a leader in desktop ergonomics, about its new Semi-Vertical Mouse. “Perfectly sloped at 66 degrees” to prevent wrist stress and provide the ultimate comfort fit for healthy computing, the Semi-Vertical Mouse is Goldtouch's newest addition to its mouse library. The new mouse provides a happy medium between the traditional ergonomic mouse (sloped at 25–30°) and the traditional vertical mouse (sloped between 85–90°). The in-between slope guides users into a comfortable grip, provides a nice resting position for the hand and enhances the user experience through great mousing precision. Goldtouch says that the Semi-Vertical Mouse expands its already wide variety of ergonomic solutions to fit every type of user and user preference.


Gordon H. Williams' Making Things Smart (Maker Media, Inc.)

Pretty much anything in the O'Reilly spin-off Make: series is like catnip to us Linux cats, and the new book Making Things Smart is no exception. The book is subtitled Easy Embedded ARM Programming For Transforming Everyday Objects Into Intelligent Machines and is authored by Gordon H. Williams. The book is Williams' tool for teaching readers the fundamentals of the powerful ARM microcontroller by walking beginners and experienced users alike through easily assembled projects composed of inexpensive, hardware-store parts. In rebellion to the many current ARM programming books that take a bland, textbook-ish approach with focus on complex, beginner-unfriendly languages—think C or ARM Assembler—Making Things Smart utilizes Espruino (JavaScript for Hardware) to flatten the learning curve.


Buddy Platform Limited's Parse on Buddy Service

With Facebook's Parse mobile back end as a service shutting down in January 2017, developers are in a bind. The vise is squeezing tighter since the open-source Parse Server product released by Facebook, asserts Buddy Platform Limited, was not designed to support high volume, commercial-grade apps from organizations seeking the breadth of the original platform. To solve this issue and facilitate an easy migration path to a robust alternative, Buddy launched an enterprise-grade Parse service offering called Parse on Buddy. Parse on Buddy's developer says that its solution is closest to the original Parse service, including many features not part of the Parse Server codebase released to the Open Source community (for example, cloud code, multiple apps per account support, PPNS, file storage and more). Parse on Buddy was designed to be as familiar to developers as possible, right down to using the same pricing model. It also features an easy three-step migration process for apps still on the original Parse service that requires only a small change to a mobile app's codebase and no remapping of APIs or other new code.


SoftMaker's FlexiPDF

Editing PDFs is now as easy as word processing. This is SoftMaker's promise thanks to its new FlexiPDF 2017, a new PDF editor that “masters the creation of new PDF files as well as the editing of text, graphics and drawings in existing ones”. Available in Standard and Professional versions, FlexiPDF goes far beyond basic editing functions, empowering users to change almost any aspect of PDF files. Just like in standard word processors, FlexiPDF 2017 offers an integrated track changes function, built-in spell checker, commenting function, search and replace, highlighting and exporting of PDFs to TextMaker, HTML, RTF, Microsoft Word and EPUB formats. The integrated OCR function in FlexiPDF converts scans into editable PDF files. FlexiPDF comes with its own PDF printer driver that lets users create high-quality PDFs directly from within any Windows application that can print. FlexiPDF Professional is perfect for the translation of PDF files into other languages. This is because it extracts the text of a PDF document in a format that can be opened by common translation programs. It then imports the translation back to the original PDF document—in exactly the right spot.


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