Crosstalk is a product that has been around for almost a decade. Produced by the folks at DCA, Inc., it is the granddaddy of commercial terminal programs. With a price tag of $125.90, the product is priced higher than its Microcom counterpart. Packed in a black cover with yellow letters, the box is striking in its effect to draw users. Inside you will find a User’s Guide, Programmer’s Reference, both size disks, free offer to try CompuServe and a free offer to try Genie.
Installing Crosstalk is easy. The program uses the standard SETUP.EXE, which runs fluidly off the one data diskette. The neat thing about Crosstalk is it asks you questions as it sets itself onto your hard drive. By the time you have finished running the configuration program, which is indicated by a robot as an icon, the program knows your modem and all other related information. Speaking of modems, Crosstalk only has 50 modems in its data files, so if you have an odd ball modem you will be setting up a data file for it.
The initial view of Crosstalk is a blank terminal screen. Dialing a phone number is easy, though the dialing directory screen itself is cluttered and tough to navigate. The program, when it was configuring itself, asked you for access numbers to an outside line and a long distance carrier if needed, so you should be able to dial out of the box.
Terminal emulation is supported for eight terminal types, though you can add your own if needed. Nine file transfer protocols are supported, with the only obvious missing protocol being Kermit. Support for standard COM ports and Interrupt 14 make it a good candidate for the corporate environment.
By far, the most valuable feature of Crosstalk for Windows is its extension of the scripting language CASL. The scripting language is so powerful that the 250 page Programmer’s Manual just scratches the surface of what can be done. In just ten minutes I had created a script that used dialog boxes that walked a person through setting up an oddball modem. The script looked clean and efficient with coding kept to a minimum. Scripts that are in the box include DDE hooks and auto learn scripts for logging onto your favorite online system.
A power product for a power user, Crosstalk for Windows is not for those who cringe when they have to read a manual. Crosstalk for Windows is available at Software Plus for $125.99.
So, there we have it. Two very different products trying to get Windows to pump the most out of your COM port efficiently. For the everyday Joe who feels they must use a Windows communications package, Microcourier is the ideal choice. With unequaled customer support, the package is an excellent match for recreational PC users. For those whose tastes include taking apart ’57 Chevy engines for fun, Crosstalk for Windows is your product. Crafted out of a mainframe pattern, the scripting language is rock solid and extremely powerful.