Primary Software CD
David Bradforth takes a look at a new educational offering
It's pleasing to see a new release from Kudilan Software, even if it's just a compilation of all their Acorn software titles. The company has for the past three years focused on expanding its range of software for Windows computers - before you start complaining this is now the main area in which they can make money, so they should be applauded for launching a new product for Acorn computers.
I do apologise if what follows seems somewhat list-like: it's the best means by which we can let you know the content of the CD and how well everything comes together.
So what's contained in the pack?
Banner II is, quite simply, a banner printer. Allowing you to use any RISC OS font, use pretty much any Draw file as a backdrop and print it across many pages it's a quick and easy means of producing banners for just about any purpose. It's easy to see why it had such appeal within education - when I used to be at school we used to take advantage of a banner printing program from Acorn User on the BBC to announce anything special. Banner is much more stylish, and the end result it equally pleasing.
Calendar will allow you to produce calendars for any month, of any year; adding any clipart image you so desire to make things that little bit more interesting. For schools this could prove to be a useful fundraising thing: you can laser print the calendars and they do look quite impressive.
DataSheet II is a simple spreadsheet, offering a number of facilities similar to the likes of TableCalc. It's not in the leagues of Excel, but for its time it was a nice entry level spreadsheet which suited the majority of the needs of education both within the primary and secondary sector. If you've got Eureka, you'll probably give this one a miss - but if you're intrigued by the prospect of a forgotten spreadsheet for RISC OS it's probably a good choice.
DataSweet III is a simple office suite, providing a spreadsheet, database, and graph plotting utility. I'd have to admit that I found it somewhat lacking in functionality but the majority of the components within this package were used as the basis for other utilities - the spreadsheet is a cut down version of DataSheet, for example. Very much a basic collection, but useful so long as you don't expect too much.
Pictogram is a simple little program allowing you to produce pictograms: the useful element of the package however lies within its WordLib program; containing a number of prompt words which will integrate properly into RISC OS. Just click on a word, and whatever program has the caret at that time will have the word inserted. This can be most useful whether they're using Impression, Pendown or Ovation Pro!
Portfolio is a simple presentation utility, in the style of Microsoft PowerPoint - but don't expect too much from the package. It is, after all, designed with simplicity as its main aim. It does work reasonably well, but if you're expecting gradual movements from one screen to another you're probably best with either OHP or NoticeBoard Professional.
RepTile will quickly, and easily, produce tiled patterns from a design you produce using the program. A nice idea, which was later developed into a comprehensive utility which would pattern tiles from any image you choose to put into it: not on the Acorn platform, though.
Retreeval is a simple decision-tree inspired program [incorporating knowledge database]. I found it a little worrying that the program didn't appear to do anything when a file was double-clicked upon, but so long as you launch the program first you'll have no trouble using any of the example data supplied. It's incredibly easy to use as well, prompting you at each stage for an answer from a given list of options - an idea which I believe originally featured on the BBC Welcome Tape.
Splosh and Splosh+ are two versions of a simple painting package - Splosh+ would be better described as Splosh2 though. It's somewhat more stylish, can make better use of the facilities you'd expect of the Risc PC yet still manages to keep things simple. Not in the league of Studio24 or Photodesk, but a nice program regardless.
Finally, Terry is a simple version of turtle graphics - which seemed to not like my machine, so I'm unfortunately unable to comment further.
What can you say really? Kudilan have brought together all of their software titles on a single CD-ROM, and offered them for £60 + VAT including a site licence. Some of the software may not be up to date, but it's all good, solid, stuff and well worth a look. Given that you'd previously have been looking at perhaps well over £1000 for a site licence across all, and easily over £500 for all of the software titles this package does offer incredible value for money. A recommended release, and a thumbs up to Kudilan.