DrawWorks Printed Manual
Does a printed manual make DrawWorks easier to use asks Paul Brett..
DrawWorks is a very popular package amongst users of RISC OS. However one of my long term complaints has been the lack of a printed manual. The on screen manuals may well be informative and helpful, but they took a lot of paper and time to print, as well as a lot of ink. So if you couldn't face printing the entire thing out you were forced to use them on screen.
Now APDL has taken over iSV Products this problem has been finally dealt with by the release of a full printed manual for DrawWorks Third Millennium. This manual also applies to earlier versions of DrawWorks but of course some of the later features shown in the manual may not be present in your version. Unlike many manuals for RISC OS products the DrawWorks manual is in full colour throughout. This is very sensible as many of the examples on colour manipulation would be pointless if printed in black and white.
The manual covers exactly the same ground as the on screen version, and in the same order. Although it has fewer pages, each page contains more information. Being able to see the colour manipulation examples on a printed page is a major advantage. As indeed were the pages on the DrawTrix tool. I have to confess that I have not really used this tool, but having read the new manual I was quite surprised at how powerful the tool could be. Indeed a long term problem of how to make a particular graphical effect that I wanted was solved. Of course the information was always in the on screen manual, but I juts hadn't taken any notice.
APDL have already said that they have plans to support and continue DrawWorks. Indeed since they took over a couple of patches have appeared for problems that have been reported, such as the TIFF tool refusing to work. APDL have also just released a full version of DrawWorks Third Millennium, alongside the upgrade version. The printed DrawWorks manual demonstrates their commitment to the product very well.
Although I am generally very pleased with the manual I do have two complaints. Firstly the lack of an index is quite annoying. Admittedly the contents page has extensive information on the manuals contents, however an index would really make the manual that much more useful. Secondly the printing of some of the graphics seems a little fuzzy in places. They are still perfectly readable but just don't look quite as they should. This problem only seems to effect screen shots, and not draw files. This does not affect the use of the manual, so perhaps I am being a bit overly critical, but I would like the screen shots to be as clear as the text.
At only £7.50 for a full colour spiral bound 54 page manual with laminated covers this cannot be bad value for money. I have been using DrawWorks for a couple of years now and consider myself well versed with the package. The benefit of a printed page has been ably demonstrated to me because I have found several features that I had previously missed, even though I have read the on screen manuals many times. If you want to get the best out of DrawWorks then I can recommend this manual as a sensible and worthwhile purchase. (And of course you can't read an on-line manual on the toilet - ED)