RISC World

PD World

Paul Brett with the latest freeware and PD releases for RISC OS.

It seems that RISC OS software authors have been pulling out all the stops over the last couple of months to update a wide range of their software. Which is very encouraging for the RISC OS market as a whole. So what delights do we have for our readers this issue?

IPPDevice Driver - Dave Lambley

This is a simple module to allow you to print from RISC OS directly to an IPP (Internet Printing Protocol) printer server over a network. IPP is a relatively new Internet standard. It is supported by:

  • The CUPS server (for UNIX)
  • Windows 2000
  • Some networked printers

CUPS will probably be the one of interest here. CUPS is a printer server that runs under UNIX. It is capable of driving a wide range of printers, both connected to the server directly and over a network. By using this module, a UNIX server running CUPS and the RISC OS PostScript Printer Drivers, you can suddenly use a huge range of high-quality printer drivers.

This module probably doesn't work on the Iyonix yet, but it should work on any other RISC OS with a working TCP/IP stack.

KClock - Kevin Wells  

It's a simple desktop clock in a window, handy for those that don't like cluttering up their icon bar with the long Alarm icon. KClock was written using DrWimp and is a good example of how a small application can be quickly generated in BASIC.


MakeAlias - Malcolm Ripley  

Makealias is an application that will create aliases of files, folders and applications. You may have seen the idea of alias's under Windows, where you can have a "Shortcut to" an application or a file, MakeAlias offers the same for RISC OS. It does this by creating an application with a name equal to "!=" plus the original. In the case of applications the "!" is replaced with a "!=". If an alternate name is used then the alias will be prefixed with "!+" instead of "!=".

There are 3 ways to create an alias:

  • Drag a file, directory or application to the Alias Icon on the Icon bar, drag the icon from the window to the required location
  • Open up the create alias window from the icon bar menu, drag a file, directory or application to the window, drag the file icon from the window to the required location
  • Open up the create alias window by clicking on the iconbar icon and then drag a file, directory or application to the window, drag the file icon from the window to the required location

Make Alias

Nettle - Nettle Developers  

Nettle is the terminal emulator and telnet client for RISC OS. It uses the ZapRedraw module for speedy display and is a fast, clean native implementation. Nettle supports most common terminal types, including vt100, vt102, vt220 and xterm terminal emulation in full colour, along with some more exotic features which you might not expect from a terminal emulation program, such as URL launching - just double click on any URL that is displayed in a Nettle window and it will launch in to your browser. Nettle also has an ANSI Task task window feature, which allows unix programs such as ssh, lynx, BitchX, ncftp2 and nano with ANSI terminal interfaces to be run natively on RISC OS for the first time.

Nettle is still under development with work being actively carried out by five developers. Alex Macfarlane Smith started the project, initially writing a very well featured version of Nettle in BBC BASIC. Unfortunately, this was rather too slow to be really useful, so after some encouragement, the move was made to a C-language based development. This is when the other developers started work. Nettle is built with the StubsG C libraries, to allow it to run unmodified on both 26bit and 32bit RISC OS variants. Development is mostly done on the latest release of RISC OS Select but we support everything from RISC OS 3.1 through to RISC OS 5 running Internet module version 4.xx or 5.xx. Nettle is also supported and tested with VirtualRPC-SE. If you're not running Select 2,3 or Adjust then you'll also need the SocketWatch module.


PowerBase - Derek Haslam  

We have covered PowerBase extensively in RISCWorld in the past (and again in this issue), but this is the updated version 9.20 which exists in two functionally identical variants. v.9.20DA is suitable for RISC OS 3.5 or later. v.9.20SH is suitable for all versions of RISC OS from 3.1 onward.

The difference between the two lies only in the way in which they manage their memory requirements. 9.20DA makes extensive use of dynamic areas, a practice now deprecated in some quarters. Nevertheless, this is the version I recommend to all users of RiscPC, A7000, Iyonix etc. 9.20SH uses instead the sliding-heap module (as have all versions of Powerbase prior to 9.00) but this module has now been made 32-bit compatible by Christopher and Harriet Bazley.

There have been several enhancements since the last version. Indexes are used much more extensively to speed up report creation. This feature can in many instances make use of multiple indexes and operate on multiple targets in search formulae. In earlier versions of Powerbase this feature had severe limitations. Search formulae can query data in any column of a validation table provided the table is linked to a field which appears in the search formula. (It was always possible to include any or all columns of a table in the print selection, but querying has not previously been possible. The manual (in all formats) has been updated to comply with v.9.20

The tutorials now include important actions such as creating and reformatting a database and re-definition of the primary key. Both manual and tutorials are available in Impression Publisher, Ovation Pro and PDF formats. The tutorials are also available as a plain text file with supporting drawfiles.

For anyone with some experience of programming in BASIC it is fairly easy to add non-standard features to Powerbase and to place on the tool-pane, keypad or record window special buttons to control these features. This facility has been present in Powerbase for several years (in fact it has been in regular use in one database application for about seven years) but has not hitherto been described.


SpecialFX - David Pilling and Richard Hallas  

SpecialFX is a desktop enhancement module which provides three basic functions:

  • SpecialFX causes calls to the Draw module to be redirected to Computer Concepts' GDraw module, thus providing an anti-aliased display in applications that make use of vector graphics (such as Draw, Draw Plus, Ovation Pro etc). Anti-aliasing is applied only to screen output; the Draw module continues to be used for printing. This option is enabled for all applications by default.
  • SpecialFX causes outline font painting operations to be performed with background blending (a feature introduced in the RISC OS 3.7 font manager) in applications which do not provide support for this feature (such as the Impression family of DTP programs). Background blending is applied to screen plotting only; printing is not affected. This option is enabled for all applications by default (though it will only work on machines running RISC OS 3.7 or later).
  • SpecialFX can cause all printing to occur from low memory in applications which use dynamic areas. This provides a work-around for a problem in certain printer drivers, such as those for Calligraph direct drive laser printers, which do not work correctly with particular applications. If you find that some items vanish when printing (particularly text embedded within Draw files), enabling SpecialFX's low-memory printing feature should cure the bug. Low-memory printing applies to printing operations only, and does not affect screen output. This option is disabled for all applications by default. Enabling it globally should not have any adverse effects, even with printers that do not suffer from the bug.

Setting up SpecialFX

StopCaps - Dan Ellis  

This is a very handy little module that can be put in your predesk directory, it serves one simple purpose, it stops the CapsLock key working unless the ALT key is also held down. This prevents users accidentally hitting the CapsLock key instead of the Shift key and then typing 3 lines of capitals before noticing.

Signing off

I will see you again in July for the next issue of RISCWorld.

Paul Brett