Make your documents look more attractive
Once you've put your document together, rather than have it looking bland and boring why not add some clipart to make things more interesting? David Bradforth takes a look at some recent releases that may be of interest.
Whatever the nature of the document you're preparing - whether it's a newsletter, leaflet, curriculum vitae or, indeed, anything else - most type of documents benefit from the use of fonts and clipart. As users of RISC OS, there are a number of sources of fonts; and you can access virtually any clipart file available for the PC with little effort as well.
In this article, we've brought together a number of items and have provided a few sample images; with the aim that you can find products that appeal to your needs. We will be featuring more roundups of this kind in the next few issues, so this should be considered the first of a number of resource articles.
Native RISC OS font suppliers used to be plentiful, but they've been getting somewhat few and far between over the years.
Zenta Multimedia, at www.zenta.com/acorn, have a collection of public domain fonts available in the shape of the Big Font Emporium CD-ROM. For a total of £21 you get a considerable number of fonts, plus copies of Zenta's other CD-ROMs. If you're looking to produce documents where the quality of the typeface isn't of utmost importance, these collections from Zenta (and, if you can find it, the EFF PD collection) offer a nice variety of fonts at a minimal cost.
The Zenta website includes details on all their current special offers
The Electronic Font Foundry, at www.eff.co.uk, have a number of fonts and utilities for RISC OS users. It has to be said that if you're not buying their professional font CD, the individual prices of fonts are a little steep; but at a touch under £100 a CD containing virtually every font anyway represents stunning value for money.
ISV Products, at www.apdl.co.uk, have the Typography 2500 CD-ROM. Using the No Dropout Technology devised some years ago, the quality is consistent throughout although I did find a few applications disagreed with some of the older versions of the fonts.
Clipart and Photo resources
As so much work has taken place over the last five years on file conversion software, RISC OS users can now open pretty much any type of graphic file.
While they're not active in the Acorn market any more Sherston Software, at www.sherston.com, have recently launched the Class Images series.
Each of these CD-ROMs incorporates 200 royalty free images (in JPEG format) for use within schools; in three different sizes. Supplied with an unlimited site licence for school use, the menu on the disc is HTML and so - in theory - will load into the likes of Oregano, but you'll need to copy the file to your hard disc and make a few amendments to do so.
Sherston supplied the Vikings collection for review, and the content was divided into four areas: crafts, daily dress, daily life and warfare. It's clear from the start that an enormous amount of work has gone into putting together this selection - the scenarios and images are so clear and the quality so high that it's difficult to find any way to criticise these.
A number of teaching ideas are supplied on the CD, giving projects and starting points for investigatory work. The educational value is sound, and some of the ideas sufficient to gain the interest of the 26 year old reviewing the title.
With other titles available, covering On the Farm, At the Zoo and Along the Coast, the Sherston Class Images series is a very nice idea, but at £99 per set perhaps a little expensive. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the phenomenal cost of producing this series, and it shows through the quality, but with other clipart collections available from £5 up, if the IT budget is running low it's easier for a teacher to pick up a CD for £5 than for £99 even if it lacks the project resources.
Call Sherston on 01666 843200 for details - just remember that the company has not officially released this product for RISC OS.
Focus Multimedia, working in conjunction with Hemera, have a rapidly expanding selection of clipart available for the PC. Of course, with a little effort, many of these titles are immediately available to RISC OS users. Focus kindly supplied five titles for review - Religious and Festive Clip Art 5,000, Business Clip Art 5,000, 115000 Clip Art images, 15,000 Educational Images and 15,000 Business Images.
Priced at £9.99 each, the titles contain a variety of resources from line art to photographic clip art as well as a selection of web resources. I don't have to comment on the quality - every item of clip art in each collection is stunning, and you should buy these without question immediately.
More of relevance is the file format used, and the ease at which you can access it on RISC OS.
The Religious and Festive and Business clipart collections use the same front end on the PC; which also means the files are stored on the CDs in WMF format. To access these on RISC OS you can either make use of the excellent tools written by Keith Sloan some years ago (updated versions are available on David Pilling's website, at www.davidpilling.net) or make use of Image FS 2.
The 15,000 Educational Images collection contains material covering Building and Architecture, Costumes and Clothes, Currency, Dinosaurs and much; much more. The CD makes use of Hemera's image browser which, for PC users, will allow the files to be exported in a number of different formats. But can they be used on RISC OS? Unfortunately not - similar applies with the 15,000 Business Images collection.
With the 115000 Clip Art Images collection, the bulk of the images are not available; but the entirety of the web content is. You can easily copy the resources from this CD-ROM to your hard disk then make use of them within your favourite RISC OS applications without any difficulty at all.
So with the Focus Multimedia collections, the key to success is simple. Don't worry about the quality, as the quality of every image is stunning; but be careful of the file sizes. If you pick up a copy of a clip art collection within your local retailer, check that the back of the case states WMF format, or JPEG format, and you should be reasonably secure with your purchase working on RISC OS.
Focus Multimedia is on the Internet at www.focusmm.co.uk.