In Business with RISC OS
David Bradforth brings our series of business case studies to a conclusion.
Over the last six months, this feature has focused on the ways in which different people make use of RISC OS in the course of their day job. We'll move on with the case studies next time to an alternative subject; but first we need to round up the other comments raised from companies using RISC OS daily.
Railway bits and bobs
Adrian Crafer runs two businesses dependant upon RISC OS hardware and software - Timesegment Ltd, providing mechanical railway signalling equipment to the railway industry; and Swindon Historic Castings providing cast components to Heritage Railways.
The TimeSegment website (www.railwaysegmentcompany.com) includes catalogue material prepared in Ovation Pro and Excel
The applications Adrian uses daily include Prophet, EasiWriter, Publisher and DPIngScan. To originate new drawings, Adrian uses RiscCAD, ProCAD+, Paint or Draw depending upon what they are or where they originate. If the drawing is a minor change to an existing one then the original may be scanned and used as a template either in Paint or Draw; otherwise new drawings may be originated in RiscCAD or ProCAD.
The web site is maintained using various tools, but quite often the main tool used to edit text is Edit - the simplicity of the application being key. The catalogue files have previously been prepared entirely on RISC OS with help from RiScript, but unfortunately the last had to be originated on a PC from Excel because files needed sharing with others at one point.
LanMan98 is used to transfer files between RISC OS and Windows.
This highlights very aptly the problem that faces many RISC OS users. It's not a case of being able to produce something on your machine, it's the ease with which you can share files with others who may also be working on the files. Compatibility is an issue that affects Windows and Mac OS readers less and less, and slowly RISC OS is catching up.
Regular c.s.a.misc contributor, and occasional contributor to the Acorn press, Tim Hill uses two RISC OS machines in his daily work; an Iyonix and a Risc PC.
On his Iyonix, he runs ArtWorks 2, Pluto, NetSurf, Oregano2, Organiser and Prophet while on the Risc PC he runs Pipedream, Caller ID and ArcFax. These are just a few of the many applications he has available for his business needs; with tools such as ChangeFSI and others coming out when ready.
When asked why he chose RISC OS over Windows the answer was simple - being fed up with Window's insistence on running his life, and deciding that a weekend needed wasting on the installation of new drivers or fighting Internet-based nasties with anti-virus or spyware removal tools.
Running RISC OS 4.02, Brian Bailey runs a setup that's as clean as possible with the minimum number of applications being launched and only the essentials being run. Filer, Larger, MouseAxes, Organizer and TempBin are launched at startup; together with his own custom icons.
Publisher and Ovation Pro are regularly used; as well as ArtWorks, Vector, TableMate, DiagramIt, DialUp, Oregano and Pluto.
We've got a lengthy article explaining the uses for RISC OS in comparison to Windows and Mac OS in terms of the GUI; and this may form the basis of a future article within RISC World.
It's fair to say that despite the age of many of the applications featured over time, many RISC OS users are finding that they get much greater productivity out of RISC OS than the alternative support applications available for Windows XP or Mac OS X.
Prophet, available from www.accountz.com, is still one of the most comprehensive accounts packages available for RISC OS. Windows XP and Mac OS X will shortly benefit from a new release of the package designed for both platforms. Quentin Pain, the original author of Prophet, can be contacted at email@example.com and is always very helpful in identifying the accounting needs for your business.
The origins of Personal Accounts, as with Prophet, lie on the BBC micro. Expect an updated release of Prophet (known as Accountz for Business) later in the year.
For spreadsheets, we've got a choice of two applications - FireWorkz , an integrated word processor and spreadsheet originally published by Colton Software, and Schema 2 , a dedicated spreadsheet that includes limited support for exporting and importing Excel files from the PC or Macintosh. Investigatory work is currently being carried out with a view to preparing proper conversion tools allowing RISC OS spreadsheet files to be used natively on the PC or Mac, and APDL hope this may lead to a positive outcome. Visit the APDL website, at www.apdl.co.uk, for details.
Word processors are not exactly in short supply for RISC OS. With EasiWriter (from Icon Technology) offering native support for Word documents, TechWriter offering much the same but with formulae editing as standard, Ovation Pro allowing for comprehensive desktop publishing to be professionally created and Impression (due out when ready) hoping to reignite the competition between the two applications there's a word processor or design application to meet your every need. Icon Technology are at www.icontechnology.net, David Pilling's website is at www.davidpilling.net and XAT are at www.xat.nl, with each site offering details on the current releases.
There are multiple databases available as well. With DataPower 3 under development by R-Comp, we have a system available that supports the DTP-alike creation of databases that is fully relational. There are many companies making use of various versions of database, so it's got its foot in the door of businesses too. For home businesses, perhaps PowerBase will provide a budget-priced alternative. With Derek Haslam, the author, always on hand to listen to comments new versions regularly appear and it's a testament to the authors enthusiasm that it's been updated regularly for so long. R-Comp are at www.rcomp.co.uk, and Derek Haslam is at http://www.boulsworth.co.uk/pbase/index.htm.
With many RISC OS applications supporting the needs of business, it's unlikely that this situation will change soon - so we should be grateful for a market that continues to offer support to applications that may be many years old. Perhaps not through the original publishers; but alternates or the comp.sys.acorn series of Internet newsgroups.
So that's why we use RISC OS.