RISC World

PD World

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

It's been a busy couple of months for me, so I haven't been able to keep track of all the latest software releases for RISC OS. I wasn't able to attend the RISC OS Wakefield show this year due to a previous engagement on the Saturday. If the show had been over the usual two days then I would have been able to make a visit on Sunday. It's a little annoying and I hope the show will revert to being a 2 day affair next year. Still, let us see what delights have been released by developers since my last column.

Armalyser - David Ruck

!Armalyser is an essential utility for RISC OS programmers. It allows the user to examine ARM code files, including executable, module, utility, object and library formats. It can output disassembler or ObjAsm assembler styles, in plain text, fully hyperlinked and syntax coloured HTML, XML, or custom formats for import into Impression, TechWriter and Ovation Pro.

It has extensive analysis features to detect problems that may be encountered when converting code to 32bit, and to highlight performance issues on different ARM variants. The assembler output may be used as a basis to produce 32 bit versions of code where the sources are not available (provided you have the permission of the copyright holder, something some "hackers" tend to forget about - ED). It is available for RISC OS with a desktop front end, and is built with GCC and UnixLib which does not require a 32bit SharedCLibrary.


GhostScript 8.53 - ported by Martin Wuerthner

GhostScript is a PostScript interpreter that can turn PostScript and PDF files into raster image files and PostScript files into PDF files. PostScript and PDF are industry-standard page description languages defined by Adobe that describe the appearance of documents with multiple pages containing text, bitmap images and vector graphics.

This new port of GhostScript 8.53 replaces all previous versions of GhostScript. The original RISC OS port of GhostScript was done by Graham Jones (see his GhostScript for RISC OS page). Most importantly, he has written the RISC OS sprite device that allows you to create sprite files using GhostScript, which is most useful, in particular in conjunction with the GView front-end, so credits are due to him for doing this work.

This port is fully self-contained and will run on all existing RISC OS platforms. Most notably, they run under RISC OS 5 on the Iyonix and under Adjust32 on the A9Home. In addition to being 32-bit safe, these new versions of GhostScript have many improvements over the previous port of version 7.03, most notably when rendering PDF documents with transparency and when converting PostScript to PDF.

When using GhostScript, you are likely to be interested in GView as well: GView is a front-end for GhostScript. It displays PostScript and PDF documents in RISC OS windows, supports multi-page documents, allows you to go backward and forward in the document, jump to specific pages directly, save Sprite files for pages, convert complete documents to multiple Sprite files and gives you a range of output options.

PrintPDF - Steve Fryatt

I've featured PrintPDF before, but this new version is well worth including again as it has been updated following the release of GhostScript 8.5 by Martin Wuerthner. PrintPDF is a utility to automate the process of creating PDF documents with GhostScript.  In conjunction with a dedicated PostScript printer driver in !Printers, it allows a 'PDF printer' to be set up.  Printing to this from applications will open a Create PDF dialogue box, from which the conversion options (quality and PDF version) can be set and the new PDF dragged to a place on disc.

PrintPDF can take advantage of the improved support for Type 3 fonts in GhostScript 8.5.  The new version has additional support for creating encrypted and protected PDFs: owner passwords can be applied to prevent a document being modified without permission, and access passwords can be applied to restrict who can read the document as well.

In addition, permissions can be set to limit the things that can be done to a PDF document: printing, exporting content, annotating, re-formatting and so on.  Support is available for the full set of options in PDF versions 1.3 and 1.4.


The new version also includes the option of transparently pre-processing the PostScript data received from !Printers using GhostScript's *ps2ps command.  In some situations, this appears to clean up mis-formed output, and allow PDF conversions that would otherwise fail.

WebGenII - D E Stratford

WebGenII is designed to take a directory of images and create a website from them. Three types of website can be generated:

  • A site consisting of a single index page containing thumbnails only.
  • A site consisting of a single index page containing thumbnails, each of which links to a separate page containing a larger version of that image.
  • A site containing both the thumbnails, and a small piece of Javascript to enable the larger versions to be displayed alongside the thumbnails whenever the mouse pointer moves over the thumbnail. This option will not work well with too many images, nor with images which are not square, or very nearly square.

When using the second option you can specify a file containing a single line caption for each image. A blank line will ensure no captions are created, and a line starting with | will be treated as a comment line and ignored.


The latest version of WebGenII contains the following improvements:

  • Background colour to certain error messages.
  • Fix for use of background images when the path gets very long.
  • Correct alignment of navigation arrows when using tables rather than CSS.
  • Correct page navigation when page split is same ss total number.

Signing off

I will return in the July issue with more new software.

Paul Brett