RISC World

PD World

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

It's time to take our usual gander around the latest software releases for RISC OS. I feel that I ought to remind everyone that all the software mentioned in my column is available in the software directory on this very CD. So lets us peruse the latest developments from the keen band of RISC OS freeware and shareware developers.

WebWorkz - Paul Vigay

This application is designed with one aim in mind, to convert FireWorkz files to HTML. To load the program simply double-click on it to load it. You will then be presented with the main control window. Closing this window, or clicking on 'Quit' will quit the application.

To activate the HTML conversions simply drag the FireWorkz file you wish to convert into this window. The relevant output directory will be filled in automatically, assuming you wish to create the output files in the same directory as the original. If not, simply drag the relevant icons to a suitable filer window somewhere else, in the usual RISC OS fashion.

WebWorkz and the registration window

WebWorkz comes with a comprehensive text file manual, as it's shareware the non registered copy has limits on the size of files it can convert.

BgrndCtrl - Steve Potts

BgrndCtrl allows the user to configure a pool of picture files to be used as Pinboard Backdrops and will randomly select one of these at a configurable interval.  Backdrops can be configured to be Centred, Scaled or Tiled, utilising the features of the Pinboard itself and !BgrndCtrl can even be run just once to change a backdrop and then automatically quit if required (for use at Boot, for example).

This is a significant new version of the program. Except for a select few users, version 2.XX has not been seen in public and there are several refinements since the last publicly available version.

BgrndCtrl configuration window

New features include:

  • Support for dynamically reading directories with pictures.
  • Configuration of appropriate text colour for a given backdrop so that you can still read the icon text of pinned icons.
  • Improved user interface.
  • Several bug fixes and stability improvements.
  • Updated documentation.

eSpeak - Johnathan Duddington

Many RISC OS users may well remember the !Speak application produced by Johnathan Duddington. This speech synthesis engine was used in a number of commercial products, including TextEase and Pluto to name but two. Now an updated cross platform version has been released under a GNU public licence. I have included the RISC OS version, but the full versions for other platforms can also be obtained from

The eSpeak logo

eSpeak also comes with a large HTML manual which can be found in the Docs directory. eSpeak is well worth experimenting with and could easily be used to add speach to any RISC OS application you are working on. Among its many features are:

  • Includes different Voices, whose characteristics can be altered.
  • Can produce speech output as a WAV file.
  • SSML (Speech Synthesis Markup Language) is supported (not complete), and also HTML.
  • Compact size. The program and its data, including several languages, totals about 450 kbytes.
  • Can translate text to phoneme codes, so it could be adapted as a front end for another speech synthesis engine.
  • Potential for other languages. Several are included in varying stages of progress. Help from native speakers for these or other languages is welcomed.
  • Development tools available for producing and tuning phoneme data.
  • Written in C++.

Blinds - Quantum Software

There has been some sad news recently, Quantum software have regretfully closed due to a long term illness. I personally wish Stuart all the best as he has developed some really great applications for RISC OS over the years. The sad news has been slightly tempered as all the previously commercial Quantum titles have been released as freeware. So I am pleased to include Blinds in this issue.

Blinds is a professional icon and application manager. With Blinds on your computer you can make up to 32 individually tailored blinds-like windows which open and shut at the click of a mouse. These windows when closed take up virtually no valuable desktop room, yet are easily accessible. Files or applications placed on a blind can be very easily altered to show either text only, sprite & text or just the icon picture.


Among Blinds many features are:

  • Teachers can easily set up multi-user versions of Blinds so that each pupil sees only their current work or their own directories or applications on screen.
  • Directory icons by default allow files to be dropped on them and the files automatically saved to that directory.
  • You can set up a blind to only appear when a certain application or program is loaded.
  • A blind can also be set so that it is attached to the side of an application window. For example you could very easily attach a blind next to an Impression document containing relevant files or directories then you will always have them to hand. This is VERY useful aid as you no longer have to keep searching for that directory or file!
  • The text of an icon can be made very long if you wish, no more 10 character limit here!

Blinds is now 32bit aware and should run on both the A9 and the Iyonix.

I look forward to seeing you all again in the next issue.

Paul Brett