Paul Brett with the latest freeware and PD releases for RISC OS.
The weather so far this summer has been somewhat less than ideal. (rubbish, April was lovely - ED) Although I doubt that many have been sunbathing the usual summer "lull" in software development is upon us. I usually expect my postbag to be lighter in June and July and this year is no exception. Although I have been told about a very interesting development related to desktop publishing on RISC OS. This particular snippet of news (which regretfully I am not allowed to disclose at this time) could well benefit from the rain. More time spent indoors means more time in front of the computer as far as I am concerned. Still that's for the future, let's now take a look at the latest applications which have benefited from a summer release.
MPData - Kevin Wells
This interesting little application allows you to find out details about your local MP.
As well as allowing you to find out details on your MP the program also has options to contact your MP directly and to also hear what they have been saying (in print) recently.
The application requires an internet connection and a RISC OS browser. All the application really does is pass a string containing a website address to RISC OS. Then, as long as you are connected to the Internet and a browser has been seen the relevant page will open on your screen. The full source code is provided and like a number of recent applications the program was written using the DrWimp programming library. I do have one small comment to make though. The application is very simple and the idea is very neat, but the user interface, especially the design of the main window is very poor. It doesn't take very long to "tidy up" a window design and to make it look professional.
!PinWay - Bernard Veasey
Pinway is a customisable pinboard application. It doesn't utilise any features of the normal RISC OS pinboard. Instead it inserts it sown pinboard "layer" over the top of the existing pinboard, but behind all the other desktop items, such as the iconbar.
Pinway offers a number of advantages over the normal RISC OS pinboard system. Firstly it can include up to 8 fully customisable pinboards which the user can easily flip between. Also when the computer is shutdown the current state of all the pinboards is automatically saved. This can be a real time saver as anything you dump on the pinboard one day will still be there the next. You may be familiar with other operating systems that allow files to be saved directly to the pinboard. As you know this can't be done on RISC OS, but using PinWay it can. Not only does it add this useful feature but you can also save into sub directories. If you have a directory on the PinWay pinboard and drop a file on it it will be saved into that directory. In addition you can create special "command" objects on the pinboard which execute system commands.
This is en exceptionally neat and well implemented application and gets my recommendation.
!PMS - Philip Hazel and Richard Hallas
PMS stands for Philip's Music Scribe. It is a RISC OS application designed for typesetting music. Unlike many programs this operates from Script files, which are best generated in Zap, as this has a special PMS mode just for this purpose.
Once PMS has loaded you can drag in a "Score". Provided you have installed the special PMS fonts then your score will appear on screen in proper musical notation ready to be typeset. PMS can export each page in either Draw or EPS format, so the result can be used on RISC OS and other operating systems. You can also get PMS to play the music score that is being displayed using the built in RISC OS "beep" sound system with up to 8 voices.
I must confess that I am not at all musically inclined, so I asked a friend of mine who does read music to come and have a look at PMS. He seemed rather impressed with what the application can do. As a note I should mention that PMS was originally commercial software, but has now been released as freeware (along with the source code). John Cartmell of Qercus magazine was instrumental in getting this to happen so we should all thank him for his work.
StickyPad - Paul Vigay
Sticky pad is a digital version of a pad of post it notes. You can "stick" little yellow pads anywhere on the screen and then type in notes. StickPad can save your current list of notes, as well as their position on the screen.
You can also handle the data in the notes in a number of interesting ways. You can move information from one note to another and also copy text from notes into a text editor, such as Edit. You can also save URL's into notes and double click on them to launch that particular website in your browser. The notes themselves can be configures to have different line spacing, you can set notes to "expand" when you move the mouse pointer over them and set them to automatically save their contents once the mouse pointer moves away from them.
Stickypad is shareware, it runs as a "demo" with up to 5 notes until it's unlocked with a registration code.
TexttoDraw - Chris Jonhson
This rather neat little application is designed for producing complex text objects in draw format. Draw's text handling is rather primitive and producing a "line" of text with different fonts and styles can be very time consuming, this is where Text 2 Draw comes in.
Once the program is loaded all you need to do is click in the main window and start typing your text. Unlike a DTP program where you can type your text and then add your styles you need to work out what you want before you type it. So in order to apply a style, such as superscript, subscript, or to change font you need to make the change before typing the text that it will apply to. This takes a little bit for forward planning but it's easy to get used to this way of working. Further instructions can be found in the supplied HTML documentation.
WinED - Tony Houghton and Adam Richardson
WinEd is a fully featured RISC OS template editor, originally written by Tony Houghton and now maintained by Adam Richardson. WinED is a much more powerful replacement for Acorn's "FormED" application.
WinED lets you quickly make up the template files for an application by dragging and dropping the components into your window. Older template editors often expect you to "create" the window by typing in obscure icon validation strings. When it comes to making sure your icons are correctly aligned WinED makes this easy as you can "group" a set of icons and align them in a similar ways to the way objects are aligned in Draw. As you would expect all the aspects of a window can be altered including the colours off all the components.
WinED has been around for some time and was originally designed to be a replacement for TemplED, something that it achieves with ease. Users of older versions may like to know that this new version 3.03 has lots if improvements and it's well worth upgrading. I think it's also worth mentioning the supplied manual as this is a model of clarity and explains everything quickly and sensibly. I wish all freeware applications came with documentation of the same standard.
As always if you have an application that you would like featured in RISCWorld please send an e-mail to the normal editorial e-mail address.