Paul Brett with the latest freeware and PD releases for RISC OS.
Welcome back to our regular roundup of all that is new, interesting, and above all free, in the RISC OS World. It's been an interesting couple of months, so without further introduction, let us see what's available.
RISC OS 5
RISCOS Open Ltd has started to release components to RISC OS 5 as pre-built binaries. This is excellent news as even those who use RISC OS, but can't program, can now benefit from the initiative. I won't go into too much detail as I could easily fill this column up just talking about the ROOL (RISC OS Open Ltd) releases. Aaron has told me that copies of the binaries will be included on this CD, so I suggest taking a look for yourself.
RISC OS 5 Binaries
Perhaps the most interesting component to come out is the Phoenix browser. This is a development of Acorn's Browse, but with a number of extra features. It seems that RISC OS browsers are rather like buses, you wait ages for one to turn up, then two appear inside eight months.
CashBook - Steve Fryatt
We have featured a beta version of CashBook before in this column, but after a year of beta-testing Steve has now released the first 'stable' version. Testers have made a number of suggestions for improvements that have been incorporated into this release.
It should be fairly obvious, but CashBook is a home accounts package. It's designed to track payments and receipts through multiple bank accounts. It supports the use of different headings for items, so you could see how much you have spent on petrol in a month with just a couple of clicks. it also supports proper reconciliation of receipts against bank statements. So you can enter items on CashBook as you go and then check them against your bank statement when it arrives. As an added bonus it can also make predictions based on past spending patterns, which can help avoid unnecessary overdraft fees.
The stored information can be printed out using a normal RISC OS printer driver and can also be exported to other packages, such as spreadsheets. Full documentation is supplied in both StrongHelp and PDF formats. This really is a cracking package and with Apricote Studios (Now Accountz.com - ED) Home Accounts package no longer available, CashBook is an excellent replacement.
FontTastic - The Really Small Software Company
FontTastic is a simple entry level font manager for RISC OS. It allows you to store fonts in groups and to turn these groups on or off as appropriate. You can also produce font catalogues in both Draw and Impression DDL format.
Although FontTastic is an entry level package it does have one feature that's only normally found in fully fledged commercial applications. You can can set up FontTastic to scan documents for fonts. Once FontTastic has compiled a lit of the fonts used it will scan through your fonts and make sure that any fonts that are needed are made available. So that should be an end to those annoying "Font Not Found" messages, or everything in your document suddenly getting turned into Trinity. Full instructions are provided both in text and PDF formats.
AppBasic - Joe Taylor
I have a small confession to make. I consider AppBasic to be one of the best RISC OS applications released in years. AppBasic is an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for RISC OS. It allows developers to quickly and easily write multi-tasking RISC OS applications without having to worry about the WIMP shell of the application. AppBasic takes care of all the WIMP operations, such a redrawing windows, generating menus etc -allowing the developers to concentrate on what really matters, functionality.
AppBasic comes with a number of example programs that demonstrate what it's capable of. A few clicks can really make a genuine multi-tasking application. It won't do a great deal until you add the code that does the internal work, but AppBasic can really save time and that's important. It fully supports the RISC OS Toolbox modules. If you are interested in writing applications for RISC OS you rally should give it a go. It means that you don't have to understand how the WIMP works, so even people only used to single tasking BASIC can get good results exceptionally quickly.
A 40 page fully illustrated PDF manual is provided. I love AppBasic and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone.
Searchy - Andrew Poole
Finally we have Searchy. You may remember the trend some years ago for "Desktop Sillies", odd little programs that ran on or near the iconbar doing silly things. Well Searchy is a desktop silly, that's not silly at all. It's a helpful little searching utility. It sits just above your iconbar. If you want to search the internet for anything just type in the search phrase an hit a button. Your web browser will be launched and the search results will be shown.
The real clever stuff is under the skin. You can configure Searchy in almost anyway you can imagine. If you have a particular search engine you use for one type of search, then you can set it up. You can search the web, usenet, for graphics and lots more. You can even do a shopping search to get the best price on that latest gadget. If you have an internet connection on your RISC OS machine then it's well worth having Searchy running all the time, before long you won't want to be without it.
That's all we have time for this issue, but I though I had better end on a comment. Most of the applications featured this time have one thing in common. Comprehensive well written manuals. All the authors concerned deserve hearty congratulation for this work. Writing a manual is not as much fun as writing a program, but if you want people to get the best from your work it's essential.
If you have an application that you would like featured in RISCWorld please send an e-mail to the normal editorial e-mail address.