RISC World

PD World

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

I thought that I would start my column in a different way for this issue of Foundation RISCWorld. Those of you in the RISC OS community who spend time on-line can hardly fail to have noticed that there has been a furore over the lack of updates to some RISC OS news site. Neither Drobe or the Iconbar have had any new articles posted for months. This has, understandably, upset a number of RISC OS users and I have to say that I can sympathise. The problem is that although there has been plenty of RISC OS related news anyone visiting these sites would think that nothing was happening and that RISC OS was dead. This is plainly not the case.

Whilst I have no doubt that there are good reasons why there have not been any new stories posted on these sites it does not reflect well on RISC OS. Some disgruntled writers have taken matters into their own hands and some new RISC OS related sites have sprung up in the last few months. It's quite possible that you may not be aware of the existence of these sites and so I have decided to include a short list in this column:

As someone who has regularly obtained his RISC OS news from the 'traditional' sites, such as Drobe, it's good to see that the information is all out there and that there are people who are prepared to put in the work on keeping news sites updated.

Now let us start our regular round-up of all that's new in the world of free software for RISC OS...

PowerBase - Derek Haslam

Regular readers will no doubt be familiar with PowerBase, the shareware database system. Derek has just announce that a new version has been released and naturally I am including a copy in this issue.


The new version This version fixes a few bugs and in addition adds reserved words AllOf and NoneOf to make search formulae more understandable where the user wishes to match all or none of a comma-separated group of fields. As well as updating the main database application itself the documentation has also been overhauled.

Powerbase is a flat-file database with table-validation. This means that text fields within the database can be linked to a list of items in such a way that the field will not accept items unless they are on the list.It can be used to create all sorts of databases. It provides powerful facilities for maintaining your data and for selectively retrieving and printing information. Powerbase is very easy to use, for example, setting up a simple address-book database takes only a few minutes. However it also includes very powerful features for 'power' users.

As PowerBase is shareware, registered users automatically receive all new updates as they are released.

LaBella V 6.40 - Ray Favre

There has been another important update to Labella, the label printing application that's a firm favourite in the Foundation RISCWorld offices. The updates include:

  • The option to strip blank records from a loaded CSV file.
  • Expands the existing options to make fonts, indents and line-spacings 'the same as Line 1'. Now the user can specify any line for this copying.
  • Graphic scale and position offset values can be retained when loading/re-loading a new graphic.
  • Removes the restriction on maximum drawfile size.
  • Rationalises all error and warning dialogue boxes.
  • A few minor bugs have also been corrected.


LaBella allows text from CSV/TSV-format files to be printed onto labels, with optional added graphics. Full text options, including font, colour and leading (line spacing - ED) can be set for each line of text independently. LaBella also includes a number of extra features including the wonderfully useful sequential numbering/ This is great for producing tickets, cheques and other items that need to have a unique identifier. LaBella offers four basic design shapes round-corner, square corner, CD and envelope. Label designs for several common ranges of self-adhesive label sheets, and cheques, are included. Plus there are several example CSV files and graphics so you can experiment to see how the application works.

MPData+ - Kevin Wells

This is another update to an application we have featured before. MPData+ allows you to easily find out about your local MP.


The application requires an internet connection and a copy of WebGet (included) to download the information and present it on screen. As well as displaying the information about your local MP (in the example phone my local MP - ED) it also provides a simple connection to websites that can be used to contact your MP directly, to provide further information on what your MP has been doing in the House of Commons and to here their latest speeches. MPData+ is written using the popular freeware DrWimp library.

Rename - Nick Roberts

Rename is designed to allow files held on a filing system to be renamed in an intelligent way using a number of wild cards. It's very easy to use. Just drag a selection of files to the Rename icon on the iconbar and you will see a dialogue box open:


Rename has a number of useful features and I recommend consulting the supplied documentation for the full feature set. However one feature that is especially useful is the ability to automatically append the correct DOS extension to a number of files. This means you can drag in a folder full of files, select the correct options in Rename and all the files will gain the correct /xxx extension. This means that the files can then be passed over to a Pc or Mac and opened. Assuming, of course, that the other OS has a method for handling the appropriate file. As a way of adding /JPG extensions to a directory of JPEG images Rename is invaluable.

DOSFS V0.85 - RISCOS Open Ltd

Finally here is a rather useful little module. DOSFS allows RISC OS to read a number of DOS formatted devices. It's been present in RISC OS since the days of RISC OS 3.0, but hasn't been updated to keep pace with the times. Even the version of DOSFS in RISC OS 4.39, or indeed RISC OS 6, is still rather out of date.

Fortunately RISCOS Open Ltd have been working on this module and have produced a new version. This includes support for long filenames and for devices that have been formatted using the Fat32 system. Older versions of DosFS only supported Fat16 formatting. Whilst DOSFS might not look that exciting, if you need to connect up a PC formatted device to your RISC OS machine and read it, then it's invaluable.

In order to get it running simply drop the module into your PreDesk directory in your !Boot sequence. For users of RISC OS 5, RISC OS 4.02 or earlier this will be in !Boot.Choices.Boot.PreDesk. For those with RISC OS 4.39 or RISC OS 6 this will be !Boot.Choices.Users.Single.Boot.PreDesk.

As an aside I have noticed that this new DOSFS has disappeared from the RISCOS Open Ltd website. This seems rather odd as it was one of the few items that had been worked on that had a clear benefit for all versions of RISC OS and not just for RISC OS 5. Luckily Foundation RISCWorld has already downloaded a copy, as indeed had a number of other RISC OS users. APDL are also supplying this new DOSFS with their range of external 1GB SyQuest Sparq drives.

Signing off

IF you would like to get in touch then please send an e-mail to the normal editorial e-mail address.

Paul Brett