Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only
Game Type : Utility; Art Package
Standalone Release(s) : 1984: GRAPHICS SYSTEM, Salamander, £9.95
Compilation Release(s) : None
Stated compatibility : Electron
Actual compatibility : Electron, BBC B, B+ and Master 128
Supplier : SALAMANDER, 17 Norfolk Road, Brighton, EAST SUSSEX BN1 3AA
Disc compatibility : Unknown.
Instructions currently unavailable.
The GRAPHICS SYSTEM from Salamander Software is a flexible and powerful piece of software that allows you to create your own screen images in any of the '20K' modes (i.e. Modes 0, 1 and 2) and to store and later recall them from tape. The cassette is attractively packaged, complete with a well printed manual. A similar package launched some time ago for the BBC Micro has already proved very popular, and this Electron program is based on that version.
Loading the system is very easy and the two parts of the program load fairly quickly. Also provided on the tape are some example screens, which show 'mountain drawing', apparent motion by means of colour redefinition, and 'tree drawing'. These are produced in Modes 2, 1 and 0 respectively. Personally I found the tree a little strange!
When the program is running, the screen is split into two parts. The top, and larger part, contains the drawing which is being produced, with the lower section displaying various prompts and other information. The sequence of commands used to generate any picture is remembered by the program is the picture is built up, and there are facilities to erase the effects of the last command, and to redisplay the picture in the state that it was in before the last command was executed. This allows for any mistakes to be corrected.
The commands available are both powerful and comprehensive. The cursor keys are used to position the cursor (a flashing set of crosshairs), and the Space Bar is used to 'fix' a point. For example, the command for a line is 'L', and the system then prompts for the 'start' of the line. The user moves the cursor to the desired start point, and then presses the Space Bar. The system then prompts for the 'next' point, and this is indicated in the same manner. As the cursor is moved to the next point, a flashing line is displayed to indicate where the final line would be if drawn in the current position. This 'elastic banding' facility is a very useful feature, allowing you to see the result of drawing a line before it is finally fixed.
Other facilities available include parallelogram drawing from any three points, circle and arc drawing, physical and logical colour changes, text displays from any position on the screen, filling of any shape, and pattern repetition.
The shape filling is achieved by using the built in PLOT extension, and so does not cope completely with complex shapes, small areas often being left unfilled. A more flexible routine could have been written to do this, but this would have used more memory, and hence reduced the complexity of the picture that can be produced. Indeed, apart from the slightly 'sluggish' handling that results from a BASIC program running in the high resolution modes, this is probably my only criticism of the package. Whilst reading the manual, I spotted a number of errors but a conversation with Salamander Software revealed that a new manual will be produced to correct these.
In conclusion, this package is well produced and allows for some quite effective pictures to be created and saved to tape. I would recommend this package to any Electron owner interested in experimenting with graphics. Rating: ****
David A. Fell, ELBUG 1. 4
Review (Electron User)
The Electron is capable of supporting a wide range of graphics and text modes, better in fact than many machines costing much more. Imaginative programming can be carried out in Modes 0, 1 and 2, although many people would find the GCOL, MOVE, DRAW and PLOT statements difficult to plan for an involved drawing.
This program takes the difficulty away, substituting it with a series of simple commands with which complicated, colourful and concise artwork can be designed. Only Modes 0, 1 and 2 can be used, and the available colours are shown on a palette at the bottom of the screen. Should other colours than the default one by required it is simple to alter those available.
A flashing cross-hair cursor is used to position elements, and the co-ordinates are constantly updated on-screen. A number of built-in functions can be used, and each has an easily remembered mnemonic. B draws a box, C sets a circle, F fulfils a FILL function, L produces a line while A initiates an arc. For all these, when the cursor is in the correct position, the Spacebar is the input necessary to start the procedure.
Text can be added at will on the screen, and so many
applications spring to mind. Pie charts and histograms may be labelled and
coloured to relay information, systems may be designed, and complicated maps and
drawings transferred from graph paper. Pictures may be built up in a series of
pages and may be stored onto
cassette for future use.
One glaring omission, looking to the future, is that there seems to be no facility for a screen dump. A hard copy of the screen display would be a fitting final facility to this useful piece of software. It fulfils a large variety of purposes, and also stands on its own as great fun with which to experiment.
Phil Tayler , ELECTRON USER 1. 8