Over the years I've built up quite a collection of Acorn stuff. I started computing (in the broadest sense of the word) with an original 48k Spectrum back in 1983, but sold that to get my BBC model B. That was expanded, and even after getting my first Acorn RISC computer, an A310 in 1988, the Beeb was still my main computer (hey, with Arthur, and the amount of software actually available for the thing, I had no other choice!). The A310 became an A340 and was eventually replaced in 1994 with a Risc PC 600. If you really want to see my list of equipment, click here.
You may never have heard of Acorn computers, or you may think that they are restricted to 'educational use', but Acorns have a wider rôle than that. In my experience there are two distinct types of Acorn users, with several subtypes. I've tabulated these on a separate page here.
So to some links. First on the list is a set of links to the software I've used when compiling these pages.
There's quite an argument in Acorn circles between StrongED, and Zap written by Dominic Symes. Both are 'text editors', but with more bells than a Morris Dance troup and whistles than a convention of referees.
I've tried both, and have to say that I've got on better with StrongED. Neither is entirely to my liking (although I usually find that something that gets on my nerves can be configured out), and for some purposes Edit is just as good, but as text editors go StrongED is pretty good, and (as is Zap), expandable to handle non-plain text situations such as HTML. I've actually registered it!
Find StrongED here on Guttorm's home site.
Find Zap as package a161 on Hensa. Demon's Mirror isn't time restricted as the university server is.
If you know an Acorn user who hasn't bought one of the commercial internet packages, chances are that (s)he is using ArcWeb. Written by Stuart Brodie, who has recently started a job that means that his previous constant updating has stopped, this is about as good as a free browser will get. It still doesn't do some of the more esoteric things that Netscrape and M$IE do, and has only recently been able to display frames (not a terrible loss). It won't do tables (slightly more of a loss - but oddly it did try a couple of versions ago) and animated GIFs (fun to look at), but hey, it crashes less often than Netscape or MSIE and is considerably smaller and less resource-hungry. The latest version is still available via Stuart's old homepage http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~snb94r/
It has one competitor (as far as I know) which is Webster by Andrew Pullan. The latest version of this that I have is now over a year old so comparisons are pointless.
For a while this was the only program on the Acorn platform that would produce interlaced and transparent GIFs. Ian still occasionally produces updates, though it's hard to see what functionality he can add now.
WebGif2 is available from http://www.foobar.co.uk/dialin/riscy.
Superficially sets out to do the same thing as WebGif, but has the added function of being able to produce animated GIFs. It goes slightly against the RiscOS style in that on running it opens its main window, and doesn't put an icon on the bar, but for all that is really very useful, being able to take Draw (yes!) GIF, Animator or Sprite files and produce GIFs or Sprites. Animated GIFs can be made from a Sprite file with several sprites or an Animator file, and an animated GIF can be converted back to a multiple Sprite file. The latest version can be downloaded from http://www.ant.co.uk/~peter/software/intergif.htm.
Change F(loyd) S(teinberg) I(nteger) is the de-facto standard bitmap image format conversion program on the Acorn. Its roots go back to the earliest days of the Archimedes, and it comes supplied with every new machine. It is fast (except on certain BMPs which take an age - I'd like to know why), accurate, and flexible. The only thing it doesn't do is reverse translate (ie it will translate from a wide variety of formats, but only to native Sprites and JPEGs.
In the days of 8-bit screens, Translator from John Kortink was more flexible than CFSI, and came with companion Creator that would (guess what) create images in various formats. Since the RiscPC though, and 15 and 24 bit desktops, Translator has fallen behind in that it crashes if used on a screen of more than 8 bits. It is is still better at recovering damaged files though, and can write to its own 24-bit Clear format which can then be further processed by CFSI. Creator is a different matter. It has evolved into a magnificent beast, and is well worth registering. Both can be found on John's pages here.
This is, as far as I am aware, the only application on RiscOS that is capable of producing Image Maps. It is really easy to use, although it can take a while to map out a complicated image. Get it now from http://prompt.essex.ac.uk/users/gerph. If you haven't yet got it, you'll also need the JFShared library, available from the same site.
Again, RiscOS sports just one program capable of a vital function. I can't speak for the commercial software, but this is the only PD/Freeware FTP software I know of that can delete files from an FTP server. As most ISPs now provide free web space, one would have thought that this was pretty useful. It is command-line only, and desiged to work via Zap. It will also work via the task windows supported by Edit or StrongED. It isn't the most stable program I've known, and has problems if you try to run it at the same time as FreeFTP, but it is incredibly useful just the same. Another essential download, available at ftp://ftp.barnet.ac.uk/pub/Acorn/sftp.
Although it hasn't had more than bug fixes for several years now, Impression (in Publisher and Publisher Pro varieties) still ranks as a very good Desktop Publisher. It has two real competitors; Ovation Pro by Beebug, and TechWriter by Icon Technology. I've only used Impression and EasiWriter (smaller brother of TechWriter), but from the reviews, Ovation and Techwriter have some features that Impression doesn't, although Impression still generally holds the lead.
You may be wondering, since I use a text editor (StrongED) to write my pages, what a DTP program is doing in my list of useful things. The answer is simply that it is the only program I have that is capable of anti-aliasing Draw files, and for some things it is easier to use for layout. The mapped GIF on the main index was assembled using Impression, and the main logo on each page was a Draw file, grabbed from an Impression display.
Of course, no list of useful software would be complete without the standard plug for the excellent applications built in to Risc OS;
...is the main one - a pretty good vector drawing package, although DrawPlus, Vector and, of course, Artworks all outclass it.
...while pretty basic as a pixel painting package, does perform many useful functions, especially in conjunction with ChangeFSI and Draw. I've heard people say, "Oh, but you get a painting package with Windows", but comparing Draw with Paintbrush is a bit like comparing a £100 bike with a £300 bike; neither is top class, but the £300 bike will be a lot more fun to ride (just ask my sister).
So we move on. These links are carried over from the old Acorn page, but as many as I've tested so far still work. A new set of descriptions is in the offing before too long.
Cardiff's very own Acorn dealer, still pretty much a two man operation, the brothers in charge here are responsible for (among other things) Acorn's fantastic Replay system.
Dalriada of Warwick
CTA Direct of Tyldesley
Alsystems of Alton
Castle Technology of Framlingham.
Kimberley of Leigh, Lancashire
Fantastically fun educational software. So good, I bought some for myself. Didn't keep it though; I gave it to a local Nursery school - they had more use for it than me.
This company started with the world famous "Wordwise" package for the BBC Micro. They were, until a couple of years ago, the leading Acorn software house with two great packages - Impression and Artworks - storming away with all sorts of awards, and an almost total monopoly in their respective fields. Then they went PC. They wrote Xara (distributed by Corel), which is based largely on Artworks, and didn't upgrade AW. Subsequent releases have been sparse to say the least, although there is a glimmer of hope now that we have StrongARM.
Clares Micro Supplies
Always in the shadow of CC, they have some very useful product - MIDI sequencers and the Composition art package in particular.
Authors of the brilliant Photodesk image manipulation package and Top Model 3D designer.
Suppliers of all sorts of software and hardware.
Experts in Acorn networking, and multi-platform networks.
Acorn Computer Group
The company responsible for starting it all off.
The Acorn-Apple joint venture that is now responsible for selling microcomputers.
Acorn RISC Technologies
Acorn Online Media
A little in the shadow of the big announcements by Acorn Network Computing, they have an amazing product in the Set top box...
Acorn Network Computing
Little Acorn has a product that huge Oracle wants; read all about it.
Probably the best Acorn magazine there is. Almost a user group in itself.
The magazine originally started by Acorn itself, taken over by the BBC, then someone else, now IDG media have it, and also took over Acorn Computing.
Contains many interesting homepages, and some useful Acorn links.
The makers of probably the most useful palmtop computers in the world.
Some info that Intel never wanted you to know about their processors, and some genuinely useful info about motherboards for PCs.