Diagram (Pineapple) Review | A&B Computing - Everygamegoing

A&B Computing


Diagram
By Pineapple Software
BBC Model B

 
Published in A&B Computing 2.07

Pineapple software are a new publisher and their initial offerings look very interesting.

Diagram is a very well-designed piece of software, unfortunately but necessarily restricted to disc-based systems. Diagram will attract the attention of anyone who needs to produce quality drawings or artwork with a basic BBC plus printer hardware setup. This is not easy to achieve without spending a lot of money on Bitstik.

Diagram provides line drawing and user-defined icon facilities over an area as large as 12 horizontal by 3 vertical Mode 0 screens (320 x 96 text characters) or as small as one Mode 0 screen.

Drawings are stored on disc and access is through specifying a screen number or index name. Any point on the drawing can be indexed for quick reference. Scrolling around the diagram with the cursor keys is achieved quite quickly enough from disc but a Sideways RAM option is even more impressive.

Building the drawing in edit mode involves drawing with cursor keys, choosing and dropping into place pre-defined shapes or symbols, adding text (tabbing is possible) and choosing any combination of foreground/background from the available eight colours.

Sixteen shapes sit at the bottom of the screen being edited. One hundred and twenty eight can be defined in all for each drawing, each shape up to 32 x 24 pixels in size. This approach means that libraries of shapes can be maintained for use with more than one drawing.

The instruction booklet provided runs through an example session with one of the two demonstration drawings, a circuit diagram and house plan. Diagram is very suitable for this sort of drawing. I think you would find it hard to be "artistic" but a fair amount of precision is catered for.

Diagram also gets over one of the main drawbacks of using CAD programs in conjunction with printers by providing a comprehensive set of print optioons.

Throughout the program, choices are made from friendly menus, sometimes with default settings for ease of use. Diagram can use any combination of four disc surfaces (or Sideways RAM treated as a disc surface). Discs are catalogued and choice of drawing highlighted. Nice and friendly. The function keys in conjunction with a card strip are utilised for drawing operations. When you wish to file a drawing, hitting the Copy key sets a scan in motion. Printing, editing, defining and indexing are all achieved from a main menu.

Diagram combines friendly and powerful programming to achieve a BBC first: the efficient use of the highest resolution Mode 0 for drawing purposes. User-defined icons are a fast and simple way of building up pictures, vouched for by their use in the AMX mouse package. Mode 0 adds clean lines, and the use of disc storage a practical overall drawing size.

I am not sure that everyone will grasp the instructions concerning the fine tuning of the print options. Epson compatibles need not worry and Pineapple's enlightened customer attitude (if the documentation is anything to go by) should mean that necessary printer drivers become available. Diagram can also combine powerfully with a BBC configured plotter such as that offered by Linear Graphics.

Diagram is easy to use, fairly reasonably priced for disc software (40 with 80 converter for 80 only systems). Ideal for preparing text, line drawing and symbols for hard-copy. Excellent programming. Documentation could be clearer on printer details but customer backup looks good.

Jonathan Evans

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