Generic Application Software Programs

1 • • • • Generic application software Software Software refers to computer programs. A program is a sequence of instructions that tells the computer’s processor what to do. There are two types of software: • system software • application software. System software: manages the computer hardware provides a uniform environment for application programs to run performs housekeeping and monitoring tasks.
Application software: allows the user to do useful tasks with the computer such as playing games, writing a letter or monitoring hospital patients • is often supplied as a package • can be generic (off-the-shelf) and is general purpose • can be bespoke, where it is custom-written for a specific task. Application programs
Application programs commonly have facilities for: • working in a graphical user interface (GUI) • managing data files and working on multiple files • navigating through the work and changing the ‘zoom level’ • importing files and inserting embedded objects • creating and editing drawings • formatting text and graphics and editing content using insertion, deletion, cut-and-paste, copyand-paste and find-and-replace and Undo and Redo commands • language checking • saving and using templates • viewing a file as it will be printed (WYSIWYG) • creating macros and assigning them to buttons and images • hyperlinking • exporting files in other formats • printing files. Generic application programs You may be asked to justify your choice of a type of generic application software (no brand names) for a particular purpose. For the particular features of each type of software, refer to the coursebook, especially if you do not have practical experience of it. Cambridge IGCSE Computer Studies © Cambridge University Press 2011 Revision notes: 1 Generic application software 1 Generic Application software desktop publishing (DTP) word processing spreadsheet General use of software ublications with complex layout, e. g. posters, newsletters and magazines text-intensive material, e. g. letters, business/legal documents, and mail merges repeatable financial, scientific and engineering calculations, mathematical modelling and simple databases input, storage and retrieval of records to provide useful information on screen and in printed reports fax, telephony, video-conferencing, email and instant messaging web authoring, for producing HTML and scripting code for interactive web pages database management system (DBMS) communication web browser search engine graphics computer-aided design (CAD) computer-aided manufacture (CAM) multimedia authoring or interactively accessing information in the form of text and other media from remote web servers a web application for finding information available on Internet servers drawing and editing images, both bitmap and vector for drawing product designs for manufacturing products from CAD designs producing multimedia ‘movie files’ for animated advertisements and games within web pages or presentations, whole websites, or cinema films for creating slideshows (successions of multimedia pages), or multimedia or printed posters for recording data automatically for scientific, engineering and statistical purposes writing, compiling and debugging computer programs presentation data-logging programming Customising generic application programs Off-the-shelf generic application programs are readily available, relatively cheap and well tested. They can be customised to the purchaser’s requirements by: • hiding the standard menus and toolbars • creating new menus or toolbars with just the essential requirements • making cosmetic changes to the colour scheme and logo • creating macros run by toolbar buttons or keyboard shortcuts.

A macro is program code recorded automatically or written in a scripting language to improve access to existing commands or to create new ones. Bespoke software Bespoke software (custom-written) is software specially written to suit the needs of a particular customer. It is often very efficient because it does exactly what is required, is easy to learn and has good customer support and maintenance. Cambridge IGCSE Computer Studies © Cambridge University Press 2011 Revision notes: 1 Generic application software 2 Comparing off-the-shelf with bespoke software Off-the-shelf software has a number of advantages and disadvantages relative to bespoke software. Off-the-shelf software’s advantages t is immediately available it is usually much cheaper to buy it may have many powerful features developed over many years if it belongs to a suite, it is likely to be able to exchange data and files easily with other programs in the suite it is well tested by previous users there is support available from experienced trainers and user groups Off-the-shelf software’s disadvantages it may be overly complex and difficult to learn it may be a compromise between the requirements of different types of users an organisation may be forced to adapt its business procedures to the software errors may not be fixed rapidly Cambridge IGCSE Computer Studies © Cambridge University Press 2011 Revision notes: 1 Generic application software 3

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