Books

Reviewed by Les Ellingham

 

Issue 28

Jul/Aug 87

Next Article >>

<< Prev Article

 

 

COMPUTE! DO IT AGAIN!

It has to be said that the majority of the ST books to have been published so far, with only one or two notable exceptions, have been re-writes of the manual with, maybe a few new ideas thrown in here and there. Compute!, who have a fine reputation for quality books, have themselves been guilty of this, but now comes the publication of a new series, and a new format which they call the COMPUTE! Library Selection, that looks like being the start of some excellent reading for the ST.

One of the things missing so far for the ST is a collection of type-in listings that helps new users get stuck in with learning just what their new machine can do and the first of the new Compute! books is just that. ST APPLICATIONS is a collection of twenty practical applications that any owner can type in with ST BASIC. The programs range from games of skill to 'household helpers' and on to business, finance and science. All will run on a 520ST or 1040ST in either mono or colour. There are no arcade style games here, most of the games require thought and skill and include such favourites as Knights Errant, Mosaic Puzzles and Checkers. More useful programs are those for calculating loan payments and there is even a spreadsheet! Other, less usual, applications include Chemistry Basics, a Simultaneous Equation Solver and Least-Squares Forecasting and there is even a program for Weather Forecasting! All in all, an unusual collection with some very useful programs that will not only teach you about using your ST but will also provide you with some useful programs.

Another applications guide is the first in a series entitled ST APPLICATIONS GUIDE and this one is subtitled PROGRAMMING IN C. Here you have a guide which shows the elementary C programmer how to use C for many specific ST applications. Chapters include Creating The GEM Envelope, Creating Menus, Dialog Boxes and Graphics, Programming the Sound Chip and others on graphics. The book is full of programming examples illustrating all the aspects of GEM using actual programs such as a fractal program and a program for drawing world maps as examples. All the co-ordinates for the latter are provided in an extensive Appendix! There really is so much in this book that it is hard to know what to mention. There are over 320 pages chocked full of examples and explanations and anyone who works all the way through will have a very good understanding of GEM and programming the ST in general. It does not teach C as such but looks to be the best book so far to explain how to use C to get the best from the ST.

The final one in this trilogy of new books will appeal to artists and doodlers alike, indeed anyone who has a copy of the Neochrome Sampler (v. 0.5) or Degas. The title is COMPUTE!'s ST ARTIST and the book has 265 pages packed with information about Neochrome and Degas, including much that you might never discover yourself! Most users will be able to work out how to use the various functions of the programs but there are many small features that are not documented, particularly with Neochrome, and the authors introduce several tips and tricks to enable you to extend the basic facilities. There is much included on using perspective and shadow effects and defining your own text and pattern fills and several, not so obvious, applications including floor layouts, graphs and charts, even letterheads and business cards! Some very clever effects include using two screens to produce an A4 image and cutting designs from background patterns. Advanced techniques concentrate mainly on achieving animation through colour cycling and include some very impressive effects. Several appendices include a conversion program for Degas/Neo, a glossary and a round up of the art programs available if you need to explore further. All in all a cracking collection of ideas and tips that will enhance your purchase of Degas or turn a 'free' copy of Neochrome into one of the most interesting programs in your collection. If you want to pay a bit more you can also get the book with an accompanying disk which not only includes all of the drawings, programs and routines from the book but also has six extra Degas fonts and four fill patterns plus three screens of Neochrome 'shapes' that can be cut and incorporated into your own drawings. This is one of the few times when the disk actually provides more than is in the book.

 

All the books are in a new large format of 9" by 71" in conventional paperback style. There are expensive, as are all books nowadays, but at least they look the part and all three are packed with information to provide value for money.

 

COMPUTE!'s ST APPLICATIONS by Brian Flynn and John J. Flynn. ISBN 0-87455-067-X. 15.95
COMPUTE!'s ST APPLICATIONS GUIDE: PROGRAMMING IN C by Simon Field, Kathleen Mandis and Dave Myers. ISBN 0-87455-078-5. 17.95

COMPUTE!'s ST ARTIST by Selby Bateman and Lee Noel, Jr. ISBN 0-87455-071-8. 15.95
COMPUTE!'s ST ARTIST with Disk. 25.99

top