This chapter discusses the role of the system software with respect to application software. It then presents an overview of several productivity software applications, graphic design/multimedia software applications, home/personal/educational software applications, and communications software applications. The chapter then identifies various Web applications. Finally, learning aids and supports tools within application software products are presented.
Application software consists of programs designed to perform specific tasks for users. Application software can be used as a productivity/business tool; to assist with graphics and multimedia projects; to support home, personal, and educational activities; and to facilitate communications. Specific application software products, called software packages. are available from software vendors. Although application software also is available as shareware, freeware, and public-domain software, these usually have fewer capabilities than retail software packages.
System software consists of programs that control the operations of a computer and its devices. System software serves as the interface between a user, the application software, and the computer�s hardware. One type of system software is the operating system. Before application software can be run, the operating system. which contains instructions that coordinate the activities among computer hardware devices, must be loaded from the hard disk into the computer�s memory.
The user interface controls how you enter data or instructions and how information displays on the computer screen. Many of today�s software programs have a graphical user interface. A graphical user interface (GUI ) combines text, graphics, and other visual images to make software easier to use.
Both the Microsoft Windows and the Apple Macintosh operating systems use the concept of a desktop. The desktop is an on-screen work area with common graphical elements such as icons. buttons. menus, links, windows, and dialog boxes. A software application can be started by clicking its program name on a menu. or list of commands. Clicking the program name instructs the operating system to transfer the program�s instructions from a storage medium into memory. Once started, the application displays in a window on the desktop. A window is a rectangular area of the screen that is used to show the program, data, and/or information. At the top of the window is a titlebar that contains the window�s name.
- productivity/business software applications
- graphic design/multimedia software applications
- home/personal/educational software applications
- communications software applications
People use productivity software to become more effective and efficient while performing daily activities. Word processing software allows users to create and manipulate documents that contain text and graphics. With word processing software, you can insert clip art into a document; change margins ; find and replace text; use a spelling checker to check spelling; place a header and footer at the top and the bottom of a page; and vary font (character design), font size (character scale), and font style (character appearance).
With spreadsheet software, data is organized in rows and columns, which collectively are called a worksheet. The intersection of a row and column, called a cell. can contain a label (text), a value (number), or a formula or function that performs calculations on the data and displays the result.
Database software allows you to create and manage a database. A database is a collection of data organized to allow access, retrieval, and use of that data. A query is used to retrieve data according to specified criteria. which are restrictions the data must meet.
Presentation graphics software is used to create presentations that communicate ideas, messages, and other information to a group through a slide show. You can use a clip gallery to enhance your presentation with clip art images, pictures, video clips, and audio clips.
A personal information manager (PIM ) is software that includes an appointment calendar to schedule activities, an address book to maintain names and addresses, and a notepad to record ideas, reminders, and important information. A software suite is a collection of individual applications sold as a single package.
Project management software allows you to plan, schedule, track, and analyze the progress of a project. Accounting software helps companies record and report their financial transactions.
Power users often use software that allows them to work with graphics and multimedia. Computer-aided design (CAD ) software assists in creating engineering, architectural, and scientific designs. Desktop publishing (DTP ) software is used to design and produce sophisticated documents. DTP is developed specifically to support page layout. which is the process of arranging text and graphics in a document. Paint software is used to draw graphical images with various on-screen tools. Image editing software provides the capability to modify existing images. Video editing software and audio editing software can be used to modify video and audio segments.
Multimedia authoring software is used to create electronic interactive presentations that can include text, images, video, audio, and animation. Web page authoring software is designed to create Web pages and to organize, manage, and maintain Web sites.
Many software applications are designed specifically for use at home or for personal or educational use. Integrated software combines several productivity software applications that share a similar interface and common features into a single package. Personal finance software is an accounting program that helps pay bills, balance a checkbook, track income and expenses, follow investments, and evaluate financial plans. Legal software assists in the creation of legal documents and provides legal advice. Tax preparation software guides users through the process of filing federal taxes. Personal DTP software helps develop conventional documents by asking questions, presenting predefined layouts, and supplying standard text.
Photo-editing software is used to edit digital photographs. A clip art/image gallery is a collection of clip art and photographs that can be used in all types of documents. Home design/landscaping software assists with planning or remodeling. Educational software teaches a particular skill and exists for about any subject. Reference software provides valuable and thorough information for all individuals. Entertainment software includes interactive games, videos, and other programs designed to support a hobby or provide amusement.
One of the main reasons people use computers is to communicate and share information. E-mail software is used to create, send, receive, forward, store, print, and delete e-mail (electronic mail ). A Web browser is a software application used to access and view Web pages. A chat client is software that allows you to connect to a chat room. which permits users to chat via the computer. A newsreader is a software program used to participate in a newsgroup. which is an online area on the Web where users conduct written discussion about a particular subject. An instant messenger is a software program installed to use instant messaging (IM ), a real-time communications service that notifies you when one or more people are online and then allows you to exchange messages or files. Groupware is a software application that helps groups of people on a network work together and share information. A videoconference is a meeting between two or more geographically separated people who use a network or the Internet to transmit audio and video data.
A Web application is a software application that exists on a Web site. To access the Web application, you visit the Web site that offers the program. Some Web applications are free; for others, you pay for use, service, support, or when a certain action occurs. Web-based training (WBT ) is a type of CBT (computer-based training) that uses Internet technology. Many Web sites offer WBT to the general public. An application service provider (ASP ) is a third-party organization that manages and distributes software and services on the Web.
Many software applications and Web sites provide learning aids. Online Help is the electronic equivalent of a user manual. Usually integrated into an application software package, online Help often is context-sensitive. meaning that the Help information is related to the current task being attempted. Most online Help also provide links to Web sites that have a FAQs page. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) supply answers to common queries. Many books are available to help you learn to use the features of a personal computer application package. A wizard is an automated assistant that helps complete a task by asking questions and then performing actions based on the answers.