by Stephen Wallace
AC Contributing Author
Much has been written describing the capabilities of desktop publishing (DTP) systems. Modern DTP programs for ST/TT, Mac, Amiga, or IBM/PC computers allow versatile manipulation of high resolution text and graphics. Output is usually printed by a laser printer for highest quality copy. With the use of the following suggested programs, equipment, and procedures, illustrated "newsletter" style documents may be produced with Atari Classic computers. You'll need an XE or XL computer with at least 64k of RAM, or a 400/800 with at least 48k. One floppy disk drive will be required (two is helpful), and a 9-pin Epson compatible printer with suitable interface. Near letter quality (NLQ) text from inexpensive 9-pin printers is very readable, and 160 X 192 dot graphics is adequate for simple black and white pictures, diagrams, and graphs. Any type document - a school report, technical article, or letter will benefit from easily read type and supportive pictures. And all from hardware you probably already own.
||Text & Graphic Print Pgm
|Text & Graphic Print Pgm,
Word Proc, Graphic Conv
||Touch Tablet Drawing Pgm
||Joystick Drawing Program
||Joystick Fractal Program
Think of your computer system as a toolkit. Now imagine a few programs (tools) that do specific jobs. If you have the tools and know how to use them, you'll be able to print attractive illustrated documents. All of the programs shown in the accompanying table were developed independently to serve specific functions. When used on projects collectively, each can offer its own specialized contribution. An abundance of word processors, graphics programs, and utilities have been written for Atari Classic computers over the years. Titles other than those listed may also serve as DTP tools.
None of these suggested programs are new. In fact most of them predate powerful enhancements available today. The tools listed all function with unmodified Classic computers and floppy disk, drives, Atari DOS 2.0s or 2.5, and 9-pin Epson compatible printers. Word/Graphic Magic, Creative Process 1.8, and Superhop did not run properly under MYDOS 4.5 during a brief test. The menu highlighting feature of TextPro 4.0x Plus did not work with MYDOS 4.5, though other functions seemed fine. How these DTP tools behave with other advanced DOS's, expanded memory, hard drives, or 24-pin printers is beyond the experience of this writer to know. Hopefully, owners of enhansed Classic systems will be able to furnish that information based upon experimentation.
Dot-Magic is a public domain program written in compiled Turbo-BASIC for XE/XL machines. It runs in conjunction with the Turbo-BASIC RUNTIME.COM file (usually named AUTORUN.SYS). This file is provided on the Dot-Magic disk,, so you don't need Turbo-BASIC to use Dot-Magic. The author's identity is not known, given only as "The Cryptic Wizard in the program documentation. The Wizard grants full credit to Roy Goldman, creator of Daisy-Dot, the original NLQ document print program. Daisy-Dot and Daisy-Dot II are in the public domain. Daisy-Dot III is a copyrighted document print program available directly from Mr. Goldman. Dot-Magic uses special Daisy-Dot font files and will print proportional NLQ text on Epson or Prowriter compatible printers. Several fonts are included with Dot-Magic. Be aware that your document print style is defined by the font you select. Your printer, will be operated in graphics mode and need not have NLQ text capability to work with Dot-Magic.
Utilities are available to convert 9-sector Atari character set files to Daisy-Dot NLQ fonts, and to convert proportional Daisy-Dot fonts to justifiable fonts. Proportional fonts are best used for printing "ragged right" text with an uneven right margin. Justifiable fonts may be used to print fully justified text if your word processor supports that feature. An extensive Atari font library was included on the May 1992 AIM disk of the month.
(Note: The justifiable font converter utility has a bug that repeats a portion of the file's name in the converted font file. Load the converted font into a word processor and use the search/replace feature to strip out the unnecessary characters. Resave the file to produce a usable font.)
Commands embedded within text files written with a word processor invoke certain features while Dot-Magic prints your document. Text manipulation such as centering, double width characters (boldface), and variable character density are available. Underscoring is also supported, subject to word processor capabilities. Double column printouts are possible by alternating word processor margin commands for odd (left column) and even (right column) pages. Other commands cause font changes or pictures to be printed. Pictures may be printed full left, full right, or centered upon the page in three sizes. Either MicroIllustrator (compressed) or MicroPainter (62-sector) picture files may be intermixed with text. Picture aspect ratio (horizontal to vertical proportionality) is slightly, although not objectionably, distorted by Dot-Magic.
Word Magic is half of a program package for producing illustrated documents on any Atari 8-bit computer. It is the text processor and printer portion. Italic, underlined, double wide, and centered text is supported in both normal and enhanced fonts for most printers. Graphic Magic is the other half of the Word Magic/Graphic Magic package. Graphic Magic is a picture converter program. It is used to convert Microlilustrator, MicroPainter, B-Graph, or Graphics 8 picture files into files printable with Word Magic. It will also allow Graphics 0 style text to be typed onto a picture and saved in a Graphics 8 file. Commands embedded in text written with Word Magic will cause pictures to be intermixed with text in your printed document. Two correctly proportioned sizes of pictures may be printed. Word Magic and Graphic Magic by Jim Thompson are machine language programs from ANTIC Publishing. A BASIC install program is included with the software package to set user defaults.
Word Magic users have the advantage of a full featured word processor built into the Word Magic/Graphic Magic package. For Dot-Magic users, a separate word processor will be required. When entering text for Dot-Magic, the main requirement is the word processor must be able to PRINT text to a disk file. Saving and printing to disk are not the same. A printed file has margin and paging information (space and return characters) necessary to position text upon the printed page. A saved file has symbols that only TELL the word processor how to send text to an external device. TextPro 4.0X Plus by Ronnie Riche is a shareware word processor and has many fine features. It does well for ordinary writing, or for preparing files for printout with Dot-Magic.
An extremely useful program to any aspiring writer is an "outllne processor". ANTIC's Creative Process 1.8 by Dave Thorson can help generate an outline that will really get your ideas flowing. Points are typed onto the screen in any order you wish. Subpoints may be entered under the mainpoints as in a hand written outline. Enough text may be added beneath main or subpoints to make a paragraph. If you want to rearrange points in the outline, any text and subpoints below it will follow in the correct order. The outline may be printed, or stored in a file that may be entered into your word processor for further refinement.
Spreadsheet programs are usually used for bookkeeping. They may, however, be used to organize any type of tabular information. Listed, or ATASCII spreadsheet files may be incorporated into most word processor text files. BCalc by Barry Kolbe and Bryan Schappel is a spreadsheet published by ANALOG COMPUTING (August 1988 issue 63), and capable of generating ATASCII files.
Picture processors are used to draw, label, and manipulate pictures. BBK Artist is a joystick drawing program published by ANALOG COMPUTING (July 1987 issue 56). It is a machine language program by Barry Kolbe and Bryan Shappel. BBK Artist is particularly useful for making drawings with lines, rectangles, circles, or elipses. Freehand drawing of irregular shapes is rather difficult. Shapes may be drawn or filled with four solid colors or thirteen patterns. Pictures may be labeled with most any size text using this program. Atari 9-sector character fonts may be loaded to determine the text style. For small size text, standard or square fonts work best, and may require touchup. The program will load either MicroIllustrator or MicroPainter picture files. It saves to disk in only the MicroIllustrator format. (Note: The type-in version from the magazine requires modification of the RUN bytes to allow it to run as a load-and-go program. The object code occupies memory from $2A28 to $4BC7. At the end, RUNAD bytes $02E0 and $02E1 should be set to $28 and $2A respectively. That will cause RUNAD to point to $2A28, the beginning of the program in 6502 low byte/high byte fashion. Refer to the section on Binary Save, page 47 in the DOS 2.5 Owner's Manual.)
The Atari Touch Tablet with its cartridge based Atari Artist software is useful for drawing irregular shapes, rectangles, circles, and lines in colors and patterns similar to BBK Artist. Rough tracings are possible by following an outline with the tablet stylus. MicroIllustrator picture files may be created, loaded, edited, and saved. No provision is made to allow text to be typed onto a picture. This Atari peripheral, or the similar Koala Pad, may be difficult to find.
The executable Action! version of Superhop by Douglas Skrecky is an interesting joystick controlled program for observing fractal generation. Although not a drawing program per se, the MicroPainter picture files it generates may be used as backgrounds for artistic illustrations.
Joe Brzuszek's Picture Perfect is a BASIC program which may be described as a picture editor, (August 1989 ANALOG COMPUTING issue 75). Up to one half of a picture may be doubled or halved in size, flipped horizontally or vertically, or moved from one screen location to another. Portions of one picture may be buffered and rubber stamped onto another picture.
Because the graphics- programs just described handle pictures in two incompatible formats, a converter may sometimes be required. Picture Converter is a BASIC program included with an ANALOG COMPUTING article entitled Atari Picture Storage Techniques. The article by Charles F. Johnson was published in the January 1987 edition of that magazine (issue 50). The program will convert between MicroIllustrator, MicroPainter, or Fun With Art picture files.
Efficient use of each program discussed will require practice. Program documentation included with disk software, or obtained through associated magazine articles, will prove useful for instruction and reference. Collectively, use of DTP tools for production of illustrated printed matter requires many steps. The order in which the steps are performed is somewhat flexible. A suggested procedure follows.
First, choose the type style for your document. Word Magic uses the printer's normal or enhansed fonts. Dot-Magic will print a variety of fonts limited only by the Daisy-Dot files available. For Dot-Magic printouts, your word processor settings will determine margin widths, word wrap, and justification. A somewhat technical dissertation is necessary. Run Dot-Magic and select the "Typewriter" option from the main menu. Load a font, type several lines of text into the screen window, and press START to print it to your printer. Try other fonts until you find the one you want to use. Configure the font you've chosen by adjusting the "density" and "spacing" specifiers until the print is the way you want it. Count the maximum number of characters, including spaces, that may be printed across a full page for that configuration. Let's call the maximum number of characters per line "MCL". Make a note of the font's filename, density, spacing, and MCL. Those first three parameters will be needed when the font is loaded at printout time. The MCL number will be used to set word processor margins. Justifiable fonts will have an absolute MCL because each character occupies an equal width. Characters in proportional fonts occupy different widths, so their MCL will be approximations. Documents don't have to be printed across the full width of the page. In fact, it's desirable to leave margins on either side. However, care should be taken that your word processor doesn't send more characters per line than the font can print. If it does, Dot-Magic will ignore characters in excess of the font's capacity. The bottom line: Depending upon how your word processor determines the number of characters it sends per printed line, set page width and margins so the font's MCL, as configured, won't be exceeded.
Use your word processor to write and edit text applicable to your chosen subject. Dot-Magic or Word Magic commands for centering, underlining, inserting boldface type, pictures, etc. may be included at any time. Merge tabular data from a spreadsheet, if desired. If you're using a word processor with the standard 40 column screen, proper paging will have to be determined before the document is printed on paper. All word processors have methods for setting line and page lengths for printed text. Take care that illustrations don't print across page boundaries. Documentation for both Dot-Magic and Word Magic show how to handle picture space within text files. Projects too large to complete in one sitting may be saved to disk between sessions. The final text file for Dot-Magic will have to be printed to disk.
Existing picture files may be edited, or new pictures drawn using any of several drawing programs. Unlike "page layout" software that allows only supplied "photos" to be intermixed with text, Dot-Magic and Word/Graphic Magic print pictures of your own design. Labels may be added to pictures with Graphic Magic, BBK Artist, or other drawing programs. Labels may be desirable when graphically describing a mechanism, a simple electrical circuit, or a bar chart, for example. Labor intensive "special effects" may be done more easily with a picture editor such as Picture Perfect.
Once pictures are complete, save them to uniquely named disk files. In order for individual picture processors to manage pictures in their respective formats, pay attention to picture file extenders. BBK Artist saves and loads MicroIllustrator pictures with the PIC extender. It will also load MicroPainter pictures with the MIC extender. Atari Artist requires PIC and loads and saves only Microlllustrator files. Picture Perfect loads and saves only MicroPainter pictures, but is not extender sensitive. Dot-Magic will directly print pictures in MicroIllustrator or MicroPainter formats. Graphic Magic will convert those types (and others) to a form compatible with Word Magic. Neither print program is extender sensitive.
After text and pictures are written, drawn, edited, and stored on disk, they may be fed to the page printer through the printout program. Your text file, and any picture and font files specified within it, will have to be accessible to the computer. If two disk drives are available, the text file could be placed in one drive, and picture files in the other. This practice is especially recommended for Word/Graphic Magic users since converted picture files tend to be rather large. If font changes are to be made while printing with Dot-Magic, those fonts could be copied to either disk. If only one drive is available, all necessary files will have to be stored on the same disk. Proficiency with your DTP toolkit will result in your ability to draw, write, edit, and print an illustrated document with a minimum of errors.
Where can you get DTP tools? The programs mentioned are available from several sources. Check PD/shareware catalogs such as C&T ComputerActive, Software Infinity, and Vulcan Software. B&C ComputerVisions' catalog lists several of the titles including the ANTIC programs. BCalc, BBK Artist, Picture Converter, Picture Perfect, Superhop, and many ANALOG COMPUTING programs are available for download from Delphi's Atari 8-bit database. Good luck, with DTP on your Atari Classic!
This article was produced with the programs and procedures described, and printed with Dot-Magic.