ABC Flowcharter. (flow chart program) (evaluation)
by Kevin Reichard
I've never liked flow charts and never thought I would. Roykore's ABC Flowcharter, however, has changed my mind. Drawing upon Microsoft Windows' advanced graphics capabilities, the attractive and flexible ABC Flowcharter receives high marks for functionality.
Programmers use flow charts to chart out a program before writing a single line of code. A visual representation of a program, flow charts depict certain actions with different shapes; a call for user input might appear in the form of a blue circular box, while a message written to the screen may be placed in a rectangular red box. Lines denote relationships between the shapes, and text within a shape further explains that shape's function.
If you find traditional outliners too confining, ABC Flowcharter provides a graphical approach to structuring information; you just move shapes around with your mouse naturally and easily. Programmers will find that this program has the power to accommodate today's complex software design--a single chart can hold over 32,000 shapes. Office managers can use ABC Flowcharter to map office procedures; because it's essentially a minihypertext system, ABC Flowcharter could assist in creating training exercises.
Say you want to create a simple training exercise. You create a series of shapes signifying the various steps needed to perform a task, along with lines denoting the logical procedure. Highlighted by red shapes, important tasks stand out; explanatory notes, denoted by blue shapes, don't clamor for attention but wait in the wings. (Since ABC Flowcharter ships with 30 different shapes built in, you shouldn't run out soon.)
But wait--you realize that the user could take an entirely different course of action, and you don't want to clutter up your main chart with the new branch. No problem: Because ABC Flowcharter offers a three-dimensional effect, you can link the main chart with a subchart. You can uncover any shape linked to another shape with a simple click of the mouse button. Subcharts can link to subcharts, and thanks to a command that shows every aspect of your flow chart, you'll never lose track of your logic.
However, a few inconveniences and inconsistencies in ABC Flowcharter will drive you to distraction, especially if you work exclusively within the Windows environment. Written for earlier versions of the program, the manual doesn't reflect the changes made for Windows 3.0. The failure to place the Close command under the File menu may have been technically correct, but its omission still annoys the end user.
Otherwise well presented, ABC Flowcharter should serve the needs of virtually any computer user. Flow charts can prove more useful than you might expect, and if you need to create lots of them, you'll want to use ABC Flowcharter.