Jr-Draw For PCjr
Requirements: Enhanced Model IBM
PCjr. Light pen optional.
Jr-Draw is an interactive
program which allows a PCjr user to create, save, modify, and print
various types of graphics.
Using the keyboard or optional light pen, you can
combine a virtually unlimited number of predefined and user-defined
symbols, freehand objects, and text labels into a drawing. You can
direct output to a graphics printer, and an optional driver is
available for the HP 7470A and 7475A plotters. Jr-Draw seems most
suited for technical drawings, layouts, or business-type graphics.
You create drawings by typing two-keystroke combinations to select and
modify primitive symbols, from which more complex shapes are assembled.
For example, typing ALT-S followed by 10 places a circle (symbol number
10) in the drawing area of the screen. Once it's there, you can use the
cursor control keys and function keys to move and change the size of
the object. You can rotate objects in increments of 90 degrees-except
for circles and ellipses. Another option is selective erasure.
An office layout designed on a PCjr
Draw. This sample screen is included
Once created, adjacent objects can be selected
together as if they were a single object, and all these manipulations
can be performed on the group as a whole.
There are two ways to draw lines. The most flexible
method is the freehand mode. You enter this mode by typing ALT-X, which
converts the screen into something like an Etch-aSketch brand toy. As
you move a crosshair around the screen with the cursor keys, a line is
left in its wake.
I found myself using freehand mode almost
exclusively. The second method requires you to press FN-4 at the
beginning and end of each line segment to be plotted. Presumably this
mode was intended for lines consisting of a single segment, but it's
just as simple to use freehand mode for these as well.
This inventory record chart is one of
defined templates included on the
By combining these lines with the primitive symbols,
pictures are built piece by piece. You can save the pictures on disk at
Transferring To Paper
Ultimately, though, the object is to get these graphics onto paper. Jr-Draw offers eight different
formats in which the drawing can be produced on any of a dozen graphics
printers, Variations include the orientation of the drawing on the page
and whether the drawing is printed in condensed, emphasized, or
Since a drawing can consist of up to 99 pages or
screenfuls of information, you can also specify a range of pages to be
printed at one time.
If you want a higher resolution copy, you can buy an
optional driver for the plotters mentioned above. Using a plotter
should minimize the jagged appearance of diagonal lines which
characterizes graphics printed in screen resolution.
comes with several symbol templates. They contain flow-charting
symbols, electrical schematic symbols, large and small block text, and
a few symbols designated "interior" for floor plans.
But the key to Jr-Draw's
flexibility lies in the ability to define custom symbol templates for
specific applications. For instance, a template of architectural
symbols might be useful for creating an elevation drawing. Or a band
director might find a template of musical instruments helpful for
charting seating arrangements.
Custom templates are created in much the same way as
drawings - they're composed of previously defined symbols and freehand
lines. Once the new combination is "compressed" and placed into the
template, it can be used in defining yet another new symbol. Like
drawings, these templates may be stored on disk.
A Little Confusion
Jr-Draw is a complex piece of
software; it's not something which can be used intuitively.
Fortunately, an extensive interactive tutorial spares you from having
to read the entire 174-page reference manual before you start. The
tutorial covers the program's basic operations.
Unfortunately, not everything in the tutorial works
correctly. Furthermore, the manual states that the tutorial is on disk
2 (of the three disks provided with the package), when it's actually on
disk 3. But overall, the tutorial is a useful feature and can be
covered completely in a little over two hours.
Once beyond the tutorial, you'll find that unless
you use Jr-Draw regularly and
frequently, the quick reference card will be a necessity. It is
expecting a lot of a user, for example, to remember that small block
text should be spaced six units apart while large text is spaced 32
units apart. If any program ever begged for a keyboard overlay, Jr-Draw is it. On the plus side, Jr-Draw wisely displays the
meanings of the ten function keys along the bottom of the screen.
never crashed during testing, but there were several instances - although
minor and correctable - when results did not match what the manual
indicates should happen. For example, changing the aspect of an ellipse
so that it was flattened horizontally resulted in it springing to a
vertical orientation. And the TAB and ENTER keys did not work as
described when adding text to a drawing.
Inadvertent keystrokes can also cause problems.
Typing the BACKSPACE key caused the template to disappear, for
example. It took several moments scanning through the manual to learn
that the way to restore it was to type CTRL-H.
Sometimes the corrective action itself is a source
of aggravation. If you try to fill with color an object that is not
completely enclosed, it "springs a leak" and the entire screen is
filled. The only remedy is to delete the object, redraw the screen, and
recreate the object.
Would A Mac Be Better?
User feedback is, in general, good. Typically, the object or objects
selected for manipulation blink on and off to distinguish them from
other objects in the drawing. As these objects become numerous or
complex, however, the blinking slows down. Eventually, you reach the
point where there is a significant lag between a keystroke and a screen
update. In most instances, though, this is not a serious problem.
There were moments, brief but real, when I wondered
if a Macintosh with MacPaint would
be better for the job. The Macintosh mouse and pulldown menus Make it
very easy to manipulate. Presumably, Jr-Draw
would be much easier to use with the optional light pen instead of the
keyboard, but I lacked a light pen for testing.
Only one other annoyance was encountered: Jr-Draw requires you to frequently
interchange the program and data disks when moving from one menu to
another. Jr-Draw is a good
candidate for conversion to cartridge, which would eliminate this
drawback. The disks are not copy-protected, but neither the manual nor
the tutorial emphasizes the importance of backing up the disks before
proceeding (this information is in Appendix B of the manual-read it first). The manual recommends
everyday use of the original disk and setting aside the copies for
backups, just the opposite of what most experts advise. Make sure your
backups really work before following this practice.
It is reasonable to use a computer to create drawings only when the
computer offers some advantages over conventional methods. It may be
that drawings can be created more quickly on a computer, or that once
created, they are more easily modified. Or perhaps the quality of the
drawings is improved, or the drawings can be produced more
The answers to these issues depend partially on the
specific software, but to a larger degree on the environment in which
the software will be operated.
A site with no flat-art capability yet a need for
casual graphics such as organizational charts may find Jr-Draw a useful tool. A one-page
chart can be created in less than half an hour, and changes or updates
are easily made.
But it should be understood that Jr-Draw produces graphics suitable
for use in reports to other members of your department, perhaps, but
not necessarily for sale to clients or for presentation to a board of
There are many graphics programs on the market for
the PC and PCjr. One of the worthy competitors to Jr-Draw is IBM's own ColorPaint program. PCjr owners
should consider several different systems before selecting one to meet
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