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CS101 - Introduction to Computing - Lecture Handout 13

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Application Software

The focus of the last lecture was on Operating Systems

Learning Goals for Today

To learn about application software
To become familiar with various software used in the following application areas:
e.g.
Scientific/engineering/graphics
Business
Productivity
Entertainment
Educational

Two Major Types of Software

System Software
Application Software

Two Major Types of Software

Application Software

Application software are programs that interact directly with the user They generally do not talk directly to the hardware

Classification According to the Mode

Interactive-mode
The user runs the program on the computer and keeps on interacting with the computer while the program runs
Example: Word processor
Batch-mode
The user starts the program and the computer processes the provided data and produces results without any further intervention of from the user
Example: Payroll

Classification According to Application Area

Scientific/engineering/graphics
Business
Productivity
Entertainment
Educational

Scientific/Engineering/Graphics Apps

Key feature: Intense floating-point calculations
Scientific/engineering/mathematical apps
Computers initially were designed just to run them

Generally designed for specialists
Rudimentary UI’s
Many run in batch mode

Scientific SW

Simulation of natural systems
Deforestation and effect on green-house gases
Simulation of artificial systems
NeuralWare (Simulator for artificial neural networks)
Thermo-nuclear explosions
Mathematical computation packages
Mathematica (can do hundreds, if not thousands of functions, e.g. solving a differential eq, symbolically)
MathCAD

Engineering SW

Computer-aided design (CAD)
AutoCAD
SPICE
Virtual wind tunnels
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)
Telecommunication system SW
Centrex
Industrial control SW

Graphics & Animation SW (1)

Two types:

1. Vector graphics

Treats everything that is drawn as an object
Objects retain their identity after they are drawn
These objects can later be easily moved, stretched, duplicated, deleted, etc
Are resolution independent
Relatively small file size
Example: MS Visio, Corel Draw, Flash

Graphics & Animation SW (2)

2. Bit-mapped or raster graphics

Treats everything that is drawn as a bit-map
If an object is drawn on top of another, it is difficult to move just 1 of them while leaving the other untouched
Changing the resolution often requires considerable touch-up work
Relatively large file size
Example: MS Paint, Adobe Photoshop

Business Applications

Most of the SW being developed today belongs to this category
SW that is required to run most any sort of biz:
Payroll
General ledger
Order entry
Accounts receivable & accounts payable
Inventory control
Let’s now discuss a few business SW categories which are not that common, but are becoming more and more popular with time

E-Commerce Software

Key requirements:
Reliability
Security

Ability to handle 1000’s of transactions, simultaneously

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) SW

Very large scale, complex & expensive SW
Ties together all key activities & major systems of an organization into a single SW system
Key benefit: Optimization of the business processes of an organization as a single system instead of many loosely-related stand-alone systems
Example: SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Baan

DSS (Decision Support Systems) SW

Sometimes also called “expert systems”
Many times are based on a branch of computer science called “artificial intelligence”
This category of SW is designed to help business managers in making effective decisions in complex situations based on the analysis of the relevant data

Productivity SW

Most popular category in terms of licenses sold
Common features
Ability to simplify, automate everyday business tasks
Highly interactive and user-friendly design
Designed to run on PC’s
Most users do not use 90% of the SW features
Popular productivity SW
Word Processing -- Spreadsheets
Presentations -- Databases

Word Processors

Probably the most popular productivity app
Initially designed as a replacement for the typewriter
Automation
Automatic end-of-line soft carriage return
Style sheets
Table of contents & index
Spelling & grammar checking
Two approaches: WYSIWYG (e.g. Word, WordPerfect, Star) or traditional markup (LaTeX)?
Desktop publishing

Web Page Development SW

Web pages can be developed using a simple plain-text editor like the “notepad”, but more efficient, easy-to-use HTML editors can make the process quicker
Some of them are WYSIWYG (i.e. you don’t really need to know any HTML to use them), others are not, while some provide both types of interfaces (DreamWeaver)
Most popular word processors now come with a built-in Web page development facility

Spreadsheet SW (1)

Electronic replacement for ledgers
Is used for automating engineering, scientific, but in majority of cases, business calculations
A spreadsheet - VisiCalc - was the first popular application on PC’s.
It helped in popularizing PC’s by making the task of financial-forecasting much simpler, allowing individuals to do forecasts which previously were performed by a whole team of financial wizard

Spreadsheet SW (2)

Consist of cells arranged in rows and columns
Each cell may contain numeric values, text or formulas
Automation
Recalculations
Charts

Presentation Development SW

Used to prepare multimedia material for lectures & presentations to display key points, graphics, animation, or video with the help of multimedia projectors
Have replaced acetate films (slides) that were used with over-head projectors
Key advantage over acetate slides:
Easy to modify
Can be sent electronically
Its multimedia nature makes it more interesting for the audience

Small-Scale Databases SW (1)

Easy to use applications designed for efficient storage and fast and easy retrieval of data That data may be in the form of numbers, text, or even multimedia, i.e. sounds, graphics, animation, video

Small-Scale Databases SW (2)

Before the advent of the currently popular “relational” database model, the databasing function was performed using what is called the “flat-file” model
That model is not very efficient for storing and searching in large databases
A database consists of a file or a set of files. Information in these is stored in the form of records, and the records are further subdivided into fields

Productivity SW Suites

A set of stand-alone productivity applications designed to work easily with each other
Share a common UI
Are available as a bundle along with additional useful utilities
Examples: MS Office, Corel WordPerfect Office, Lotus SmartSuite, Star Office
SW Suites for other app areas are available as well, e.g. the Adobe suite of graphics apps

Document-Centered Computing (DCC) - 1

The increasing cooperation among the apps included in productivity suites has given rise to a new computing paradigm called DCC
DCC implies that instead of developing parts of a doc in a number of apps, and then cutting-&-pasting them to form the final doc, you stay in a single doc and call-up appropriate apps to insert the required objects

Document-Centered Computing (DCC) - 2

Let’s say that we want to write a letter containing a map, a table and a graph
We can:
Launch the WP and type the text in
Insert a drawing by calling up the drawing toolbar app (without leaving the WP) & draw the map
Insert a table by calling up the spreadsheet app (without leaving the WP) & build the table
Insert a graph based on that table using the same spreadsheet app without leaving the WP

Entertainment SW

Key feature: Simple, intuitive, many times social UI’s
The user is generally assumed to know nothing about computers
Both Microsoft & Apple are pursuing a PC-as-a-personal-entertainment-hub strategy.
Probable result: Already popular entertainment SW will become even more popular

Music & Video Players

Music players (WinAmp)
Video/Music players (Real player, Windows Media player, QuickTime player)
The Web Browsers can also display video, animation, and play music with the help of helper applications like Flash

Music Generation & Movie Editing SW

A PC can be made the hub of a music making studio with help of appropriate HW & SW
Inexpensive, easy-to-use video editing SW has recently become available for the iMac

Games

Many types

Educational (especially for toddlers)
Strategy/Simulation
Sports
Shoot’em ups
The saddest aspect: You do not need any opponents or partners to play computer games
The application SW category that provides the toughest challenge for computer HW

Educational SW

Category with probably the highest growth rate
Current focus on augmenting traditional training and education methods, but it is shifting towards replacing traditional methods

Electronic Encyclopedias

Great resource of useful information presented in a very interesting format
Superior to the paper-based version because:
Access speed is dramatically higher
Can contain animation and sound
Much lower cost as thousand’s of pages in dozens of volumes have been replaced by a couple of CD’s

On-Line Learning

With time, the VU Web site will become more and more focused on interactive online learning
The Website of our textbook “Understanding Computers” is an example of an on-line learning Website
Key features of good online learning SW:
The student can learns at his or her own pace
The student can select his or her own hours

Interactive CD’s

Same as on-line learning, but through a CD instead of a Web site
Key advantage:
Ideal for students with slow Internet access

Attributes of Good Application Software

Easy to install, un-install
User Interface
Consistent
Intuitive
Configurable
Adapts to the users need
Has a tutorial and a complete help manual
Does not have any critical bugs

Most Popular Application Software Categories

Web browsers
Email clients
Word processors

What have we learnt today?

Application software are programs that interact directly with the user for the performance of a certain type of work
That work generally falls into one of the following usage areas
Scientific/engineering/graphics
Business
Productivity
Entertainment
Educational

Focus of the Next Lecture

Next lecture will be the first among the four lectures that we plan to have on productivity SW

That first lecture will be on word processing
We’ll learn about what we mean by word processing
We’ll discuss the usage of various functions provided by common word processors