rom Educational Technology/August 1987

 

Technology News

 

A Monthly Column of News and Commentary

 

New Center for Study of Educational Technology. The Minnesota Educational

Computing Corporation (MECC) and the College of Education, University of

Minnesota have announced a partnership to create a Center for the Study of

Educational Technology. The purpose of the Center will be to foster research

within the two organizations on how technology can be most effectively used

in schools.

 

“One of the frustrations in the educational technology field is that

significant resources are being committed to school activities that ‘look

and feel’ good, explained Don Rawitsch, MECC administrative vice-president.

“There is a great need to put more systematic study behind the decisions

being made by schools that use technology and the companies that supply the

technology.” The MECC/UM Center will sponsor a variety of activities to

implement such study.

 

The Center will collect information on how technology-based methods can help

people learn. Research projects will focus on the design of effective

technology-based learning materials, the systematic preparation of educators

to use technology and the organization of school operations to maximize the

effectiveness of technology. The Center will also sponsor joint sharing of

expertise in which College of Education faculty and graduate students will

serve internships at MECC and MECC staff will assist in teaching University

courses.

 

For more information on the MECC/UM Center for the Study of Technology,

contact the MECC Administrative Vice-President, 3650 Lexinqton Avenue North,

St. Paul, MN 55125, (612) 481-3650

 

 

 

Introduction to Special Issue on Desktop Publishing in Education

 

By Robert Lucking

 

Anyone who has glanced through the business section of the local newspaper

or purused a computer magazine in recent months will certainly have

encountered the words desktop publishing. This new application of

microcomputer technology is less than two years old, and the key software

now receiving the most attention has been on the market for fewer than nine

months. However, the novelty of desktop publishing has in no way detracted

from the consistent and intense interest shown it by all sectors of society.

Laser printers capable of producing documents of near type-set quality are

at the centre of attention. People representing a broad spectrum of

interests are now looking for ways of haranassing their microcomputer power

for the production of documents which reflect professional production

standards.

 

The Special Issue Content

 

In this special issue of Educational Technology, Harold Sims begins by

examining the fundamental components of desktop publishing. He discusses

hardware, firmware, and software in the context of the architecture of the

PC line of micros. The range of options and their permutations seem

overwhelming at first glance, but Dr. Sims explains each component.

 

 

 

Steve Devan follows with a review of the Macintosh capabilities put to work

in a variety of settings.

 

 

 

Skip Eastman from the advanced computing Support Center at the University of

Southern California then explains the range of desktop publishing using

powerful workstation technology. For those who aspire to work with the best,

Mr Eastman provides a view of the capabilities of more advanced engineering

workstation technology.

 

 

 

Similarly, Brian Winkel demonstrates that even the complex symbolism of

mathematics can be tamed with new software and laser printers.

 

 

 

Representing the interests of those with smaller budgets, Robert Lucking

explores what can be done with modest means. He reviews new software that

can be accommodated by the existing bank of hardware available today to

present-day computer users. Additionally, he considers some newer hardware

options becoming available which will not be overly-prohibitive in costs.

 

Hamilton then explains applications of desktop publishing with a unique

group of students: those who are identified as gifted. He argues that these

students can benefit from this use of computers just as much as teachers.

Finally, Deborah Little and Charles Suhor attempt to deal with the larger

issues of placing publication power in the hands of educators. The wisely

conclude that in desktop publishing, like all new technological

boundary-breaking , the critical task is to raise the right questions about

its role in the daily operations of schools.

 

 

 

Paperless World?

 

 

 

Desktop publishing represents a new page of the unfolding story of computer

applicatons. The power of the newest software and hardware is enormous, but

their proper role in an educational environment is yet to be defined.

Educators are just beginning to explore what administrative printing tasks

can now be done with new micro-computer and laser printer technology.

Additionally, teachers are examining what classroom uses desktop publishing

software may offer them. Like all present computer applications in schools,

the uses of desktop publishing are being defined by those people who are

willing to experiment, test, fail periodically and try again. Insight

regarding the most effective use of new computer software is emerging and

more definitive answers will develop with time.

 

 

 

To many enthusiasts, desktop publishing is a part of the promise of

microcomputers delivered: they can now make yet another significant impact

on how the world operates. Others recognize the costs and highly-skilled

operations demanded by the new software and hardware combinations and see

opportunities for only a few specialists. While earlier soothsayers of

microcomputer technology chanted the coming of a paperless society, the

opposite seems to be taking place. The irony falls in the fact that we are

now simply producing our documents with much more sophistication. This trend

cannot be overlooked by educators, who are producers and consumers of vast

amounts of printed information.

 

 

 

Desktop publishing in a pc based environment

 

Harold A. Sims

 

Desktop publishing is more than sophisticated page makeup and composition.

It covers the entire range of printed communications – sophisticated books,

journals, technical documentations, magazines, business letters, corporate

proposals, newspapers, memos, limited market publishing, facsimiles, graphic

arts design, presentation and communication. Almost anything that requires a

means of and for consolidating text and graphics into documents which are

suitable for distribution or publication is a candidate for inclusion in the

activities that are called “personal publishing” or “desktop publishing.”

 

The focus of this article is on desktop publishing as it relates to

hardware, firmware, software and those activities centered in and around the

hardware architecture of the IBM-PC/XT/AT machines, clones, derivatives and

workalikes. Though computer-assisted page composition and make up (desktop

publishing) is an industry in-infancy, the range of choices in hardware,

firmware and software to equip a pc based desktop publishing solution is

staggering. As such, choices are diverse and this article, at best,

represents only a sampling, an overview of a complex subject and a rapidly

developing industry.

 

My purpose here is to identify, consider and interrelate the functionality

of hardware, firmware and software types, the relationship of input and

output devices in the PC-based desktop publishing environment and report

some of what has been experienced in three years of intensively working

in/with desktop publishing devices and solutions. Along the way, I will

make every effort to be objective in my statements, opinions and

conclusions. Still, in this industry-in-infancy, analyses like this one are

subjective and based on actual experiences with product types. As such, I

make no effort to represent anything other than what I have learned, used

and consider to be important in describing desktop publishing in a pc based

environment.

 

Components of a pc-based desktop publishing environment

 

In this article, I identify the “components” of a PC-based desktop

publishing environment to be (1) its freeware, (2) its firmware, (3) its

software and (4) related desktop publishing products. By categorizing these

former as components, I can impart and understandable description of just

what is involved in a PC-based desktop publishing system.

 

A PC-based desktop publishing environment may be as sparse as one central

processing unit (the computer), an enabling computer program (the software)

and an imaging device (matrix printer, laser printer, plotter, etc.)or as

lavish as a full system having printers, plotters, digitisers, etc. Whatever

the number of the components based in the pc environment , the objective is

still that of page composition and make up.

 

With these “components” in mind, let us look at what is both needed and

desirable as hardware, firmware and software for a pc based environment.

 

Hardware considerations

 

The computer which drives a PC-based desktop publishing environment can be

thought of as its engine. As the engine of an automobile provides some kind

of index as to an automobile’s capacity, functionality and performance, so

it is with the computer engine. Capacity, performance and speed are all

vital considerations for it is these that determine whether or not a system

is capable of meeting the needs-objectives of the could-be publisher.

 

 

 

The central processing unit (CPU)

 

Capacity refers to the operating speed of the Central Processing Unit (CPU),

i.e the computer itself, the amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) that is

installed to enable operations, the speed and number and types of storage

media that the computer will use, firmware that is installed to enable

operations and the number and types of interface ports that will enable all

other parts of the system that it serves.

 

CPU Processing Speeds

 

While it may seem that the agility of a CPU to process data at 4.77

MegaHertz is fast , (as does 8086/8088) chip-based IBM-PC type of

computers), such speed is still agonizingly S-L-O-W in the face of the

faster speeds of an 80286 chip-based IBM-AT type of computer running at

16MHz.

 

Memory requirements

 

Random Access Memory is relatively inexpensive nowadays and a PC=based

desktop solution that will use graphics-intense software, input devices that

write large files, scanners, digitizers, etc.), requires RAM sufficient for

input operations as well as image manipulation and editing. As a

rule-of-thumb, purchase all the RAM that you can afford, and the some!

 

Storage Media Requirements

 

In a PC-based desktop publishing environment, storage media must be large

and capable of being accessed rapidly. This is to say that fixed disk

(Winchester-type drives), or nonvolatile electronic disc emulators

(ramdisks, virtual disks, etc.) are required. In fact, every serious piece

of software written for PC-based desktop publishing requires a hard disk

type of storage media.

 

Printing devices

 

In order to understand the relationship of printing devices to and in a

PC-based desktop publishing environment , a description of the procedure for

producing a printed page is in order.

 

 

 

Scanning devices

 

In essence, scanners are image input devices that deliver data directly or

indirectly to the CPU for processing in desktop publishing activities.

 

Consumables and supplies

 

 

 

Some desktop publishing equipment users attempt to shave expenses by using

bargain basement consumables.

 

 

 

Firmware for PC-based desktop publishing

 

Firmware is a nomenclature for equipment that serves a dual purpose, namely

hardware that is both material substance and electronic instructions.

 

Why use firmware?

 

In order to understand the rationale for using firmware to control

operations in a PC-based desktop environment, the mechanics of how software

operates must be understood.

 

CPU or printer-based control?

 

From the above description of the data of a PC-based desktop publishing

operation, we can readily see that there are some places where firmware

control may enhance operations.

 

Parallel-serial vs DMA Outputs

 

The parallel or serial pot used for the transfer of the image description

from the CPU operates at a very low data rate relative to the DMA rate.

 

Software for PC-based desktop publishing

 

The distinguishing feature of software claiming the desktop publishing label

is the ability to drive the current generation of laser printers to produce

a full page of 300×300 dpi graphics.

 

Imbedded code software

 

Although extensive advertising campaigns of WYSIWYG software providers seem

to get all the attention, the majority of the advertised products claiming

the DTP label are of the imbedded code-based systems category.

 

Image preview software

 

The second largest number of software products claiming the “desktop

publishing label” are of the image preview kind.

 

WYSIWYG Software

 

Technically, in most desktop publishisng software, text is only a special

case of graphical data in the software system so that complete integration

of text and graphics is realized.

 

Concluding matters

 

So, there you have it! A brief description of some of the kinds

considerations that inform a PC-based desktop publishing environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Desktop publishing on the Macintosh: A software perspective

 

Steve Devan

 

 

 

Theory of operation

 

Desktop publishing software in operation is rather like the second law of

thermodynamics – its intention is neither to create nor destroy information,

but rather to change its form.

 

The great computer software wars

 

The pitched battle between which computer is better for desktop publishing

often deteriorates to one of my computer can beat your computer.

 

What’s in a program?

 

Deciding which desktop publishing software will best meet your needs is a

complicated process.

 

Document capabilities

 

We’ve already explained on document capability – that is batch versus

interactive orientation.

 

Text capabilities

 

Most desktop publishing programs can handle minor word processing chores

such as editing and the formatting of new text.

 

Graphics capabilities

 

You will want your program to handle graphics in two ways. On one hand

you’ll want is to be able to create simple such as lines, boxes and circles.

You want the program to offer a series of lines such as lines, such as

dotted lines, dashed liens, extra thick lines and the like. On the other

hand, you’ll want it to be able to manipulate art imported from other

graphics programs.

 

And more graphics

 

Until recently, all graphics programs for the Macintosh saved their graphics

information in one of two ways: they either used bit-mapping or object

orientation.

 

What to buy, what to buy?

 

Obviously there are no easy answers as to what software to buy for the

desktop publishing program. The two best programs currently (about 20 years

ago) for the Macintosh as Ready, Set, Go & PAgemaker.

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