Desktop Publishing

By Derek Walker

Originally published in EUG #08

Stop Press 64 began life back in the mid 80s, written solely for the 32K BBC B and called AMX Pagemaker. It represented a major step forward in Desk Top Publishing on small domestic machines and it has evolved over the years to become one of the most sophisticated pieces of software available for the Electron.

Slogger, on rewriting the program, has taken advantage of the extra memory that the Shadow RAM Board provides, making the system extremely 'user friendly'. They have also cut out a few utilities such as the Font Designer and Page Previewer - perhaps they will come along later.

In this article I will impart the experience I have gained since I purchased SP64 at the end of 1991 and give a few tips which will save you a lot of time. If anyone out there has any new and/or radical uses for SP64 please spread the word by writing to EUG.

Instead of going through every possible function of SP64 (which would take months, if not years) I will attempt to guide through the construction of an article from its concept to publication. I must at this point stress that what you are about to read is my personal method and I am sure there is plenty of room for improvement.

Let's start at the bginning and give a few tips: the first one being: Set up the DEFAULTS file "INIT1". This allows you to alter a few parameters such as:- Swapping the button functions on the mouse, whether to send line feeds to your printer, and line spacing and density - to cater for different printer graphic standards.

To change the functions of the mouse buttons, lines 160 to 180 should be altered to:-

Default Settings - See Fig 1

1 - CANCEL     160?&AA2=1
2 - MOVE       170?&AA3=2
3 - SELECT     180?&AA4=3

Example: To change the buttons to match that of Click, swap MOVE and SELECT. The new lines will read:


Fig 2 shows the mouse with new button assignments.

The file "INIT1" contains a fair number of REM statements to explain how to change the other defaults. e.g. line 120 explains how to send line feeds to your printer.

Tip 2 - You can speed up the cursor movement when using the mouse by holding down the SHIFT key at the same time as moving the mouse. Very handy when your cursor is in the opposite corner of the screen than required, it also saves wear and tear on the mouse mat - less scooping of the mouse.

Tip 3 - If you have v1.00, remember to remove any windows that are set before scrolling - if this is not done, then the Window frame is fixed permanently on the page which could ruin hours of work. v1.01 does not allow you to scroll with a window set.

Tip 4 - Good Housekeeping - Always have spare formatted disks (ADFS users - your spare disks should be set up with Directories P, C & S) and remember always Backup your pages, cutouts and screens when finishing a session. It's very easy to 'click' on the wrong filename and lose a vital PAGE. It is also a good idea to Compact any disks with Cutouts and Screens when you finish up.

Tip 5 - Keep a printout of all your fonts and clipart, it gives you a better impression of how they look and makes it easier to select the one you want.

Tip 6 - Where to get extra fonts and clipart - since SP64 has the same file format (Cutouts and Screens only) as that of the BBC Stop Press, any Clipart or Fonts written for the BBC will work with no problems (ADFS users will need the files converted from DFS). Watford Electronics still supports Stop Press with two disks of Fonts, one with some ClipArt. Clipart can also be found in some PD libraries such as BBC PD, such as those used to illustrate this article.

I have also produced some new Fonts including the Greek alphabet (plug-plug) and I believe that our Editor, Mr Will Watts, will be producing some Clipart sometime in the near future.

Moving on to the production of an article - it can be broken down into four stages:

Stage 1 - Research

Research the chosen topic (in my case DTP) - I find that scribbling down all my ideas on paper first (including sketches) works well. Then leave it a few days to let the ideas ferment. I then go back and fill in the gaps. When I think I've got the complete picture I will turn to the Electron and type in the text. I use View for this but Starword will do equally well (Tip 7 - When importing Starword files into SP64, use the View option).

Spell check! If you have a Spell checker - use it!! It's amazing how many typographical errors can be picked up. Tip 8 - Viewspell and Starspell will check both View and Starword files.

The text is now at the stage where it should be printed out for proof reading - if possible let someone else do it, more errors will be picked up this way. We are trying for zero errors!

Make any corrections, then backup your file. At this stage the text is ready to be imported into SP64 - but don't - writing the text is the first stage, importing it is the last.

Stage 2 - Tabulate Data & Draw Drawings

Rough out on paper the format for presentation of your drawings, tables, etc. This will give you a good idea how much space it will take up. Use SP64 graphics to produce your tables and Save them as cutouts.

Drawings can come from Clipart and be modified to suit or, if you are the artistic type, create your own. If you are doing your own drawings you might like to try using the Graphics mode within a Window. While a window is set, the Graphics effects are only effective within that window. An example of this is to try Spraying outside the window (Nothing happens) then, as you are spraying, move the cursor into the window. You will see the spray appearing.

With other effects, such as drawing circles and boxes etc, the crosshairs can be placed outside the window and only the part that intersects the window will be drawn. Have a go and see for yourself.

Again, save your hard work as a cutout.

This is a good time to create the Headline of the article. Save as cutout.

Incorporating BASIC listings into SP64 is a bit of a headache. It has the habit of spreading the lines all over the page. My solution is to SPOOL and READ the program into View, then insert a blank line between each line of the listing. When imported into SP64, the listing will have double line spacing, exactly how it looked in View. To reduce the line spacing again, use Cut and Paste and gather the lines from the bottom up.

At this stage I think it is worthwhile to print out the cutouts.

Stage 3 - Page Layout - Design

Again use a rough sketch to show where everything will fit on the page - you can use the cutouts here.

                     |                             |
                     |          HEADLINE           |
                     |             ||              |
                     |             ||              |
                     |             ||              |
                     |             ||     TEXT     |
                     |             ||              |
                     |    TEXT     ||              |
                     |             ||______________|
                     |             ||              |
                     |             ||              |
                     |             ||   PICTURES   |
                     |             ||              |
                     |             ||  MOUSE 1 & 2 |
                     |             ||              |
                     |             ||              |

                          Layout of first page

Here is a list of items which should be taken into consideration:

  1. How many columns of text - anything more than two with 80 column text looks a bit squashed up and is difficult to read.
  2. What font(s) to use
  3. Where to place the Cutouts
  4. Are there borders to the page?

...the list could go on and on!!

Stage 4 - Creating The Page

Now you know roughly how your page is going to look, !BOOT up SP64 and place your first Cutout - the Headline. Place it as close to the top as possible as the printer tends to leave a margin of around an inch (25mm). It also gives optimum use of page space. If there are any other Cutouts on the page, place them rougly where you want them. Remember they can always be shunted around later.

Now it is time to import the words of wisdom - set Font, Size, Spacing and Justification (don't forget there is a u-Justify mode) then set your window.

This is where it becomes tricky. Nine times out of ten the text file is longer than the space available on the page. There are two ways forward here:

  1. Cut down your text file into smaller ones - the drawback being they could end up too small with not enough text, and
  2. Use the large file to import and where you have to stop, create a new file with the text already imported deleted from it - the drawback to this option is you have to come out of SP64 and into your Word Processor with all the hassle that involves.
I use option two so I don't run out of text with room for one more line.

Now onto the bit I like. Import the text using the View option on the menu and watch the page fill up with text. Finally, tidy up the page and check for missing characters.

Check thoroughly, as SP64 has a nasty habit of missing the odd character at the beginning of a line. If you do find any characters missing, use Cut and Paste to shunt up the text to create space for the character, then copy the missing character from elsewhere on the page.

The page is ready to print. I use the small NTQ option as it gives a good impression of how it will look in the magazine.

Repeat this stage for any other pages and send them to Will Watts for inclusion in a future EUG mag.

To produce an article for a magazine is only a small part in the process of creating a magazine ready to publish. I now challenge Will to put his thoughts on the subject down on paper...

Stop Press 1

In answer to Graham Sanders' question regarding the Mist option, it does work but not as implied in the manual. Selection is achieved through the Quick Click window by clicking on the icon in the bottom right hand corner. Now go to the graphics menu and select the solid black pattern, then click on the spray option. Move the cursor onto the page and press the Execute key - two dots will appear near the cursor and with continuous clicking, the area will mist over.

Stop Press 2 - Using A Trackerball With Stop Press

A trackerball is basically an upside-down mouse and is easily converted to work with SP64. A short cable can be made up with a 20 way socket at one end and a 20 way plug at the other, with the cable doing all the cross over.

               20W SK                                    20W PL
           ____                     5V                        ____
          |           1  ----------------------------  1          |
          |                         0V                            |
          |           5  ----------------------------  5          |
          |                         X1                            |
          |           2  ----------------------------  2          |
          |                         Y2                            |
          |           4  ----------------------------  4          |
          |                         LH SW                         |
          |           6  ----------------------------  16         |
          |                         MID SW                        |
          |           8  ----------------------------  18         |
          |                         RH SW                         |
          |           10 ----------------------------  20         |
          |                         X1                            |
          |           12 ----------------------------  6          |
          |                         Y1                            |
          |____       14 ----------------------------  10     ____|
       MARCONI RB2                                           USER PORT

Not all trackerballs are wired as they should be, but as a mouse instead making this conversation redundant.

The Quest Trackerball sold by Watford Electronics is such a device but unfortunately is of very poor quality - the cursor sometimes moves in the opposite direction than the ball!