3. Characteristics of Standard Applications Software and Application Areas

Revision notes for AS ICT (OCR) on application software

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Standard Application Software (1)

Word Processor 

    • This is a generic application package that allows the creation, formatting and editing of text to create a variery of documents
    • Is used to produce letters, reports and many other types of documents
    • Most word processing applications are WYSIWYG ( What You See Is You What You Get)
    • WYSIWYG means what you see on the screen will be exactly the same as what is printed 

Desktop Publishing  (DTP)

    • This application software allows the user to combine texts and pictures to produce a variety of leaflets, flyers, newsletters, birthday cards and business cards
    • The main difference between a DTP package and a word processing package is that a DTP is better suited to the positioning of text and graphics


    • Allows the user to perform calculations and produce mathematical and financial models
    • This type of application software is solely used for calculations 
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Standard Application Software (2)


  • Database applications store data and enable the user to search, filter and produce reports using the results
  • A database can be linked to word processing packages to produce a mail merge- this is where one letter can be sent to thousands of recipients at the same time 

Web Authoring 

    • Allows the user to create web pages that consist of HTML
    • The package has a GUI which the user can edit the web pages with.
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Benefits & Limitations of Web Authoring Software


  • The exact effects required can be developed
  • Wizards for specific tasks are built in, for example editing HTML tables
  • WYSIWYG some web authoring software also allows the representation of different screen sizes and different browsers
  • Some packages include website management tools
  • A site manager can be used- if the name of a page is changed then all links to that page within the site are automatically updated
  • Specialist software, codes samples/scripting language, can be integrated and tested. These can then be integrated into othe packages within the web authorising software
  • Editing of the code can be done by either using the WYSIWYG feature or editing the HTML directly


    • Some degree of knowledge and technical ability are required
    • Often more expensive to purchase than a standard application package
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Benefits and Limitations of Using Standard Applica


    • Very little technical knowledge required
    • It is likely that a standard application is already installed, so there will not be any additional costs


    • It is very difficult to get the page to look exactly how it is wanted, as this method of creating web pages is not true WYSIWYG
    • The code is "messy". It is bloated and often not very good or compatible with all browsers
    • Available tool sets are limited- there is likely to be no site management or uploading tool, very few wizards or no tools to assist in script generation
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Characteristics of Applications (1)

School Administration

1) Database to hold student records details such as next of kin, doctor, student number

2) Reporting facility- details on students' grades and historical data from the start of school

3) Attendance monitoring- An electronic register to track students' attendance and flag uo any notable absences

Stock Control 

    • Used by large supermarkets to make sure they do not run out of stock
    • the software can track when the stock is getting low and automatically re order from the supplier 
    • It can also spot trends and order stock at certain times of the year
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Characteristics of Applications (2)


Many different systems can be used e.g. train tickets, plane tickets, theatre tickets

    • Select date amd time
    • Specify number of people
    • Show availability 
    • Calculate price of a preliminary booking
    • Confirm order and booking number 
    • Pay via cash or credit card

Customer Records 

Organisations need to keep records of customers

    • Sotring contact details
    • Storing order details
    • Produce invoices
    • Storing customers payments
    • Tracks outstanding payments
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Characteristics of Applications (3)

Route finder

A route finder is an application that can plan a route from one destination to another.

They are commonly used as satellite navigation device which allows the user to locate a destination using GPS

Common characteristics are

    • Specify  current location and destination
    • show place names/landmarks en route to destination 
    • Show shortest/cheapest/quickest route
    • Alter route to destination if the driver takes a wrong turn
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A wizard helps the user produce a document such as a letter by guiding the user through a step by step process

    • One of the main advantage of using a wizard is that someone with a very little knowledge of a software package can, with the aid of a wizard, produce a professional looking document

A wizard allows you to do the following 

    • Select the page design
    • Enter address of the recipient
    • Entwe the address of the sender
    • Add graphics
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Advantages & Disadvantages of Using a Wizard


    • Saves time for novice user
    • Can include all important information 
    • Standard layouts can be used
    • Easy to use, step by step process


    • User cannot personalize the end product
    • End results can often look like a wizard has produced it
    • Harder for document to be tailored to be a target audience
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Most generic software will include templates. Wizards allow users to create and design a tempalte. When using a template it already has a standard pre difined layout and will be formatted

When a new page is added in a word processing package it is based on a template. DTP and presentation software have a range of templates to choose from when starting a new publication 

Like templares, styles cname be used to give document a pre determined layout 

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Styles or corporate image refers to company or organisation's standard of presentation of documents and other ofrms of communicating information. A house style is a set of rules followed by a company or organisationto miantain a consistant appearance. The public will become familair with an organisation's look and will recognise it immediately.

Logos are part of a house stlye. Many companies are immediately recognisable by their logo's

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Advantages & Disadvantages of Using a Styles


    • All documents are consistent and help maintain house style
    • It allows different people to work on a document and only the content will change not the style


    • the style can be quite restrictive and limit any creativity 
    • Target audience may not like the consisten style and another style will have to be produced.
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A macro is a combination of stored commanda that can be repeated by pressing a key combination or a button. They are used to perfomr specific taks which are carried out by the person or organisation regularly 

A macro can be written using, visual basic code. Alternatively in MS word a sequence of instructions can be manually recorded as a macro

Macros can be run by quickly if assigned to a tool bar, icon or a keyboard shortcut

A macro will only work with the application program it has been recorded in

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Advantages & Disadvantages of Using Macros


    • useful for reptitive taks
    • Users with little experincecan perform the macro by clicking a buttin or using a combination of key


    • If the macro does not work then the user may not know how to perform the task no macro is meant to do
    • Macro is only stored on one computer if user tries it on another computer, even if the same application has been installed, it will not work
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Design Considerations

When designing a data entry screen there are some aspects that must be considered

    • A consistent layout should be used and which should follow the house style or corporate image 
    • The text should be easily readable. The colours used should be carefull selected so they do not clash and obsecure the text. The font, style and size should be chosen for clarity 
    • Graphics and animation should be selected to meet the needs of the users. Any images selected should be fit for purpose with their number kept to a minimum
    • Any hlep messages should be useful, clear and in simple language
    • The on screen information should be presented in an logical order and flow down the screen
    • The interface should be easy to use/learn this will minimise the training require and the amount of instructions that have to be remembered by the user
    • Clearly marked exits should be given in clear language. Commonly used functions should be given a shortcut/button/menu option
    • The expertise of the user must also be considered
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