General Purposes Packages

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General Purpose Packages (1)

Hardware and Software

Hardware refers to the physical parts of a computer such as the mouse, floppy disc drive, keyboard and processor chip. Software refers to the programs that the computer can run such as word processing, graphics databases and the operating system.

General Purpose Packages

General purpose packages ( i.e GPP's) are programs that can be used for lots of different tasks. For example a word processing program could be used to write a letter, make a poster or produce a newsletter. Word processing, databases, spreadsheets and graphics are examples of general purpose packages.
Files can be saved in standard file formats so that the data they contain will be recognised by other computer programs. This makes it easier to transfer data between different programs.                                             Standard file formats exist for different types of data such as text, sound, graphics and video.                                                                   Some 
examples of standard file formats for these data types are given below:                                                                                          Text: ASCII, RTF. Sound: MP3, WAV. Graphics: JPEG, GIF. Video: Real, MP4.

Human Computer Interface

The human computer interface (HCI) is a term to describe the way in which the user communicates with a program. Most modern programs use a WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer) HCI in which the user interacts with program using a pointing device such as a mouse. A WIMP interface uses graphics and so is also known as a GUI (Graphical User Interface) guide to a program. This is useful to get an idea of the main features of a software package.

WIMP: A WIMP interface is user friendly because the user can simply use a pointer to select options on pull-down menus and click on icons that represent tasks. This means that a non-expert user can quickly learn hot to use a new program without having to learn a lot of complicated commands.

Toolbars: A toolbar is a collection of related icons. For example a drawing toolbar could have icons for a pen, rubber and a fill colour.

Keyboard Shortcuts: Expert users can find a WIMP HCI slow and clumsy. Many software packages provide keyboard shortcuts so that an expert user can quickly hit a combination of keys on the keyboard to do the same function as a pull-down menu option.

Customising The HCI: The interface can be altered to suit the individual user. Changes can be made to the icons, the font sizes and colours used


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