General Purpose Application Software Packages

They serve the common needs of many users. General purpose software packages are:-

1. Word processing packages

2. Electronic spreadsheets

3. Graphics and multimedia packages

4. Database Management packages

5. Desk Top Publishing packages

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1. Word Processing Packages:

A word processing package (Word processor) is a program which is used to process text. It allows the user to type, view, edit, manipulate, store and retrieve text material. With word processors we can create well formatted documents that may contain text and even graphics. We can create letters, statements, leaflets etc with a word-processing package.

Word processors offer many text formatting features like various fonts (letter shapes), size, styles (italic, underlined, and bold text). Page layout features like, left, right, top and bottom margins ; text alignment like left aligned, right aligned and justified text latest word processors have features like automatic spelling check, and thesaurus. Another feature is moving or cutting and pasting blocks of text, 'Search and Replace feature', which allows to replace all occurrences of a text pattern (say a word) with another text pattern. We can draw simple figures consisting of circles, rectangles and lines. We can also insert tables and pictures in a document. With the print preview feature, we can see a preview of pages in exactly the same way as would it appear when printed on paper. After editing a document it can be saved as a file for future use or printed.

Multilingual word processors support many different languages.

Some examples of word processing packges are MS-Word, Wordperfect, Softword, LEAP, ISM (multilingual) etc. The LEAP package supports 13 Indian languages.

2. Electronic Spreadsheets

An Electronic spreadsheet package is a software tool for manipulating data in tabular form. It is mainly used as a data analysis package, as a tool for calculating and analyzing numbers. A spreadsheet is a grid of rows and columns. The intersections of rows and columns are called cells. A spreadsheet is thus the electronic equivalent ofa multicolumn worksheet. The main advantage of a electronic spreadsheet is it's size. It allows its to create very large worksheets having several hundred columns and thousands of rows.

In a spreadsheet cell, text, numbers or formulas can be entered. Any formula entered is automatically evaluated and displayed by the program. Each cell has an address formed out of the column label and row number rows are numbered 1, 2, 3...etc and columns are labeled A, B, C... It is possible to format the contents of a cell. For example, the address of the top left cell is Al, the cell on its right is B1 and the one below it is A2.

It is easy to delete, copy or move a selected range of cells. A spreadsheet offers a number of built in functions used for special calculations, like finding the sum, average, minimum, maximum etc. Automatic recalculation helps to easily find the effect of changes in cell entries. The macro feature allows users to issue a sequence of commands or key stokes automatically.

Electronic spreadsheets also have features to prepare different types of graphic charts like pie charts, bar charts etc., out of the data entered. Another powerful feature of an electronic spreadsheet lies in its ability to explore how some numbers affect others. This is called what- if analysis. It is possible to experiment with different sets of data for a given set of formulas. When data are changed, it's effect is immediately reflected in all related cells.

Common uses of electronic spread sheets are:

➢ Financial analysis

➢ Graphics and presentations

➢ Preparation of Accounts statement

➢ Preparation of payment schedules

➢ Preparing budgets and estimates

➢ Preparing income tax returns

Visicale C, Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Excel, Quattro pro are examples of electronic spreadsheet packages.

3. Graphics and Multimedia Packages

Graphics packages are software designed for creating and manipulating images using a computer. Drawings, graphics and pictures can be created and edited using graphic Software. With the help -of software, we can do the work of a draftsman or artist, but of course we must have the skill and creativity. Certain graphic packages can generate charts and graphics from numeric input. Scanned images and photographs can be edited using special purpose packages. Today software packages are available with very advanced image processing features.

Adobe photoshop, Paintshop pro, Ulead photo impact etc. are popular image editing software for the windows environment.

Software that can work with images, text, sound, animation and video are termed multimedia packages. These are very useful for recording and playing sound and movies. In order to run multimedia applications, the computer must have special multimedia hardware. The compact disk media is used for storing multimedia content. Software tools that are used for creation of multimedia presentation are called multimedia authoring tools. Multimedia technologies are used for creating films, advertisements and also educational packages. High quality multimedia productions require powerful graphics workstations.

4. Database Management Systems

A database management system (DBMS) is a software used to manipulate large volumes of data stored in well organized manner, called a database. A database is a repository of related collections of data. For example, a company database might contain information about customers, suppliers, employees, sales and inventory.

The DBMS stores data in a way that allows it to access those data at any time. A database also makes efficient storage of data and their relationships. It makes easy and quick manipulation of data. Data Base Management Systems are an essential part of use of computers in the business world including large manufacturing concerns, banking, airlines and insurance. DBMS provides a central warehouse of data needed by various applications. ie organizations maintain a central database which is shared by all users. A DBMS can also provide services to users and to other programs that need to access data. Today most database products have a client server architecture. In this, there are two components- database server and database client. The database server is a program that maintains and provides access to the database.

A client is a program that runs on a users's computer and sends request to the database server. The server sends the requested data to the client. All processing is done by the server.

5. Desk Top Publishing (DTP) Packages :

The introduction of desktop publishing software was a break through for microcomputers. DTP packages can be used for creating professional quality documents and publications.

DTP software integrates the processes of design, typesetting and pasteup into one task down on a personal computer. We can create an entire publication such as a textbook on a PC with the help of a DTP software - DTP softwares have much more advanced features than wordprocessing packages. Some of these features are:-

➢ Multiple column text

➢ Importing graphics

➢ Scaling and cropping graphics

➢ Running Text around graphics

➢ Formatting text in different fonts

➢ Defining paragraph formats like, alignment, line spacing, table etc.

➢ Setting custom headers, footers and page numbers

➢ Applying lines, borders and shading of text and graphics

➢ Creating footnotes

➢ Advanced page layout features

➢ A clip art library of ready to use pictures.

Examples of DTP Packages are Aldus PageMaker, CorelDraw, Quarck Express, Microsoft publisher etc. Some examples of Indian, multilingual packages are, prakashak, Lipi, ISM, Patrika etc.

Integrated (Multi-function) Packages

These are Packages that combine several general purpose functions in a single product. They integrates, word processing, spreadsheet manipulation, database management, graphics and communications in to a single suite. These many in one packages are now used in many offices with microcomputers or by individuals on their PC's. Microsoft Office 2000 and Lotus Smart Suite are two commonly used packages in MS- Windows based PC's.