Melbourne House
Philip Mitchell
Utility: Graphics
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K

Peter Freebrey
Chris Bourne

Although one or two graphics toolkits had appeared before this one was launched, none ever got the widespread publicity of this particular package. Melbourne Draw has now had well over a year to make its mark and it's gained the reputation of being a most effective utility.

LOAD it and the program will auto-RUN and display the main menu. This offers several options enabling you to LOAD previously developed pictures or user-defined graphics (UDGs), edit a picture, and also to SAVE and VERIFY. Select 'edit picture' and you're presented with a black screen area - plus a two-line information window at the bottom of the screen. This tells you the current 'mode' (Skip, Set, Reset, Invert, Scroll or Text); you're also told whether you are editing 'screen' or 'attributes'. Below these are two numbers representing the x and y coordinates of the cursor. The numbering system used is identical to that of the Basic PLOT command, even allowing access to the bottom two lines of the screen (so that the bottom left corner coordinates are x=0, y=-16); should you wish to use these two lines, the information window can be moved to the top of the screen. During a Fill command, the window is removed to allow complete filling of any shapes within the window area. To the right of mode and co-ordinates is a four-character block, indicating the degree of magnification you are using. Finally, to the right of this is the section indicating the current INK, PAPER and attribute information.

The first step is to clear the screen... that way you can see what you're doing! 'Clear' options (Paper, Ink, Both, Screen, All or None) are activated by Shift (either Caps or Symbol) and the 'R' key. Generally Melbourne Draw is pretty user friendly, although initially, with all the commands to remember, it may seem otherwise! But even then there is help because Melbourne has thoughtfully listed all the commands and their actions on the back cover of the instruction booklet... yes, it's definitely user friendly.

Once you've cleared the screen you'll be left with a one-pixel flashing cursor that's roughly in the middle of the work area. This can be moved in any of eight directions using the block of keys under 'Q-W-E'. Pressing Enter will implement the Set mode and if you now move the cursor, a line will be drawn on the screen. Space activates Skip mode - no pixels set; the 'O' key lets you Reset pixels you've Set by mistake. Pressing the 'G' key puts a grid pattern over the screen, enabling you to align any shapes with attribute cells (you may wish to colour consecutive cells differently). The 'M' key magnifies your working image two times, and pressing 'M' again gives you another two-times magnification. This is particularly useful for fine detail and it's also very handy when you're designing UDGs.

Melbourne Draw has the novel facility of allowing you to convert any character square (shown by the 'grid' pattern) to a UDG (normally restricted to the Spectrum allocation of keys 'a' to 'u'). Thus, at maximum magnification you have a display of eight by five cells showing. You can create a picture on it and conconvert 21 cells to UDGs, either for use elsewhere in your picture or for use within other programs. You're also given the data for each, should you want to record it for future use.

The user can scroll the display in any direction and print text to any character square. The direction that the text is printed can be rotated; that means if you want a word reading down the screen with the letters on their sides, there's no awkward positioning to deal with. Just specify the direction in which text is to be written and key in your characters; UDGs can be dealt with in the same way. Finally, the display can be reversed left to right.

Side two of the cassette has several Melbourne House title pages for you to LOAD, alter and otherwise play/learn from.

Time Take: 45 mins. Verdict: I must admit Melbourne Draw was my favourite it seemed the most user-friendly of all the packages. It lacks the very basic commands like 'draw' and 'circle', but this problem can be solved doing all the groundwork on something like Paintbox and then moving the code over to Melbourne Draw. Peter Shaw

Not Rated

Screenshot Text

Melbourne Draw employs a unique method to add colour. The pixels and attributes are treated as separate items, so everything you draw remains in black and white until you switch into attribute mode; once in this mode, you use a larger cursor.

Another worthy feature of Melbourne Draw is its ability to magnify specific areas of the screen using two different levels of magnification... essential for the detailed work required ion the Quebec flag.

One corner of the flag complete and you can begin to see the creation of the flagpole. Notice the status menu at the bottom of the screen; this provide details of cursor co-ordinates, cursor mode, attribute states and so on.

Completed! The flagpole has been enhanced and the Fleur de Lys have been reproduced in the three remaining corners. Unfortunately, Melbourne Draw lacks a copy facility so the designs have to be redrawn each time.