Dream Software Ltd
Not Known
1984
Utility: Graphics
£5.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

40
Peter Freebrey
Chris Bourne

Despite the 35-page booklet that accompanies CAD, there seems a notable lack of index or reference material to guide you swiftly through the functions and commands. To start with, it takes some searching just to discover (a) what it will do, and (b) how you do it. As usual, the program autoRUNs on LOADing at the same time showing the 'command' screen. The information window at the bottom displays the last command you gave, the current cursor position and the heading - the latter is selectable from a range of one to 16, and it defines the direction in which a line will be drawn .. .N, NNE, NE, ENE, E, and so on. For some unspecified reason, East is Heading 1, North is 13, South is 5 - not the most obvious of choices. To change direction, key 'H' and the word 'HEADING' will appear in the information window. Now press Enter to confirm that a change is in order, then key in the new number, followed by Enter; all rather long-winded and time-consuming.

Most commands require a similar procedure. Jotter will plot (set) a pixel and here the cursor keys are used to guide your 'plot' (Shift plus keys '5' to '8'). However, to step over a pixel you have to key 'E' to end Jotter, press the 'K' key to enable cursor movement, move the cursor, and then key 'E' to end this command... ouch! The cursor provided is a very small square, consisting of one clear pixel at its centre. One might reasonably expect the clear pixel to represent the vital position from whence all can be drawn. Wrong! It's at the top left-hand corner!!

CAD supports a number of useful design shapes: Cube, Circle, Facet (parallelogram), Rectangle, Square, Triangle and 3D Box. There's also an option to define the position of 26 ('A' to 'Z') points on the display of all or specific points, drawing lines between two or more points, shifting the cursor to a specified point and nominating 'automatic points' (where, for example, the corners of a subsequently drawn cube are automatically specified). If you reset (clear) all previous points - remember to 'display' points twice (first displays, then un-displays!) or you'll be left with unwanted letters all over the place.

In addition to the design shapes provided above, there are routines that (a) allow the design of a shape from the display to be stored for future use and (b) UDBs (user-defined blocks), blocks of four character cells that can be created and used within your display. Both options can be SAVEd to tape - but only used thereafter with CAD. The second option, UDBs, provides a 24 by 24 grid on which to create your design. Cursor keys move the spot cursor and the Space key either 'sets' or 'resets' a cell... and continues to 'set'/'reset' cells to the right; this happens quickly and it's not particularly easy to act on one specified cell. Quick fingers and care are called for. But, a word of warning... a return to the main display screen ensures that all previous work is lost; remember to SAVE it first.

Text can be placed on the screen and a Fill option fills a shape with the current INK colour. Erase removes the last command you made and Grid will display a 16-pixel grid pattern around the edge of the display area.

Overall, CAD is an interesting program that's obviously been developed with specialist design work in mind; it's not a general purpose graphics toolkit.

Time Taken: 1 hr 45 mins. Verdict: CAD was not one of the better programs from the selection I looked at. It was also the only package mostly written in Basic - and it showed! Peter Shaw

Not Rated

Screenshot Text

CAD had most of the features I would expect to see in a decent package, with the exception of 'magnify'; you can play around on a large grid and then move your work onto the main screen, but once moved you can't then remove any mistakes that may have crept in. The screen shot here shows a user-defined block (UDB) of the star in the US flag; once defined, a UDB can be copied onto the screen as many times as required.

On to the picture itself, and notice the liberal sprinkling of UDBs in the top left-hand corner of the flag. The easiest way I found of adding stripes to the flag was to fill the area in white INK and then paint red INK over the desired parts. I couldn't get the right number of stripes or stars exactly but, with time and careful planning, it's possible.

I was really pleased with the end result - certainly a lot better than I though the program deserved. The final flag may not be completely kosher, but the program proved too difficult to use with any accuracy in the time I'd allotted. The main problem with CAD was the cursor (spelt 'Kursor') commands. The process was slower than it could have been the cursor had to be redrawn every second.