The Z88 contains five applications and eight "popdowns" in its 128K ROM. Most of the applications use a simple-to-use menu command system, accessed with the special MENU key. Advanced users may prefer to use shortcut key sequences (which start with the special "diamond" key). Applications may be switched between using the "square" key followed by the letter of the application (eg. D accesses the diary). Alternatively, the INDEX key takes users to the menu-driven application manager.
The following applications and popdowns are described below:
The Diary, as its name implies, is used for storing details of appointments, events, and anything else you require on a day-to-day basis. At its simplest, each day has a blank "page" into which you can type whatever you like (there is no limit to the size of each entry). More use can be made of the search & listing facilities, however, if you are consistent in the way you lay out your entries. For example, if you always enter lines such as:
Work: 10.00am Meeting with the boss!
it's very easy to search through the whole diary (or a section of it) for every line containing "Work:", printing or displaying a list of the entries found.
The Diary does not have such advanced facilities as PipeDream, but it does allow you to work with blocks of text, moving them around as you like.
PipeDream is by far the most complex application provided with the Z88. It is basically a combined word-processor and spreadsheet, although the manual insists it can be used for databases, this is limited to holding lists of items and sorting them or searching through.
The screen is usually divided into two areas: the main editing area and the map. The main editing area is a region of 7 lines of 72 characters, with line numbers to the left and column headings at the top. The map area is a graphical representation of a much larger area of the page than will fit in the editing area, and is extremely useful in finding your way around a large spreadsheet or document.
You can define as many columns of whatever sizes as you like, and the length of the document is limited only by the memory in the Z88. Each column on a particular line defines a "slot", referenced by the column label and line number (eg C12). When using PipeDream as a word-processor, these columns and slots can be used to produce multi-column documents such as newsletters, or to include tables. However, they are of most use in spreadsheet work, where each slot can contain text, numbers or a formula.
The editing facilities offered are extremely comprehensive, and clearly based on leading word-processors of the day such as WordStar. Blocks of text can be marked, copied, deleted, and moved. There are also word count and search & replace facilities. Text can be justified, left/right aligned or centred, and can be highlighted as bold, italic, underlined, superscript/subscript or alternate fonts. Most of these effects are shown on screen as they will appear on the printed page. Headers and footers can be defined as well.
Plain text files can easily be imported and exported as well, allowing PipeDream to be used as a general-purpose text editor.
Perhaps one of the most interesting features is the ability to use list files: these are plain text files containing a list of document names. When loaded into PipeDream, the list file causes the first document to be loaded, and there are simple commands to step to the next and previous documents.
The spreadsheet facilities offered by PipeDream are again extremely comprehensive, similar to those provided by rival programs such as Lotus 1-2-3 and VisiCalc. Functions include all the standard mathematical ones, although there are no built-in statistical functions. There are, however, conditional and table functions such as IF, CHOOSE and LOOKUP.
Values and formulae in slots can be easily replicated, and use the standard "dollar" convention for fixed references. You can fix row and column headings in place on the screen, and combined with the map, this makes finding your way around a large spreadsheet perfectly manageable. Naturally, all the text formatting facilities such as bold and underlining can be used to improve the look of your spreadsheet when printing, and individual slots can be formatted as percentages, currency values, dates and so on.
This is a simple VT52 terminal emulator, which allows the Z88 to connect to another computer via the serial port (possibly through a modem). It can be used in conjunction with Import/Export, Filer or a third-party application for file-transfer.
If you have a printer other than an Epson, which is supported by default by the Z88, you will need to use this application to set up the control codes for bold, italics and other effects. You can also specify character translations to use for foreign characters and currency symbols, etc.
This is a full implementation of the popular BBC BASIC language, including procedures, user-defined functions and a Z80 assembler. Some additions have been made, such as the ability to "name" the current program for reference at the Index. Unfortunately, there is no graphics support for the map area, although patches are available to add this ability.
This is the "front end" of the Z88, through which all applications can be selected through a simple menu system. The screen is divided into two sections: the application list on the left, and the suspended activities list on the right.
The application list simply shows all the built-in application and popdown names, together with any present on cards. Pressing ENTER on one of these starts up a new copy of the application.
The suspended activities list shows all the applications which are currently active, the date and time they were last accessed, and a reference title (usually a document name). Pressing ENTER on any of these takes you back to the application at the point where it was suspended.
This is the Z88's file and EPROM manager. Files can be selected in the
window and acted upon using the menu system, or wildcards can be used to specify
a number of files at once. The filing system is well-structured, divided into
devices such as
:RAM.1 which specifies the memory card
in slot 1. Each device can contain multiple directories, nested to any level.
Filenames are limited to 10 characters in length, with a 3-character extension.
If you call up Filer whilst in an application such as Diary or PipeDream which is asking for a filename (to load, for example), you can simply select the file in the window and return to the application.
The Filer is also the only place you can access files in EPROMs, with options to catalogue, save and retrieve files.
For more advanced users, the Filer can also be used to execute command-line interface (or CLI) files. These are text files which contain a list of keystrokes and other special filing commands, which can thus be used to automate tasks in any application in the Z88. Additionally, if a file BOOT.CLI is present on an EPROM when the Z88 is reset, it will automatically execute. This is useful to automatically set default options in the Panel, for example.
This popdown displays a monthly calendar for any date you require. It is most often used in conjunction with Diary: by calling this up, selecting a date and returning, the Diary will turn to the selected date. The Calendar will also display markers by each date which has an entry in the Diary.
This popdown is a convenient basic calculator, complete with ten memories and a metric-imperial conversion utility for many units of measurement.
This just pops the current date and time onto the screen.
This is a very useful popdown, allowing you to set up any number of alarms. Each alarm can be set to sound an alarm, display a message or even execute a CLI file. The only drawback is that there is no way of saving the alarm details to a file, so if you are forced to reset they will be lost (unlikely, unless you are a software developer!) My AlarmSafe popdown on the Z88 Forever! compilation ROM remedies this shortcoming.
This file transfer utility requires another computer using the same system to communicate with, and is often used with freeware/shareware transfer programs. Applications which are generally more convenient to use can also be obtained to connect the Z88 to a variety of computers including the PC, Mac, QL, Amiga, Atari ST, Archimedes, PCW and BBC.
This popdown allows you to change all the basic settings of the Z88, such as the serial port's baud rate, the map size, date format, key repeat rate and so on.
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