QuickAuthor. (program development software) (Evaluation)
by Richard Rapp
An application development environment for nonprogrammers? You bet. That's the promise of QuickAuthor. With it, you can create stand-alone applications like tutorials, software demos, online help systems, and hypertext systems.
QuickAuthor does have a few limitations. Its applications can use only character-based displays, and they receive all input from the keyboard. But until the GUI revolution, almost every DOS program shared these properties. QuickAuthor has only one significant limitation. It can only display information, not process it. You can't write a sort routine using QuickAuthor, for example. Still, it has myriad uses.
For instance, how about implementing an online employee handbook? Maintaining it on a local area network would make it continuously available to all users, and it could be updated without huge printing costs.
QuickAuthor makes designing applications a snap. There are two steps: creating the screens that the user will see when running the application and telling QuickAuthor how to move between them. Applications may contain up to 800 screens, so there are few jobs too large for QuickAuthor to handle.
QuickAuthor contains two screen=design utilities. First, it includes a screen-capture utility, which copies any character-mode screen displayed in another program, such as in a word processor or spreadsheet. Second, it includes a full-featured editor, which can create, modify, and store any type of character-mode screen, whether you design or copy it.
Next, you must specify how to move between screens. Essentially, you tell QuickAuthor, "If you're at screen X and the user presses key Y, display screen Z." When finished, simply save the application as an EXE file. It will not require QuickAuthor or any other support files to run, and you may freely distribute it, paying no royalties of any kind. Use of images from other software, however, is an issue to be resolved between you and the copyright holders.
QuickAuthor's power, simplicity, and almost unlimited number of uses make it an excellent program. The program can be a valuable addition to any user's set of tools.