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Rising templature

First Page, Desktop publishing package for Acorn A-series. Pounds 49; Pounds 140 for, primary licence, Pounds 190 for secondary. Longman Logotron, 124 Cambridge, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CV4 4ZS. For some time there has been a need for a desktop publishing program for Acorn A-series users which is not as sophisticated as Impression Style, but has more presentation and typographical features than Pendown+.

First Page aims to fulfil this role. It is a frame-based document processor which possesses the usual typographic repertoire of typefaces, type sizes and layout styles, and permits the placement and editing of pictures in the document. A software tool designed for the production of anything from newspapers, newsletters and advertisements, to greeting cards, and brochures, the package comprises two discs and a handbook.

Clicking on the icon bar opens an empty document. First, you decide on the layout of the stationery you wish to use templates are provided or you can create your own. Layouts range from a single page to three-column facing pairs.

All the usual tools are available in a format that is typical of modern word-processing software, with a tool bar and ruler at the top and other important functions (like a clipboard) represented by icons at the bottom.

What immediately impresses is how comfortably all the tools work together. Setting up a standard page layout with two columns, repeated frames, headersfooters and titles proves to be a real doddle. In addition, the program quickly reveals some really useful features.

For example, the speed and simplicity with which text frames can be linked is a joy. Similarly, its frame handling is so straightforward that to produce a frame with a picture in the background with superimposed, coloured text is also a piece of cake. You want to rotate text? Pop it into a frame as "graphic text" and rotate using a "handle". Rotating pictures works similarly.

You can view the document in scrolling mode, two-up view or in tiled view a thumbnail view of all the pages. Editing pictures too has been made easier as double clicking on the spritedrawfile loads it automatically into the program that created it, then you can load it back into the frame and print the whole lot out in either full colour or black and white, using RiscOS 3 printer drivers.

I can't help but be enthusiastic about First Page. It is so well designed and easy to learn that impressive results begin to appear quickly. It makes a perfect companion to Pendown, but more importantly it provides the logical solution to the development of presentation skills beyond word processing. It is an excellent software tool for key stages 2-3.

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