|Bridge Builders: African Experiences with Information & Communication (BOSTID, 1996, 304 p.)|
|Case studies on desktop publishing|
by Dr. Xavier F.Carelse
Xavier F.Carelse lectures in the Department of Physics, University of Zimbabwe and is in charge of the Faculty of Science DTP Facility. He is a graduate of Fort Hare, South Africa, and has a special interest in the development of science and technology education in Africa. He has written two books that address problems relating to the construction and improvisation of science equipment in secondary schools in developing countries.
BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT OF THE PROJECT
After a period of settler rule that had lasted about 100 years, Zimbabwe attained national independence and majority rule in 1980. Before that date only 40 percent of our children entered primary school and usually stayed at school for only three years. Today 70 percent of our children stay at school for at least 11 years and graduate after completing the General Certificate of Education at the Ordinary Level, the examinations for which are set in the United Kingdom.
Education in Zimbabwe
The increase in the secondary school population, rising over twelve fold from 74,000 in 1979 to 871,000 in 1989, is a particular indication of the heightened aspirations of our citizens since independence. In that same period the primary school enrollment rose from 819,000 to 2,103,000. The rate of transfer of children from Grade 7 to Form One is now about 76 percent.
Over the same period the national expenditure on education has risen from $200 million to $500 million. With the total population of Zimbabwe being estimated as 12 million, 30 percent of our population are now pursuing full-time education. With 25 percent of the national budget being spent on education, Zimbabwe is becoming the country in Africa with the most highly educated population and the demand for education is still growing. Education in Zimbabwe is therefore a multi-million dollar growth industry. This captive market has served to support a variety of services which have benefited from this growth. The largest growth has been in the manufacture of school uniforms and in book sales.
Book Production in Zimbabwe
Another area of information transfer lies, of course, in the supply and availability of information in the printed form. This includes not only textbooks, but also the form of information transfer that deals with the updating of our immediately available information. This is achieved through the publication of newspapers, journals, magazines, from which the general public usually benefits. Of equal importance in the academic world is the publication of bulletins and newsletters targeting a specialist group and that disseminate information that has a direct impact on our immediate professional knowledge.
Zimbabwe has a good publishing infrastructure and is able to produce good quality books at a very low cost. With the formation of the Southern African Development Conference (SADC), Zimbabwe was chosen to be the publishing center of the group and has remained relatively unchallenged in this respect. An appreciable number of books are being written and published for schools and are usually directed at the local primary and lower secondary school syllabi and curricula, that is, up to the 11-year-old age group.
A shortage of locally produced books continues to exist at the upper secondary level with a pupil population of only about 20,000. The syllabi, at this level, are drawn up by the Cambridge Examinations Board, for which a very great number and variety of books are available overseas. But, because of recurring devaluation of the Zimbabwe currency, these are becoming increasingly expensive. In the last five years, the cost of imported textbooks have increased by a factor of 5, while the cost of locally produced books have risen by a factor of 2.5. There is, therefore, a good case for reducing our dependence on imported text-books.
The situation at university and polytechnic level is even more acute. Virtually all undergraduate textbooks are imported and the cost of all such books has increased seven or eight times in the same period. Although the University of Zimbabwe Press (UZP) has been in existence for decades, very few textbooks are produced in Zimbabwe. The publications they produce are usually extended reports of research findings in the humanities and are adopted as textbooks for specialized courses. In the science disciplines, the Department of Biochemistry has produced some books that were published by the UZP.
Information Technology in Zimbabwe
In 1990, the Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC) launched ZimNet, which is based on the X.25 package switching protocol. Many financial concerns, such as banks (including the Post Office Savings Bank), building societies and insurance companies, are using it on a nationwide basis. In 1991, the University of Zimbabwe acquired its first link with the Internet via the UNINET gateway in Grahamstown, South Africa and, in 1992, a second link under the host-name of MANGO, Microcomputer Access for Non-Government Organizations, was established via ESANet, the Eastern and Southern African Network. It is hoped that, before the end of 1995, the University would have acquired our own gateway to the Internet. In fact, such a gateway already exists in the commercial sector but is too expensive for most academic users.
Origin and History
The Information Systems Project at the University of Zimbabwe has two phases. In the first phase, the Faculty of Science purchased desktop publishing equipment because we believed it would be a sound investment that, in the long run, would show benefits in two important areas: the local production of text books and the establishment of a facility for publicizing, to the public, the programs presented in the Faculty of Science. The second phase, for which funds are now being sought, concerns the creation of a campus computer network.
In 1990, Professor C.J. Chetsanga, then the Dean of Science, and now Director of the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Center, obtained a Carnegie Corporation grant with which he purchased for the Faculty the basics of a powerful desktop publishing system. The purpose of this facility is to encourage the publication of textbooks by the academic staff. The move was seen as an attempt to address some of the problems outlined above.
Dr. N. Dune, Chairman of the Department of Computer Science, who happened to be on sabbatical leave in the United States at that time, was asked to make a suggestion for a suitable basic system for our DTP facility. He submitted a list of Macintosh-based equipment. This system was deemed to be too expensive and Mr. R. Braithwaite, the proprietor of Software Engineering, Portland' Oregon, who had spent some time as a guest lecturer in the University's Department of Computer Science, was invited to recommend an alternative system. He presented us with an IBM system based on the Intel 80386 microprocessor. This provided us with DTP equipment at a remarkably low cost and this allowed us to acquire some accessories such as a tape streamer, the full-page scanner, a surge protector, mathematics and graphics software, and other facilities without exceeding our budget. (See Box 1.)
General and Particular Objectives
The main purpose of the new equipment was to assist the academic staff to produce textbooks or, alternatively, to compile their lecture notes in a form which could serve as a textbook. Over the last five years, a number of lecturers have used this facility for either one or the other purpose. The present Dean of Science, a mathematician, was one of the first to produce a textbook using the Faculty of Science DTP Facility.
A second objective was to produce a newsletter to publicize some of the activities of the Faculty such as the research interests of the staff, new degree programs that were being offered, the announcement of conferences, workshops and seminars that were of general or specific interest, and many others. This was the first aspect of DTP that was implemented and that eventually served to popularize the service that the facility offered.
The DTP equipment has been in use since January 1992, when a newsletter, entitled Integrator, was launched' under an editorial board appointed by the Board of the Faculty of Science. I was invited to be member of this board because of my previous experience in computerized type-setting and publishing. A DTP operator was also appointed and designated for training.
The chief success of the program has been in the production of textbooks. Although little was accomplished in the first year - mainly because of lack of familiarity with the use of the facilities - an article that appeared in Integrator, Volume 1, No. 2, alerted the faculty to its potential. Since then, a number of publications have been produced using the equipment. Though these were compilations of lecture notes, a few are already in the process of being rewritten into textbooks.
Products, Technologies, and Services Delivered
The system was specified and delivered in 1991 and reflects, in a modest way, the status of personal computers at that time. The heart of the system is a 30 MHz 803 86-based computer, with 8 megabytes of RAM, installed in a tower case. It has four disk drives, as follows:
· Drive A is a 1.2 megabyte 5-inch floppy drive;· Drive B is a 360 kilobyte 5-inch floppy drive;· Drive C is a 1.4 megabyte 3-inch floppy drive; and· Drive D is an 80 megabyte hard drive.
We felt that two floppy drives, one high density and one double density, were needed to allow for the fact that many university departments do not have computers with high-density drives and an occasional incompatibility occurred. With the present trend towards the exclusive use of high density media, this is no longer a problem. Data security is supported with a tape unit for backing-up the contents of the hard disk. Total back-up is not usually necessary as it is seldom that user files will be stored on the hard disk. Application files can normally be reloaded if necessary.
The user input-output devices include a visual display unit (VDU) that is a 14-inch (35-cm) video graphics array (VGA) color monitor with the high resolution essential for desktop publishing. A Dexxa serial mouse and an enhanced keyboard were also included.
The semi-commercial, heavy-duty Hewlett-Packard LaserJet Series III printer prints at the rate of eight pages per minute. It is equipped with Hewlett-Packard's resolution enhancement feature which gives high quality, professionally acceptable typeset-quality printing of text and graphics. It has 5 megabyte of installed memory, built-in PostScript features but, more importantly, it also has built-in a wide range of mathematical and Greek symbols used by many scientists, especially physicists, mathematicians and engineers.
The scanning of documents and photographs is undertaken with the Canon Model N-207 DS-3000 overhead scanner that is capable of digitizing an A4 size page of text and graphics by using a charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor with a camera-type flat surface scanning method. It is used for scanning the photographs and line graphics used in the newsletter.
The original operating system was MS-DOS, version 4, but this has now been upgraded to version 6. The main environment is Microsoft's Windows 3.1, which is a very popular GUI (graphics user interface) and is rapidly becoming the industry standard environmental software for IBM-compatible computers.
Microsoft's Word for Windows, originally version 1.1, and now upgraded to version 2, was probably the most powerful word processor for the personal computer and dwarfed that of almost all dedicated word-processing machines. Its capabilities overlapped considerably with some of the sophisticated DTP programs and inclined us to the view that it would be more than sufficient for the purpose of producing our newsletter. This program was able to handle tables, graphics and mathematical formulae. It was a simple matter to insert these into the document file and to position them relative to the text.
A fonts software package, Adobe Type Manager, increases the range of fonts and symbols available under Windows 3. To broaden the scope of mathematical typesetting, we have several auxiliary programs such as MathEdit (described below) and Hewlett-Packard's Type Director to assist the esoteric user.
The scanner is operated through a graphics program called Paintbrush. The operation is done at various resolutions - 300, 200, 150 or 75 dots per inch - and produces files with the .PCX extension. A single resolution on the printer is adopted for printing the graphic. For example, 300 dots per inch (dpi) scanned files will print out a picture that is the exact size of the original while, correspondingly, a 200 dpi scan would print out with two-thirds of the linear dimensions. We are using the latter in the newsletter. In almost all cases we have found that this resolution is suitable for our purposes and so avoids the need for shrinking the picture before printing.
Graphics files consume large amounts of storage space. Typically, a 200 mm by 150 mm photograph will, at 200 dpi resolution, produce a .PCX (a graphics file format) file of 400 kilobytes. Because of this large size, these files are normally stored on the hard disk only, although back-ups of the .PCX files are kept on 1.2 megabyte floppy disks for our archives. Word for Windows requires graphics in the tagged image file format (TIFF). The .PCX files produced by Paintbrush therefore have to be converted to .TIF files before they can be loaded into the newsletter. The above .PCX file would be converted to a .TIF file of 800 kilobytes. The latter are not normally stored on floppy disks. They are invoked when an image of the picture is to be displayed on the screen or when the document is to be printed with the picture in place.
When a TIFF graphic is inserted into a Word for Windows file, only references to the graphic are actually inserted. The Word file, containing references, such as the dimensions, clipping and scaling information of a 600 kilobyte TIFF file may therefore only occupy 20 kilobytes when saved on disk. The disk holding the TIFF file itself must be inserted in the drive if it is necessary to inspect the graphic on-screen or to print a document containing the references.
The desktop publishing equipment includes a variety of quite sophisticated software accessories specifically directed to the needs of the academic staff of the Faculty of Science. A brief description of the facilities is enough to engage the interest and respect of a serious scientific author.
This package was rated by BYTE, the computer magazine, to be the best of the crop of DTP programs that appeared in 1991. It is considerably more powerful as a DTP tool than Word-for-Windows, which is, first and foremost, a word processor. PageMaker is a tool for preparing a newspaper and has facilities far beyond what we require for a newsletter.
As a formula-editing utility this program is heaven-sent for mathematicians. It incorporates a selection of 220 mathematical symbols and is essential for our DTP support. Word-for-Windows handles about 120 mathematical and Greek symbols, which may be enough for some but hopelessly inadequate for others. Like Word, it displays WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). This is a major advance over other type-setting programs such as PC-TEX. It produces TIFF files that can be imported into Word.
DERIVE, Version 2
Described as a Mathematical Assistant, DERIVE is used for simplifying, solving, and plotting mathematical expressions. It is capable of handling derivatives, integrals, vectors, and matrices, as well as algebraic tasks such as factorization and expansion of expressions.
The inexpensive but powerful program generates splendid fractals that can be used for enhancing presentations.
This is a time-series program module that contains a wide range of descriptive, modeling, and forecasting methods for both time and frequency domain models. Besides incorporating transformations, modeling, and plotting program, it also includes ARIMA, the Autoregressive Moving Average Model for estimating seasonal and non-seasonal parameters for the autoregressive and moving average process and for forecasting.
BOX 1 IBM versus Macintosh
In addition to the advantage of having a lower cost, the IBM-system was preferred because, in 1989, a decision had been made at the University to standardize all purchases of computer equipment. It was decided that the university's Computer Resource Committee should only authorize the purchase of IBM-compatible computers, including clones, and also the BBC Micro, because of the impact the latter was making on the educational market at that time. The BBC Micro was a 6502-based computer commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation for use in a computer education series for television. It had a number of input-output ports which made it unique as an educational tool. This decision was taken to avoid the proliferation of too great a variety of computers at U.Z. as great difficulty was being experienced in servicing the wide range of computers that were appearing. Thus, at the time that the DTP system was being considered, the Macintosh was not considered to be a possible option. As almost all purchases of new computers already complied with this decision, the Mac would not have been very useful to the Faculty.
PROJECT EXPERIENCE AND IMPLEMENTATION
Through Integrator, the DTP has had an impact that was not originally envisaged. Although it is only produced at six-monthly intervals, each issue contains important information on the working and development of the Faculty of Science. In most developing countries, the Faculty is often underrated as being only a means of producing science teachers. The articles on careers in science and on the roles of scientists as consultants to industry, to parastatals and to the government are used to publicize the Faculty and have served to create a new image that is not often seen in other developing countries.
The first Editorial Committee was appointed by the Dean, Professor Chetsanga. The Editorial Committee chose the title Integrator for the newsletter. They felt that it had a scientific nuance and, at the same time, reflected the spirit of unity within the Faculty. The formulation of the contents of the Integrator makes an interesting story:
Without specifying the type of articles required, the editorial committee invited the departments to submit one article, relevant to each, that they would like to see published in the first edition of the faculty newsletter. A somewhat disjointed collection of articles was presented to the committee. There was an article on each of the following:
· the research interests of the chemists;· a new research venture by the geologists;· a new M.Sc. program by the biochemists;· a report on a recent colloquium from the biologists;· an essay on careers for physicists; and· a report on the launching of the new Department of Statistics.
After reading the articles, I realized that the departments had unknowingly laid down the structure of the newsletter. A newsletter is a continuing exercise with regular features as well as special one-off features. The collection of articles that we had received reflected the needs that the departments wished to express and so could be used to reflect the needs of the faculty. It was therefore appropriate that we should use this as a starting point from which to decide the nature of the articles that we would request in each regular or special feature.
The editorial board agreed that the following regular features would be requested from each department in sequence:
· Meet the .... A description of the research interests of individuals in a chosen department and of the consultancy services they could offer to industry or to the parastatals.· Master of Science in .... A description of a postgraduate program offered by the featured department.· Careers in .... An article directed at high school pupils and describing the career opportunities existing in the featured department. · Announcements. An announcement of conferences, workshops and seminars due to be held in the Faculty of Science.· Student Science Societies. Reports from the students on the science societies that they operate.
Special features that any individual, not necessarily from within the Faculty, could produce include:
· New research ventures in the Faculty;· New resources and developments in the Faculty;· Reports on conferences held in the Faculty;· Reports on international conferences that have a bearing on the Faculty and the University; and· Reports of donor agencies and sources of funds from which the Faculty could benefit.
The DTP Software
A general purpose WYSIWYG word processor operating in a GUI (graphic user interface) is, in our opinion, highly recommended for a small DTP facility. In addition to Word-for-Windows, most typists in Zimbabwe are familiar with WordPerfect 5.0 or 5.1. Such word processing programs may not be very useful for the production of newspapers or other materials with more than four columns, but for the purpose of producing textbooks and newsletters, it cannot be excelled by any of the more advanced DTP programs such as PageMaker or Ventura. Efforts to master PageMaker, which we had also acquired, were abandoned very early in this program. It was found that a great deal of time was required for the training of the operator and other users.
The decision to use Word-for-Windows Version 1.1 almost exclusively for our DTP activity was found to be an excellent choice because of the following reasons:
1. The ease of use once the general Windows environment was
2. The power and versatility of this program.
3. The ability to handle and manipulate the graphics images produced by the scanner, without any additional software.
We acquired it in 1993 and it has been the only program that we had used for the production of the Integrator. Other workers preferred WordPerfect Version 5. l, which was also installed, and since then WordPerfect Version 6 has appeared and seems to have become a strong rival to Word-for-Windows. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that the even newer Word-for-Windows Version 6 would prove to an excellent successor to Version 2 and I cannot envisage any foreseeable intention of moving away from this word processor. In truth, there is much evidence that use of Word-for-Windows is increasing world-wide while the use of WordPerfect may have reached a plateau.
The Layout of the Newsletter
After a series of experimental sessions during the training of the DTP operator, the present layout was chosen as being the most presentable while keeping the cost of production down to a minimum. The newsletter consists of 16 A4 pages and is printed on A3 paper. The presentation is in three columns, except for the last page which carries the table of contents. For ease of reading 8-point Helvetica print is used but all headlines are in Times font of various sizes. The use of Microsoft Word Art, which comes packaged with Word-for-Windows Version 2 has been used extensively in Volume 3 to enhance the presentation.
In spite of its low cost, this scanner produces quite adequate copies and has served very well for the production of the first volumes of Integrator. It has also been used by lecturers and research students to reproduce graphs and diagrams for insertion into their papers. It is still serving us well but, since its purchase, many new scanners have appeared at a reasonable price and with more facilities. We believe that the time has come to upgrade the scanner. For Volume 3, published in 1994, we used an Apple flatbed scanner belonging to the University Publications Office. This scanner allowed very smooth sizing of the graphics without a change in resolution.
The Reprographic Facility
The Hewlett Packard Laserjet III has proved to be an excellent choice for a printer of the master copies. The fact that the printer was made easily accessible to all users may have been a mistake because it has led to considerable abuse and overuse and the expense of excessive replacement of toner cartridges. Many would have preferred that its use was strictly monitored and a nominal charge levied for use, but in retrospect there is evidence that the "free use" policy played a principal role in the instant acceptance of the DTP Facility.
During the first year of production of Integrator, the masters were submitted to the University of Zimbabwe Reprographic Unit. After that initial period, it was felt that the production could be streamlined if we had our own reprographic facility. In 1992 we successfully applied to Carnegie Corporation of New York for funds for a heavy duty photocopier that could be used for the relatively low bulk production of the Integrator. A Konica photocopier was purchased and this has made the faculty completely independent of the University's Reprographic Unit and so has reduced the cost of production. Volume 2, No 1, January 1993, and subsequent editions of Integrator, were produced in this way.
BOX 2 Benefits of the Integrator
The publicity that we have received through Integrator and through the M.Sc. in Applied Physics program has opened the door to a number of consultancy projects for the lecturers and has served to enhance the reputation of the department in the industrial sector.
RESULTS, IMPACT, AND BENEFITS OF THE PROJECT
Once the DTP facility was in place, the early launching of the Integrator was very well conceived. The very first issue contained an article on the DTP project and the equipment that was available for prospective authors. Without the Integrator. it is unlikely that DTP would have been accepted so soon by the Faculty.
There can be no doubt that the original purpose of the DTP facility, namely, the production of compiled lecture notes and textbooks, has been realized. Compilations of lecture notes have been produced in the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Mathematics. This reflects a general trend in the University and has been confirmed by the Director of the University of Zimbabwe Press, where a plan to produce more textbooks is already under way, with three books having been approved for publication in July 1995 alone.
The DTP facility may be used in the production of masters that can be submitted to the University Reprographic Unit for printing. The advantage of this is gained through the ability of the Reprographic Unit to use cheaper paper for their printing process and also being able to produce large quantities without imposing a strain on their equipment. They have a copy printer and other standard printing equipment. As they are able to produce color layouts, they may be invited to produce our front and rear pages in color at a later stage in our development.
The increase in publicity that was generated by the integrator for the Faculty of Science cannot be overstated. (See Box 2.) It had an effect among both students and staff. A few examples relating to the Department of Physics will suffice to illustrate this point.
In the period 1986 to 1989, the intake into the Department of Physics dropped progressively from 132 in 1986 to 77 in 1989. This was partly due to the launching of the B.Tech. program that was heavily science-oriented and, among others, offered two new areas into which school-leavers with physics grades could be absorbed, namely, Applied Physics and Electrical Technology. The article on Careers in Physics that appeared in the first issue of Integrator created a new interest in mainstream physics and our intake has reached and stayed at about 100 students since then.
The publication of the questionnaire on the proposed Master of Science in Applied Physics program created a new interest in physics. The response from industry and from the graduates was gratifying. In our first year (1993), we received over 30 applicants but were only able to accept 8. Although we had intended to accept candidates only in alternate years, we decided to admit 8 new students again in 1994. This Masters program required candidates to spend 6 months attached to an industrial firm in order to become acquainted with industrial practice in Zimbabwe. After this period, the students are required to work on a research project. We invite the firm to suggest a suitable project that can be completed with the firm and that will allow the student to continue working with them. In every case where the firm was approached, a project was found.
Many of the courses that were offered in this program were newly conceived and it was difficult to find suitable textbooks. One of the first products was derived from lecture notes on Atmospheric Physics. The present Dean of Science, a mathematician, was one of the first to produce a textbook using the Faculty of Science DTP Facility. Textbooks on Microprocessor Applications and a Laboratory Manual are being planned.
ANALYSIS OF LESSONS LEARNED
Training of DTP Operator
In 1990, a typist with computer experience was appointed specifically for training as a DTP operator. At that time such typists were a rare commodity in Zimbabwe and the DTP operator acquired a rather special status. Within a year she was promoted to the level of a senior secretary and was attached to the Dean's office. Although ostensibly she was still the DTP operator for the Integrator, she found it increasingly difficult to fulfill all the tasks required of her.
Meanwhile, with her limited assistance, I found myself almost solely responsible for the publication of the newsletter. With hindsight, it is clear to see now that there should have been more than just one person trained for operating the typesetting facility and to produce the Integrator. That I did not do so was due to the fact that I had been appointed Chairman of the Department of Physics in 1989 and had very little opportunity to run such a training program. It was, in fact, easier for me to browbeat other chairpersons into producing the soft copy and, with the assistance of the DTP operator and my own departmental typists, to devote one week of intensive work to the production of the newsletter. What is learned from this experience is that the publisher of the newsletter must be someone with clout and who has clerical help beyond what was officially designated to the editorial board. I Noms able to extract information and cooperation from important agencies such as the Information Office, the Reprographic Unit, the Publications Office and the Dean's Office that may have been more difficult for others to obtain.
Computers became more plentiful soon after 1993 when ESAP, the economic structural adjustment program, allowed the relatively free importation of such seemingly luxury items. More typists are now familiar with the use of computers and this has allowed more departments to benefit from the Facility. The typists can produce the manuscripts to disks and these can be quickly typeset and included in the newsletter. A training program for at least one typist per department would now be indicated. In this way the articles could have been near-"camera-ready" without much intervention by the DTP operator. The departments themselves would have benefited through the typists' improved ability to prepare highly attractive documents and manuscripts and also to assist the research programs in the preparation of camera-ready copy for professional journals.
Training of Academic Users
The DTP Facility proved to be quite popular with the academics who wished to produce books or compile lecture notes, and with research students who were preparing their theses or dissertations. The enhanced presentation of graphical material was particularly favored. Within this framework, these users were able to receive assistance from myself or from the DTP operator. But, on the whole, they tended to acquire the rudiments of typesetting without any difficulty. (See Box 3.)
When the search for a suitable system for DTP was first launched, there were two choices: use an IBM-compatible system or adopt the more user-friendly Macintosh systems. The most important consideration is cost. We can concede that the Macintosh is seductively user-friendly but this comes at a cost that is not only financial but also found in its restrictiveness - in most cases only software specific to the Mac may be used.
Although all Mac machines today are capable of running DOS-type applications, this additional capability costs extra money. It is significant that Mac users wish to use DOS applications but IBM users do not wish to use Mac applications on their machines. We were able to purchase an IBM clone for less than half the price of an equivalent Macintosh. The savings enabled us to purchase accessories such as the scanner additional supplies of toner cartridges, and a wide selection of software for scientific typesetting which we would not otherwise have been able to afford. Recently the price of Macintosh computers has come down but accessories are still expensive because of the lack of cheaper clone products. For users in poor countries low cost must take precedence over user-friendliness.
For us, the wisdom of purchasing a Macintosh was questionable and we are pleased with the decision to use an IBM-compatible computer. Indeed, there were, at that time, dozens of IBM clones in use on the campus and only one Macintosh. Our purchase of the latter would have disadvantaged almost everyone on the campus and thus would have seriously delayed the acceptance, and undermined the usefulness? of the DTP Facility.
When it was purchased it was, because of its specifications, the most powerful computer in the Faculty at that time and many wished to use it. Today there is a proliferation of much more powerful computers in all departments and, sadly, the 80836 computer has become nearly obsolete. If the system was purchased today, a 32-bit computer with an Intel 486i or a Pentium microprocessor would be at top of the shopping list. There are many advantages of having such powerful computers, the most important of which is the remarkable versatility of graphics and other applications software that is associated with them. Software supported by Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 now offers a degree of sophistication that demands such high quality graphics and it is well worth the investment.
The purchase of a CD-ROM drive is also recommended because of the low-cost of the software available on it and of the high capacity and reliability of this storage medium. The average CD-ROM holds 600 megabytes of data, the equivalent of over 400 high density 3.5-inch disks. Quite impressive clip-art and fonts are now available on CD-ROM and this will greatly enhance the appearance of documents and books.
The Need for a Network
The day-to-day use of the DTP Facility is restricted by the fact that is only accessible to one person at a time. If we want it to be more widely used, we must incorporate networking, which today is the single most important hardware-related advantage in computer usage. This will give all DTP users access to all the desirable components of the network without the need to leave the office. This includes access to the laser printer, the clip-art, the word processor, graphic packages and the typesetting packages.
The would-be author could stay in the office, surrounded by personal texts and references and, if connection to the Internet with World Wide Web is available, to the wealth of information that is now almost freely accessible on this medium. The DTP Facility then becomes one of the other services available on the network and using it becomes less dependent on special trips to the Faculty of Science DTP room where you may find that someone has already beaten you to the computer.
The Laser Printer
One of the principal attractions of the DTP Facility was the fact that the laser printer was used at no charge. There are arguments for and against such free use of an expensive piece of equipment but a levy on the use of the laser printer would have discouraged the use of the DTP equipment as a whole. Fortunately, sufficient funds were available to purchase a considerable stock of cartridges. Some savings were made by the purchase of recycled cartridges. Because of the now heavy use of the printer, it may now be advisable to impose a levy to offset the running costs.
The administration of the Facility then becomes a task which has to be added to the other tasks of those guarding it. It was decided in 1992 that the running costs of the Facility should be shared by the departments in the Faculty and that the Dean, before allocating funds to the "Consumable" account of the departments, would withhold a levy for the use of the Facility. This was readily agreed to by the departments. The use of the Facility thus continued to be "free" to individual users.
Upgrading the printer facility has mainly taken the form of ensuring that software drivers for the implementation of a laser printer were available for all applications. Because of the relative isolation of Zimbabwe at that time, this was not easy for some of the relatively more esoteric applications, but gradually the goal was achieved. Nevertheless after four years of heavy use, it is now time to consider replacing the printer. At the time of purchase, the Hewlett Packard LaserJet III was at the top end of the DTP accessory market. Since then there have been many improvements in the specifications of printers from which we now have to choose.
Although laser printers are more reliable and still produce the best quality output, we now have inkjet printers which, simply by changing the ink cartridges, produce hard copy in colon. As they generally cost about half the price of laser printers, it may be advantageous to keep an inkjet printer as a stand-by for special purposes such as the production of covers and brochures which are best done in colon Textbooks are often produced in two colors - black and a second softer color, usually dark orange or dark blue. This improves the readability of the text and has found wide acceptance in school and freshman texts. This improvement is recommended for developing countries where the medium of instruction is not necessarily the language of the home and readability is important.
Flat Bed Scanner
Although the Chinon DS-3000 overhead scanner was relatively unsophisticated at the time of purchase, it was, to the best of my knowledge, the only fullpage scanner available on the campus. The Computer Science Department had a video frame-grabber which was jealously guarded and unavailable to staff from other departments. This relatively inexpensive scanner was useful for the insertion of photographs and hand-drawn graphics into the documents and produced bitmapped files in a variety of formats. After the printer, it was the second most important accessory to the DTP system and, though still serving well, it is starting to show its age and limitations against the newer products which are now available at affordable prices.
Today we would have purchased a flat-bed full-page scanner with an ability to shrink and expand the graphics without undermining the resolution. Perhaps, for economy, we would still select a black and white scanner, but for enhanced presentation, a color scanner would be recommended. It would serve well for the production of book covers, pamphlets, brochures, and posters. Many modern scanners are packaged with OCR (optical character recognition) software with various degrees of reliability and usefulness. The scanned image is converted by the software to a binary file which can be imported into a text editor or a word processor. This is very convenient for editing pre-printed matter.
Upgrading the Software
Although PageMaker was included in the original purchase and attempts were made to bring it into use, it soon became clear that it was too powerful and demanding for our purposes. Initially we did feel the need to use it but by 1992, word-processors such as Word-for-Windows and WordPerfect had already provided the power that made them more than adequate for the production of newsletters and text books. Since the establishment of the Facility, we have used only Word-for-Windows as the medium of typesetting. This has proved to be quite sufficient for our needs.
Most of the Departments in the Faculty of Science have adopted the use of this word-processor, although many are still using WordPerfect Version 5.1 or ChiWriter Version 4.1 because of their ability to run directly under MS-DOS. The Microsoft drawing program, PaintBrush, supplied with the original setup is also popular and many use Lotus-123 for the production of graphs. There seems to be a sizable lag in the use of more sophisticated programs, such as Excel in its many versions.
There is a need to have a continuous review of the software used for DTP. The original Word-for-Windows has been upgraded from Version 1.1 to Version 2, and includes Word Art, a package used to enhance the presentation of the Integrator. The effect of using this package may be seen by comparing the front page of Integrator Vol. 1; No. I, January 1992, with the front page of Integrator Vol. 3, No. 2, July 1994. We are considering an upgrade to Version 6, which has even more advanced features which are useful for DTP. WordPerfect Version 6 is now also run in the Windows environment. It allows:
· Easy switching to full screen viewing of page. This is
useful when wish
· Autoformatting. This allows a set of styles associated with a template to be assigned instantly to a document. Unformatted draft copy can be converted to a new camera-ready form with a single command, instead of applying each style paragraph by paragraph.
· The creation of unequally sized columns. This provide more flexibility in layout design and more easily allows the incorporation of different sizes of graphics.
Reprographics by Copy Printer
The integrated system, consisting of the 30 MHz 386 with an 80 megabyte hard drive, Chinon scanner, HP laser printer, and Konica photocopier, worked very well till this year, 1995. The extent to which the facility is being used has increased to a level that was not foreseen five years ago when it was first conceived. The shortcomings of the system are now beginning to show. The photocopier is emerging as the weak link in the chain mainly because of the heavy usage to which it is being put, especially with regards to the lecture-notes and other hand-outs. It is also being used as a stand-by when other photocopiers in the Faculty have broken down.
Under normal circumstances, a photocopier would be expected to serve for five years and, as the Konica was one of the most reliable and resilient of the machines we had identified, we thought that this would be the case even with heavy use. This has not been true and, in the last six months, it has begun to show the strain. The officer in charge of the Faculty of Science Reprographic Room, now feels that the time has come to move one step higher and to replace the photocopier with a copy printer. He has identified a suitable machine: the Risograph Digital Printer GR 3750. The machine is available in Zimbabwe through an outlet in South Africa. We believe that the addition of this copy printer to the system would greatly enhance its effectiveness.
Some time ago it was discovered that photocopiers need more frequent servicing when a certain type of cheap paper is used. This paper is characterized by the high degree of fluff(loose fibers) generated by the paper. These fibers clog up the gears and other moving parts of the printer. It therefore became imperative that we use only high quality bond paper for the photocopier and printer. The fact that a copy printer can use cheaper paper for publication is a further incentive for purchasing one.
The Photographic Library
A good newsletter must be well illustrated, preferably with a number of photographs of the faculty staff, both academic and non-academic. The service of the Reprographic Services photographer was used initially but was found to be expensive and it was difficult for him to coordinate with the movements of the subjects he was to photograph. As publisher I knew quite well the type of photographs that I required for each article. So after the first year of publication, I decided to take my own photographs. During the short period that we have been in existence, we have acquired a sizable photographic library and so it is generally easy to find suitable pictures for use in the newsletter. The scanned images of the photographs are kept on disk and may be used instantly when required.
BOX 3 Need for a Training Program
The consequence of the deficiency of trained persons was vividly illustrated this year when a new publication coordinator was appointed while l was on sabbatical leave. As he did not specify that copy had to be received on disk in the recommended formats, he received hard copy and had to retype everything himself. This seriously hindered the continuity of publication of the Integrator.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Conclusions and Plans for Future Development
There is no doubt that the DTP Facility is fulfilling a need in
the Faculty of Science. Its use has only been restricted by the fact that we do
not have a network with multi-user capability. It has served the purpose for
which it was purchased' namely, the production of compiled lecture notes and
textbooks. A newsletter, Integrator, is published at six monthly intervals. Our
plans for future developments include:
· The placing of the DTP Facility at the disposal of all staff in a multi-user environment such as a network. We have already made much headway on the campus in this direction so we hope that this goal will be speedily achieved.· The purchase of the following:
- a more powerful computer to host the DTP Facility;
- a high resolution flat-bed scanner possibly with the capability of scanning in color;
- an ink jet color printer; and
- a copy printer with the capability of sorting and collating large volumes.
The following recommendations are made in relation to the acquisition of a new facility.
For any group who wishes to popularize its DTP facility, a well-produced newsletter is a mandatory starting point. The readers are immediately made aware of the facilities and possibilities available to the user. You should insist that all articles for inclusion in the newsletter be submitted on disk with as little previous formatting as is consistent with clarity and readability.
Many academics are able to master even the most complicated of the computer processes quite quickly. This is less easy for clerical staff who certainly need to attend a training program with at least 8 hours of hands-on practice. It is recommended that a workshop be run annually during the long (summer) vacation to train as many typists as possible in the use of the word-processor for typesetting.
Personnel for the Newsletter
The publications work force should consist of one publisher and an assistant - both possessing sound computer experience. With practice, many are able to master the art of laying out a newsletter if the intricacies of manipulating the text are understood. They should not have to type any articles except their own. They should be assisted by a good secretary who is thoroughly trained in the use of the word-processor for typesetting applications. The secretary should be able to produce accurate drafts that have been subjected to thorough spelling checks.
Planned and Regular Upgrading of Hardware and Software
There should be built into the proposal for a DTP Facility, plans for regularly upgrading the hardware and software. Funds should be sought for the replacement of outdated equipment and application programs well in advance of their becoming obsolete. This includes the replacement and upgrading of the word processor, graphics and clip-art, and the supplementation of the available fonts.
Printer and Collator
The laser printer and the copy printer, if available, would incur almost all of the running costs of the facility. It has been found that the free use of the laser printer could lead to abuse but, in terms of the purpose for which the facility was acquired' it is probably the best policy. The recurrent cost should be borne by the Faculty of Science through levies imposed by the Dean. This levy becomes an incentive for the departments to make full use of the facility. Attempts to exact levies direct from individual users will be counter-productive and complicated to administer and should be discouraged. The benefits to the students and to the Faculty as a whole should always be considered foremost.
The use of color may be considered to be a luxury - which it probably is - but it has its advantages in terms of the quality of the work that would be produced. If funds can be found, the acquisition of a color scanner and a color printer is recommended.
Many universities in developing countries are working towards the establishment of a campus computer network. If this is available, the DTP Facility should be made accessible to the network users. If necessary, prohibitions could be made against users from outside the Faculty of Science, but it is preferred that some financial arrangement could be made with such users.