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From Design Into Print: Understanding the Types of Computer Applications

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This chapter is a guide to choosing the right types of applications, or programs, to do different jobs, including word processing, presentation, image editing, vector drawing, font management, and page layout.
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You can’t buy oranges in a hardware store. It doesn’t matter how diligently or how long you search. Hardware stores don’t sell oranges. That’s just not what they do.

It’s the same with software programs. You can’t make applications do things that they were never intended to do.

The difference between computer applications and hardware stores is that the people who run the hardware store will tell you they don’t sell oranges. But when you’re all alone working in front of your computer, there’s no one there to tell you that a certain application can’t do what you want it to.

Worse, it may look like the application can do what you want, but you won’t find out till later that you wasted hours and hours of work using the wrong type of program.

This chapter is a guide to choosing the right types of applications, or programs, to do different jobs.

Choose your software

Computers are very limited machines when you first take them out of the box. They are one of the few tools that have no specific function—a computer can’t do anything all by itself. Well, I guess a tower computer could be a doorstop and a laptop could be a cafeteria tray. But you have to add software applications to a computer to make it truly useful.

So first you buy the computer, then you add applications for creating graphics, page layouts, etc., and then you have a desktop publishing tool. But even if you have the right tool, you can still use it the wrong way.

Let’s look at the various applications (also known as “programs”) you will come across and what they are best used for—and not used for.

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