Outline the use of a range of application software.


Teaching Note:

Application software should include word processors, spreadsheets, database management systems, email, web browsers, computer-aided design (CAD) and graphic processing software.


Sample Question:

From Sample Paper 1 - 2014:

JSR Notes:


The Teaching Note: From the Teaching Note, do explain each application software mentioned. Link to CAD. AutoCAD. Don't assume students a totally familiar with the wide range of application software there is out there. Go through all, or a good selection, in my own Applications folder.

Apps vs. Applications: now-a-days we refer to "apps" as being (smaller) programs used on mobile devices, and "applications" as those full blown programs you install on computers and laptops, such as Microsoft Word, or Firefox.

OS vs. Application Software Reminder: Do make sure you are clear on the difference between operating systems (OS) and applications:
- the operating system is the software that runs the basic operation of an IT device an (usually) allows the user to interact with it. For example, Mac OS, and Windows.
- applications are the things people install on their computers to apply to different tasks, such as Skype to phone people, and Photoshop to edit images.


Custom Made Application Software

With this assessment statement you are expected to realize that there is more to the world of application programs than Google Docs and Chrome. Such applications are the most well known, along with the list of application types listed above in the Teaching Note.

But you need to realize that some of the most important applications running in pretty well every business on earth are custom made, or industry specific applications. They either serve niche markets (ranging from pulp and paper production facility operators, to specialized stock market analyzers for Wall Street companies, and everything in-between), or are entirely custom made for the particular business or organization. As a software engineer, you may end up lucky enough to make the credits of a Photoshop or a Chrome browser, but most software engineers do not work on household name software, though they are incredibly valuable to those that they work for, in the same way that you were (or will be) to your IA clients who received custom made software from you.

"Out-of-the-box" Application Software

It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to have an example or two ready for the various application software categories above, with brand names made by big commercial IT companies like Microsoft and Adobe, so here's one each to get you started:

Word Processors - TextEdit (Apple)

Spreadsheets - Numbers (Apple), Excel (Microsoft)

Database Management Systems - FileMaker Pro, PowerSchool, and most of your (future) IAs!

E-mail - (Apple) Mail

Web Browsers - Opera, Safari (Apple), Chrome (Google)

CAD Software - AutoCAD (Autodesk), Maya (Autodesk)

Graphic Processing Software - Illustrator (Adobe), Photoshop (Adobe), GIMP, Pixelmator

And finally, back to the assessment statement which starts with "outline the use of"... So with each of the above, think about what they do. A little on a couple of them that may need a bit more explaining:

Database Management Systems - Obviously they manage data, but so, arguable do all applications, whether that data be colored pixels or words. Here at the school we use FileMaker Pro to manage student information, orders, staff information, and the inventory of resources at the school. As with your databases, the idea is that vast amounts of information are stored in an organized way, and are easy to search and query to get individual search results or more detailed query reports. PowerSchool, as you can imagine serves similar roles here at the school.

CAD software - Computer Aided Design software allows engineers and architects, among others, to use the power of 3d modeling to make prototypes and designs. Autodesk is the one company that produces just about all the top 3d modeling and design software on the market today.

Graphic Processing Software - Adobe is to this area of application software, as Autodesk is to CAD and 3d. In Adobe's Creative Suite, Illustrator is for "vector" art (art made primarily out of lines and curves - think clip art), Photoshop is not just for image editing, but is used for many other image related tasks such as web design layout, In Design is for multi-page print layout and design, Dreamweaver is for web page design and website development, and Flash is for 2d animation made specially for the Internet.