8-Bit Software Online Conversion

BOOK REVIEW One of the problems people have with printers is that (unless one has an Epson) you are not always quite sure how Epson-compatible your printer is. Indeed, rumour has it that not all Epson products are 100% compatible with each other - but I don't know about that! Another problem is that instruction books are not always as clear as they might be, and are generally written for users of PCs, and examples of commands from BASIC use Microsoft Basic, which is, well, different from proper (i.e. BBC) Basic. Since it appeared from other users' comments that the machine-code utilities created by the source-code programs HASHGEN and SUBSGEN on recent discs, worked with the same control codes inserted on Star printers as on my Panasonis KX-P1081, it seemed likely that my printer was Epson-compatible. When I saw the advertisement for "The Epson RX/FX Printer Commands Revealed Handbook for the BBC Micro" I was therefore sufficiently interested to get a copy. I was not disappointed. The book is written by David Smith, who starts off in the Introduction as follows: "This book has been produced in response to requests from BBC users who find the standard printer manuals unsuitable." The book divides the facilities available into 8 groups - Print mode, Bit image, Line Spacing, Paper Feed Execution, Format Control, Input Data Control, Download Character and Miscellanous. Several of these groups have a short explanatory introduction. Within each group, each command starts at the top of a page with its function (e.g. NLQ Mode Setting), followed by a reference to its conventional description (in this case ESC "(" ). Then comes the command in BBC Basic to send it to the printer(VDU1,27,1,40), followed by the Wordwise 'OC' command (OC27,40). It is recommended that the book be used in conjunction with the manufacturer's printer manual. To assist in this for Epson and Kaga owners, for each command available, there is a page reference for Kaga, FX80 and RX80 manuals. This is followed by a simply-worded description and an example Basic program. All in all, a book worth having to refer to if you want to make any use at all of the expensive facilities built into your printer (unless you are quite happy with the manufacturer's handbook...) The book makes the point that while printer commands can be sent from within Wordwise, they cannot from View, although they can be incorporated into a printer driver. It is, of course, always possible to exit View (having remembered to save your file!), enter Basic, send the commands to the printer, then go back to View. Alternatively, if the commands are put into machine code, they may be loaded in View's command mode (or by a !BOOT file). With this book, it is a simple matter to write these. Examples on this disc are TINY (to give condensed mode + 1/8" line spacing - useful for timetables, &c.), TABLE (to give the 1/8" line spacing without altering letter size - makes tables look neater) and ITALICS. The source-code shows how to do it, then you can write a program for any command you need. I have made these assemble at &900 - they can be overwritten afterwards - so if you need HASHGEN or one of the other utilities using page &9 to intercept vectors, load these after the printer command program(s). THE EPSON FX/KAGA PRINTER COMMANDS FOR THE BBC MICRO by David Smith From : WATFORD ELECTRONICS @ £4.95 (plus p+p - quoted as a minimum of £3, so get a friend to order it for you when he is ordering something from WE for himself !) H. L. Clarke (user id: B27)