But for a few packages such as Pagemaker and Max, there is precious little software that makes use of the AMX mouse. This is a sad tale, for the WIMP (windows, icons, mouse and pointer) system is one of the more pleasurable means of communicating with a computer. I'm thankful Advanced Memory Systems has kept releasing a slow but steady stream of WIMP software. 3D Zicon is one-that seems to have missed many reviewers'eyes.
Zicon is a graphics package that resembles Amor's Model Universe - it lets you create vector or wire-frame graphics in three planes: x, y and z (is this why they've prefixed "z" to "icon"?) Make sure you have a pet rodent before heckling AMS - Zicon requires one of these creatures harnessed to Arnold.
Zicon's front panel consists of icons (small pictures that represent anything from a wastebasket to a calculator) and a pointer. You move this arrow by rolling the mouse over a desktop; when it's pointing to the option you want, tap one of the mouse buttons. A window then drops down and displays a menu - all in true WIMP style.
Most of the screen area is for your design. There are command icons along the bottom, and the pull-down menus appear obviously at the top. There are four of these menus:
- File lets you load, save or catalogue files.
- From Utilities you can create tubes or spheres, or edit your picture.
- Status lots yon alter the distance from centre of rotation, distance moved when selecting zoom icon or angle of rotation when using the rotation icons.
- With Output you can dump pictures to printer, screen or plotter.
The command icons enable the model or design to be rotated, zoomed or repositioned. They aie split into two distinct groups: the first lets you rotate the model in either x, y or z planes - both clockwise and anti-clockwise. You can also zoom toward or away from the centre of rotation. The second group moves the model up, down, left or right.
Although Zicon doesn't have an outstanding number of functions, complex designs can be produced without much trouble. Zooming or rotating a picture is slow, especially if is made up of many lines. On all other fronts Zicon performs satisfactorily.