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Software: Some Definitions and Descriptions

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The following are some definitions that may be relevant when faced with putting together software for your enterprise:

 

 

APPLICATION

A program or group of programs designed for end users.  Applications software (also called end-user programs) includes database programs, word processors, and spreadsheets.

 

 

DATABASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

A collection of programs that enables you to store, modify, and extract information from a database. There are many different types of database management systems (DBMS), ranging from small systems that run on personal computers to huge systems that run on larger mainframe computers. The following are some examples of database applications:

 

v     computerized library systems (e.g., can be as small as a department library system or as large as a university system-wide library system)

 

v     automated teller machines (ATMs) and other related banking systems

 

v     flight reservation systems and related systems such as frequent flyer membership data bases

 

v     raw materials or finished goods inventory systems and other related manufacturing systems (such as delivery systems, customer management systems, etc.)

 

Information from a database management system can be accessed through queries – information search selection criteria that help identify what information needs to be accessed.  Some ways that queries can be formulated are as follows:

 

v     SELECT ALL WHERE COMPANY NAME = ‘PLANTERSBANK’ AND DEPARTMENT = ‘FINANCE’

- This query wants to get all the records in an inter-company database where the person is an employee of PlantersBank and belongs to the finance department.

 

v     PRINT TO FILE ALL WHERE DESTINATION REGION = ‘ASIA’ OR DESTINATION REGION = ‘EUROPE

- This query instructs the system to save in a file all records in a flight reservations system that has either Asia or Europe as their indicated destination region.

 

 

 

Database management systems can also contain report writers and graphics tools in order to print out the information being searched for in prescribed report formats (e.g., Raw Materials Inventory as of March 2005, Customer Delivery Schedule as of 4th Quarter 2005, etc.) or to present such information in visual form such as graphs and charts.

 

 

OPERATING SYSTEM

The operating system, or OS as it is more popularly known, is the most important program that runs on a computer. Every computer must have an operating system in order to be able to run other programs.

 

Operating systems perform basic tasks, such as recognizing input from the keyboard or from mouse clicks, sending output to the display screen (monitor) or to output devices such as printers or disk drives, keeping track of files and folders on the hard disk and other drives.  It also makes sure that each of these tasks run smoothly and do not unnecessarily interfere with one another, especially in large systems.

The operating system is also responsible for ensuring that the system is secure and free from unauthorized access, especially from non-users of the system.

Some of the more popular classifications of operating systems are as follows:

v     multi-user – This classification of OS allows two or more users to run programs at the same time. Operating systems of larger network systems such as enterprise-wide systems permit hundreds or even thousands of users to simultaneously access and use programs that are in the system.

 

v     multiprocessing This classification of OS supports running a program on more than one computer.  This is the OS that usually runs networked systems (like local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), etc.)

 

v     multitasking This classification of OS allows more than one program to run simultaneously.  This is what we usually encounter in our own personal computers having an operating system like Windows which allows us to do several tasks at the same time in our computer (e.g., prepare a report using Word, an income statement using Excel, a presentation using PowerPoint and searching the internet for inputs to the three tasks.)

 

Operating systems provide a software platform where other programs called application programs (e.g., word processing, spreadsheets, databases, etc.)  can run. Your choice of operating system, therefore, determines to a great extent the applications you can run. For PCs, the most popular operating system is Windows (who doesn’t know how to use Windows?), but others are becoming available, such as the free operating system, Linux.

 

 

SPREADSHEET (APPLICATIONS)

Spreadsheet applications (more popularly known as just spreadsheets) are computer programs that let you create and manipulate spreadsheets or tables electronically. In a spreadsheet application, each value sits in a cell. You can define what type of data is in each cell (if it is a number, currency, date, etc.) and if different cells are independent or are linked to one another (usually through a formula).

Once you have defined the cells and the formulas for linking them together, you can proceed with inputting your data. If you are using a lot of formulas, you can look at different scenarios by playing around with the values.  This can be seen in the following examples:

v     One example of a spreadsheet application is a monthly production schedule.  Some inputs needed here are demand forecasts, number of employees, number of shifts, number of machines/assembly lines.  The projected number of units will depend on such inputs and therefore can change accordingly.  You can determine the most optimal or even the most feasible scenario once you have compared values.

 

v     Another example of a spreadsheet application is an information systems evaluation template.  Given such flexible information as criteria to be used in evaluating different systems and their respective weights, you can come up with an evaluation template that is flexible yet grounded enough to come up with a quantitative (as well as qualitative at times) evaluation of the different systems you are contemplating on purchasing.

 

One feature of spreadsheet applications is the tool to make graphs and charts. A related feature is the tool to transform a spreadsheet into a simple database.

 

 

WORD PROCESSING

This is the most common of all application programs.  Word processing allows the user to create, edit, store and print documents.

 

One of the best reasons to use a word processor over the typewriter is simply the word processor’s ability to edit, reformat, and move text, etc. without having to retype the whole document.  In fact, if you have portions of a document that you need in another document, all you have to do is simply highlight the text you need, click on copy and then insert it in the other document.  No need to type things all over again. Such a time-saving feature will allow us to be more productive. When you have made all the changes you want, you can either save the document as a file (or soft copy) or you can have a printer give you a hard copy.  Therefore, if you need several copies of the same document, you can print multiple copies without having to go through the hassle of using carbon paper or typing the document several times.

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