The Lakeland Fells Through Windows

Review by planetFear
Sunday 1st August 1999
The Lakeland Fells through Windows is the second CD in the series from Isys, the first one covering the Munros. As the title suggests the CD covers the Lakeland Fells, but there is also some information about the Welsh 3000ers and the Scottish 4000ers.

The program has a similar format to the Munro version, so existing users will find it familiar. A Panorama gives you a vector image of all the hills you can see from your current viewpoint. Clicking on a hill (note you have to click on the acutal summit) gives you the name of the hill and its distance from your current viewpoint. You can also print the panorama to take on the hill with you.

A Treasures button allows you to view any photographs and information about walks for the currently selected hill. There is also a selection of songs and music to listen to.

In addition to the vector maps, you can view the Harvey Hillwalker maps for the whole of the Lakes. You can’t print these directly, presumably for copyright reasons. You can use Alt-PrintScr to copy the current view to the clipboard, where you can paste it into something like Word and then print it. However, you really ought to buy the maps, as printing the screen is no substitute. The program has a very useful function to list the map sheets you need to cover a particular walk.

There is a facility to find a particular hill from a listing of all the hills displayed in a grid. Unfortunately, when you have found your hill and click Cancel to clear the dialog box, the cursor jumps back to the top of the list of hills. Once you have found your particular hill, you can select it and view all the information about it in the Hill Data Screen.

The logging facility is very comprehensive enabling you to record your wanderings over the hills. You can also construct a route card for each walk. The route card can contain various way points and the program will calculate your time of arrival at each way point together with the total distance, total time taken and height ascended. This feature could prove invaluable for instructors and group leaders.

The program now has a proper Windows help file, although this is unfinished. However, the printed manual gives you a good overview of the various parts of the program and should enable new users to get up and running quickly.

My one major reservation about this program is the design of the user interface. For example most of the program is based round Windows Multiple Document Interface (MDI) where child windows are contained within a single parent window. However, some windows in the program e.g. the photographs are not MDI children. You can argue about whether MDI is a ‘good thing’ or not (Microsoft currently recommend you use the SDI model), but you should at least be consistent. The program also doesn’t use standard Windows colours e.g. button face and window background, so if you change your Windows desktop Lakeland Fells colours remain the same and there is no option to customize them. Most program have the dialog that lets you customize them under Tools/Options, but in Lakeland Fells it’s under Initialize/Program Parameters. The Select Order dialog in the Hill Data screen doesn’t have a Cancel button, so you can’t escape from it without changing the selection order. In short the program doesn’t really conform to Windows interface conventions.

So, would I buy this CD? The answer is ‘Yes’. The information about the fells is all there and the mapping and panorama features are invaluable. However, the user interface needs a major overhaul to make the program truly outstanding.

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