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Canvastic v2

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Canvastic v2

Document in progress, tool palettes in Canvastic v2

Screenshot © J. Bear

The Bottom Line

Canvastic is a kid-friendly desktop publishing software program that uses menus, palettes, and other conventions common to consumer and professional desktop publishing software. It provides elementary to middle school students a way to do real publishing without the complexity of professional-level software.

Pros

  • Tools and menus are very much like desktop publishing software for adults
  • Has basic word processing application (text editor) with formatting
  • Can open multiple documents at once
  • Customizable preferences based on age / skill of user or teacher preference

Cons

  • Page border difficult to see without turning on the grid
  • Limited text formatting
  • No flipping or rotation of text or graphics

Description

  • Available in Windows and Mac OS 9 and X versions on G3 or Pentium 3 computers (G4 or Pentium 4 or better recommended).
  • Designed specifically for students with customizable features based on age or needs of the student.
  • Comes with word processing tool, clip art, templates.
  • Has quick access preference settings for teachers. Preferences can be stored locally or on a network server.
  • Can create slide shows and QuickTime movies.
  • Clip art organized in folders.
  • Free demo (no save) is available for download.

Guide Review - Canvastic v2

Even basic desktop publishing programs can be too complex for children. And software designed for kids younger than high school age are generally nothing more than drawing or paint programs designed for computerized finger-painting rather than doing any real publishing. Canvastic bills itself as "A Tool, Not a Toy." And it delivers.

Canvastic v2 features the same type of menus and tools found in consumer and professional desktop publishing software. A child moving from Canvastic to Microsoft Publisher or even Adobe PageMaker will already be familiar with the use of text frames, color palettes, selecting objects, formating, grids, and basic drawing tools if they used Canvastic in school or at home.

The tools are simplified and stripped down but still provide serious page layout options including transparent text and graphics backgrounds, painting (bitmap) and drawing (vector) tools, layers, some text formatting, and a grid with "snap-to" options. Additionally, the preferences can be customized to suit the age and skills of the student.

I found most of the tools easy to figure out, resorting to the PDF documentation only to get clarification on layers and the drawing objects. Text formatting options are quite basic -- bold, italic, underline, color, font, and size -- but the program uses any fonts you have installed on your system. There is virtually unlimited "undo" for fixing mistakes or making changes.

Canvastic is an excellent desktop publishing tool to allow students to create class newsletters, reports, calendars, and presentations. It exposes K-8 students to real desktop publishing at a level they can grasp easily.

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