Pacestar Software: Products

EDGE 1.0

EDGE was Pacestar Software’s flagship product. It was an Engineering Design Graphics Editor, meant for documenting block and flow design diagrams for software architectures, essentially electronic white-boarding. It was written for VGA DOS using the ZINC graphics library and the Zortech C++ compiler. It arose from a contrived project to learn C++ and object-oriented design and the idiosyncrasies of early C++ compilers and interpreters.

This early prototype was used by a small number of early adopters who helped mold it into a more broadly useful tool. One of these users submitted it to a small industry magazine where it was awarded a $1000 product idea.

The business competition in these early days consisted of two dominant “flow charting” tools that were selling for $1000 to $2500 per user and featured far inferior presentation capabilities. For example, the arrows that showed flow lines connecting one symbol to another could not follow the angle of the lines, they had to be pointing up, down, left, or right, never diagonal! The graphics quality and resolution were similarly primitive. And even though this was per-Windows, it was clear that EDGE could quite easily exceed the usefulness of these tools.

EDGE Flowcharter V5.0

EDGE Flowcharter was the first adaptation of EDGE to the flow charting market. It was basically a subset of the more broadly-purposed EDGE optimized around the flow charting symbols and templates with a few added features. It remained a DOS/VGA product. DOS still dominated the market. It was the very early days of Windows, MAC, and graphical workstations.

I needed to market this early product through bulletin board systems, bundled CD software sets, shareware, and download sites. This was only possible for products that ran on PCs running DOS. Higher end machines with more capable graphical user interfaces would require direct sales that were beyond the resources I had available. It was a stand-out product in this space for several years.

The evolution from the original EDGE to a flow charting tool was a forced compromise to find a viable market niche that was already established by other products. It was an effective strategy that established steady revenue for the first time.

EDGE Diagrammer

This was the first version made for Windows. Windows became the new platform for all Pacestar products. This release coincided with a healthy web-based try-before-you-buy market, and the transition away from Shareware and their network. It was marketed on software download sites which were springing up by the hundreds and becoming one of the top markets for consumer software.

The product attempted to revert back to the original vision of a general purpose diagramming tool, in which flow charting was simply one supported methodology. In order to reduce the risk of this move and retain search relevance, WizFlow Flowcharter was released simultaneously.

WizFlow Flowcharter

This was Pacestar’s the first Windows dedicated flowcharting product. It was a spin-off of EDGE Diagrammer restricted to only the symbols, templates, and features useful for flow charting. It was designed to be a lower cost alternative to EDGE for students, educators, individuals, and small businesses. There was also a more fully-featured “Pro” version released simultaneously as WizFlow Pro.

WizFlow Pro Flowcharter

This was a Professional Edition of WizFlow Flowcharter. It contained most of the “power features” of EDGE Diagrammer but was still dedicated to creating flowcharts.

Amazing Flow Charts and Flow Chart Maker

A custom version of WizFlow Flowcharter was developed for Cosmi and published as Amazing Flow Charts and later as Flow Chart Maker.

This was a low cost mass market product that was sold for several years as a stand-alone boxed retail product and later bundled with other productivity tools. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies and was described by Cosmi as having one of their highest sales rates per store.

Paraben Flow Charter

A custom version of WizFlow Flowcharter was developed for Paraben and published online as Paraben’s Flow Charter.

Paraben Net Charter

A custom version of LanFlow Net Diagrammer was developed for Paraben and published online as Paraben’s LAN Charter.

LanFlow Net Diagrammer

This was a diagramming tool dedicated to drawing network LAN diagrams.

Pacestar UML Diagrammer

This was a diagramming tool dedicated to drawing UML diagrams. It’s based on UML 2.o and contains symbols. templates, and special features for drawing UML diagrams like Use-Case Diagrams, Sequence Diagrams, Class Diagrams, Activity Diagrams, and others.

More

There were many other minor products in the Pacestar Software family. They included student and home versions of many of the titles, dedicated diagram readers, custom versions for small publishing companies and software archives. There were also several custom versions made specifically for CDs bundled with textbooks and other educational materials, and some experimental versions to support specialized diagramming methodologies that never caught on.

There were also some customization tools published to allow users to design their own symbols and macros.

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