They are programs which are written to achieve a specific objective that meet end user operational needs. Mostly they are designed a specific functional area such as school management, design among others. Today almost all the fields have their own customized application software to meet the needs of that area.
The main categories of application software are:
1. Word processors
They are application software used to manipulate mostly text. They started as a standalone programs which used the concept of a type writer. Examples of word processors are: Microsoft word, word perfect, openoffice.org writer etc. They are characterized by their ability to create table of contents, mail merging, formatting feature, insertion of various items among other properties.
They have a wide range of application from businesses, schools, home and in so many other areas as long has one need to manipulate text data.
They are programs used to manipulate mostly number characters and for analysis. They are made up of rows and columns (cell) which are referenced using an alphanumerical character. B7 is an example of cell referenced which means it can be found on column B and row 7. Example of spreadsheet include Microsoft excel, openoffice.org calc etc
They have formulae and functions which are used to perform calculations depending with the user need. Charting facilities, filtering and sorting and formatting feature are among other features of a spreadsheet program.
They are mostly used in business to calculate budgets, financial analysis and other business mathematics. This does not limit their use to business because they can be used across all the major field for analysis purpose.
3. Database management systems (DBMS)
They are programs used to manage data and information. They manage by accepting data, manipulating it to get information and providing means of retrieval of the information in the most basic ways. Most of DBMS have object which are used i.e. tables, forms, reports, queries etc. example include, Microsoft access, MySQL etc.
Their main characteristics come from the object available which allow creating report and forms from the table where the data was entered from. Queries also allow retrieval of information depending on a certain criteria specified by the user.
They can be used to manage any type of data which give them a wide area of application, from simply managing individual data to multinational companies managing their client data.
4. Graphic programs
They are used to design new artwork which can be used in other program as images to enhance the document. They range from simple drawing programs like MS paint to more sophisticated like Computer Aided Design (CAD). Example include: Microsoft paint, AutoCAD, Corel Draw etc.
They have drawing tools which enable user to draw their art by controlling a pointing device. The tools simplifies the drawing work when you compare with hand drawings. They improves on accuracy and also softcopy allow production of more many copies.
They can be used across a range of application from designing building blue print to drawing a hut on a computer. The drawing tools available dictate how sophisticated the drawing can be.
5. Presentation programs
used to create presentations which can be presented in different platforms. It can be done on a computer, LCD projector etc. Examples are: Microsoft PowerPoint etc.
They have slide where user add a single concept per slide for easy explanation during presentation. They offer slide transition which give the slide a unique view as it change from one slide to another.
In business they can be used to present new ideas, the analysis of end year performance and can also be used in any other field where user want to present to a group of audience.
6. Desktop Publishing
They are used to create a publication that meets the standards for publication. They manipulate all the elements of data that are required in a specific publication to ensure it meet the requirement. Examples include: Microsoft Publisher, Adobe PageMaker etc.
They have many fonts which gives the document a unique and original appearance and allow page formatting, and other formatting feature to ensure a good publication is produces.
They are used to create newspaper, books, magazines, newsletters etc.
Other application programs include: booking programs, security monitoring, banking programs and so many others depending on the field.
General application programs are many and are used to meet user needs. This means we can have as main application programs as we have the user needs.