Word 5 Impressions Sequel
Welcome to part two of our commentary on Word 5. Word 5 comes as an 825K application which forms the core of the word processor. A number of its features are actually add-in modules which sit in the "Word Commands" folder. The idea here is that third parties could write additional commands for specialized tasks and users can decide which commands to install, thus minimizing the amount of space disk space that Word consumes. This ability to ad functionality via modules is one of the main features of System 7 so it is nice to see developers using this technique.
OLE — However, some of these commands take advantage of Microsoft’s own Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technology, which is kind of like System 7’s AppleEvents and Publish & Subscribe, but not quite. Microsoft is implementing OLE (pronounced o-lay ) right and left in its applications, particularly on the Windows side. We are still trying to fully understand OLE, but we do know that Word 5 users having the necessary applications and memory may have some fun with it. Word 5’s OLE features only work with System 7, Word, and Excel (Microsoft hasn’t released the specs, though it may soon).
Publish & Subscribe requires three files: publisher, edition, and subscriber. Two particular advantages of Publish & Subscribe are that it allows multiple subscribers and works with any System 7-savvy application. A potential disadvantage is that edition files may start cluttering your hard drive. Microsoft’s Linking creates a direct link between two files or two parts of one file, with no intermediary edition file. Embedding works like this: say you do a report in Word and include some totals from Excel. In the old days you would cut and paste them in, and today you might do a Publish & Subscribe (or a Link) so that you could change the spreadsheet and conveniently update your Word report. But, if you take the report home to work on it, you need to remember the Word file, possibly the Edition file, and the Excel worksheet (starts to sound luggable, not portable). If you instead embed the totals from Excel into Word, you actually embed the entire Excel worksheet, not just the totals. If you take the Word file home and then need to change some numbers, you can access them through your Word file. (Both these scenarios assume you have Word and Excel at home). In addition, if you submit the report electronically, someone wondering about your totals could access the entire worksheet. Embedding won’t be right every time, but it does have appropriate uses.
Equation Editor — Word 5 uses OLE to link with its new Equation Editor, which is actually a modified and stripped-down version of Design Science’s MathType. Some of the bigger items that were removed include: the TeX interface, macros, and the ability to save as EPS or PICT. The Equation Editor represents a significant improvement over Word 4’s equation abilities. For example, Word 4 allows you to make a fraction by typing \f(42,100). This isn’t bad for simple stuff, but when you consider that the innocuous-looking backslash comes from typing command-option-backslash, it grows more complicated. I’m not particularly qualified to evaluate an equation editor, but it looks like a serious and useful program, and it has many more options than Word 4’s formulas ever dreamed of offering.
The Equation Editor does not save. If you use System 6, you must copy equations to the Scrapbook or another file before quitting. If you use System 7, OLE-style links automatically incorporate the equation in your file. To edit an existing equation with OLE, you just double-click it to jump to the Equation Editor. Although this is intuitive if you have a strong understanding of OLE, the common System 7 user may be somewhat mystified by having to create a new equation by selecting Object from the Insert menu. So it’s not perfect.
Graphics — Word 5 also uses OLE to link graphics to Word’s drawing window. Unlike Nisus and possibly other word processors with graphics capabilities, Word 5 forces you to create and edit graphics in a separate window from your text. Poor design, in my opinion. To create a graphic you click a button on the Ribbon, and if the graphic already exists you double-click the graphic in order to edit it. The draw window acts the way I remember MacDraw from about 1987 when I had my first taste of Macintosh graphics. It has the usual drawing tools: text, line, polygon, square, rounded square, circle, and arc. You can apply a variety of patterns and any of eight colors to the outlines and the interiors of the shapes. Text can be aligned left, right, and center. You can choose from four different arrow-line types and several line thicknesses. You can flip objects and send them to the front and back. It’s awkward to move into a different window to edit the graphic, but, on the other hand, you can rotate text to any angle that you like. It’s not fancy, but for basic stuff, it gets the job done.
Those of you who have used Word 4 may have encountered its Position command, which you use to "position" graphics or paragraphs of text on the page. It’s nice that you can position graphics, but if you plan to do it often, you really should use a desktop publishing program. Complex positioning in Word represents a form of computer torture. Word 5 takes the Word 4 positioning logic and tries to make it a little bit easier via the Frame command, but still has a way to go before this function becomes even moderately user friendly.
Find File — A command that I rather like is the Find File command. I’m not as organized as I’d like to be, and my Macintosh reflects this. Also, my Mac is a little slow, so I tend to throw files on the desktop or in a random folder when saving, promising myself that I’ll file them away neatly when I have time. This works great except that I sometimes lose files. I keep Word’s Find File command installed so that I can access it from the File menu or from Word’s Open dialog box. It allows me to search for a file based on a number of attributes including the file’s text, title, creation date, or some other stuff too. I can even preview the file before I open it to make sure I have the right one (including graphics files). Even on this pokey Mac, the preview is almost instant.
Import & Export — Word 5’s translators are all considered commands and can be installed as needed. Nothing is particularly ground breaking or unexpected, except that it can now open PICT, PICT2, TIFF, or EPS files through the Standard File Dialog box (you can also insert these files into a Word document). Microsoft added the ability to open and save files in formats including: DOS WordPerfect 5.0 and 5.1, MacWrite 4.5, 5, and II, Word for Windows (WinWord to its friends), and all versions of Word for DOS. One important point is that Word 5 uses the same file format as Word 4, unlike Word 4 and Word 3, so there shouldn’t be any major problems switching between them.
Writing Tools — Another pair of installable commands are the spell checker and dictionary. The dictionary is based on the American Heritage Dictionary and has 88,000 root words (Word 4 had only 56,000 root words). Word 5’s speller guesses at spellings automatically, but is rather slow. Luckily, you can turn the guess option off if you use a slower Macintosh. Unlike Word 4, Word 5 lets you ignore words. You open and close dictionaries through Preferences instead of using Word 4’s method of opening the spell check window and then going directly to the File menu, choosing open, and opening the dictionary. That’s a relief, but you’re still beeped to save the User Dictionary when you quit, something you’re often not expecting, especially if Word has been running all day without quitting.
I haven’t had a chance to work with the Thesaurus, but here’s some administrivia about it. Word 4 used a version of Microlytics’s WordFinder DA thesaurus program. The WordFinder that shipped with Word 4 only works with Word 4 and System 7 if you use the Font/DA Mover to install WordFinder into Word. The WordFinder that shipped with Word 4 should not be used with Word 5. Microlytics and Microsoft are going their separate ways. Microlytics will soon release a System 7-compatible thesaurus, and Word 5 now uses a completely different thesaurus.
I haven’t worked much with the Grammar Checker, because my Mac has a measly 2.5 megabytes of memory. The Grammar Checker comes with a bunch of rules which it uses to look at text. Like all grammar checkers, it sometimes gets things out of context, because all it can do is mechanically apply its rules. If it flags a rule violation, it shows you the rule and explains it. You can turn rules off if you don’t like them.
In The End — [This wasn’t mentioned above, but we at TidBITS recently attended Microsoft’s Word 5 demo at the local user group’s monthly meeting. We saw a video clip of the Kennedy assassination in a QuickTime movie within a Word 5 document. Snazzy, but expected in a supposedly System 7-savvy application.]
Word has more commands than I have time to write about tonight, so instead of trying to make time for another command, I’d like to mention the manual. Microsoft received a lot of feedback about the Word 4 manual, and no wonder. The manual includes most of commands, but in alphabetical order, and good luck figuring out the positioning command even with the manual. The Word 5 manual abandons the alphabetical approach, includes tips and tricks, and in the parts I have read, provides extremely clear explanations. Early on in the manual there is a section on how the Macintosh organizes files and folders. [Based on personal experience, many Word users need some help in this department -Tonya] The manual grows progressively more complex with sections on printing envelopes and page numbering and continuing to an entire chapter devoted to Publish & Subscribe and Linking and Embedding. This chapter exemplifies the new manual’s approachit explains how each option works using text and diagrams and gives examples of when each one might be most appropriate. I give the manual a big thumbs up.
In part I of this article, I incorrectly stated that Word 5 could not search for all bold and replace with, say, italic. This was incorrect. Word 5 can search for a set of formatting and replace with a different set. Sorry about that, but I hope these two articles will help you figure out whether or not Word 5 is worthwhile for you. One thing that’s unfortunate is that in many ways, Microsoft has become the IBM of the phrase "No one was ever fired for buying IBM." Do look at Word 5 carefully on your own as well, because many people will be far better served by something fast and simple like WriteNow. Others will prefer the macros and searching capabilities of Nisus, and lots of people like the ease of working with the Mac and PC versions of WordPerfect. Word 5 is big, powerful, and often a tad clumsy, but if you need its features, it won’t disappoint.
Design Science — 800/827-0685 — 213/433-0685
Microsoft Customer Service — 800/426-9400
Microsoft Mac Word Technical Support — 206/635-7200
Word 5 manual