This is not a review but a rave. It takes a lot to impress me these days, but I’ve been impressed by ClarisWorks. I’m not even all that likely to use it since I mostly do a ton of writing in Nisus and uAccess, but I suspect that if I need to do a compound document I’ll use ClarisWorks. In this day and age of 1.4 MB programs that prefer 8 MB of RAM, ClarisWorks is a mere 562K and likes only 900K of RAM. For all that you get word processing, graphics, spreadsheet, database, and communication capabilities. Taking each alone, the modules are fairly unimpressive, but when you use them as they were meant to be used, they’re great.
Start a letter. Draw a whimsical scrawl right in the letter without changing windows. Remember that you need to include some simple numbers, and draw out a spreadsheet as easily as you would draw a rectangle. Decide you’d like to graph those numbers and it’s a two-step process. Scale the graph and add a legend as an independent text block with the text tools. Move all these objects around as in a page layout program. Run the spelling checker on the whole thing, including text in the spreadsheet. You can do all of this without changing windows or documents or modules – just select an object and the appropriate tools are present.
Of course, now that I’ve raved about it, let me emphasize that if you have sophisticated needs, you’ll outgrow ClarisWorks quickly. I’d like to see the same sort of tool-based philosophy – "What You Need When You Want It" – with all engines at full power. Let’s face it, I want Nisus’s text-processing power, Excel’s or Resolve’s numeric capabilities, FileMaker Pro’s or Panorama II’s database skills, MicroPhone II’s communication abilities merged with uAccess’s UUCP connectivity, and Canvas’s drawing power to top it off. Oh, and it would be nice to have all of this in a pasteboard-style environment from PageMaker or XPress, but that might be asking too much for tomorrow. 🙂
Seriously, folks, ClarisWorks is good. I’ve heard good things about BeagleWorks too, but haven’t had a chance to see it yet. I hope that I’ll be able to say similar things about it. I said at first that this is not a review, but we do have a full review of ClarisWorks coming out soon as a special issue, so stay tuned to the network ether.