The most amazing feature of ClarisWorks is the least touted in the advertising and packaging: page layout. The combination of three elements makes ClarisWorks one of the better low-end page layout buys to date on the Mac: flexible and editable views, the frames concept, and the object-oriented graphics document type.
All document types and frames allow completely flexible and editable views of the document from 3.13% all the way up to 3200%. The surprising thing is how quickly ClarisWorks rescales the view. Only with a complicated set of graphics, spreadsheet, and word processing frames in a single longish document is any significant delay during rescaling noticeable. TrueType makes scaling over 100% extremely legible, and 12-point type is legible down to about 50% reduction.
Another innovative viewing feature is the ability to change how the pages scroll across the screen. They can be re-arranged to not only go side by side but also across pages horizontally up to a nine page-wide grid – in other words, nine pages across as you click the horizontal scroll bar.
Combine the live editing, excellent legibility, and multiple page layout views, and you have an amazing page layout tool. Layout tasks that are normally a struggle in Word and Word Perfect are truly a pleasure in ClarisWorks. I’ve even reduced a document view down to 3.13% and effectively used this view to rearrange paragraphs and charts.
The page layout power doesn’t stop there, though. Because any frame or graphic can be rearranged with the arrow tool, you can achieve fairly professional effects with a little work. This can be done in the word processing, database, and spreadsheet document types, but is best accomplished via a graphics document, which provides grouping and ungrouping, the ability to lock objects and/or anchor them to other objects, a lockable grid, and full access to frame and view features. Further, ClarisWorks has an innovative feature in that frames and graphical objects can actually be broken over page breaks, if you wanted to do that for some bizarre reason.
The results are fantastically useful. You can flow graphics, text, and charts around one another simply by rearranging things with the arrow tool. While the linked text frames can take a bit of getting used to, once understood they make a variety of otherwise-difficult tasks easy, such as adjusting text to flow around a diagram. Text and graphics can rotate in 90 degree increments (although rotating a resized or linked object or frame breaks the links). Objects can be moved backwards and forwards in layers, so that one can get any combination of overlays. Sure, you don’t have all the bells and whistles of real page layout programs, but you do get one of the snappiest document formatters around.