The word processor wars heat up, and we review WordPerfect’s latest release, 3.0. We also examine a MessagePad bug that may bite in an alarming way, examine how to determine your version of Quicken for update purposes, discuss a new video card from Apple via Radius, and glance in shock at why Apple isn’t establishing a new facility in Williamson Country, Texas. Hypertext proceedings, great quotes, CPU comments, and HP rebates fill out the issue.
Hypertext ’93 Proceedings — A number of people have asked for information on how to get the proceedings of the Hypertext ’93 conference. I don’t know the price, but you can find that and other information (such as shipping details, I imagine) by emailing <[email protected]>. The proceedings for Hypertext ’93 are ACM Order Number 614930 and consist of 32 papers, video descriptions, and panel descriptions, about 300 pages.
Quote of the Week — As a followup to Charles Wheeler’s article in the last issue about converting a Mac site to DOS-based software, a friend passed this on. "After spending nearly a quarter million dollars on DOS-based equipment to replace the Macs in our company, our president was heard to ask, ‘How can we make them more Mac-like?’"
A close second is Stewart Alsop’s comment in the 29-Nov-93 issue of InfoWorld that talks about how PDAs differ from computers. "Many people knowingly wink and say that neither Newton nor Zoomer is the answer. Microsoft and Compaq will get WinPad out and you’ll be able to run your Windows software on your PDA, they say. I consign these people to the category of unknowing and disinterested nincompoops. … In fact, these are the same people who used to make the vacuous statements about running a mainframe on a desktop."
Bill Dickson <[email protected]> writes in regard to On The Road and CPU (TidBITS #203): CPU 2.0.1c will automatically switch to a "docked" set if it senses that a Duo is connected to a dock, and then back to the previously-used set when the machine is restarted outside the dock. Unfortunately, if the undocked set is configured to slow the Mac down to 16 MHz when the Mac is on battery power, and then you re-dock the Duo and restart, you’ll find that the machine is still running at 16 MHz. You must go into the PowerBook Control Panel’s options, set the speed back to normal, and restart.
Psion Updates — Patrick Edmond <[email protected]> writes: "As a Psion Series 3 owner, I can echo Charlie Stross’s comments in TidBITS #203 about the usefulness of the Psion machine. One little correction though: the mailing list mentioned is no longer in operation."
Jack Kobzeff <[email protected]> writes: "You can purchase the Psion Series 3 for a list price of $399 from Psion’s U.S. direct sales arm. For information and other pricing call 508/371-9875," and Masato Ogawa <[email protected]> noted that CompUSA and Fry’s Electronics also carry the Psion, according to an ad in a recent PC Magazine.
Prentice-Hall International-UK made a mistake in the online offer made to TidBITS readers for my book. They have been offering 20 percent off 18.50 pounds, when in fact the base price they should have been charging was 27.50 pounds, which is now in effect. Sorry for the mistake, and if you lucked out on the lower price, congratulations.
$100 rebates are available for Mac owners who purchase any HP LaserJet Series M laser printer before 31-Dec-93. You need a completed rebate certificate (available from your dealer or HP), a copy of your sales receipt, the bar code label from your printer box, and the serial number from your Mac (to prove ownership).
Hewlett-Packard — 800-354-7622
Everyone knows that Silicon Valley is an expensive place to do business, and I’ve heard warnings that unless the area does more for business, companies will immigrate to more favorable locations. I doubt we’ll see refugees fleeing for the Nevada border any time soon, but companies like Apple are locating new facilities in other states, most notably Texas, and specifically, in Austin, Texas.
Apple hoped to establish a 130 acre, $80 million business park just outside of Austin, in Williamson County, and had asked the Williamson County Commissioners for a $750,000 tax rebate in exchange for spending gobs of money on the facility and creating an estimated 700 jobs in the area. Last week the county commissioners rejected Apple’s proposal, not because of the financial aspects of the deal, but because Apple offers benefits to domestic partners of homosexual employees. Few companies are so progressive in this respect, although Microsoft has a similar policy.
Apple spokeswoman Lisa Byrne, sounding somewhat stunned, said in a radio interview that the company would not push the proposal further unless the commissioners reconsidered their three to two decision. I was bothered most by the sheer bigotry of the action – these commissioners seem to equate this policy with the encouragement of homosexuality, ignoring the fact that homosexuality, if a decision at all, certainly isn’t one based on whether or not companies offer health benefits to partners. In that radio interview, one of commissioners went so far as to claim that allowing so many homosexuals into the area (in their eyes, most of the 700 jobs would obviously be filled by gays) would result in broken homes. Hmm? Welcome to the myth of the 1950’s. Whatever one’s views on the subject, the real world today contains homosexuals, and it’s interesting to see the denial of that fact spill over into the money-driven world of big business.
I’m most surprised, and somewhat impressed, by the fact that the commissioners came out and announced the reasoning behind rejecting Apple’s proposal. It would have been far easier for them to reject it for some trumped-up reason, and then to congratulate each other for having turned back the gay menace at the gates of decency (as defined by the Williamson Country border). Enough said – maybe Apple will locate the facility near Seattle instead.
Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers
Apple seems to waver between wanting to provide complete Macintosh system solutions all by itself, and leveraging third-party developers’ product lines to best effect. They’ve found the best of both worlds with last month’s announcement that the company has begun shipping a new "Macintosh Display Card 24AC," an accelerated 24-bit NuBus card manufactured for Apple by Radius.
Currently the card, which supports all of Apple’s Macintosh-compatible monitors and many third-party monitors, is available only in a bundle with the $3,599 Macintosh 21" Color Display (bundle part number B1737LL/A). According to Apple, the card will be available as a stand-alone product in early 1994. Intended users are those who need to view and manipulate large, full-color images.
The Macintosh Display Card 24AC is compatible with all Quadra, Centris, and Macintosh II family computers with an available NuBus slot (the IIsi and Centris/Quadra 610 and 660AV require a NuBus adapter for their PDS slots), and will support forthcoming PowerPC computers. This card differs from the similar Radius card, the PrecisionColor 24X Pro, in that it includes custom ROM firmware and will be compatible with future Apple displays.
— Information from:
People on the nets have been discussing updates to Quicken, the popular personal finance package recently, and Harry Hahn <[email protected]> passed on a useful tip for finding out what version of Quicken you have. Quicken does not advertise new versions, so the only way to find out what version you have is to open the About Quicken dialog box and press the R key, after which the release number appears next to the version number. The last reported release is release 4, but some reports indicate that the only way to get it is to know the secret bug. What’s the bug? Good question.
Most of the problems reported by Larry Wink <[email protected]> were in the Investment portion of Quicken, and you can find out more about them by searching the macintosh-news.src source in WAIS with the phrase "Tell me about bugs in the Quicken Investment Manager as reported by Larry Wink." The first hit should be the Info-Mac Digest V11 #119. Of course, this is easiest done using WAIS for Mac or MacWAIS, both of which are available from <ftp.tidbits.com> in:
Of course, the other way to do this is to email Intuit and ask for the update, a tack with which Bob Warner <[email protected]> had excellent luck, receiving a update in email from Eric Tilenus <[email protected]> of Intuit Marketing within a few hours. So maybe the online support, is, as is often the case, a more productive line of inquiry.
Email might especially help those of you outside of the U.S. Darren Challis <[email protected]> wrote to tell us that he tried to get an update from the Australian Intuit distributors, a firm called Reckon Software, and they eventually sent him the wrong version. When he called back and explained that he wanted the newest version, they said they couldn’t help, since checking the version number requires a Mac and they didn’t have one. Ouch.
A problem that’s been informally acknowledged by Apple tech support could cause a loss of data for Newton MessagePad users. Apple is working to fix the problem, which they believe is a bug in the MessagePad’s handling of alarmed recurring events in the built-in Datebook application.
The bug manifests itself as a state where the Newton splash screen comes up and stays up. Eventually it realizes it’s been on too long and goes to "sleep" but then immediately turns back on and again sits with the splash screen up for a while.
Neither hitting Reset nor leaving the main battery out for a few minutes typically helps, but both are certainly worth a try. Starting but cancelling the hard reset process (by holding down the power switch and pressing reset, then selecting "cancel" when warned about data loss) has also apparently worked in some circumstances. In most cases the user must perform the hard reset, which wipes all data in the MessagePad. If the user has a recent backup, this is only an annoyance, if not, it’s quite a pain.
According to the gentleman at Apple, this seems to occur in some cases that relate to using alarmed recurring events. An Apple internal document suggests that users who must have an alarm on a recurring event should first make it a single event, add the alarm, then add the recurrence setting again.
The support engineer did not know whether the upcoming 1.05 system update will include a fix for this bug; the update is expected to be released before the end of the year.
I recommend that MessagePad owners without a ready means of backup obtain one immediately! Apple’s Connection Kit software is effective at backing up the information, and even provides the capability to access and modify data in the event your MessagePad is elsewhere (for repairs, vacations, or what have you). The next version of the software will provide more thorough import and export capabilities, but even the current (1.0) version is useful. The Connection Kit software is available for Macintosh and Windows, and allows you to connect your MessagePad to Mac or Windows machine via serial cable (included) or to a Mac via LocalTalk.
Each copy of the Connection Kit can be installed on only one computer, but can back up the contents of more than one MessagePad, so sharing wouldn’t be a bad idea. (I can see it now… Newton dealers will soon be offering MessagePad backup services! "Come on in twice a week and back up your data!")
— Information from:
Apple Technical Assistance Center
I’ve been using WordPerfect Mac since the infamous pre-1.0 beta sale. To paraphrase Victor Kiam, I liked WordPerfect Mac 2.0 so much I wrote a book about it. (Well, actually only about 55-60 percent of a book. My wife, Holly Morris, wrote the rest.) And I think that WordPerfect 3.0 continues WordPerfect’s continual improvement in features, interface implementation, and performance. Overall, I feel that WordPerfect Mac 3.0 is the best available Mac word processor.
Interface — Major software packages these days have feature lists far in excess of what any single user needs – general purpose software will always fit that description. Consequently, the design and implementation of the software’s interface determines the usability of all that power. WordPerfect has added Button Bars and Ruler Bars to the standard Mac interface used in the 2.x series. Other noticeable changes include simplified dialog boxes and a new location for the Status Bar at the bottom of the screen instead of at the bottom of each document window. (You can choose to hide the Status Bar completely.)
You can display a single Button Bar along any edge of the screen, and you can change any button on the bar to activate any of WordPerfect’s features. WordPerfect can only show one Button Bar at a time, but you can define any number of bars, saving them in a preferences file (WordPerfect calls it the Library) or in individual documents. WordPerfect has different default Button Bars for normal editing, graphic editing, and equation editing; you can swap among the bars via a pop-up menu at the top of each.
Ruler Bars are a cross between Button Bars and a normal ruler. You can show or hide any of the eight ruler bars (you only see the eighth, the Mailer, if you have PowerTalk installed), but you can’t change the functions of the buttons on the Ruler Bars. Of the Ruler Bars, Ruler and Layout make up what was the ruler in 2.x. The other Ruler Bars (Font, Styles, Table, List, Merge, and Mailer) tend to have functions that had been in hierarchical menus. I find the Ruler Bars easy to use, and I generally only display the Ruler and Layout Bars. If you prefer a spartan interface, the only thing that must remain onscreen is the Control Bar, a thin strip under the window title bar that contains the buttons to show or hide the different Ruler Bars.
WordPerfect expanded the Status Bar to display up to eleven parameters and abbreviated help. This help feature is great, since it works much like balloon help but is so fast I don’t anticipate the need to turn it off. The Status Bar help only describes Button Bars, Ruler Bars, and the Status Bar itself. For menus and dialogs, you must still use balloon help. Although I find WordPerfect’s balloon help to be about twice as fast as Word’s, it is still too slow for standard use.
I don’t think there is room in the Status Bar for all eleven parameters at once, but most people won’t want them all. The parameters are: logical page/line (logical page is the number that actually prints out on the paper), physical page (the one that the printer driver needs if you’re printing only part of a document), time, date, position on the page from top left, write protect status, caps lock status, num lock status, active document number, active cell in a table, and PowerBook battery status.
There are the usual (and sometimes unusual) raft of choices available in the Preferences arena. You can choose whether you want formatting to act like Word (one paragraph at a time) or like WordPerfect (until another formatting command overrules it). There is a choice to prevent WordPerfect from trying to translate fonts linguistically (if you use Symbol font sporadically for science/engineering you do want to prevent the linguistic approach at least sometimes). You can assign a keystroke to any of the 306 commands. You can choose whether and how often to have WordPerfect back up your open files, and you can make WordPerfect drop a guide line from the ruler whenever you reposition a tab or margin setting, which I found to be much more helpful than I expected. There are far more settings, but those are the most memorable options.
Features — New features are always the most obvious to an old hand at a program. Tables, an equation editor, drag & drop editing, and the integration of Grammatik 5 into the main program are the main additions.
Tables are fairly predictable, and I find them easier to modify than Word’s (at this point I have about the same experience with tables in both programs). WordPerfect used to meet about 80 percent of my table needs with its column features. The biggest advance for me is the ability to select a column (it’s about time). In a large table, text entry display bogs down toward the bottom. In a 10 column by 30 row table, I could easily out-type WordPerfect by the end. For single value tables (like data tables) the solution is to type the data as tabbed text without formatting it at all, select the text, and quickly convert it to a table with a menu command. By contrast, reformatting tables in WordPerfect is much faster than in Word for the same table. If you discover that you need more room in one column, just grab the column border and move it. Redraw of the reformatted table isn’t fast, but it beats Word.
WordPerfect lets you perform simple arithmetic on table elements, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and averaging (the most common spreadsheet functions). Recalculation after editing a cell is strictly manual, though, via a recalculate button on the Table Ruler Bar. WordPerfect is smart about arithmetic in that it lets you mix numbers and text in a cell and can still add the number to a total (it considers only the first item recognized as a number in each cell for arithmetic operations).
The equation editor is simple, straightforward, and capable. My secretary raves about how wonderful it is. I have used it for a few dozen real equations, and I figure I won’t bother with my third party equation editor any more. WordPerfect supports Edit Graphic Object, so if you don’t wish to switch from another equation editor, you should get better integration with WordPerfect 3.0.
The internal graphic editor enables you to create fairly sophisticated drawings. I especially like its bezier curve tool, which I find easier to use than the same tool in Canvas. I wish arrowheads were a normal feature. Mike Tippets of WordPerfect wrote a macro for creating arrowheads, but they aren’t as easily modified as native arrowheads usually are. You can assign any color available in Apple’s color wheel to any object, including text in the main document. There are two special types of graphics – Draw Overlay and Watermark. Both are full page graphics that overlap the text area on the page. A watermark works like a header or footer in that once defined it appears on every page until discontinued or changed. In contrast, a draw overlay appears only on the page where it is originally defined. You can have a separate overlay for each page and up to two watermarks and an overlay active simultaneously.
Style support is better than in earlier versions, but I’m still waiting for them to get rid of what I call the "style bulldozer." If you apply a style to a paragraph containing manual changes (remember that sporadic use of Symbol font I mentioned earlier?), the "partial paragraph" formatting changes are wiped out if the applied style includes information contrary to the manual change. Because of this limitation and the lack of character styles, styles are poor for body text, but great for everything else, such as headers, footers, and tables of contents. You can link styles together in a chain, or base one style on another.
WordPerfect allows you to create lists, including Tables of Contents, Tables of Authorities (for lawyers), figures, text boxes (sidebars), tables, indexes, and up to six other custom lists. If you assign captions to your figures and tables, the list automatically uses the caption as the list text. For indexes, WordPerfect includes a concordance feature that enables you to use a list of terms, one per line in a separate file, to generate the index without marking each entry. Your concordance need not be in alphabetical order, but since WordPerfect lets you sort text, there’s no reason not to speed up indexing by sorting the concordance.
I mostly use Sort for distribution lists, but it’s really a mini-database scheme implemented in a word processor. Sorting seldom receives nearly enough attention in any review I’ve seen, including this one.
WordPerfect treats endnotes and footnotes as separate entities, so you can use both at the same time. I can’t live without endnotes in my technical writing, and on the occasions when I’ve needed footnotes too, it has been nice not to have to fake it manually.
Outlining in WordPerfect is weak, being little more than sophisticated paragraph numbering, and without outlining features like collapse/expand or ready rearrangement of levels.
You can script WordPerfect with Frontier and AppleScript, and it supports the Required and Core suites of Apple events, along with the Word Services Suite that enables you to, for instance, use an external spell checker like Spellswell from Working Software. Although WordPerfect is WorldScript-compatible, it cannot handle right-to-left languages.
I can’t effuse enough in describing how much I like WordPerfect’s macros. I almost always have the macro recorder create as much of an operation as I can do manually; then I go to the macro edit window and add loops, conditional branches, keyboard input prompts, and so on. The macro editor has an on-the-fly syntax checker when you hit return after typing a command – a valid command automatically boldfaces to let you know it is valid. If invalid, the first invalid part becomes underlined to identify the glitch. Macros have three kinds of variables – local, global, and document. Local variables are restricted to a single macro, global macros are available to all macros during a session, and document variables are stored with documents. I have a memo-creation macro that stores the author’s name in a document variable. Since the variable is saved with the document, when I or my secretary finish a memo, a signature line macro recalls the author’s name without asking.
Performance — Since version 2.0.1, every release of WordPerfect has been faster than the previous version, an unusual and welcome feat. I think WordPerfect assigned some poor programmer the sole task of making WordPerfect 3.0 scroll quickly. Using the arrow buttons on the scroll bar, WordPerfect screams. I opened a 2.3 MB text file (it took slightly over two minutes to open on a IIci in System 7.0.1) and it scrolled smoothly and quickly. The one action that I suspect WordPerfect will never make quite as fast as the fastest competitor is jump-to-beginning or -end of a file. WordPerfect does some format tracking during that jump, so it will never be instantaneous. Nevertheless, they’ve made the jumps faster too. The first jump is the worst: a beginning to end jump on the 2.3 MB file took 30 seconds the first time (the file had no carriage returns in it, so it was all one "paragraph"), and 10 seconds for subsequent jumps.
WordPerfect has published data which claim that WordPerfect compares well with Word 5.1a in the speed of most features, and is up to three times faster at arrow scrolling, spell checking, and grammar checking for some unspecified file on several configurations. I haven’t checked with a stopwatch, but it feels like it might be true, other than for text entry in large tables.
WordPerfect files can balloon to a large size. The 10 column by 30 row one page table occupies 60K. Other documents aren’t quite so outrageous, but WordPerfect files aren’t particularly space efficient. WordPerfect offers a compressed format as an option for file saving (yet another thing you can set as a default, if disk space is an issue). WordPerfect compresses its own files a bit better than Compact Pro does, so WordPerfect’s solution is fine.
Compatibility — WordPerfect Mac 3.0 files should be compatible with WordPerfect 6.0 for DOS and Windows. The import/export conversion filter hasn’t yet shipped for the Mac version, but supposedly the other versions can read Mac files directly. WordPerfect will even be the first to offer cross-platform equation compatibility (it’s about time), but only with version 6.0. WordPerfect Mac can still read and write WordPerfect 5.1 and 5.0 formats, and the 6.0 filter should ship by the end of the year.
WordPerfect Mac does a decent job of reading Word files, but can’t read fast-saved files, like some other Mac word processors. I find that I have to strip out fixed line height codes in many imported Word files. WordPerfect tries so hard to make the file immediately printable in an identical page image that the line heights wreak havoc with display of graphics. A one-command macro does the trick ("Remove All Code (forward;line height)"). Sometimes I need to tweak converted styles a bit, too, but all things considered I think the Word import is good. The conversion is a one-way street with only a sidewalk (RTF) to go back the other way, and this doesn’t always work well. Unfortunately, saving in DOS WordPerfect format and then importing that into Word fails. WordPerfect Mac also supports XTND conversions, both for import and export, but includes no XTND filters.
WordPerfect Mac requires a 2 MB memory partition, along with System 6.0.7 or later. If you plan to use the graphic editor much, I think a 2.5 or 3 MB memory allocation is safer. The application itself is about 2.5 MB on disk, although a full installation uses about 7.5 MB. WordPerfect includes a bunch of fonts – some are required for the equation editor, and some facilitate compatibility with the fonts that ship with the 6.0 products.
Give this word processor a try, it truly is a Word beater.
[Even I, with my bias toward Nisus, must admit that WordPerfect has a winner here – WordPerfect Mac 3.0 does many things right and continues to support Apple’s technologies such as QuickTime, PowerTalk, AppleScript, and WorldScript more fully than anyone else. Word 6.0 will have a fight on its hands when it ships sometime next year. -Adam]
Upgrades cost about $50 ($25 if you only want the disk), sidegrades from other word processors are about $85, and the full version is about $300. You can find a demo version of WordPerfect that cannot save files and that prints "DEMO" across all pages at <sumex-aim.stanford.edu> as: