Legacy. (word processing software) (evaluation)
by Tony Roberts
Times have changed. It used to be that if you wanted word processing, page layout, and graphics, you needed three separate programs. Today, however, more and more products are combining all three functions. Legacy, a new entry in this everything-you-ever-wanted-in-a-word-processor category, runs under Windows 3.0 and brims with tools designed to make going from initial idea to finished document easy.
The nicest part of this software combination is having word processing features online during page layout. Search and replace, a spelling checker, and a thesaurus can really help get your document in shape before printing.
Legacy also boasts a table generator, which simplifies setting up and formatting tables and grids; mail merge; and Dynamic Data Exchange, which, for example, allows you to link a spreadsheet with a Legacy document so changes made in the spreadsheet will be automatically reflected in the Legacy file.
The program's toolbox is jam-packed. Sadly though, some of the tools and the box itself appear to have been bent in order to make everything fit. The result is less than optimum performance.
To run Legacy, you need at least a 286 system with 640K RAM and Windows 3.0. Legacy's main program file is 1.3 megabytes large. With only 640K of RAM available, there's going to be a lot of disk swapping going on. Even with 3 megabytes of RAM on a 386SX, Legacy's menus and screen redrawing are sluggish.
Legacy is a frame-based system. You build your documents by placing frames on pages and filling the frames with text, graphics, or art. You create various styles for the text elements to define such things as fonts, sizes, positioning, and margins. Similarly, you create properties to manage the attributes of the various frames.
This program may be at its best when it's used to create and fill preset templates and generate fast, sharp output. Setting up templates for commonly used documents-letters, office memos, meeting agendas-assures quick, consistent results. For example, to type a letter, call up the letter template. Select the date style and type in the date. The date style includes positioning information so the date will be properly positioned below your letterhead.
Continue typing the letter, selecting various styles for such things as the recipient's address, salutation, body text, and closing. When you reach the letter's end, formatting is done. All that's left is to check the spelling and print.
Legacy provides several templates that can be used as is or modified. These include forms for letters, envelopes, memos, agendas, proposals, reports, press releases, projection overheads, and newsletters.
It's true that Legacy has much to offer, but it demands much of the machine and its operator. Even with a fast computer and plenty of memory, the going can be slow. When working with large amounts of text, it may be more expedient to enter the material into another word processing program and import the result into Legacy, which includes import filters for most major word processing programs.
Also, Legacy's spelling checker, while fine for checking a relatively clean document, leaves something to be desired for massive cleanup projects.
In one of my projects, I misspelled the word scared by typing an x rather than a c. Legacy's spelling checker dutifully stopped when it found sxared, but the replacement words it suggested left me cold. The top three replacement options were sexier, sudsier, and saxifrage.
Desktop publishers considering Legacy will want to note that the program has no apparent provision for distinguishing between opening and closing quotation marks. The documentation does not mention quotation marks, but the manuals exhibit the shortcoming by using inelegant inch marks throughout.
Legacy's documentation does a thorough job of guiding you through the program, and it's usually easy to locate needed information. The program's online tutorial is topnotch. The tutorial consists of 29 lessons on various aspects of the program. The lessons, which take from 5 to 15 minutes to complete, can be used in any order at any time.
These tutorials explain the material, then guide you through the menu selections needed to achieve the desired results. If you work through these lessons, you'll have a good basic understanding of Legacy.
But be forewarned: This program is complex, and with so many possibilities, it'll take time to master.
IBM and compatible 286- or 386-based Ats; 640K RAM (1-2MB recommended); DOS 3.2 or higher; Windows 3.0 hard disk; EGA, VGA, or Hercules graphics; mouse--$495
P.O. Box 9001
Boulder, CO 80301