It's a bird, it's a plane. (word processing aid) (evaluation) Dan Robinson.
It's Scripsit in a blue cape. It can't leap tall buildings in a single bound, and it's still slower than a speeding bullet, but SuperScripsit is well named, for it is truly a super program.
Radio Shack's new work processor teams the TRS-80 with the Daisy Wheel II printer to produce proportional, justified printing that approaches book quality. Priced at $199, the program is much easier to use than its earlier Clark Kent version and contains most of the state-of-the-art features found in modern word processing programs.
The SuperScripsit package includes a pair of disks for the Model I and a pair for the Model III, eight half-hour lessons on audio cassettes, a 109-page training manual, a quick reference card, and a 144-page reference manual.
SuperScripsit may be called from TRSDOS together with the name of the text file to be processed, and fires up with the first of many menus which make the program user-friendly. The Display
When entering text or editing, 14 text lines at a time are displayed above a format line. This line depicts margins and tab settings in inches and contains a ghost cursor that keeps pace with the text cursor. Below is the status line which contains the document name, the printed page and line numbers, and the position of the cursor in inches. The print pitch and line spacing for the current paragraph are shown together with indicators when certain modes are active.
Note the distinctions: although the screen may give equal space to every character, format, and print symbol, the status line is smart enough to consider only the space the characters will require in print, even given the variable width of proportional-font characters. Second, note that each paragraph may have its own margins, tabs and line spacing.
The status line is further used as a mini-menu in answer to certain instructions and if an improper command is given, the status line is replaced by a flashing error message. Text Control
SuperScripsit uses the familiar key for control in conjunction with letter and symbol keys. Unlike the original Scripsit, all of the combinations are logical: Control-D is used for delete, Control-I for insert and so on.
SuperScripsit offers a large number of cursor movements with the arrow keys. By themselves, the arrow keys move left and right a character at a time and wrap around to the next line when they reach the end of the current one. The up and down arrows move one screen line at a time and when shifted move to the beginning or to the end of the text file. A shifted left arrow moves to the left margin while a shifted right arrow moves to the next tab stop.
An arrow pressed in conjunction with H or F moves to the header or footer page, while an arrow pressed with W, g, P or V moves to the next/previous word, paragraph, printed page, or video page. An arrow with N permits an input to move to a specified printed page, and with an L to a desired line number on the current printed page. Finally, an arrow with S will move the cursor to a specified search string.
Other common commands are a little more sparse. For example, there is only one way to delete text: hold the control key and D to eat a character at a time. The alternative is to designate the text to be deleted as a block, call the block action mini-menu, select Delete, and finally answer an "Are You Sure?" prompt to erase the text.
Insertions are a little simpler. A control-I opens the text for unlimited insertion. When the insertion is completed, a delete command closes the text. Special Features
A unique feature of SuperScripsit is the align tab. When this function is called, the text moves to the left of the cursor as it is entered until the decimal point is keyed, and then the remaining input flows normally to the right. The result is an easy-to-use way to ensure that lists of figures will remain neatly in column even if the format of the paragraph is later altered. The align tab symbol may be changed from the default decimal point to any character, if needed to maintain a columnar presentation with product or part numbers and the like.
Antoher unusual feature offered by SuperScripsit is the tab line. Each paragraph contains it own tab and margin settings and tab and margin settings can be changed up to 50 times in a document. The tab line contains the left and right margins, tab settings, and an Indent tab to position the beginning of each new paragraph. The Indent tab may be set beyond the margin to provide reverse or hanging indentations for outlines.
The paragraph may use the system tab or call upon one of ten special tab formats stored by the program, all of which are programmable by the user. A quick-set command may be called to set margins and the indent tab for individual paragraphs. A separate tab Help Menu appears if blunders are made while formatting tab lines.
If the print width is greater than the 64 characters available on the TRS-80 screen, the text may be "windowed" in eight-character increments to the left or right. Unlike the original Scripsit, the new program with its wraparound cursor movements makes windowing an easy-to-use aid to ensure that the printed copy will appear as the user intended. Search and Block Commands
The search routine in SuperScripsit presents a menu with find/delete/replace choices. The program may be instructed to make searches independent of whether the string is in upper or lower case, or optionally will respect the case of the string. A search may be specified to locate only complete words which equal the string or to find the string even if it is embedded within a longer word. Searches are made from the cursor position to the end of the text file, and may be set to pause after each match to permit selective deletions or replacements or contnue through the text uninterrupted.
Many of the functions of SuperScripsit are performed through block commands. A block of text may be marked by moving the cursor to the beginning and then the end of the block, or by a Quick command which prompts for block identification by word, sentence, paragraph, printed page, from the cursor to the end of the text file. A block action command then presents a mini-menu from which a choice may be made to perform the block functions.
If the cursor is moved to a new position, Adjust gives the marked block the same format as the paragraph in which the cursor is located. Copy writes the block to disk and then duplicates it in the new location, while Move performs the move and also deletes the copy from the old position. Recall inserts the block from disk at the current cursor location, even if it was saved from a previous file. Print delivers a hard copy of the marked block, and Linespace alters the spacing of that block only.
Freeze makes the block impervious to change until it is unfrozen so as to preclude alteration if the text is later manipulated as part of a larger block. There is a Search option which functions like the global search but is confined to the marked block.
The Hyphen option brings the cursor to the segment of the word on the following line which would fit in the current line if hyphenated. The cursor can then be moved to the proper break point, and when a hyphen is struck, the word is broken and a hyphen inserted. The text is reformatted and the cursor moves on to the next hyphenation opportunity. Other Features
A Control-C commands centering of the paragraph where the cursor rests, and whenever the cursor is moved over a centered paragraph, a Cen is displayed in the status line.
Text display may be toggled with a view mode to show the text as it will appear in print or to display format and print symbols as an aid in editing.
Ten user keys can be programmed to function with the control key in a sequence of up to 127 keystrokes each. A key sequence could, for example, insert a company letterhead or logo with a dot matrix printer, or type the complete standard signature block. The user keys can chain to one another and can loop back on themselves to provide such functions as scrolling.
SuperScripsit can be made to recognize widows so that the first line of a new paragragp doesn't end a page, or the last line of a paragraph hangs by itself at the beginning of a new one. When ordered to do so SuperScripsit will avoid widows by printing one more or one less line at the end of a page.
Headers and footers may contain up to 768 characters each. They may be identified to appear on odd, even, or all pages, and a menu option permits identifying the first page on which they will appear. Printing
SuperScripsit has built-in functions to support the ability of the Daisy Wheel II to use sub- and superscripts, bold printing, strike-through, underscore, and double underscore. A top-of-form command sends reverse linefeeds equal to the number of lines printed on the current page to support two-column printing. Proportional or mono spacing or no justification at all can be specified, and the print pitch can be set to match the current wheel. Line spacing may be set for single to triple spacing with half-llines supported.
The printer menu permits commanding a page pause to insert a new sheet of paper at the end of each page. The program also supports a pause print command which can be placed anywhere in text to enable the operator to change daisy wheels before resuming printing.
SuperScripsit supports the Daisy Wheel II: Lineprinter IV, V, VI, and VIII; DWP 410, DMP 200,400 and 500; and offers a general serial driver, as well. Several sample text files are provided on the disks to lead the new user through the lessons.
The CLEAR key is used to denote print codes embedded in the text, with the following character interpreted by the printer driver to activate the function. The SuperScripsit user can program both the shifted and unshifted number keys to operate in conjunction with the CLEAR key to send up to 20 sequences of special printer codes. Menus
SuperScripsit calls up several menus to support user action such as opening a document, printing, or setting system parameters, and another pops up to offer options for Search. Seven screens of Help menus may be called in addition to the special Tab Help menu. Mini-menus appear for block actions, entering headers or footers, and Quick setting of line-spacing or margins. Most menus call for a simple response, but some require editing to establish new SuperScripsit default parameters. Form Letters
SuperScripsit contains a file merge capability which allows inserting of data from a variables file into the text for form letter production. For example, if the program encounters/NAME/in the letter it will insert the data from the NAME field in the variables file. One copy of the form letter will be printed for each record in the file. Profile III may be used to create variable data for merged form letters, or they may be written using SuperScripsit, with the variable field names entered as the first record. Documentation
Both the Figures training book and the Reference Manual are tabbed for quick access, and both are clearly written. The reference manual contains a copy of the Daisy Wheel II printer driver source code as an aid to Model III users who need to write a driver for their own printers. Model I users will need a bit of experience to write a driver, as the differences are not defined.
The training manual, cassette instructions, and sample text files on disk provide a painless introduction to SuperScripsit operation. Even a beginner in word processing will find that the course makes learning word processing easy following the one-step-at-a-time format. Emphasis is on the Daisy Wheel II, however, and users of other printers will miss many of the finest features of the program. Utilities
The program has a utility module to compress a SuperScripsit file to its minimum size, although there must be sufficient space on the disks to contain both versions simultaneously. Other utilities convert SuperScripsit files to ASCII and back again to retain compatibility with old Scripsit files and Basic programs saved with the A option.
The Proofread option uses the Scripsit Dictionary in a second drive on the Model III with a 73,000 word vocabulary. The Model I requires three drives and is limited to 34,000 words. The Warts
The SuperScripsit text buffer holds nearly 12,000 characters, and the text file is written to disk automatically when the buffer fills or when the user is ready to terminate the session. For safety's sake, the user may empty the buffer to disk at any time. Since SuperScripsit writes the file to disk as it grows, the length of a document is limited only by disk capacity, and with a second Model III 40-track, double density drive that quantity is awesome.
Manipulation of very large files is possible, but can be a slow process when dealing with more than 12,000 characters. The user must wait for the text to be read from and written to disk even to move from one end of the file to another. Old habits of dealing with small segments and then combining them for printing will have to be changed, for there is no way to merge even two small text files. Smaller segments must be stored one at a time as a block and later inserted into a second file.
SuperScripsit must be used without a write-protect tab. TRSDOS will write market blocks to drive 0 when identified for a move or copy, although text files may be identified to be written to other drives as a part of their file specification. The program has its own directory command. This is not supported on the Model I however, and my efforts to make SuperScripsit function with operating systems other than TRSDOS failed.
Surprisingly, three common features found in other word processors are absent: the program does not support keyboard entry during printing, nor does it allow chain printing of lengthy documents or support insertion of "boiler-plate" or standard paragraphs from disk. The more versatile delete commands found in other programs would be a blessing. Summary
But that's being picky, for SuperScripsit does just about everything and does it very well, indeed. Users can be certain that Tandy programmers or out-siders will quickly have patch programs on the market to provide the few features that SuperScripsit lacks as well as the added utilities that are only now beginning to appear to enhance older word processors.
The program truly is Scripsit in a blue cape: it's SuperScripsit.
Products: Tandy-Radio Shack SuperScripsit (data communication equipment)