Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 123 / NOVEMBER 1990 / PAGE M-8



Apple II forever? No way. Apple Works forever? Maybe. They'll be selling AppleWorks long after the last Apple II leaves the factory. When Apple IIGS computers hit the late-night TV discounters, you'll still be able to buy a fresh copy of AppleWorks.

AppleWorks seems immortal—for software, anyway. In a computer world where programs mature in weeks and die natural deaths in months, AppleWorks wears its years well. Its durability and longevity amaze me. The program is more than half as old as Apple itself, older than my kindergarten-aged daughter even, but it's still the smartest software buy for your Apple II. The classic combination of word processor, spreadsheet, and database is as enticing today as it was at its introduction in 1983.

In large part, that's because the AppleWorks of 1990 isn't the AppleWorks of 1983. The program has changed with the years, gotten much better, and even sired an offspring, AppleWorks GS. So if you're not one of the 200,000 or so who have moved to 3.0, reconsider. Maybe I'm preaching to the converted here (Steve Carlton, AppleWorks product manager at Claris, says the 1989 upgrade offer "went fine"), but there are pressing reasons why you should call Claris at (800) 544-8554, spend the $79, and dump your old AppleWorks. There's not as much happening in Apple software today as there was last year; AppleWorks 3.0 may be the best it gets.

The biggest reason for moving up to 3.0 is undoubtedly the word processor's new spelling checker. Word processors on every other computer have had built-in spelling aids for years, but AppleWorks toughed it out without one. It got to be embarrassing, admitting that I used a writing tool that made me check my spelling by hand. The dictionary isn't huge by today's standard—only 90,000 words—and there's no thesaurus, but it's better than nothing.

The second-place improvement award goes to the database, which got real and now remembers more than twice the number of reports it used to. If you think the old eight-report limit is adequate, you're wrong. It's amazing what you can discover buried in your data when you can look at it 20 different ways. AppleWorks 3.0's database is now tough enough to handle the real business work that requires the flexibility of many reports—like a salesperson's contacts or a small company's customer information file.

The third best reason to upgrade is the expanded list of spreadsheet functions, specifically the financial functions. Only with version 3.0 can AppleWorks really help parents play their most-feared numbers game—potential loan payments, grand totals in the college-savings-plan sweepstakes, and intelligent comparisons of benefit investment choices. The AppleWorks spreadsheet is finally a useful home-productivity tool.

Reason four? At last, integration is a word you can use to describe AppleWorks and keep a straight face. Now you can copy directly to and from all three modules using the Clipboard, although you'll sometimes lose formatting specifics. No more weird printing to the Clipboard first.

All these enhancements were long overdue. Most had been part and parcel of later integrated packages such as Microsoft Works. It was about time that AppleWorks, the original integrated success story, grew up and caught up. It's not quite done—there are still too many "not-here" features, including a linked spreadsheet feature that Carlton claimed was the number-one request from users—but I give it an A for effort.

Once you get your copy of 3.0, you'll want to learn what's new, right? Rather than wading through the manual (for my money, much improved over the 2.0 docs), drop a ten-spot on Using the New Features of AppleWorks 3.0. This audio tape from the National AppleWorks User Group runs you around 3.0's new features. Give NAUG a call at (313) 454-1115, or drop it a line at Box 87453, Canton, Michigan 48187.

And if you want to change 3.0's changes (or something about AppleWorks that's been bugging you for years), head to your local Apple dealer and take a spin through either Super-Patch (Q Labs) or AW 3.0 Companion (Beagle Bros.). Both programs let you get into AppleWorks' guts and make modifications to customize the program.

Of course, if Apple listened to me, there would be no way you could change AppleWorks. That's because I think it would be a brilliant marketing coup if Apple stuck AppleWorks 3.0 in every Apple IIe, IIc, IIc Plus, and IIGS before it leaves the factory floor. Not in the box, but in ROM, where it would be available instantly. Always.

Apple should take a page from Tandy's playbook and bundle software with its computers. The Apple II interface is the AppleWorks interface—why not make it official? Now that Claris is again part of the Apple family, this decision shouldn't even affect the bottom line. Apple could charge another $100 for the computer (not much less than it gets from distributors for AppleWorks). Who would notice? Or, if the marketers were really aggressive, simply assume that AppleWorks would sell more Apple II computers.

After all, isn't that exactly what AppleWorks has been doing for Apple for the past seven years?