Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 130 / JUNE 1991 / PAGE 132

Samna Word IV. (word processing software ) (evaluation)
by Barry Brenesal

This is the first upgrade to Samna's full-featured, character-based word-processing line since the debut of its popular Ami and Ami Professional for Windows. Modifications in this 3.0 release add some improved features to an already noteworthy product.

The most significant changes involve increased support for laser printers. Samna Word IV now allows you to install as many fonts as disk space permits, instead of the 30 maximum allowed in previous product versions. Compugraphic's Intellifont has been asdded to improve font images on screen. Margin setting for proportional printing has also been simplified to adjust automatically when type style or size is altered.

WordBase Manager, a textsearch utility, is an import from the recently discontinued Samna Word Plus IV. Like TextWare (and the first of its kind, Unix's GREP), WordBase indexes your documents for quick retrieval later, as opposed to PC-Browse or Vq, which perform full text searches every time they are invoked. It's an unusual feature, not often found in word processors, and potentially very useful. Academics can build book and chapter indices with it. Researchers can swiftly locate and compile data from a large number of sources. Corporations have been using similar applications lately to build hypertext presentations for staff, sales, and management.

Samna Word IV's other features aren't new, but they remain distinctive enough to warrant comment. The thesaurus, for instance, provides not only synonyms, but antonyms as well. Access to 12 different foreign language keyboards (including a Greek/math set for engineers) is easy. A document-description page tracks usage within the word processor, including edit and creation time, revision dates, numbers of pages, and edits and keystrokes. There's also revision marking, which saves both deletions and additions you've made while editing. Your document can be viewed and printed in its final form, pre-edited form, or with changes only.

Not included is Samna Word Plus IV's integrated spreadsheet. It was a good one but lacked some of the high-end, memory-intensive financial operations only possible in pre-80386 days through stand-alone spreadsheets. Though currently offered to Samna Word IV users as a separate module, it now suffers in comparison to larger, integrated programs that also include a database and programming language, like Informix's Smartware II. More regrettable are Samna Word IV's file-exchange utilities, which have not been upgraded from previous releases. The exchanger imports only ASCII files and balks at any high-bit characters or changes to margin settings.

Graphics conversions were always handled better than text in Samna Word releases, embracing TIFF (.TIF), Lotus 1-2-3 (.PIC), and PC Paintbrush (.PCX) formats. Lotus announced after its recent merger with Samna that this release is intended to show loyalty to the product's character-based constituency, but there's such a thing as maintaining tradition too long. Samna Word IV's menu interface is an example. Two years ago when I looked at Samna Word Plus Iv, a thorough revision of the interface was in the works, yet it never saw the light of day. Whatever the reason, Samna Word Iv's menu structure is both attractive (each option on its own line in capital letters) and unintuitive. Consider the command allocated to F9,: DO, short for do a standard editing function. But it won't DO paragraph indentation; that's another function key. And it won't enhance text with underlining or boldface; that's yet another key. But F9 will do graphics, ASCII/Samna Word format interchanges, Page Preview, and searches. The logic there, if any, is arbitrary.

Some commands, in addition, have bent out of shape to accommodate first letter menu choices. Format doesn't realign paragraphs; it sets form parameters such as margins and headers. Samna Word Iv's Repage is closer to a more standard Format command, changing document structure to fit formatting parameters.

Samna Word IV's documentation is good, fortunately, and comes with excellent online tutorial files. It also includes removable cards for XT-and AT-style keyboards that list many Word IV commands and their keys.

In Samna Word IV 3.0 competitive in the current character-based word-processing market? Registered Word IV users will find the upgraded features almost compulsory at $49.95. It's otherwise priced competitively with WordStar and WordPerfect, though it lacks the intuitive keyboard handling of the former and the conversion utilities of the latter. It does have some fine and unusual features that aren't standard among word processors. Samna Word Iv's learning curve is steep, but the view from the top is excellent.