Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 141 / JUNE 1992 / PAGE 100

JustWrite 1.0. (word processing software) (Evaluation)
by Clayton Walnum

Until recently, it would've been easier to convince Bill Gates to sweep floors at IBM than it would've been to find an inexpensive Windows-compatible word processor. Luckily, word processor price wars have been raging, with major titles like Microsoft's Word for Windows (WinWord) being discounted from an appalling $495.00 to a more palatable $129.95. The catch? To get these low prices, you must be "upgrading" from another word processor.

If you can get the $129 price on WinWord, Ami Pro, or another high-end package, by all means do so. But if you're not on the upgrade track or if you're looking for a Windows word processor that won't bury you in a lot of fancy features you can't use, you might want to take a gander at Symantec's JustWrite.

Amazingly, JustWrite looks and acts a lot like WinWord. It features a toolbar and ruler similar to WinWord's ribbon and ruler, and while JustWrite lacks macro capabilities, it does include a full-featured spelling checker and thesaurus. The spelling checker boasts a 100,000-word dictionary, making it only slightly smaller than the 130,000-word dictionary included with WinWord.

JustWrite's toolbar icons provide access to many text-formatting functions, including font and font size, text color, text attributes (bold, italic, underline, and strike through), superscript and subscript, justification, line spacing, and paragraph spacing. Any of these icons can be added to or deleted from the toolbar, customizing it to match you needs perfectly.

JustWrite can handle many document layouts, including single- and multiple-column (up to eight columns), as well as documents that mix graphics and text. To help with the page-layout chores, you can create a style library containing frequently applied styles for text elements like titles, subheads, and body text. In addition, you can create section libraries, which define the format of a specific portion of a document, and document libraries, which store document formats.

Moreover, JustWrite has the ability to import and export several text formats, including WordPerfect and WinWord. To handle these types of documents, you don't need to use a special import function. JustWrite imports them automatically.

Fairly sophisticated documents can be created with JustWrite, using text, table, and graphic frames. Text frames allow you to create horizontal or vertical text banners and other special text elements, while graphic frames allow you to import several types of graphics files, including PCX, TIF, and Microsoft Paint files. Graphics also can be copied from Window's clipboard. You can scale, crop, or move the imported graphics as desired. You can add borders and backgrounds to any type of frame.

Especially nice are the table frames, which present you with a spreadsheet-like entry form, complete with column heads, row heads, and cells. You can easily change column and row sizes with your mouse, and you can insert whatever additional rows and columns you need.

Your text can be viewed in "proof" or "detailed" mode, the latter of which displays invisible characters, such as carriage returns, spaces, and tabs. You can also view your document in several sizes, including normal, enlarged, reduced, and full page. The full-page view is the closest JustWrite comes to a print-preview mode. Unfortunately, on my system, I was unable to get the full-page representation to resemble closely the final output. The screen always showed the body text about 25 percent too narrow, with a deceptively wide right margin. (Documents printed fine.) Although Symantec's technical support was excellent (the technicians tried to help me fix the problem over the phone; when that didn't work, they sent out a new set of disks), I was never able to get this feature to work properly.

JustWrite supports Windows' Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE), so you can insert data from other applications, such as a spreadsheet chart, and be assured of the data's staying updated. In addition, JustWrite can handle mail merges, using ASCII, Q & A 3.0, or dBASE III/IV files as the source for the name and address data. It also can easily handle your outlining chores with its built-in outliner. You can even use JustWrite to create a table of contents or an index.

JustWrite isn't perfect. The spelling checker, for instance takes an annoyingly long time to suggest spellings for suspect words. WinWord is more than twice as fast. Also, you can get a word count only by doing a complete spelling check, which will disappoint professional writers who need to keep close tabs on the size of their documents.

JustWrite's documentation comprises three volumes: a 200-page user's manual, a 290-page reference manual, and a 10-page quick-reference guide. Each volume is well organized and generally well written. Few users will have difficulty installing or using the product.

In spite of a few minor flaws, JustWrite is an excellent choice for a first Windows word processor. While professional writers may want to look elsewhere, general users will find almost everything they need to produce attractive and well-designed documents. With a street price of $140 to $160, it's hard to go wrong with JustWrite.