Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 38 / JULY 1983 / PAGE 120


Copy-Writer Word Processor

Louis F. Sander

Copy-Writer is a full-featured program that merits the close attention of any Apple, Commodore 64, PET, or CBM owner needing a word processor. It has most of the useful features found in other word processing systems, plus several that are unique. Copy-Writer is easy to use, clearly documented, and comes with a guarantee that future enhancements, no matter how extensive, will be offered to registered users for a nominal disk copying charge.

The developers of Copy-Writer, the IDPC Co. of Philadelphia, originally wrote it in 1979. Since then, it has been used by professional programmers and technical writers, and extensively revised. It seems to be a solid program with good features and few bugs.

Since a detailed discussion of software features can be confusing to those who haven't used similar programs, let's start our review with something easy to comprehend. Copy-Writer is available for the PET/CBM with 2040, 4040, 8050, or PEDISK II drives; it supports all ROM variations and virtually any printer from any manufacturer. The program is also available for the Apple II with 3.2 or 3.3 disks, for the Apple III, and for the Commodore 64 with 1541 or PEDISK III drives. The version I have worked with is for the PET/CBM with PEDISK II drive, but the other versions are identical to it in all important respects.

A Special, Tailored Program

The software consists of one diskette and a small, but thorough, manual. There are no ROMs or other plug-in devices. The diskette cannot be copied, but that is not a problem – you use it to create a machine language program configured especially for your own ROMs, screen size, keyboard, and printer, and that program can be saved and copied without limit. If you change printers or upgrade your computer, you load the master diskette, answer eight simple questions, and within a few seconds you have a reconfigured and copyable program in memory.

The 44-page instruction manual is remarkable for its clarity and usefulness, as well as for its brevity. In spite of never having learned to use a commercial word processor before, I was able to sit down with it and quickly master most of its features. The manual contains a useful table of contents and a well-thought-out index, both of which are quite helpful in using the program itself. It is written for the reader who is familiar with elementary computer operation, and who knows what he wants his word processor to accomplish.

Using Copy-Writer is exceptionally easy and straightforward. There is no need for sheets of stick-on key labels, or for a two-pound reference manual. When the system comes up, a "paper scale" appears at the bottom of the screen; tab stops are marked on it in reverse field.

The number of the text line at the top of the screen and the number of lines still available in memory also appear down here, as does a line for special commands and error messages.

Editing Features

Routine typing and text editing is done in the Edit Mode, in which the cursor moves freely about the screen. The PET's familiar cursor control keys are used to move, insert, and delete characters. The up arrow, left arrow, HOME and RVS keys are used for opening up lines, moving words around, etc., and it is very easy to remember which key does what.

The STOP key puts the system in the "Command Mode." In that mode, the cursor jumps to a special area at the bottom of the screen and waits for your instructions. There are about 30 of these, most having to do with disk file handling, searching and replacing text, and printing. Copy-Writer's authors have made the commands very easy to remember: A means append a file, D means down scroll, S means save a file on disk, etc. For those who haven't used the commands enough to have memorized them, they are listed in a table in the index of the instruction manual, which also notes the page where the command is described in detail.

The process of entering text and moving it around is similar to that in most good word processors. Copy-Writer seems to have all the necessary features in this area, and most of the typical frills.

Copy-Writer has two separate buffers for handling changes and text movement. Buffer #1 is used for moving entire paragraphs from place to place and is activated from Command Mode. Buffer #2 is used in Edit Mode and is ideally suited for moving words and short phrases, although it has a 1000-character capacity. To use it, you place the cursor on the first letter to be saved, and press the shifted left arrow key. Letter-by-letter, text is "sucked" from the screen into the buffer.

When you've picked up everything you want to move, you put the cursor wherever you want it, and press the unshifted left arrow key, which automatically inserts the buffered text at that point. The text remains in the buffer, so you can insert it as many places as you'd like. This feature can save time and keystrokes whenever the same phrase is used repeatedly in the text (as are the words "Copy-Writer" in this review). You can put such a phrase in the buffer and use one key to print it out every time it is used.

Another feature worthy of note is the ability to input repeated characters, such as a series of dashes, just by entering: a special character, the character to be repeated, and the number of repeats desired. There is also a graphics mode which allows dot-by-dot control over printers having that capability. Neither of these features is a necessity, but their presence is an indication of the authors' attention to detail in making the program useful.

Copy-Writer is extremely powerful for formatting the printed page. Format control is done by special commands embedded in the text, and there are many to choose from. Once again, the commands are easily understood by themselves, alphabetically listed in the index, and well-described in the manual. AP means append a file, LM sets the left margin, HD defines a page heading, and so on for over two dozen commands. The power here is really impressive – you can print things in double columns (like this magazine is printed), customize page breaks (based on a variety of conditions), and on and on.

By using a special format command, you can send individual hex characters to your printer, for control of character size, impact, or whatever features the printer happens to have. The capability is completely general, so if you know what character code switches your printer into Martian Hieroglyphic mode, you can put it there whenever you want. This is a very desirable feature and it's one of many desirable features available on this most impressive product.

CGRS Microtech
P.O. Box 102
Langhornc, PA 19047