Apple Writer II. (evaluation) Stephen Arrants.
Word processing is intensely personal. Loyalty to a package sometimes exceeds loyalty to one's political party. Screen-writers don't talk to Wordstars, an Executive Secretary is never seen out with a Bank Street Writer.
And those Apple Writers . . . a real breed apart. Imagine using a word processor from the manufacturer of your computer! Arenht hardware manufacturers the worst software publishers? They spend so much time and money to develop the hardware that software is often an afterthought. The "special" software is often thrown in to "sweeten" the deal. After all--you need something to run on your new computer, don't you? By the time you find out that the "free" software is about the worst imaginable, you have probably moved on to games and adventures.
Happily, Apple Writer II, redesigned for the new Apple IIe, is one of the best word processing packages around. Apple Writer is one of the original word processors. It has been improved and updated a few times, but in its latest incarnation, it takes full advantage of the redesign of the Apple, both inside and out. Enhancements
Cursor movement is much easier. Instead of a complicated ESC sequence, the four arrow keys move the cursor up or down one line or left and right one character. An arrow key used with the Solid-Apple key moves the cursor by word or 12 lines up or down. Using the Open-Apple key with the left or right arrow will copy text into a buffer for later insertion.
A DELETE key, now present on the keyboard, funtions as a destructive backspace--anything deleted is gone forever. CTRL-W cans still be used to delete text and store it in a buffer.
If at any time during use you need help, just type Open-Apple? As long as the Apple Writer master or backup is in drive one, help screens on all aspects of Apple Writer use will be displayed.
Apple Writer II detects the presence of an 80-column card and sets the display for this mode. If you have a color monitor, the 80-column display looks shabby. This is because of the way a color monitor translates the display signal to the screen. Use the 40-column display when using a color monitor. If you still use a TV set as a monitor, the 80-column display can't be used. The card is not an absolute necessity, however. Applewriter II works fine with a 40-column display.
The display is a bit different. The data line may be toggled to a display of tab stops or no display at all, save text. The data line shows you in which direction Apple Writer II will seek in find and replace modes, available memory, document length, cursor position, tab position, and file name. Press ESC once and a tab stop display replaces the data line. Press ESC once more and all data lines are suppressed. Another ESC brings you back to the data line.
Retrieving repetitive terms from a glossary used to be an involved operation. You pressed CTRL-G and then the character designating the word or phrase. With Apple Writer II, you just press Open-Apple and the letter designator.
Commands are for the most part mnemonic, such as CTRL-S for save, CTRL-L for load, CTRL-F for find/replace, and CTRL-C for case change. A few are not--CTRL-O for DOS commands, for example. All are CTRL plus one key commands. A prompt then appears at the bottom of the screen asking for a file name, material to earch for, etc. If you wish to load a file, but you don't remember its name, entr? at the prompt. A disk catalog is displayed followed by the load prompt. Find the file, enter its name, and it is loaded into memory.
Do you wish to examine a file without loading it into main memory? Just enter the file name followed by a / and the file is displayed. Pressing RETURN brings you back to the original file. This is useful when you want to examine earlier versions of a file without erasing the file on which you are working.
Underlining is much easier with Apple Writer II. In previous versions, you enclosed the text to
be underlined with the character which was available only via a special key sequence. To
underline between words, another key sequence was required. Apple Writer II does away with those
complications, since the key is now on the Apple IIe keyboard. For example, to underline the words Apple Writer, you enter Apple Writer . Everything between the two backslashes is underlined, including spaces. To underline words only, enter a at the space: Apple Writer
would underline only the two words, not be space between them. One other underlining improvement is that of a variable underline token. you may switch the specific token to whatever you wish.
It can be a , sup.*., <, or almost any other character that makes sense to you.
Setting other printing commands is just as easy. CTRL-P brings you the Print prompt. Enter a? and the values are displayed on screen. Enter the command and the value you wish to change. Press RETURN and you are back in the text mode. Print values may also be changed in text.
Suppose you wish to indent a block of text and have it single-spaced, for a long quote. Just enter a period followed by the command and its ne value on a separate line. When you are done, just enter new values. Word Processing Language
Included with Apple Writer II are special programs written in WPL, Word Processing Language. This language allows the creation of special programs which let you create form letters and mailing list to do away with repetitive tasks. Some of the programs included on disk are a word counter, which counts the number words in a specific document; a print value program, which aids in the setting of values for your display or printer; a spooling program, which lets you print several texts together; a form letter creator; and a program to convert Apple Writer 1.1 programs to an Apple Writer II format. Learning WPL isn't easy, but it can be done. A complaint about earlier versions of Apple Writer was that WPL was never fully explained. For the most part, this has been cleared up. The people at Apple have done an excellent job explaining this sometimes frustrating aspect of Apple Writer. Documentation
As usual, the documentation is about the best around. Apple has listened to users' complaints and suggestions, and the result is clear, readable, and anything but boring. First, Apple split the documentation into two parts: a manual on WPL. Each feature of Apple Writer II is explained carefully with plenty of examples. Each chapter is designed as a tutorial, and everything discussed in a particular chapter is reviewed a chapter's end. If something didn't sink in the first time, going ove the material at the end should help.
The manual on WPL is excellent. WPL is not only explained in clear and simple language, but instructions on writing your own WPL programs are given. Naturally, not every user will take advantage of this. Not every user needs to write individual programs. Then again, it is nice to have this information handy when you want to try to write your own WPL program. What's Missing
There are still a few features missing. Microjustification of spaces isn't available, but to me that is a small point. After, but to me taht is a small point. After all, microjustification may make text look good, but it won't improve your writing! A spelling checker along the lines of SpellStar or The Sensible Speller would be another useful addition. But these are minor complaints.
I have used many different word processors, and Apple Writer II is my favorite by a wide margin. I still don't like Apple's policy of copy-protecting the disks. For $195, they should allow the creation of one or two extra backups. (Apple provides one back-up.)
you only license the software; you don't purchase it outright. If both disks become unusable within 90 days of purchase, Apple will provide a new copy. After that, you are on your own. I wouldn't be too worried though. I have gone through trhee copies of the older version. Each time, Apple sent a replacement for a small charge. I hope they continue this service. Summary
In its latest incarnation, Apple Writer II is perhaps the best word processor for the Apple. It uses fully the design changes in the Apple IIe, making it one of the easiest systems to use. Although learning all its tricks may take a little time and effort, I think you will be amply rewarded.
Apple Writer II is currently available as part of the Apple IIe introductory package. If you bought your IIe without Apple Writer II, seriously consider adding this excellent package to your library.
Products: Apple Writer II (editing equipment)