Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 6 / JUNE 1983 / PAGE 43

Word juggler. (evaluation) Doug Ford.

Word Juggler

Word Juggler is an Apple III word processor that stays out of your way as much as possible. It stands out because of its completeness and ease of use.

My first word processor was like a suit that was about a size too small. I was always uncomfortable with it. It always made me feel a little uneasy, irritated me, made me want to get up from the Apple and go somewhere else.

It was designed to accommodate the way computers work, not the way humans work.

Even something as simple as setting margins was a complex process that required frequent use of a poorly done reference book. Commands were remarkably hard to memorize--the keystrokes and command names never seemed to relate to the functions they were supposed to control. The whole thing was overly mechanical, more of a puzzle than a tool.

That first program, and many of the ones that came after it, seemed to have been designed by someone who didn't have the faintest hotion how real people would want to use it or how the program could make their work easier and more comfortable.

Useful, well thought out word processors exist, of course, but about the time I found one for my Apple II that made me feel at home, I bought an Apple III, and the whole process started over again. Luckily, this time it didn't take as long to find Word Juggler.

Word Juggler is one of those rare programs that are so good I want to show them off to everyone I know. It bolsters my confidence in the software industry. It is complete and written, but best of all, it is designed to accommodate human beings.

The program takes advantage of the Apple III redefinable keyboard. The keys on the keypad provide single-stroke editor commands (like find, delete character, delete line, and so forth). The top row of the keyboard provides a complete repertore of margin, indent, and spacing commands, as well as a long list of other formatting features.

Flexible label strips come with the program to identify the keys. The labels make it simple to use program functions, but I would hate to try to memorize the commands without them.

The instruction book is complete and well designed. There is a section on installation, a tutorial, a command reference chapter, and a section on data file merging. Five well-marked appendices provide advanced information on backup, file formats, errors (and how to recover from them), a glossary, and that all-too-rare item, an index. We might wish for typesetting in future editions, but why quibble?

Word Juggler works best with a two-drive Apple III (or with a hard disk), but it can be used with a single drive system.

All the program options are numbered and labeled on the Main Menu. You make selections by typing the corresponding number, typing the name of the command (Store), or just the first letter of the command. Pressing only RETURN puts you in the type and edit mode. The ENTER key on the keypad always bring you back to the menu.

Entering Text

To begin a new document, select the New menu option, which clears the screen and places the blinking cursor in the upper left. An inverse line at the bottom always shows the name of the file (if it has a name), the line and character the cursor is on, and the number of free lines still available. (You have over 800 80-character screen lines to work with on a 128K Apple, and nearly 1800 lines on a 256K machine.)

The keyboard is always live; all you need to do is start typing. When the time comes for corrections, the four direction arrows move the cursor to any point in the text. To insert, just type; to delete, use the relabeled minus key on the lower left of the keypad.

Word Juggler provides single keystroke commands to delete words, lines, and paragraphs, as well as very smooth routines that manipulate large chunks of text, to store, move, copy, delete, or reinsert them.

One of the advantages of word processing is the ability of the computer to find particular words or phrases for you, and to change them on command. With Word Juggler, both the find and the change commands are controlled by single keystrokes. You have more change options than usual with this program, including the choice of searching or replacing throughout the text, or just from the cursor position. You can also select whether changes will be done automatically, or one at a time under your supervision.


Print formatting commands are on the top row of the main keyboard. All print formatting commands begin with the ESCAPE key, then one of the number keys, sometimes with the addition of SHIFT or CONTROL keys. There are single command keys for each of the usual components of page layout: centering, justification, margins, spacing, page length, pause for single sheet loading, and new page.

So much for mundane items. The list of special features is long and ranges from the nice to the genuinely special (outstanding?)--and most are available as labeled, single key commands.

Single, double, and triple spacing are available in a keystroke, as is a software controlled switch from 10 to 12 to 15 characters per inch if you have a printer that can make use of it.

Word Juggler includes a Need command that lets you print groups of lines together, so your title doesn't appear at the bottom of one page and the associated text at the top of the next.

Another good feature not included on many word processors is a command for ragged left, which justifies the right margin and lets the left fall where it may--a technique often used for captions and labels.

If you have an NEC, Qume, or Diablo printer, or one of their electronic actalikes, you can use superscripts, subscripts, and incremental spacing, a printing technique that gives you straight left and right margins by slightly varying the distance between the letters on each line. Word Juggler also provides special handling for Epson printers, including easy font changes, underlining, double strike, and italics.

Many word processors allow only one line of header or footer information. Word Juggler lets you specify up to ten lines of headers and footers, and alter them from within your document. Unfortunately, there is no provision for automatic footnotes.

Other Features

One of the most useful features of the program is its Display Document command. Pressing the decimal point on the keypad instantly provides a fully formatted screen representation of your document, and sideways scrolling lets you see the whole thing, even if you have specified lines that are 254 characters across.

A Display Document command that allows such wide lines is especially useful when you want to preview the effects of merging other files, such as VisiCalc spreadsheets, into your documents, and you can sort them before printing. A set of If commands is available if you want to filter out particular records from your data file, or conditionally print portions of a document. For large lists, an optional ($35) utility program that merges files from Apple's Mail List Manager is available.

Another item you can purchase separately is Lexicheck, a fast, smooth, modifiable spelling checker whose only drawback is that it retails for $195. Lexicheck actually works from within the Word Juggler program, so you don't have to stop editing to verify your spelling. When Lexicheck is finished examining your text, it returns to the typing mode, ready to continue editing. An additional $85 buys Legal Dictionary, an extension to the Lexicheck program that adds 8000 legal terms to the basic 30,000-word Lexicheck dictionary.

The Drawbacks

Word Juggler has a few drawbacks, too. For instance, those command templates are a wonderful idea, and avoid the problems associated with memorizing commands--until you lose one of them, as I did on the first day I had the program, or until you move to another Apple III. I ended up making a card with all the commands and carrying it right with the disk until I actually did learn the commands I use most. I recommend that you make paper copies of it if you plan to use more than one machine.

(Losing that template had a good side to it, too. When I called Quark Engineering I got an immediate, knowledgeable, genial response, and a new set of templates in the mail about three days later.)

The templates don't show all the available commands. Where many keys have three meanings, the templates indicate two at most, and some keys are left completely unidentified. A template showing everything would have been pretty messy, I suspect, but some of the unidentified keys perform important functions such as block move and copy.

It is possible to send special commands to your printer, but they affect an entire line at a time. Should you want to switch your Epson to graphics mode to drop in a Greek letter, you're out of luck.

I have found only one real irritation in the operation of the program. Suppose you want to break a paragraph into two smaller ones. To tab the text of the second part for a paragraph indentation, you need a three-key combination: the CONTROL key, the SHIFT key, and the TAB key. In an otherwise streamlined, efficient, professional program, an operation that cumbersome is glaringly out of place. It doesn't seem at all unreasonable to expect the tab key to work on its own.

But it has been a long time since I found a business program with only one functional flaw. This one was done right. The menu is there when you want it; your text is never more than a keystroke away; commands are spread out before you on the keyboard; and disk access delays are kept to a minimum. The program never hesitates; and it requires very little memorization. It works the way humans work.

Word Juggler is complete, fast, easy to learn, and comfortable to work with. I hope this kind of quality is the future of micro software. It is a pleasure to use.

Products: Quark Engineering Word Juggler 2.3 (editing equipment)