GEAP tricks. (evaluation) Richard C. McGarvey.
If you have any interest in a word processor and even if you already have one, you should read this review. Newscript 7.0 is, without a doubt, the most powerful and most convenient word processor available for the TRS-809 It has features that rival dedicated word processing systems and is underpriced at $124.95. Newscript gives mainframe power on your micro, and I challenge anyone to find an equal to Newscript, even at a higher price.
Chuck Tesler and the people at Prosoft Software were among the first to see that no really powerful word processor was available for the TRS-80. Chuck wanted something along the lines of the mainframe processor he was so familiar with. When no such program appeared on the market, Chuck called on almost 20 years of experience to produce one. The result of his work is Newscript, and the newest version is the culmination of a great deal of programming effort on the part of Chuck and his son, Glen.
They have responded to user input and created version 7.0 which is designed to customize itself to almost any DOS and is able to use the special features of almost every major printer on the market. Read on and you will see why I think Newscript is the TRS-80 word processing package.
Some reviews have left the impression that Newscript is a Basic language word processor and is, therefore, solw in operation. That just isn't so. Newscript is primarily machine language and uses Basic only in areas where speed is not necessary.
While it is true that Newscript takes a few extra seconds to transfer files between edit and script modes, I feel that it is worth the wait. It is because the edit and script functions are not co-resident that Newscript can put so much power into available memory. Version 7.0 is unbelievably fast and has eliminated the slower routines used in earlier versions.
Owners of older versions of Newscript can purchase updates which include the faster routines. Speed has been increased in several areas. Now ENTER takes the cursor to the next line. SHIFT/ENTER updates the text, and it is fast. The control key has been changed so that it need not be held down. Striking the CLEAR key locks the control for one key stroke. This saves finger stretching. See the Help command printout (Figure 2) for more command changes and short cuts.
I will not dwell on this point any longer. If someone tells you that Newscript is slow or clumsy you can bet that he hasn't really used it. Anyone who has spent 30 minutes with Newscript, especially version 7.0, will tell you that it is a fine program. A few hours will have him praising Newscript as the best program ever.
Using The Program
Part of the ability of Newscript to do more than the other TRS-80 word processors is a result of its two part system. Part one is the Edit program with which text files are created. Edit also allows the use of special control codes that tell the second part, Script, which features to include in the printout. Script then takes the text and prints it out with all the special features included.
The Primary Options Menu
One of the best features of Newscript is the ease with which its power can be implemented. This is reflected by the Primary Options Menu (see Figure 3). As soon as Newscript is loaded, the main menu appears. You can then select the potion needed with the press of a button.
The first thing to note is the line of the menu. T contains the type of printer you have selected during setup, the date of the version you have and your serial number. All of this is important to have handy.
Now let's take a quick look at the menu options. First is the Edit option. Selection number one takes you directly into Edit so that you can edit an old document or create a new one. Selection number two brings up Script so that a previously created document can be printed immediately.
Options three, four and five show how Newscript has been integrated with top quality software from other software producers. Option three selects Microproof, a spelling checker program. If you have Microproof or Electric Webster from Cornucopia Software, you will really appreciate this option. Newscript and Electric Webster are fully integrated.
Selection four deserves a special look also. GEAP is the Graphics Editor and Programmer produced by J.F. Consulting. Its purpose is to allow you to create graphics and text combinations for video display or printout to the Epson and similar printers. The program was interfaced with Newscript to take advantage of the ability of Newscript to stop pirnting, pull in and print an outside file, and then continue with the text. The result is that logos, charts, graphs and the like can be created by GEAP, saved in the Newscript format, and then mixed into the text. Figure 5 is a GEAP-created logo that can be printed by Newscript at any time and at any location on the page. The GEAP option also allows you to load Dotprint, the high resolution expansion module which is also part of GEAP. With Dotprint, you can edit a file in Newscript and then print in special character fonts with Dotprint.
This approach to programming is unique. It is the first time, to my knowledge, that software producers have interfaced their products with others to build a solid software system. Prosoft, J.F. Consulting, and Cornucopia Software, should be congratulated on their successful effort. I hope other software producers get the idea and apply the same approach.
Option number five is the mailing label option. It is a separate package from Prosoft available at additional cost. It is straightforward, versatile, and easy to use.
Option number six is a handy item. When in the menu you can look at the directory of any disk. The directory is displayed with a number beside each entry. When a number is selected, that file becomes the default and the user is then returned to the menu with the selected file name in the CURRENT DOCUMENT IS: line at the bottom of the menu. After the selected file has been accepted by Newscript as the default file, it can be Edited or Scripted without retyping the name.
Menu selections seven, eight, and zero are straightforward. Seven is unused at this time. eight exits to DOS READY and zero exits to Basic. Item nine is an essential part of Newscript. The customize/install option is the way you tell Newscript which DOS and printer you are using. You can also select track access rate, repeat key rate and others. Figure 4 shows the printer, DOS and printer interface select menus as they appear on the screen during customize/ install.
There have been some recent changes in the customize/install option that will be of interest. First, the option has been moved out of the main program and into a separate file. This means that it no longer takes up disk space when not being used. Keep it on the original disk but remove it from the working disk. Then, if you need it later, load it from the original disk. I won't list each of the new options available during the Customize/ Install routine. It is enough to say that they give almost total control to the user.
Once the user has made the proper selections, the Newscript disk is updated so that it contains the mecessary information for proper operation on your system. On the initial power-up of the Newscript disk, you are prompted for system information. On subsequent power-ups, Newscript assumes that the same system is being sued unless menu option nine is selected and new information is supplied.
As of this writing, Newscript fully supports the special features on more than 25 printers. Figure 4 shows the list of printers whose special features are supported. If your printer is not in this list, please call Prosoft because new printers are constantly being added to the list. Also, if your printer is not here, it doesn't mean that you can't use Newscripl. I have a Radio Shack LPVI, among others, and I didn't expect Newscript to be able to use the fonts available to that printer, but I tried it anyway. To my surprise, Newscript used the expanded and compressed fonts as if it were made for the LPVI. Another feature of Newscript, one that permits the definition of graphic characters, allowed me to wse the graphic and special symbols which are available to the LPVI but not displayable on the video. Note that all of the figures and graphics included with this review, with the exception of Figure 1, were created with GEAP, Newscript and the MX-80 printer.
Full, right justified proportional print is an example of Newscript support. Several of the popular printers have the proportional print capability but when the printer is placed into proportional mode it is impossible to get right justification. Newscript allows the use of proportional print, and, unlike other word processors, it places the necessary spacing within the words so that conspicuous between-word spaces are no longer obvious. Figure 1 is an example of the LPIV (Centronics 737) proportional print as used with Newscript. In the same figure, I have used varied print fonts so that you can see how fonts can be mixed in the same line without destroying the justification.
To use these features, simply precede the object text with the special start control codes and Newscript does the rest. Placing stop control codes at the end of the object text returns the printout to the previous mode. The special feature codes can be used in combination so that you can select, for example, italics that are boldface, expanded, and underlined. There are limitations, but they exist in your printer, not in Newscript.
Other special features include underlining, double width, italics, superscript, subscript, boldface, backspace (overstrike), multiple fonts (10, 12 and 16 characters per inch and proportional print). If you place a control code in your text that your printer does not support (i.e., superscript on the Epson MX-80), Newscript simply ignores the code, so it does not offect your text.
Graphics and Special Characters
Now a quick look at the graphics of Newscript. The control key plus 7, 8, 4, 5, 1, or 2 causes a graphic element to be lit. If you look at your keypad you will notice that these numbers are arranged in the same position as the graphic elements. When you use this graphic keypad, the cursor does not advance. In this way you can set the elements you want and then move on. The keys work in a toggle fashion, with the first strike turning on the element and the next turning it off. You can also print characters that are not on the keyboard. The bell on the Epson (CHR[7)) is an example.
I know that graphics are not everyone's cup of tea. You may not even care if you can use the special features of your printer. But isn't it good to know that there is a software package that is so well thought out and so well written, that it allows you to use all of the features if you want?
A detailed account of the special features available in Newscript would be much too long for this publication. In this section, I will briefly mention some of the special features available.
The first thing to consider is text manipulation. Newscript allows several versions of delete and insert. They include the deletion and insertion of blocks, lines (any number), words, and characters. Text can also be located, changed, or altered. Block moves are also possible and are much easier than with Scripsit. In addition, it is possible to copy a block so that it can be repeated elsewhere in text without retyping. Screen dumps of text are also accomplished easily.
Next I will briefly say that justification is fully supported. You can justify right or left or turn off the justification. You can also control concatenation.
Now consider command control. Most commands are entered on the command (top) line of the display. Only enough of the command to make it unique is needed. Many of these same commands can be entered directly from the text areas using the control key and the appropriate command key. Many of the control commands, such as insert character, are toggled. They use the same key to turn them on and off, and they stay in effect until cancelled.
Multiple command selection is next. Many of the commands that can be applied to text in the edit mode are also options in the script printout mode. For example, consider .DS, which stands for double space. If the whole document is to be double spaced, you can select the DS print option when in Script. If only portions of the document are to be double spaced, the .DS can be placed on a line during the edit phase and the printout will default to single space until the DS is hit. Then double space will start and continue until cancelled.
Titles, headers and footers are common needs. Top titles, bottom titles, headers, footers, and page numbering can all be easily controlled to allow printion on odd numbered, even numbered, or every page.
Line spacing and page formatting include the following features among others. In Script, double and triple space options are presented at print time. In Edit, you can set double space, single space, space half lines, skip n lines if not at top of page, space n lines, force page, conditional force page, start new print line, and start new paragraph (spacing selectable).
File handling is one of the most powerful features in News cript. With .AP filespec as the last line in one file, the stated filespec is pulled in, on completion of the original file, and the new file is printed to the pre-set options. These files can be appended endlessly and the .ST code will stop the printing and await the change of a disk. You can also imbed a filespec (.IM) which causes Newscript to stop, pull in the specified file, print it, and then return to where it left off in the original file. You can use this feature to call often used text, such as your own address.
Additional features include .RD which reads in a form letter address, .TC, which indicates text to be saved for the table of contents and .IX which labels key words for the index.
The .KE code is especially useful. When Script hits this code (which can be inserted anywhere) it stops and awaits text input directly from the keyboard. Up to a full line can be entered and that line, escape codes and all, is then processed as any other text.
This allows the update of items that change from printing such as names, prices, dates and the like.
Form letters seem to be of interest ot many people, so i'll spend a paragraph explaining a bit about them. There are several Newscript commands that aid in the creation of form letters. The first is .RD which stands for read. If you create a mailing list using the editor, you can then use .RD to get those addresses one at a time. The file can also contain salutations so that you can personalize the letter. When the .RD command is hit, the next address in the file is pulled in and printed, thus putting a new address on each letter.
Special Characters and Codes
It is possible to create not only graphic characters, but also special characters and codes to be printed. You can enter the hexadecimal value for the graphic or special character and that code will be sent to the printer. With this option you can print symbols on the printer that you can't print on the screen.
Miscellaneows commands include comment lines, which are similar to REM lines in Basic and allow you to make notes to yourself in your text. They are ignored by all processing. Darkness or boldface can be set to the degree of darkness desired if the printer is capable of using the feature. Escape characters can be redefined to allow the uwe of an escape sequence as normal text. The .US command underscores the specified text, and finally, the .TR command allows the translation of a specified range of values to a third range. This is handy for adding 32 graphic characters so that the MX-80 will print them. It is also possible to use ASCII characters to draw a graphic display and then translate them into regular graphic characters.
Indent can be set to a specific value, or it can be incremented or decremented by a specified value. The amount of the indent is up to you. Hanging indents or bullets can be done automatically with .HI or manually with .OF. The code .CE ON starts the centering of text and .CE OFF turns it off. The .TB @ a, b, c . . . allows the setting of tabs.
Finally, for this section, a brief look at the seript operation commands. It is possible, before printout begins, to select one or more of the following features: double or triple space, video output only, stop at the end of the page, print only pages within the specified number range, produce multiple copies, print each filespec in the margin, print all text in boldface, print number lines in the left margin, and print only table of contents.
Maybe you are not interested in using all of these fancy formatting commands; Newscript is still for you. It has a full set of defaults so that you can just sit down and type.
While I have briefly covered most of the special commands either specifically or by category, it is important to remenber that I could not possibly mention them all in a review. If you have a special requirement that you do not see here, or if you would like clarification on a special feature I have mentioned, call or write Chuck Tesler at Prosoft. He will be glad to answer any questions.
The impressive and silghtly intimidating documentation of Newscript serves two purposes. The first and most obvious is to instruct the user in Newscript operation and to serve as a reference guide during processing sessions.
The second and less obvious purpose is to serve as an example of the capabilities of the program. The entire manual (with the exception of an occasional drawing) was written using Newscript and printed on the Radio Shack Line Printer IV.
The manual is 178 pages long including the index(also compiled and printed by Newscript). It is well laid out, and if you start at the beginning, you can be using Newscript in 30 minutes.
There are a few features that Newscript doesn't have that some people might want. For example, it does not have on-screen formatting. To see how the document will look, you must print it. This will not be changed, because it is impossible to show super/subscripts, expanded characters, proportional print, etc., on the monitor.
Newscript will not do automatic footnotes either, and ot this time there are no plans to add that feature. Finally, Newscript does not support multiple columns as SuperScriptsit does. That feature will be added soon.
There is an additional hangup that may pose a minor problem for some users. Some Z80 processors are a bit too slow to support Newscript, and if you have an older Model I, you might have to install a Z80A. If this is the case, you are probably having trouble with other software as well. The fault is not with Newscript but with your hardware.
All things considered, I recommend Newscript highly. I have sued most of the currently available word processors and I have never seen one with the power of Newscript, If you're looking for a word processor, consider Newscript. If you have an older version of Newscript, upgrade.
Photo: Figure 1.
Photo: Figure 2. Newscript command summary as displayed by HELP command from the edit mode.
Photo: Figure 3. Newscript Primary Options Menu.
Photo: Figure 4. Printer make, type and DOS selection menus as displayed on CRT during initial setup or Customize/Install option.
Photo: Figure 5. This logo, created with GEAP, can be printed by Newscript at any time and in any location within a text file.
Products: Prosoft Software Newscript 7.0 (editing equipment)