Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 6 / JUNE 1983 / PAGE 96

Apple Writer extended. (evaluation) Paul Bonner.

Apple Writer Extended

The first word processing program I ever used was Apple Writer, and I fell in love with it immediately. Okay, maybe it was puppy love, since I had never seen a word processing program before. For a writer who relies as heavily on multiple revisions as I do, any word processor would seem like a gift from heaven. Still, I loved the simplicity of Apple Writer, and the fact that I could begin with nothing more than a scant knowledge of the cursor control keys and produce a decent looking product. Then, when I began to learn how to use the search-and-replace feature, and the insert and block move features, I was enthralled.

Later I was introduced to another, supposedly far more powerful and sophisticated, word processing program. I had to admit that it had all kinds of features I had never dreamed of, including 80-column display (although at the cost of buying an 80-column board), paragraph modes, automatic word-wrap, auto-indent, and editing of Applesoft and DOS text files.

But as hard as I tried, I just couldn't get the hang of the new program. There were so many commands to be learned that I spent half my time with my nose in the user's guide, and the other half trying to revover from my mistakes. Which didn't leave much time for keeping a train of thought moving.

Nevertheless, when I bought my own Apple, I thought seriously about buying another word processing program. I was constantly frustrated by not being able to issue text-imbedded printer commands from Apple Writer. With Graftrax, my MX-80 has 20 type styles available, and I could use only one at a time. Since my primary source of income involves writing technical articles with a good deal of boldface and italicized type, I was forced to print out my copy in normal print, and then spend half an hour underlining or circling phrases that were to be set in an alternate typeface.

So I considered other programs, but I really wasn't comfortable with any of them. I was in a quandary.

Then I saw a small advertisement for something called Apple Writer Extended. it promised to add all the features I wanted to Apple Writer, and it was cheap--discounted to less than $30. Since it wasn't much of a risk, I ordered it. It arrived a few weeks later on a single disk containing 21 short routines.

The documentation instructs you to transfer the routines to a disk already containing the TEDITOR, PRINTER (which you rename Print 2), and PRINT CONSTANTS files. After doing that, and making a change in the printer address, you are ready to go.

Text Formatting

The most important routine as far as I am concerned is the printer text formatting program. Called PRINT EXIT on the Apple Writer Extended disk, this routine augments the original PRINTER routine to allow you to issue printer commands from within an Apple Writer file. This capability is accessed by entering the @ character, followed by a lowercase x. The next character you enter (in hex code) is interpreted as a printer command at print time. 9b following the @ x sequence interprets the next letter as an escape character.

I find this very useful, since with Graftrax all printer commands are escape sequences. Once you have determined the proper commands for your printer, you can save them to disk and then insert them wherever you want with a CONTROL-I (insert) command.

The PRINT EXIT routine has other useful features, including the ability to override or add spaces in fill-justify mode, to underline text, or to print bold-face text by backspacing and restriking. In addition, you can send a formatted copy of a file to disk rather than to the printer.

The formatted file may contain variable-length spaces for insertion of data from other files, allowing you to produce form letters or update reports with relative ease. This feature also allows you to view formatted text on the screen as it is being sent to disk by issuing a MON C, I, O/command before you run the printer.

Text File Utilities

In addition to print formatting, there are some excellent text file utilities included with Apple Writer Extended. With these you can edit text files, convert existing Apple Writer files to text files or vice versa, and vonvert Applesoft files to Apple Writer files and then back to Applesoft. This allows you to take advantage of the powerful features of TEDITOR while writing and editing Applesoft programs.

For example, suppose your favorite computer magazine contains a program or game listing in a version of Basic that makes heavy use of print-using routines, or other commands that Applesoft doesn't recognize. Normally you must change these as you enter them, and are subject to formatting errors for your trouble. With the text file editing feature you can enter the program as it appears and work out separate formatting subroutines for each print-using routine. Then it's a simple matter to use the search feature to replace each printusing or PRINT @ statement with a GOSUB X. And of course, in writing programs, there are obvious advantages to having a search feature to keep track of or globally replace your variables, and a block relocating feature to move subroutines.

There are other goodies too. You can list Apple Writer files on the screen, and use your game paddles to control the scrolling speed. There is also a reset intercept subroutine that can be used with any program to print an error message when RESET is hit and then return to the program. Finally, SHIFT-N and ESCAPE SHIFT-N can be used to produce the underline character and the vertical bar, which are useful for designing forms, and are not normally available from the Apple keyboard. Those characters will appear only when you print the file.

On screen they will continue to appear as .


The documentation is one great deficiency in this package. The instructions for using each routine are scattered through a 14-page booklet, making them utterly incomprehensible at first. However, by reading through the main documentation and the three appendices a few times, and playing with the routines for a while, you can eventually divine the use of most of them.

That's about it. This program does wonderful things for Apple Writer. Of course, it doesn't make it a "professional' text processor for an office environment. You still have limited screen formatting, a 40-column display, and no automatic word-wrap. The form letter capabilities, although vastly improved, also remain limited. I use it to prepare articles for typesetting, to write letters, and for program editing. For those uses, it is just fine. Better documentation would definitely help, but as it is, Apple Writer Extended is a great value, and well worth the time it takes to figure out how to use it.

Table: Figure 1.

Table: Figure 2.

Products: Brillig Systems Apple Writer Extended (editing equipment)