Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 8 / AUGUST 1983 / PAGE 72

WordPlus - PC; an easy-to-learn word processor. Joe Devlin.


An Easy-To-Learn Word Processor

WordPlus--PC is a full-feature word processor for the IBM Personal Computer from Professional Software. The chief advantage of WordPlus is that it is extremely easy to learn to use. This is accomplished through the use of colorcoded function key labels and extensive screen prompts that save you from having to memorize complicated word processing codes. The chief drawback is that the software can be annoyingly slow in performing some routine applications.

Although the package is new to the IBM, a closely related package called WordPro has been distributed by Professional Software for Commodore computers for some time. Although WordPlus and WordPro have a very similar look, I am told that WordPlus is a completely new package and not a conversion of the older Commodore package.

WordPlus comes packaged in a box that includes the user's manual, a disk, a reference card listing the major word processing commands, and two sheets of stick-on labels. It is the stickers that make this word processor so easy to learn to use.

The first sticker is red and is placed over the Alternate key found at the lower left of the IBM keyboard. A green sticker is used to cover the left SHIFT key. The remaining stickers are applied to the ten IBM function keys.

Each function key sticker has three color-coded commands printed on it. These indicate which word processing commands can be accessed by which key. The most commonly used word processing commands are printed in blue and are accessed by pressing the appropriate function key once. Press key F7, label INST MD in blue, and the program will insert text wherever the cursor is placed.

Commands that are used less often are printed in red or green and are accessed by pressing both a function key and either the red Alternate key or the green SHIFT key. There is a help function that can be used when commands have been forgotten. A sroke on the key labelled Help will call forth a list of keys and commands. If problems persist, there is a toll free customer support number you can call. I found the phone staff to be patient, well informed, and supportive.


WordPlus has many nice features. It is a full screen editor, which means that you can reach any part of the text simply by using the cursor control keys to scroll where you want to go. All the features normally expected in a word processing package are here. The list of major functions includes text insertion and deletion, search and replace, personalized form letters, headers and footers, boldface and underlining, and automatic page numbering. You can print one document while you edit another.

WordPlus can also merge information from other documents or other programs such as VisiCalc. The user's manual includes a well written tutorial section, a reference section describing each command in detail, and an index.

Two particularly nifty features of the program are the cut-and-paste and decimal alignment features. Cut and paste allows you to carve out a rectangular block of text (of any size) and move it to any other location within the document. This feature would be especially useful to anyone who organizes numerical information or text into columns or tables. Say you wish to reverse the positions of column A and B or perhaps you want table A inserted later on the report. Cut and paste makes the move a snap.

The numerical mode is used for aligning columns of numbers around the decimal point. In numeric mode, numbers are inserted and moved to the left of the cursor until a decimal point is hit. The first step in using the numeric mode is to use the tab to move the cursor to the spot where a column of numbers should appear. Next you hit a space or decimal point, and the characters begin to be inserted to the left. The result is that all the numbers in the column are aligned with the decimal spaces.

Built For Comfort Not Speed

Along with all the good features, the package does have some serious drawbacks. The biggest problem with the package is the amount of time it takes to perform some routine functions such as inserting and moving text. Let me outline the procedure moving this sentence to the paragraph below.

Hitting function key F6, labeled Range in blue, starts the process.

In response, the bottom line of the screen will ask for the "Start of Range.' Scroll the cursor over to the start of the sentence and hit the S; the bottom line will next ask for the "End of Range.' Scroll to the end of the sentence and hit the E key to set the range. To insert the outlined sentence hit the Range key a second time. The prompts at the bottom of the screen will now ask if you wish to "Clear, Delete, Transfer or Insert' the sentence. Hit the T key and the program will gobble the sentence up, and the prompt will ask for the "Destination Of Text.' Hit the D key and the line will reappear in the new location. Hitting the Range key a final time and typing the letter C for Clear will wipe out the range setting, and ready the software for the next transfer.

As you see, the simple task of moving a single sentence takes nine keystrokes not counting the scrolling of the cursor. In addition, it took the computer a full 30 seconds to gobble the sentence up from its original location and to move it to its new destination. This is not a word processor for people who compose on a word processor.

Another thing I dislike about WordPlus is that what you see on the screen is not what appears on the printed page. Margin commands, line spacing and other format commands are reflected in the printed output but shown on the screen only as inserted command phrases. During editing, the text always appears on the screen in 80-column format regardless of how it will appear when printed.

Special characters are also inserted into the text indicating word processing commands such as underline, boldface and carriage return. For example, to underline text you must insert two special characters into the text--a blue dot at the beginning of the bolding and a two sided arrow at the end. The result is that should you print out a document, make editing changes on the paper and then go back to the computer to enter your changes, the mistakes will not be in the same place on the screen as they were on the printed page.

The Program For You?

Is this the word processing package you should buy for your IBM PC?

The answer depends upon your needs. If you are looking for a word processor that is easy to learn to use, and if you will use it primarily for routine typing, form letters, and jobs in which the cut and paste operation and the decimal alignment functions will see a lot of use, then maybe so.

If, on the other hand, you will use the word processor to make frequent small changes to text, this is not the package you are looking for. In this sort of use the sluggishness of the software and the number of keystrokes would probably drive you crazy in short order.

Products: Professional Software WordPlus - PC (computer program)