WordPerfect 1.0

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On: 2014-04-14 23:21:18
Updated by: MR
On: 2023-12-23 12:34:36
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What is WordPerfect 1.0?

WordPerfect, one of the premier word processors in the MS-DOS world, brings to the Mac power features that are oriented toward the office user. Although those not in the business mainstream will find the product a bit too impersonal, WordPerfect offers more breadth and depth of features than any other word processor on the Mac, and in spite of its MS-DOS heritage, it is distinctly Mac-like. For those writers who need a program as powerful as this, there’s no substitute.

More than a Look-Alike

Initially, WordPerfect seems a lot like MacWrite. For instance, WordPerfect offers only one more choice, Windows, on the main menu bar. But when you start to explore, you’ll find that WordPerfect has 154 menu choices (including 18 hierarchical menus) and 67 ⌘-key options. (For those with extended keyboards, there are also 60 F-key combinations.) MacWrite, on the other hand, offers only 46 menu choices and 20 ⌘-key options. This is a crude way to compare packages, but you get the idea.

WordPerfect’s and MacWrite’s start-up screens look similar, except for the bottom of the window. MacWrite makes this area part of the writing surface; most other word processors display the page number in the lower left-hand corner and provide a horizontal scroll bar. WordPerfect displays not only the page number, but the line number as well. Although this feature may seem unimportant — especially when you consider that your per-page line count can vary drastically depending on the font you use — users whose work requires a line count will find it a lot more efficient than doing a manual count. Moving the cursor over the page number changes the arrow to the word GO. Enter any number, and the cursor jumps to that page.

Just to the right of the line number is the most un-Mac-like feature in the program: a row of six small buttons for changing style (for instance, boldface or italic). Clicking one of these buttons changes the style of selected text, or lets you begin typing in a new style. (Alternately, you can change style with a ⌘-key combination or via a hierarchical menu.) Next to the buttons is a large space that displays messages that indicate when the program is automatically saving a file or when text is selected, for example.

Features Galore

If I did nothing but list WordPerfect’s features, I would still exceed the space Macworld has allotted this review. But to mention some of the most important ones: you can open as many windows as your machine’s memory allows; you can use big screens, small screens, or a combination of the two; and you can see your documents in color. The ruler can be up to 22 inches wide. WordPerfect’s macro language handles very sophisticated operations like mail merge, or trivial tasks like reassigning ⌘-key combinations. Making style sheets or customized stationery are excellent ways to use the macro language. Those tentative about writing macros can have the program record a series of mouse and keyboard actions. The File Management feature gives you a level of control found only in utilities such as Disk Tools II. For instance, you can open, print, copy, rename, and delete files, select Get Info for a file, create a new folder, or do a word search.

A real lifesaver, the Auto Save option smoothly and unobtrusively backs up the active file as often as you like — so if the system crashes, your work is safe. You can, however, still close a file without permanently saving any changes made during the work session.

For precision editing, you can make the normally invisible formatting codes visible. The window splits, with the top appearing as normal and the bottom containing WordPerfect's proprietary formatting icons. The icons can be cut, copied, and pasted. The Search and Change window includes a scrollable list of WordPerfect s hundred or so symbols, making global replacement a snap. In addition to the standard Undo feature, the program offers an Undelete command that recovers three levels of deleted material. You can append to, rather than replace, the Clipboard’s contents.

WordPerfect is the first Macintosh word processor to include both newspaper-style and screenplay-style columns. In newspaper-style columns, text flows from the bottom of one column to the top of the next column on the same page. With screenplay-style columns, text flows from the bottom of one column to the top of a column in the same position on the next page — a very handy feature when creating tables. Each page can have up to 24 columns of various widths, and you can use different column styles on the same page.

Other features include an outliner, merge, endnotes, footnotes, and the ability to embed PostScript commands in any document. The spelling checker is excellent, with a dictionary fattened to 115,000 words, including several thousand legal and medical terms. Less-important features that are among my favorites include word count, fixed or variable date stamp, dot leader tabs (for example, 229......327), and vertical page centering.


Although not totally bug free, WordPerfect version 1.0 is many times cleaner than Word 3 0 was when it was released. WordPerfect’s screen refresh is still slow, and characters sometimes disappear mysteriously at the end of lines in certain word wrap situations, only to reappear miraculously if you change the wrap. Others with different work habits from mine will undoubtedly uncover additional problems.

From PC to Mac

Ideally, WordPerfect would allow users to transfer word processing files transparently between all brands of computers that run the program. Just how much users are going to be disappointed by this implied promise remains to be seen. WordPerfect has stated that it will not currently attempt to transfer all the Mac formatting — such as font size, types, and styles — to the PC version. It will very likely be easier to retain formatting when transferring files among various Mac word processors than when passing Mac WordPerfect files to WordPerfect on the IBM PC or other computers. Currently, the manual recommends that before opening a WordPerfect file from another computer, the user should change the file’s Creator and Type. People whose regular work routine includes such file transfers aren’t going to like this.

The manual is a three-ring binder holding nearly 700 pages. In general, it is well organized and well written. Technical support is toll free and the support technicians are affable and knowledgeable. Ask others who use WordPerfect — the company has a long-standing reputation for quality service.

A Power User Purchase

This is not the ideal word processor for everyone — many users have little need for the high-end features or the high-end price tag. Others will want a different set of features, such as those found in page-layout programs. WordPerfect allows you to import graphics, resize and move them, but it does not offer drawing tools, nor does it even allow you to draw boxes around blocks of text. But, although this product won’t allow everyone to pass files back and forth transparently in an office with more than one brand of computer, WordPerfect is already my word processor of choice for the business environment.

Beamer, Scott. (August 1988). Heavy-Duty Word Processor. Macworld. (pgs. 108-109, 111).

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