Q--> How can I prepare a document with AtariWriter Plus that will be compatible with WordStar or another word processing program on a 16-bit computer?
A--> We have two problems here: The textfile itself (the Atari document) and the medium (the Atari disk). Both are essentially incompatible with a 16-bit computer. This is not to say that the job cannot be done. It just takes a little doing.
Begin by typing your document into AtariWriter Plus as usual, but DO NOT use any internal formatting commands, such as for centering, expanded print, underlining, etc. It doesn't matter how the formatting is set up on the Global Format screen because these instructions won't be used anyway.
When you have proofread your text, and everything is A-OK, save the file as usual. Now go back to the edit screen. From the top-of-file, press [START-S]. When prompted for your search string, hold down the [SHIFT] key and hit [ESC] twice, followed by a [RETURN]. Then press [START-R] and enter the replace string as [CTRL-M] [CTRL-J] followed by the usual [RETURN]. The string will look like a stylized "MJ" and in ASCII it translates to a carriage return and a line feed. Now for the magic: press [OPTION-G] and all those Atari return symbols (ASCII 155) will be replaced by ASCII 13 and 10.
This modified file must be saved from the AtariWriter Plus menu by pressing [CTRL-S] to SAVE ASCII. Give the file the extender of ".ASC" so that you will not get it mixed up with the first saved file. It's a good idea to keep both files, because if you want to edit the text later, it will be much easier to work from the first file - and then do the global-replace bit and ASCII SAVE again - than to work in the ASCII file itself. (The latter appears to be one huge paragraph when viewed in AtariWriter Plus.)
Well, now we have solved our first problem. We have a file that, byte for byte, will be compatible with most word processing programs on 16-bit computers. But this file is still on our Atari-formatted disk (single, enhanced, or double density) which will not be readable by a 16-bit computer. There are several ways to handle this:
1) If you have both computers yourself and also a null modem, you can boot each computer with its own terminal program and send the Atari ASCII file to the 16-bit (Atari, IBM, or what-have-you) computer.
2) If you have both computers, but do not have a null modem, you can upload the ASCII file from your Atari to a BBS that features F-Mail. Then call the BBS back with your 16-bit computer and download the same file. Be sure to erase the file from the BBS once you have downloaded it.
3) If the converted file is for someone other than yourself, you can either contact your friend directly via modem; or you can upload the file to a BBS, where he or she can download it to the 16-bit computer.
Finally, you'll have a 16-bit file on a 16-bit disk, which can be loaded into any word processor and formatted to suit your needs.
If you have any questions concerning word processing in general or AtariWriter Plus in particular, send them to the editor of the MFACC Bulletin. We'll try to publish the answers promptly.