Carolyn's Corner - November, 1991

Have you been using the original AtariWriter cartridge word processor and wondering what features the Plus in AtariWriter Plus provides? Well, I think the improvements justify buying the newer program.

The AtariWriter Plus program is on disk, and it does seem to take quite a while to load - compared to a cartridge anyway. The first thing you notice is that the opening menu offers several more choices than the old program. Most welcome is that you can view the directory of either Drive 1 or Drive 2. Then you have the added features of Verifying Spelling or using Mail Merge. These are actually separate programs that are loaded when you select them from the menu.

If you choose Global Format, you will see a second menu of choices that allow you to choose font, margins, line spacing, page length, etc. Default values are displayed, and if they suit you, there is no need to make any entries. This menu replaces the Print Formatting Block that appeared at the top of the Editing Screen with the old AtariWriter. The default values are pretty much the same with either program. They affect the overall format of a printed page and will prevail throughout your document unless you make in-text changes. Pressing [ESC] returns you to the main menu.

The new program does not require pressing the [RET] key after the selection key. Until you get used to this improvement, you may get into a little trouble if you hit [RET] as you have been used to doing. It will be taken as the answer to the next question, if there is one, or will enter a blank line on the Editing Screen, if you have selected "E".

When you wanted a Print Preview with the old program, you first had to say whether you wanted to preview the whole document, "Y" or "N" followed by a [RET]. Then, if your answer was "N", you had to state the starting and ending pages. With the new program, when you press [OPTION-P], you are automatically taken to the page that corresponds to where your cursor is on the Editing Screen. You do not have to specify which page that is; in fact, it's quite likely in a lengthy document that you do not know which page the desired text falls on anyway. After this page appears on the Preview Screen, you can view subsequent pages by pressing the [SPACEBAR]. If you want to view the entire file, just be sure your cursor is at the top (press [SELECT-T]).

Another improvement you'll notice right away if you've specified any elongated, or double-wide, text, is that it will look l i k e t h i s on the Preview Screen. This makes it much easier to check on whether a title or whatever will be centered when it is printed.

The Search function has been greatly simplified in AtariWriter Plus. You enter the SEARCH STRING by pressing [START-S], and [SELECT-S] to effect the search. When the first occurrence of the SEARCH STRING is found, you may edit it, replace it, or just press [SELECT-S] to continue the search. Or you could even abandon the search at that point. The old program forces you to keep answering questions about whether you want to continue, etc.

Search-and-Replace is just as easy. Enter the SEARCH STRING as above. Then press [START-R] to enter the REPLACE STRING. Now press [SELECT-S] to find the desired text and [SELECT-R] to replace it. If you are very sure that you really want to replace each and every occurrence of the SEARCH STRING with the REPLACE STRING, just put the cursor at the top of the file and press [OPTION-G] for Global. All the changes will be made in the blink of an eye.

When you are copying, moving, or cutting blocks of text, the new program highlights the designated block, making it easier to keep track of what you are editing. Other options are alphabetizing the block, counting the number of words in it, or saving it as a separate file.

Most of the control codes for cursor movement or formatting commands are identical in both programs. AtariWriter Plus has a few extra commands, such as moving forward or backward by one word on the Editing Screen ([SELECT-RIGHT] or [SELECT-LEFT]), and specifying Bold Print ([SELECT-.] before and after text).

About the only disappointment I have found in AtariWriter Plus is that it still offers no easy way to effect outdenting, such as when you want to have numbered paragraphs with the numbers in the left margin.

All in all though, it's a pretty nifty program and does many things well. Not the least of its virtues is that it is practically impossible to type so fast that the program will not keep up with you. I sometimes find that I have skipped letters in my text, but that is more a fault of the 130XE keyboard than of the word processor.

I highly recommend AtariWriter Plus.

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