The Writer's Tool / word processor / commercial

From: Michael Current (aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 05/15/92-06:27:30 PM Z

From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: The Writer's Tool / word processor / commercial
Date: Fri May 15 18:27:30 1992

Reprinted from the Pandora BBS (614)-471-9209

ORNJ/UCE February, 1985, ACAOC

by Russell Kavanagh, ACAOC

Review: The Writer's Tool
Produced by OSS and Madison Micro

The Writer's Tool is an advanced word processor, one of the latest offerings from Optimized Software Systems (OSS).  Long associated with the Atari, beginning with the original Atari DOS and Atari BASIC, OSS (and its pred|e|ces|sors) has consistently produced "top of the line" Atari software.  The Writer's Tool is another product worthy of the OSS reputation.

The core of The Writer's Tool comes on cartridge.  An accompanying disk con|tains an additional program that is loaded when you boot The Writer's Tool.  Also on the disk are various printer configuration files, text demos, and a BASIC customization program.  The customization program allows you to select the features and printer that you want and save them on your disk so that they automatically load when you boot The Writer's Tool.  As with other OSS cartridges, you gain extra memory when you use an Atari

 XL computer or OSS's DOS XL.

The The Writer's Tool manual is the familiar miniature yellow three-ring binder.  Containing nearly 160 pages, it is both a tutorial and reference manual.  It is quite well organized, has both a table of contents and an indut reference card.

Editing Features

Entering text is very straightforward.  All of the Atari BASIC editing functions have been implemented as well as some useful additions.  Additional cursor functions include moving to the beginning or end of line, forward by words, forward or reverse by screen, and to the beginning or end of text.  The INSERT and JOIN modes allow you to make room for text addition in the middle of a line and then with a single keystroke join the new text with the old.  Text can be entered in the "typeover" mode, as in stan

dard Atari BASIC, or in the "insert" mode which automatically moves all text to the right as the new characters are entered.  Standard block move and delete functions are provided, with the marked block appearing in inverse video.

One feature that has always annoyed me on the Atari is the two-fingered cursor control.  The Writer's Tool has attempted to solve this by allowing you to exchange the functions of the cursor keys so that a single stroke moves the cursor and <CTRL> must be used to print the unshifted characters.  However, in practice I fousulting in a string of unexpected characters when I meant to move the cursor and vice-versa.  The cursor exchange is a good idea but requires some "operator retraining."

The Main Menu

All of the features that I have described are selected for the most part by single keystrokes or as combined <CTRL> keystrokes.  The common term for this type of control is "command driven."  The problem with command driven software is that there are just so many commands that can be reasonably abbreviated by single let|ters.  For example, it is not to hard to remember that "<CTRL> I" indicates the insert mode or "<CTRL> F" scrolls the cursor forward one screen.  If and or "<CTRL> W" for delete all text, r

equiring a reference card always by your side unless you are a frequent user.  Fortunately, the commands implemented by The Writer's Tool are mostly very easy to remember.  In order to avoid having too many, several functions are available from a menu.  The menu is selected by pushing the OPTION key and gives the options to search for items in the text, perform disk functions such as load and save, print the text, and clear the text.  When anytditional information is displayed, prompting you throughout the

 sequence.  The end result is that you can pretty well work your way through The Writer's Tool with very little consultation of the manual once you've become familiar with its basic operation.

Search and Replace

Search and replace is a feature no word processor should be without.  Text manipulation is exactly the type of task a computer does best.  In The Writer's Tool, as in most word processors, the phrase to be found is entered, as well as an optional replacement.  At each occurrence of the phrase the scrolling stops and can continue to each occurrence.  When in the replace mode, an option at each occurrence is given for replacing, skipping, or quitting.

Disk Functions

All of the disk functions you should expect are available in The Writer's Tool.  Up to four drives can be used, but only two drives are supported by the accompanying DOS.  Single, double, and dual-density disk formats are supported.  The Writer's Tool program is supplied on a single-density disk.  The manual gives some guidelines on con|verting the program disk to the other densities, but is of little help on specifics.  I was able to come up with a double-density configuration, but in the process remember

ed why I gave up on DOS XL!

Directories can be displayed or printed, files loaded, saved, or deleted from any drive.  A disk can be formatted from the disk menu screen.  The drive density can alsoes the length of text from the cursor to the end and the available memory.

All files are named using standard Atari conventions and are stored using the standard DOS format.  This makes the text files compatible with other word processors such as AtariWriter and DOS-based spelling checking programs such as Spell Wizard.

Printing Functions

The various print format selections (line length, spacing, etc.) are displayed when the print menu is selected.   For those that don't want to contend with the myriad of options, the default parameters will probably do just fine.  However, they can be easily changed from the menu or imbedded in the text.  The customization program allows you to select the default parameters to suit your application.

Many of the currently available printers are supported by The Writer's Tool by the use of printer drivers included on the program disk.  Included in this group are the Atari 825, 1025, 1027, all Epson, Gemini, Prowriter, NEC 8023, OKIDATA 82A & 92A.  If a printer driver for your printer in not included in The Writer's Tool, you can still output specific printer commands di|rec|tly to your printer, the disadvantage being that you must look up the required commands in your printer manual.

Printer graphics can also be utilized from within The Writer's Tool, allowing printing of custom characters.  A somewhat complicated example is in|cluded in the manual that illustrates the construction of the copyright sym|bol.  An accomanying update sheet included with the manual indicates that a future upgrade will simplify that process.  In addition, a method of including graphics from MicroPainter, Atari Touch Tablet, etc. directly with text output is planned.  This capability of The Writer's Tool open

s up exciting possibilities for the combination of graphics and text.

The printing format features are some of the most powerful I've seen for the Atari.  The headers and footers are very flexible.  "Soft" hyphens can be inserted into words that need hyphenation; if the text is reformatted the hyphens will not print if the word no longer occurs at the end of the line.  Conversely, a "hard" space can be inserted between words or symbols that will force them to stay together when printed out.  Groups of lines can also marked to stay togeterinted out.  These features relieve yo

u from the task of re-editing the text to "force" the format you want.

The Merge System

The merge system allows you to easily enter information into a document at predetermined locations, either from a disk file or from the keyboard.  A typical use is fally read the necessary in|formation from a disk luded with The Writer's Tool is a BASIC program that allows you to tailor some printer and display pa|ram|e|ters totplications and preferences.  Parameters that can be modified include the default values for the text output such as page length, line spacing, margins, and so on.  The video display

 colors and margins can be altered, as can the cursor flash rate and bright|ness.  The audio prompts can be directed to either the console speaker (for the 800/400) or the monitor speaker.  After generating a custom file, you can have it automatically load when you boot The Writer's Tool.  You can a  This is useful when you occasionally work with a document that requires a different format.


With the number of word processors available for the Atari, it's difficult to pick one above the other.  There seems to be a recent eruption of new word processors.  Where does The Writer's Tool fit in?  Well, after reviewing it I decided to purchase it for my use, retiring AtariWriter.  I felt that the additional features, especially the text formatting commands, were useful in the writing I do.  Some of the details I like, such as the ability to display a directory from any drive.  In addition, the direc

tory remains on the display for use while typing in the name of the file to be loaded.  The customization feature is also a plus.  However, the list in Atari At Large this month:

The Software Cellar - Al Cheser, 511 Bond St., Anaheim, CA 92805, (714) 635-2100 (voice), (714) 772-9671 (BBS)

OSS - 1221B Kentwood Ave., San Jose, CA 95129, (408) 446-3099
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
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