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Simple, But Not Quite Complete

VOLKS WRITER SCIENTIFIC Lifetree Software Inc. 411 Pacific Street Monterey, CA 93940 (800) 543-3873 (800) 831-8733 (in Callibmia) Price: $495 Requirements: 256K RAM, DOS 2.0 or later, IBM color graphics card or equivalent (will not work with EGA) Perhaps the greatest advantage of Volkswriter Scientific is its simplicity. Simple menus guide you through edit sessions with ease. “What you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) graphics capabilities facilitate its use. Despite these plusses,

By | October 19, 1987

VOLKS WRITER SCIENTIFIC

Lifetree Software Inc.
411 Pacific Street
Monterey, CA 93940
(800) 543-3873
(800) 831-8733 (in Callibmia)
Price: $495
Requirements: 256K RAM, DOS 2.0 or
later, IBM color graphics card or
equivalent (will not work with EGA)

Perhaps the greatest advantage of Volkswriter Scientific is its simplicity. Simple menus guide you through edit sessions with ease. “What you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) graphics capabilities facilitate its use. Despite these plusses, however, Volkswriter lacks some important features and falls short of being a complete scientific word processor.

The majority of Volkswriter’s formatting and editing commands can be accessed with one or two keystrokes. When creating a document, online help is available by pressing ? or the Fl key at any prompt. It is very important that you take care in selecting the margins at this time because it is impossible to change the settings for a line once it has been entered.

Volkswriter comes with basic editing and formatting functions, and nine editing menus are accessible with just two keystrokes. Sadly, though, Volkswriter does a poor job of implementing several functions. Copying text, for example, requires you to delete the text, copy it back in its original place and then move it. This entire procedure ought to be carried out with a single Move function.

Volkswriter allows you to work with only one page at a time. Moving within a page can be performed with basic cursor movement keys. Each page is automatically saved as you move from one to another. This feature helps to prevent data loss but can be slow if you are running on a floppy-based system.

In a separate program supplied with the distribution diskette, there are a number of utility functions that allow you to manipulate Volkswriter files. You can extract part of a file or split a file in two. You are, however, restricted to extracting complete pages.

Although there is a method for converting a non-Volkswriter ASCII file to Volkswriter format, there is no provision for creating an ASCII file from a Volkswriter file. This is an inconvenience for users who simply need a text editor. The capability to produce an ASCII file is essential to provide a common interface with other applications such as electronic mail. Also, a growing number of publishers now are accepting manuscripts on computer media and ASCII format seems to be the most widely accepted.

Volkswriter’s WYSIWYG display greatly facilitates the use of different text fonts and graphics characters. Unfortunately, the poor resolution of the CGA text display makes long editing sessions almost unbearable.

In addition to the standard text attributes such as boldface, italics, superscript and subscript, Volkswriter allows you to place Greek, script, mathematical and scientific characters within text. These characters are accessed as a backslash or reverse quote character, and are displayed on the screen as they will be printed.

Also included is a menu of building-block characters to create large and complex scientific expressions. Everything you create appears on the screen as it will be printed. This makes laying out and creating equations or formulas easy. Once you have created a commonly used expression or symbol, it can be stored as a macro to be used again.

Conspicuously absent from Volkswriter are common word processing features such as a spelling checker, mail merge capability and drivers for laser printers. Serious writers will find Volkswriter a disappointment. There is no support for including sophisticated graphics or even simple graphics such as line or bar graphs. Features to handle footnotes, headers, trailers, indexing for reference formatting and data bases also are missing.

Volkswriter is capable of producing high-quality dot matrix output. You can print in high-speed draft mode or high-density quality mode. The text and graphics fonts serve well for people who use graphics and near letter-quality text, but users who need true correspondence-quality text will find this unsatisfactory. As of this writing, Volkswriter does not support a laser printer. Lifetree Software says that Total Word, which it is calling “the new Volkswriter,” will have this capability, among others. It is scheduled for release in December.

If you have very little time to learn a word processor and need to create documents with dot matrix-quality text and fairly complex scientific expressions along with WYSIWYG, then you might consider Volkswriter Scientific. If you need more power and flexibility, try something else.

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