Part III: Other ADAM Word Processors
by David Sands
SmartWRITER, dear to the hearts of so many ADAM owners, isn't the only word processing program for our favorite computer, and it may not be the best, either.
There is a selection worth considering if you need something the built-in doesn't offer. SmartWRITER (SW) is built-to because it lives on a Read Only Memory (ROM) chip on ADAM's main board, and is therefore ON with the power and "ESCAPE / WP" keystroke we're all so familiar with. SW's instant availability comes from it's being "hardware" as much as software, and of course that is also it's biggest drawback. All of it's faults, as well as virtues, are cast in silicon.
And if SmartWRITER's faults have gone beyond being charming little idiosyncrasies and have started to prey on your mind, perhaps we should explore the available alternatives.
As far as I know, all of them are available from the usual ADAM mail order suppliers. And while we're on the subject, most are not Public Domain, which means if you obtain them without paying for them, you're probably not going to go to heaven, at the very least.
Besides, if there's anything you need the original documentation for, it's a word processing program, and the guy who will give you a program on your data pack or disk will want real money for photocopies of the manual, so you might as well get your own genuine one. It's always nice when morality and realism lead to the same conclusion. Rare, too.
SmartLETTERS & FORMS was one of Coleco's original ADAM programs and deserves a mention only as a variation on word processing. It uses SmartWRITER and is basically a fill-in-the-blanks set of pre-written forms. If you can't think what to say when someone offers you a job, the letter is there. R's the kind of the-computer-can-wipe-your-nose-for- you thing we don't see much of anymore, thankfully.
ADAM can use the CP/M and T-DOS operating systems, which means that many CP/M word processing programs, such as the original WordStar, will run on ADAM. Two current, very popular programs, VDE266 and Express Word, are good examples of WordStar-type word processors. The original WordStar was written for 64K computers, in the days when 64K was the best you could hope for in a personal computer. Those days, and the first WordStar, are gone, but disks containing the program can still be found.
Learning WordStar and adapting it to the ADAM will take a major portion of the time you have left on Earth. The newer programs may be a better bet.
VDE266 and WordStar use a system of "Control-codes", which must be teamed. For example, hold the Control key and type 'E' to move the cursor on the screen. If you've been spoiled by SmartWRITER, learning the dozens of control codes for any new program is something to consider. Basically, it's a matter of practice and memorization.
Express Word is a new (to me, at least) word processor for the ADAM, and since I plan to use every program before writing anything definitive, I can only report that it's available, for $34.95, from it's distributor (TCI) and will require CP/M or T-DOS. VDE266 is Public Domain.
TCI's address is:
SpeedyWRITE V2.0 is another control-code word processor, but doesn't require CP/M or T-DOS. It uses the ADAM's E.O.S. system, which means you just have to learn the program, not a new operating system as well. Pull the computer reset after inserting the disk or data pack and it boots up. Speedy (for short) has excellent documentation, (set in small type), considerable flexibility, all the features every word processor should have, and a growing reputation.
A short list of SpeedyWRITE's features, in addition to those in SmartWRITER, includes: finding the length of the document (file), split screen viewing of two parts of a file at once, macros which are long commands or inserts done with a single keystroke, search and replace with wildcards (partial cues to the word sought), search forward and back in a file, considerable printing flexibility including printing specified pages only, considerable formatting flexibility including two columns, justified printing and special fonts, footnotes, and mail-merge printing. Everything you always wanted...
SpeedyWRITE V2.0 is probably (no real information exists) the second most popular word processor for the ADAM.
An early SmartWRITER alternative was MultiWRITE, which runs under SmartBASIC V1.0 and must have it loaded first. MultiWRITE was sold only on data pack, and suffers for it, primarily in that it is very slow to load, run and to change modes, i.e. to Print from Edit. However, it could be copied to disk to speed up loading times.
MultiWRITE's prime feature is it's screen displays: you get 64 letters and spaces on a line on screen at all times without scrolling across. This is created at the expense of character size, but with a good television or monitor, is quite usable. It's also "control code" driven, although there are only 11 codes to learn and it also uses the ADAM's command keys.
Similar to MultiWRITE, and also a Strategic Software product, is NewsMAKER. It does not offer 64 columns, but will print justified type (both sides of the column are lined up straight) and uses a "desktop publishing" motif which will allow columns of different widths on a page, for example to inset quotations.
The only "integrated" program package for the ADAM is MicroWORKS, also from Strategic Software. Any integrated program attempts to offer an all-in-one program that will do everything. In MicroWORKS' case, that means a Text Editor, Spreadsheet, Database, Business Graphics and Picture Editor. The integrated aspect also arises from the ability to incorporate files created by one program into another. Using Business Graphics made from Spreadsheet numbers in a Text Editor printout illustrated with Pictures; is an everyday example.
All three of the word processors mentioned; MultiWRITE, NewsMAKER and MicroWORKS, work in slightly different ways from each other. The Text Editor in MicroWORKS offers the fewest features, but does offer text centering, not found in the other two.
There are several "enhancement" programs around, all of which basically modify the printout of the word processor, but aren't word processors themselves. File Printer by ADAM's HOUSE, ShowOFF II: Writermate by Digital Express, PowerPRINT by Strategic Software and SmartWRITER's HELPER by Hexace Software are four of them.
Future installments of this series (entitled "Beyond SmartWRITER") will be devoted to what it's like working with these various SmartWRITER alternatives, a discussion of the differences between word processing on the ADAM and with one of the big two MS-DOS programs, and some less likely topics.