Zorlof II: word processor extraordinare. (evaluation) C.A. Johnson.
I had seen the full page advertisement for Zorlof several times, but had not paid any attention to it. I am interested in games, but have little time for them, so I am not attracted to game advertisements. Only when a friend called my attention to it did I realize that Zorlof is not a game, but a word processor and a darned good one.
The specifications recounted in the ad were impressive. As a writer, I am always looking for tools that make the job of writing a little easier.
However, I expect programs to have names that suggest their purpose, e.g., Scripsit, Word Star, and Lazy Writer for word processing programs. Programs with names that could have been formed from a spoonful of alphabet soup are usually games. I believe it is a mistake to name a serious program that way. For that reason, Zorlof II could have escaped me forever.
Most word processing programs work much the same way. The specific details (syntax) of how to make them perform their functions differ somewhat, but the big difference is in what compromises have been made. The margin of difference is in which of the full word processing functions have been left out. Most word processors written for microcomputers make some significant compromises, but Zorlof II leaves out very little. Page Preview
One of the first features of Zorlof to catch my attention was the ability to display the text on the screen as it will appear on the printed page. In the past, I have wasted many reams of paper to get the format I wanted for a particular document. With Zorlof you enter View mode and you can see the entire text without the control characters and with the page breaks and page numbers just as the final copy will look.
Zorlof has all of the basic features you expect in a word processor--word wrap, print formatting (including left and/or right justification and centering), search and replace (single and global), as well as the ability to copy and rearrange text. In addition, it underlines, prints bold, subscripts, and superscripts, and adds another document to the one in RAM. You can even insert a document into the body of the existing text from an external file or write out a portion of your document to a new disk file.
When Zorlof is loaded, two status lines are displayed at the top of the screen. The first line contains the name of the file with which you are working and the width of the text line. In addition, the top status line displays the number of words and the number of lines in the document, as well as the amount of free RAM. When you prepare a manuscript, you can tell at a glance how many words you have written and how much space is left in memory--definitely a premium feature. The status lines remain on the screen while you are working with the document. The second line contains two fields that are used in search and replace operations. Unusual Features
Several unusual capabilities are included. For example, Zorlof supports more than 50 different printers (18 printer drivers) and allows the special printing features of each to be imbedded in the text. This allows you to mix different print modes on the same line. For example, you can mix double-wide letters with normal and emphasized characters and italics in the same body of text. It also supports proportional spacing directly on dot matrix printers, as well as some daisy wheel printers, and right justifies at the same time, if you wish.
Headers and footers are defined separately for odd and even numbered pages: they can be the same or different; they can be turned off and new ones inserted at any time. The page number line is not part of the header or footer, but is defined and located separately on the page. Form Letters
A fundamental feature of Zorlof is the capability for personalized form letters. You can compose a letter, leaving out the parts that differ in each letter and flagging the place for them to be inserted. In a separate file, the addresses and texts to be inserted are developed. When the form letter is printed, it makes the proper insertions as designated in the form letter. It matches the flags in the letter with the field names in the form data file.
As I reviewed this feature, with its open format and unlimited number and size of fields in the form data file, it occurred to me that this capability could be used as a file management system. The number of record types is limited to the number of different characters on the keyboard, but few home data management requirements would exceed that.
I frequently write a manuscript in random pieces and assemble it later, adding the necessary text to link the pieces. Zorlof not only provides the capability to chainload files, but also provides the capability to save any portion of the text to disk as a separate document. Since I often include portions of the same text in several manuscripts, this capability is a special plus.
Another very handy feature is the ability to display the directory, select a file from the directory by moving the cursor to the directory entry, and give the load command. Files can be killed in much the same way to make space for the text in RAM. There is a safeguard in killing files and deleting blocks of text. These actions must be done twice before they are executed. Full Screen Editing
As a bonus to programmers, Zorlof supports full screen editing of EDTASM and Basic files, including automatic renumbering. If you have not programmed with a full screen editor, you may not realize the disadvantage of working with a line editor. In word processing mode, some of the keyboard characters have been modified for word processing use, but in editing EDTASM and Basic files, the important ones have been restored to their original form. Zap-Processing
Another feature of special interest to programmers is the Zap-processing capability. Zap-processing allows you to read any file on a disk and modify it directly, using hexadecimal notation. With it you can patch machine language programs or recover damaged disk files which you could not otherwise read. The capability provided by this feature is available elsewhere as a stand-alone utility or as a part of an operating system. But to my knowledge, it has not been included as part of a word processing package. It is a very powerful tool.
The documentation is easy to read and reasonably complete. Once I had gone through the sample text and had deciphered the format commands, I had little difficulty learning to use Zorlof. Even after you have read the manual and think that you understand Zorlof completely, you should review the sample text and identify what each statement does.
A few things could benefit from some alternative examples. I made a number of wrong attempts when I tried to format page numbers at the top of the page and to start numbering on page 2. This is a common format; I am surprised that it was not used as the basic illustration. Insertions
I am very pleased with Zorlof II. The only thing I do not like about it is the manner in which it handles insertions. To insert, you move the cursor to the point where you wish your new text to be inserted and press CLEAR-I (simultaneously). As you enter your insertion, the text spreads one character at a time to make room for the new character until the complete string has been inserted. You then take it out of insert mode with CLEAR-I.
As you type, your new text blends in with the existing text. There is an open text command, but it lasts only for the existing line, then the insertion "catches up" at the end of the line and again blends with the existing text. You do not have the ability to enter several lines of text to see the end of your entry without the distraction of the following text, without a lot of format manipulation, which in itself is distracting. I would rather have the text open up and then close it when the insert is completed. However, I expect that I will soon adjust to Zorlof.
Zorlof II is a superior word processing system unsurpassed in the capabilities it provides for such a modest price. It runs on TRS-80 Models I, III, and 4. It requires 32K memory, one disk drive, a line printer (either serial or parallel), and lower case modification (Model I only). Apparently it will work with a number of operating systems. (I used TRSDOS and NEWDOS.)
Products: Zorlof II (computer program)