BUILT-IN SPELLING CHECKER, MAIL MERGE, SUPER-FILES FOR 130XEBY STEPHEN ROQUEMORE
AtariWriter Plus is a disk-based upgrade
of the good old reliable cartridge AtariWriter. But this enhanced word
processing software now includes a spelling checker and mail merge-as well
as allowing 130XE owners to take advantage of their computer's full 128K
AtariWriter Plus comes on two disks. The program disk has the 48K version on one side and the 130XE version on the other. The second disk contains the dictionary file for the built-in Atari Proofreader. This spelling checker is easy to use and has its own menu options. It also loads from the Main Menu without wiping out your text buffer!
The manual is well-written, although certainly not as "pretty" as its predecessor. However, it is utilitarian and explains all the features adequately-particularly the new enhancements such as a mail merge option for SynFile + files, the proofreader, l30XE buffer management, etc. I find this documentation a definite improvement over the original.
All commands from AtariWriter's cartridge version remain unchanged. The new features are controlled by additional command sequences. The manual clearly explains all functions in which the 130XE version is different from the 48K version. It should be pointed out that the 48K version works just fine on a 130XE, it's simply unable to utilize the extra RAM.
AtariWriter Plus allows use of two disk drives, and is totally compatible with old AtariWriter files. All you have to do is load in your AtariWriter file, delete the format line at the top, and choose Global Format options from the Main Menu. The Main Menu also has lead-ins for the Proofreader and the mail merge functions.
The program disk includes a module for constructing your own printer driver. When you select Print File from the Main Menu, you are presented with a choice of Atari printers, which include the upcoming XMM series and a model known as the 1029 (??). If you select Other, you are then allowed to choose from a list of popular third-party printers or the printer driver file you previously created from the construction module.
AtariWriter Plus allows you to "print" to a device other than "P:". For instance, you may print to "R1:", the modem port, to transfer your file to another Atari computer. Or you may print your file to a disk using the standard Atari format. The program also allows as many as nine print fonts instead of three. One of the nicest new features is its ability (a la Paper-Clip) to do double-column printing, even if your printer cannot do reverse line feeds. You also now have a choice between type-over mode and continuous insert mode for text editing.
The Proofreader is easy to use. If you have two drives, the program automatically uses drive 2 for the dictionary file. There are three ways of finding errors-highlight, print and correction. You can search the dictionary and build your own personal dictionary files. The program searches your text file very quickly. When it finds what it thinks is an error, it halts, highlights the word, and gives you a choice between Accept, Correct, or Search the dictionary. If you accept the highlighted word as is, the proofreader doesn't stop at later occurrences of the same word.
The mail merge feature is actually a mini-database/filer program. It has all the features and capabilities of a small database program, including creating a "form" for data entry of records. These records can then be incorporated into your AtariWriter Plus files. You may also merge files created with SynFile +.
AtariWriter Plus is a great improvement over the cartridge version. However, it does have a few drawbacks. The heavy copy protection prevents backup copies, and there's no double density DOS capability for file storage. The 48K version's maximum file buffer size is only 15K, considerably smaller than the 25-30K text buffers found in competing software such as PaperClip and Letter Perfect.
The advantage of the 130XE version is that it uses the extra RAM as additional text buffer space, allowing the creation of very large documents. However, the l30XE's extra memory is merely divided into three 15K buffers. And switching between the buffers is not automatic, you must press [START] B.
Overall, AtariWriter Plus is an example of Atari-built software at its best. If you are in the market for a powerful, easy-to-use word processor, or if you are dissatisfied by the other word processors available, you owe it to yourself to check out AtariWriter Plus. By the way, this review was written entirely with AtariWriter Plus and verified using the Proofreader.
1196 Borregas Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
49.95, 48K disk