APPLICATIONSBUREAUTIQUE ★ TASWORD 8000 ★

TASWORD 8000|Amstrad Action)TASWORD 8000|Amstrad Accion)
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We check out Tasword 8000's clairr to make life on a PCW less frustrating.

Versions of Tasword for other machines have been around for quite some time, and they still offer a cheap alternative to big name CP/M word-processors. With the release of Tasword 8000, however, Tasman are making a bid for the tougher PCW market. The key question is, what's it got that Locoscript hasn't?

The central idea behind Tasword 8000 was that existing Tasword users who bought PCWs wouldn't feel at home with Locoscript. They would, therefore, be willing to shell out for a program which was more familiar to them. Although it's obviously a program of general interest, let's start off with a look at Tasword 8000's features from the viewpoint of someone who's used a Tasword variant before.

COMPATIBILITY

If you've used Tasword on a CPC machine, Tasword 8000 has a major advantage for you right from the word go - file compatibility. Any disc files from Tasword 6128 or 464-D will load in the normal way so you won't lose, or be forced to retype, vital data.

Tasword fans will also find the behaviour of the program broadly similar. Apart from the difference in display size the editing, help and menu screens are almost identical. Some of the key combinations are different, it should be pointed out, but in general they are more memorable and logical than their CPC counterparts, making use of the extra keys on the PCW keyboard and indeed the key itself. To toggle auto-insert, for instance, you use A rather than the CPC version's totally forgettable 0.

Of course, there is a price to be paid here in terms of learning time. If you're used to the old key combinations you'll start off using them on the new program. These differences aren't too serious, though. The tough part of learning a new word-processor is understanding precisely what the cursor controls etc actually do, rather than which keys you have to use to get them - and in this former respect, Tasword 8000 is almost identical to the older versions.

The only really obvious change is the increase in speed. The differences in hardware between Arnold and Joyce mean that Tasword 8000's vertical scrolling is both smooth and fast. The horizontal scroll isn't quite so good, but it's still a big improvement. Sadly the same can't be said of the reformatting function, which seems to take as long as ever - but more of this a little later on.

The other change you may notice is the text space available. On the 8256 there's room for about 100K - as much as most people are going to want, and a big improvement even on the 6128 version while the 8512 can manage well over 300K. There aren't going to be too many people needing that kind of space, I don't suppose, but it's nice to know it's there.

THE COMPETITION

If you're not a Tasword user of long standing, you're probably wondering how 8000 measures up against Locoscript - the main competition for any PCW word-processor. The comparison is none too easy to make, as the two programs are very different.

In speed terms, Locoscript is slightly faster in scrolling, but Tasword is far more powerful when it comes to jumping around within a long document - one of Locoscript's worst failings. Tasword 8000 has commands allowing you to move directly (give a second or two) to any page or line-number you specify. You can also move pretty quickly from the start to the bottom of a document and back again. If you're trying to write a book, this feature alone would make Tasword a much better bet.

Printing can also be much more satisfactory in Tasword. For example, there are options to print out any number of copies of your document and you can print any specified section of it (using pages or line numbers). But Locoscript wins out in text reformatting - it does it automatically, while in Tasword you have to force it using J. The program is a little quirky in this regard. For example,i If you try inserting text in a paragraph which is wider than the current margins Tasword scrambles the text up in the most alarming way. The only way to avoid this is to do a 'hard'reformat on the paragraph before trying to alter it. This could cause frustrating problems when it comes to editing someone else's text, if it was typed with a different margin setting, although you'll find things 100 times faster if you select the 'Override on-screen justification' option from the comprehensive Customise Program menu.

A further problem on reformatting is that Tasword identifies the start of a new paragraph only by coming across a blank line or an indent. You cannot begin new paragraphs (or, say, tabulated data) flush with the left hand margin without leaving a line's gap, without risking having it reformatted onto the end of the previous line next time you press .

Tasword is also weak in its Search and Replace function. This works very slowly and you can only search for a whole word. Not a patch on Locosript here.

HELP!

When it comes to ease of use, Locoscript doesn't compare so favourably. Tasword has a whole screenful of help which you can summon up just by pressing . Alternatively you can, while still editing the text, leaf through this information a section at a time in the optional help window. This conventional approach is, for my money, rather easier to learn than Locoscript's pull-downs.

As for documentation, Tasword scores points here too. Its 70 page manual can't rival Locoscript's mighty volume in terms of size but it more than makes up for this with its clear, straightforward style. As well as a comprehensive reference section, there are some useful tutorial sessions complete with worked examples of the program's trickier features. In addition there's a helpful tutorial document for you to practice editing on, containing both instructions and subject matter for a brief guided tour.

EXTRAS

Once you've got the hang of editing your text, you'll want to actually do something with it. Tasword has a couple of features which you may find useful here.


<< Tasprint offers eight new fonts. The two included with Tasword 8000 are Lectura Light and Median.


Firstly there's a handy mail merge and conditional printing facility. With this it's easy to run out, for example, personalised letters to all your customers who have London telephone numbers. You can also set up text-entry points in pieces of text so that the user is prompted for dates etc as the letters are printed out. The conditions available are something of a weak point - you can't search for sub-strings, for example - but the system should still be adequate for most purposes.

The second and less conventional feature is a utility for printing text in a variety of different fonts. Known as Tasprint, it comes with two built in fonts - you switch between normal PCW printer mode and Tasprint using control characters embedded in a piece of text. This same control character system also allows you to switch between the normal facilities of the PCW printer - italic, condensed, underlined and the like.

The main limitation on the system is that you can't mix normal and Tasprint fonts on the same line. But you can get hold of six extra fonts if those supplied don't satisfy you - Tasman are selling the Tasprint system separately, with the full range of eight fonts, as a stand-alone for £14.95.

If you like the sound of Tasprint but aren't so keen on Tasword, this scperate system could be the answer. It can cope with any pure ASCII files, so you can use it with Locoscript if you put in a little effort. If you're buying Tasword anyway, the additional fonts probably aren't worth the extra cash. They're mostly decorative, and not nearly so functional as the two which are bundled.

VERDICT

If you've used Tasword before and like it, you're probably best sticking to what you know. If you're just disgruntled with Locoscript, that's a different matter. Tasword is a lot faster in handling long documents, but in other respects it can be quirky and slow. And it's not compatible with documents you've already created on Locoscript. On the other hand it is substantially cheaper than the other alternative word-processors such as WordStar and NewWord.

Amstrad Action

★ PUBLISHERS: TASMAN SOFTWARE , OFITES Informática (SPAIN)
★ YEAR: 1986
★ CONFIG: 128K + CP/M + PCW
★ LANGUAGE:
★ AUTHOR(S): ???

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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.