APPLICATIONSBUREAUTIQUE ★ Amstrad WP ★

AMSword v1Applications Bureautique
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Ian Stobie finds it's a case of great software, shame about the printer, for the first serious application of the Amstrad micro.

AMSTRAD'S CPC-464 COMPUTER seems ideally suited for home word processing. It has an 80-column display, a good-quality keyboard and a reliable built-in cassette storage system. All it needs to become a low-cost cassette-based word-processing system is appropriate software and a suitable printer.

Amsoft's cassette-based WP program, Amsword, turns out to be excellent and Amstrad's DMP-1 printer turns out to be the opposite. The CPC-464 computer itself still seems to justify the rave review we gave it in our October issue, but the printer rather spoils Amstrad's record as the home-computer company that has managed to get everything right.

It took us some time to get the DMP-1 's unconventional ribbon cartridge working properly. It consists of a short, fabric loop which picks up ink from a saturated felt pad. At its best the system gave us printed output that was smudgy and unclear; at its worst the output was too faint to see.

But even with a more effective ribbon system the DMP-1's output would still be unpleasant to read. The machine's printhead mechanism is not up to producing characters like j, g and p with true descenders, as it forms it characters from a matrix of just five dots by seven, which is very limited by modern standards. At £199.95, the DMP-1 is poor value for money.

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Since the Amstrad computer looks a very attractive system for low-cost home word-processing we tried it out with an alternative printer, the new Shinwa CPA-80. Although this is slightly more expensive than the dreadful DMP-1 it is much better value. We found it gave much better performance in every respect except when it came to printing graphics.

At least three word-processing packages  are available for the Amstrad, or soon will be. Easy Amsword is a very simple cassette-based package which costs £9.95. It is not up to much more than demonstrating to a beginner what word processing is generally about. Amsword is the serious program for use with cassettes, price £19.95. It is written by Tasman software and is a development of Tasword Two, which is probably the best word processor running on the Sinclair Spectrum. It comes with a 45-page manual which describes clearly everything the package can do.

Disc options

For Amstrad users with the CP/M disc system, which is just beginning to come on to the market, Amsoft will also be offering a disc-based word processor written by Intelligence (Ireland) Ltd. This will cost around £50 including VAT and will integrate with matching Calc and database packages. WordStar, the best known CP/M word-processing package, does not look like being available for the Amstrad disc system in the very near future, as no deal with Micropro has been struck.

According to Amsoft, Amsword will be upgradable to work with the Amstrad disc system. Amsoft will offer the upgrade for a nominal fee, and data files now stored on cassette should still be usable. Even so, Amsword is inevitably a more limited program than one written from the outset for disc. Discs not only allow faster and more convenient filing, but allow a word processor to have many more features, as the program itself can be many times longer than the available memory, with the
system swapping chunks in as required.

The word-processing setup we eventually arrived at would cost around £619 including VAT. This breaks down to roughly £359 for the computer itself with colour monitor, £240 for the Shinwa CPA-80 printer and cable, and £20 for the Amsword software. Using the cheaper £249 Amstrad with monochrome monitor, which might be a better choice if word processing is the only thing you want to do, the overall price works out at £509.

Loading Amsword from cassette takes about three minutes. Amsword then brings up a clear editing screen. At this point you can load in text from an existing file held on cassette or start typing in new text. Amsword allows you to create documents about 2,000 words long.

Most of the editing screen is taken up by a 16-line by 80-column area into which you type text or perform manipulations on text already there. You can scroll around the document you are editing using the ordinary Amstrad arrow keys in various combinations with the Shift and Control keys.

Most Amsoft commands take the form of a single-key combination with the Control key. The most common commands are shown in a seven-line Help display at the top of the screen. You can suppress this display to give a larger 23-line editing area. At the foot of the editing screen is a horizontal bar showing current tab and margin positions, and beneath it is a status line showing the current settings of various functions.

Amsword uses the full 80-column width of the CPC-464's screen. It is possible to prepare wider documents up to 128

columns across by scrolling horizontally. This is a bit tedious in practice but still a feature worth having.

Hitting the Escape key brings up a single Help screen, which shows most of Amsword's facilities. Compared to a disc-based word processor like WordStar, Amsword does not have many functions, but the ones it does have are well chosen.

Straightforward editing is carried out using combinations of the Delete, Shift  and Control keys, and is very easy. You normally are in Overtype mode, if you want to insert you need to create space by hitting Control-I. To insert several characters you insert a new line and later reformat the paragraph with another command.

Text is automatically justified as you type it in, but you can opt for unjustified text, giving lines of uneven length. Reformatting a paragraph to fit changed margins is slow, but it works. A new command has to be issued for each paragraph; there is no global Reformat command. Individual lines can be automatically centred or moved right or left on the screen.

Amsoft's block operations are slow compared to a disc-based word processor. You mark a block with a visible control character at the beginning and end; the selected text is not highlighted in any other way, so the block is not too easily seen. Block operations work on complete lines, not on part lines, which is a fairly major limitation.

Printers

Amstrad's DMP-1 is basically a Seikosha 500 modified to print CPC-464 graphics and boxed up in matching black plastic with an Amstrad label on the front. The Seikosha was a good printer in its day but it is hardly state of the art now.

The CPA-80 is the latest, quicker version of Shinwa's CP-80 printer, one of the best-selling low-cost matrix printers. It leaves the DMP-1 standing. It is at least twice as fast, and the characters-per-second figures underestimate the difference as the old Seikosha print mechanism only prints in one direction. The Shinwa also seems the quieter machine

Text printed with the Shinwa has much better definition. Characters are formed on a seven-by-eight matrix, the eight vertical dots being enough to allow critical lower-case letters like ], g and p to print partially below the line, which is much more readable. The CPA-80 also has a much better ribbon system — at least as far as print quality is concerned — a large cartridge containing carbon film.

However, it is a one-shot cartridge and you throw it away when each part of the ribbon has been past the print-head once. So running costs of the Shinwa printer may be slightly higher than on the re-inkable Amstrad system. A new carbon ribbon costs about £5 and at the moment fabric ribbons do not seem to be available for the CPA-80. On the other hand, the Shinwa has a very well-designed Perspex lid which lets you tear off paper neatly without having to wastefully throw away an extra page.

The superiority of the DMP-1 when it comes to printing graphics is a result of a peculiarity of the Amstrad computer's built-in parallel interface. Most computers using the standard Centronics parallel interface can send a full eight bits at a time, which is what the Shinwa expects. The CPC-464 interface only sends seven data bits at a time. This is fine for sending normal ASCII text, as the ASCII code only uses the bottom seven bits of each byte. So for word processing with Amsword we could send control codes to get underlined and emphasised characters and other special printer effects.

If you ever need to address individual needles in graphics mode the Shinwa expects data to control all eight needles: everything we did in the way of fancy graphics from Basic had a horizontal white stripe all the way across the paper at every eighth vertical dot position.

On the other hand, the Amstrad DMP-1 has been specially adapted to work with the Amstrad's seven-bit interface, and graphics printing presents no special problem. There may be some hardware fix available to people using non-Amstrad printers, but although the Shinwa manual is very good on graphics, in the time available we could not find a software solution for the printer we were using.

Limitation

Limitations are also apparent in Amsword's Search and Replace function. You cannot search for phrases, just single words, and you cannot replace with null strings or spaces, so you cannot use the command to selectively delete. You have a stark choice between replacing once or globally; there is no equivalent of WordStar's useful Find/Replace Again command.

Despite its limitations, Amsword is really a very good package and only appears limited compared to disc-based products; few cassette-based word processors even reach a standard where it is worth making the comparison. For instance, Amsword lets you load text from tape into a document you are already editing. This merge facility is really an append, as the loaded text has to go on the end of the document in memory, but once there you can use the Block Move command to move it where you like.

In fact, Amsword possesses some useful functions that are missing from many disc-based word processors. It is possible to convert upper case to lower case and vice versa. So if you accidentally type a few lines with the Caps-Lock key on you do not have to retype them. Amsword gives you a word count as well as a character count, and has the ability to use a second character set which includes many foreign-language characters.

You can print an Amsword document without first saving the file. The word processor has a good range of print-time options, letting you print page numbers and text messages at the head and foot of every page, print multiple copies, and alter the line spacing and left-hand edge of the text on the paper.

What is more, Amsword allows you up to 40 different printer control codes, which can be up to five bytes long each. The program comes with these printer control codes pre-defined for the Epson FX-80, which is something of a standard in printers. We were able to get a good range of effects very simply from the Shinwa printer using these, included underlined, emphasised, enlarged and superscript print, and from the DMP-1 I was able to get expanded print. This feature is well documented in the Amsword manual, and the default printer control codes can be shown on-screen.

Amsword is a very well thought-out program. An unexpected but welcome touch is the Save Amsword option found on the main menu. This allows you to copy customised versions of Amsword to tape, incorporating your own printer control characters and other default settings of alterable features. The only feature regrettably missing is the facility to change the editing scren display to 40 columns,

which is much more readable than the 80-column mode on the colour version of the Amstrad.

Conclusions

  • Amsword is one of the best cassette-based word processors we have seen. It is quite adequate for writing letters and short articles, and extremely good value for £19.95.
  • There is no point in getting Amstrad's matching DMP-1 printer because it is not very' good. The slightly more expensive Shinwa CPA-80 is superior on virtually all counts and is much better value.
  • The Amstrad CPC-464 computer itself is very suited for home word processing because it has an 80-column display, good-quality keyboard and reliable built-in cassette drive. For heavy word-processing the cheaper system with monochrome monitor is probably the better buy as it displays text better than the colour version.
  • For a total cost including software and printer of between £500 and £600, depending on the type of monitor chosen, both Amstrad-based home word-processing systems are worth looking into.

Ian Stobie , Practical Computing

★ PUBLISHER: AMSOFT
★ RERELEASES: Micro-Bureautique '92 (FRANCE) , INDESCOMP (SPAIN)
★ YEAR: 1984
★ CONFIG: 64K + AMSDOS
★ LANGUAGES:
★ LiCENCE: COMMERCIALE
★ DEVELOPERS: Juniper Computing , TASMAN ; Traduction et adaptation du programme et du manuel en langue française par Semaphore Logiciels
★ AUTHOR(S): ???
★ REFS AMSOFT:


Cliquez sur l'image pour voir les différents packages (5). 

★ AMSTRAD CPC ★ DOWNLOAD ★

Files:
» Amsword  v1.02    (Release  MICRO-BUREAUTIQUE  92)    FRENCHDATE: 2018-05-17
DL: 346
TYPE: ZIP
SiZE: 17Ko
NOTE: Dump/upload by McSpe ; 40 Cyls
.HFE: Χ

» Amsword  v1.02    (Release  TASMAN)    FRENCHDATE: 2013-01-29
DL: 285
TYPE: ZIP
SiZE: 17Ko
NOTE: 40 Cyls
.HFE: Χ

» Amsword  v1.02    (Release  TASMAN)    SPANISHDATE: 2017-12-20
DL: 237
TYPE: ZIP
SiZE: 18Ko
NOTE: Uploaded by hERMOL ; 42 Cyls
.HFE: Χ

» Amsword  v1.02    (Release  TASMAN-Include  AMSTUTOR)    ENGLISHDATE: 2011-02-09
DL: 311
TYPE: ZIP
SiZE: 20Ko
NOTE: 40 Cyls
.HFE: Χ

Covers/Packages:
» AMSOFT-Amsword    (Release  DISC)    (BINDER)    FRENCHDATE: 2019-11-30
DL: 75
TYPE: image
SiZE: 2482Ko
NOTE: Scan by Loic DANEELS ; w5316*h3138
 
» AMSOFT-Amsword    (Release  DISC)    FRENCHDATE: 2019-11-30
DL: 60
TYPE: image
SiZE: 2366Ko
NOTE: Scan by Loic DANEELS ; w5706*h4363
 
» Amsword-El  procesador  de  palabras  CPC464    (SOFT364)    SPANISHDATE: 2019-09-15
DL: 94
TYPE: image
SiZE: 66Ko
NOTE: Uploaded by hERMOL ; w645*h886

» Amsword    (Release  DISC-BINDER)    FRENCHDATE: 2019-11-29
DL: 96
TYPE: image
SiZE: 781Ko
NOTE: Scan by Loic DANEELS ; w2656*h1569
 
» Amsword    (Release  TAPE-INDESCOMP-S164)    SPANISHDATE: 2019-01-20
DL: 127
TYPE: image
SiZE: 309Ko
NOTE: w2231*h1417

» Amsword    FRENCHDATE: 2014-05-05
DL: 187
TYPE: image
SiZE: 175Ko
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Medias/Supports:
» Amsoft-Advanced  Amsword    (Release  DISC-SOFT1164)    ENGLISHDATE: 2023-01-21
DL: 28
TYPE: image
SiZE: 350Ko
NOTE: Uploaded by CPCLOV ; w1154*h1476

» Amsword    (Release  DISC)    FRENCHDATE: 2019-11-21
DL: 139
TYPE: image
SiZE: 227Ko
NOTE: Scan by Loic DANEELS ; w1856*h1166

» Amsword    (Release  TAPE-INDESCOMP-AMC503)    SPANISHDATE: 2019-01-18
DL: 185
TYPE: image
SiZE: 149Ko
NOTE: Scan by Abraxas ; w1209*h776

» Amsword    (Release  TAPE-INDESCOMP-S164)    SPANISHDATE: 2018-06-24
DL: 75
TYPE: image
SiZE: 12Ko
NOTE: w330*h234

Dump disquette (version commerciale):
» Amsword  v1.00    (Release  AMSTRAD)    FRENCHDATE: 2019-03-04
DL: 230
TYPE: ZIP
SiZE: 18Ko
NOTE: Uploaded by CPCLOV ; Extended DSK/43 Cyls
.HFE: Χ

Manuels d'utilisation & docs:
» Amsword    (Release  DISC-SOFT1464)    FRENCHDATE: 2023-08-10
DL: 51
TYPE: PDF
SiZE: 365Ko
NOTE: Scan by Loic DANEELS ; 1 page/PDFlib v1.6

» Amsword    (Release  TAPE-SOFT164)    ENGLISHDATE: 2023-08-10
DL: 59
TYPE: PDF
SiZE: 1622Ko
NOTE: Uploaded by hERMOL ; 46 pages/PDFlib v1.6

» Amsword    (Release  TAPE-SOFT164)    SPANISHDATE: 2023-08-10
DL: 57
TYPE: PDF
SiZE: 1859Ko
NOTE: Uploaded by CPCLOV ; 47 pages/PDFlib v1.6

» Amsword    (Release  TAPE-SOFT464)    FRENCHDATE: 2023-08-10
DL: 349
TYPE: PDF
SiZE: 11041Ko
NOTE: Scan by Loic DANEELS ; 46 pages/PDFlib v1.6

Dumps cassettes:
» Amsword    ENGLISHDATE: 2014-05-05
DL: 319
TYPE: ZIP
SiZE: 20Ko
NOTE: Headerless Custom; /CDTBlocks=39

» Amsword    FRENCHDATE: 2014-05-05
DL: 258
TYPE: ZIP
SiZE: 16Ko
NOTE: Headerless Custom; /CDTBlocks=27

» Amsword    SPANISHDATE: 2012-03-18
DL: 381
TYPE: ZIP
SiZE: 20Ko
NOTE: Dump by Abraxas from Original tape ; Headerless Custom; /CDTBlocks=39

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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.