|★ APPLICATIONS ★ BUREAUTIQUE ★ SUPERWRITER|8000PLUS) ★|
The first thing to strike you on opening the SuperWriter box is the professional documentation.
There is not only a large manual, but also a separate pamphlet "10 minutes to SuperWriter” to get you going straight away, a quick reference card summarising all the commands, and a set of stickers to put over your keys identifying the controls. The second thing to strike you is the total lack of the word "Amstrad” anywhere in the documentation, and a handy set of 4 labels for 5,25" floppy discs.
The only reference to PCWs is in a short READ.ME file which (if you ignore a couple of errors) explains you have to run SETKEYS KEYS.WP to set the keyboard up, and also SET24X80 for the screen.
Once youve got it running, SuperWriter has all the functions you expect in a professional word processor: copious on-screen help information available, block copy, move and delete, page formatting with variable margins, headers and footers. It's fast at moving around even large files, and it can control the PCW printer pretty well (once you get the hang of it!).
In addition, SuperWriter has a few things you won't find elsewhere.
The spelling checker has a passable though definitely transatlantic dictionary, which you can customise as it runs through your file. Whenever it finds an unrecognised word, you have the option of saving it, and can also delete words you don't want (like -ize words). The mail merger can do conditional printing, and insert variables (like the date) at any place in the text.
But where SuperWriter really scores over the opposition is that you can define your own new commands by storing sequences of keystrokes in ",XQT” (for "execute") files, which can be run at any time. The execute files are then read as though they had been typed at the keyboard. This means you can automate all manner of operations you find yourself carrying out regularly. For example you could store the sequence of keystrokes required embolden the current line being edited. Then every time you wanted to embolden another line you could do so with just three keypresses.
So what's the bad news? Well, if you had an IBM PC then SuperWriter would be almost ideal, but the version for the PCW just has not had enough work done on converting it. It doesn't use the full PCW screen size, and the manual and keyboard are really angled to PCs, Also, to get the full benefit from SuperWriter you need to understand roughly how CP/M programs work in order to install it properly. In particular, there is no help on which printer type the program needs to be told it is using -actually an Epson LQI500.
The really big flaw though is that SuperWriter can't handle files much longer than 30K (5-6000 words). That's because it has a slightly different view of documents to most word processors - you load an entire file into the working memory and all operations take place from there. This makes text operations very fast, but the restriction on file length can be annoying, especially as the main reason why many PCW owners would consider another word-processor is precisely for editing long files. Fortunately there is a not-too-inconvenient way round the problem by stringing together more than one file when printing —the program allows you to have continuous numbering and formatting.
Overall, SuperWriter is potentially the most powerful word processor available on PCWs, but it needs some work to realise that. If you can read manuals well enough to install it properly, and you aren't bothered about not being able to edit more than 6000 words at once, then it is highly recommended.