|★ APPLICATIONS ★ BUREAUTIQUE ★ CHEAPWORD: Word Processing on the cheap ★|
|Cheapword|The Amstrad User)||Applications Bureautique|
Why spend a lot of money on a word processor when a powerful editor is available in ROM, absolutely free? This article presents a simple method of using the editor to prepare text files.
The editor assumes that everything written after a line number is part of a basic program, but as long as you don't RUN it, anything can be written. If you type AUTO or a line number, then start entering text, the first problem you will notice is that as soon as you press ENTER all basic keywords are converted to upper case. This problem is solved by placing an apostrophe at the beginning of each line, so that the line is a REMark.
You can also then use AUTO and type in your text line by line. Use DELETE, EDIT, the COPY key, etc., to add and remove text as required. (The User Instructions Manual explains the editing functions quite well.) The setup program below (Program 1) redefines some of the keys to simplify the text manipulation functions. It changes the large ENTER key to ENTER + ', so that an apostrophe will appear at the beginning of each new line in auto. Because this is the only key change on the main keyboard, typists can type exactly the same keys in exactly the same way as they would on a normal typewriter. If you need the normal ENTER (eg. during editing) use the small ENTER key.
The numeric keypad is then given some useful commands, all available at a single keystroke, an extra apostrophe (not requiring the SHIFT key) is assigned to the 7, since this character is likely to be used often, and the characters used at the end of an ASCII save command are given to the 9. CTRL-ENTER is changed from RUN" to LOAD", the 80 column mode is invoked, since most printers are of this size, and finally the program destroys itself to make room for your text.
Now you arc probably wondering what use are a lot of numbered lines: they could ruin your letters when you arc trying to impress someone. The second program solves that problem. After you have completed whatever you are writing and you are reasonably satisfied with it, save it as a text file with SAVE"filename",A (use the numeric keypad 0 and 9 to save keystrokes) and then load it again using the second program.
Choose item 2, Numbered lines, when asked the type of file to load, and the program will remove the line numbers and the apostrophe as each line is input. Program 2 will display, save, print, or merge your files, but it cannot edit them; so always keep a copy of any text in the form of a Basic program so that it can be changed later if necessary.
Both of these programs can be altered and improved if desired to suit your needs. The second program in particular could be given more sophisticated functions, such as some simple editing facilities or the ability to change a normal file back to numbered lines. The program is quite straightforward, with the possible exception of the string manipulation subroutines at lines 670 to 870, which have been extensively REMed. Nevertheless, an explanation of the main variables is given below:
Naturally, this article was typed using this method, and I found several disadvantages compared with a word processor. Firstly the editor will not justify lines, so line ends look ragged, but this shouldn't be too difficult to live with. The subroutine at line 770 checks for lines that are too long, cuts them and then adds the extra words to the next lire This makes insertion and deletion of words extremely easy since Program 2 will automatically make your lines less than the set length, (the variable 1 m, line 330) as long as they were greater than the set length to begin with. However, you must remember that while lines less than the maximum length are often processed in this way (because words from previous lines are added), there is no guarantee of clean looking text unless all lines except the last in paragraphs are approximately equal to or greater than the set length.
Even when a line is much less than the maximum length, the program might not assume that it is the line in a paragraph, and you might have to insert a blank line to get it to start a new paragraph I did not find this a problem, but if you do, you could modify the program so that all lines, short or long, are added together to form the right length unless the next line starts a now paragraph (ie the first character is a space).
When saving or loading, this program sometimes falls foul of the problem where the filename entered becomes corrupted, despite the forced garbage collection in each ease. I have found that simply entering CONT after this occurs rectifies the problem. Finally, control codes cannot be embedded in Basic REM statements, bin modifying program 2 to insert control codes for your printer should not be too difficult. Despite the above disadvantages, 1 found Cheap word quite easy to use,wlth only a few idiosyncrasies that take a matter of minutes to become used to.
As well as the disadvantages, there are even some advantages compared with a word processor such as AMSWORD. The obvious advantage is cost,particularly when the two programs here are quite short and will not take much time to type in. A second advantage is t he vastly increased memory available for text. Even AMSWORD) users might find program 2 useful for merging two large text files or (tape users particularly) for merging or printing without having to load the long AMSWORD program.