Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I love WordPerfect, but X6 is testing my affection

I suppose the Battle of the Word Processors ended long ago, with the evil Bill Gates winning the day -- as usual -- with Microsoft Word.

I can't stand MS Word, personally. There's only one feature in the entire program I've ever found useful, namely, the Track Changes function (Ctrl + Shift + E). If someone saddles me with a Word document (I had to buy a copy of the program at one point just so I could open client documents) I can at least use that one helpful feature to note any suggested revisions.

No, I've been a loyal WordPerfect user for many years. I learned on WP 4.1 for DOS. I've owned one or more copies of WordPerfect since WP 4.2 for DOS.

The difference between the programs is fundamental: Word lets you use paragraphs in a few different ways, all theirs, while (thanks to Reveal Codes) WordPerfect lets you format any way you need to -- word by word, letter by letter, if need be.

Another brilliant feature of WordPerfect is that files created in one version can be opened, without difficulty, in other versions of the program. Word files, however, go back so far and no farther. Word 2007 started creating something called .docx files which I couldn't open up on my registered copy of Word 2003. Someone told me where to find a 'patch' -- but files opened in this manner come with a warning that the format may be altered or some of the other zippy new features may not translate.

It was the alleged ability of WordPerfect's latest iteration, X6, to cleanly open .docx files that got me thinking about moving up from WP X5, the version I had been using at work: Somebody had sent me a Word file and I needed to make changes but these might involve formatting -- always, always, always a disaster with Word -- and this pushed me over the edge.

And when I called the nice people at Corel (the current WordPerfect corporate owner; there have been several) they sold me an upgrade with a disk and a download so I could install my backup copy of the X6 program on a mini I sometimes use at home (the mini has no disc drive* of any kind).

Well, of course, things being how they are, I did the download to the mini right away -- and let the disc languish in my desk drawer at work for quite awhile.

Eventually, though, I got around to installing it.

It uninstalled all prior versions of WordPerfect (I'd moved WP 11 over to my new desktop at work when I discarded the old one). WP X5 wanted to make sure I wasn't ripping off the Corel Corporation by installing an 'upgrade' disc without owning an older version of the program -- but it didn't uninstall WP 11. I've seen programs insist on eradicating all versions of their former selves and I've seen programs that sit on top of the old ones; I didn't think much of it either way.

Anyway -- another good thing about WordPerfect -- the new version was quite similar to the old one in terms of all the things I'd want to do. I increased the size of the default document and instructed it to keep Reveal Codes open at all times. Everything was fine and familiar.

Until I went to print an envelope.

Naturally this was toward the end of the day and I was running on fumes.

I went to print an envelope and only the bottom line of the address appeared at the very top of the envelope. I went through about 20 envelopes -- moving margins, saving new custom envelope descriptions, trying everything I could think of.

Eventually -- don't ask me how -- I got an envelope to print more or less correctly.

I went home.

But next day I could not repeat my triumph. Another 20 envelopes were sacrificed. I started looking for help. Corel initially sent me directions on how to print envelopes.


I've been printing envelopes in WordPerfect since (at least) the late 1980s. I know how to do that.

Eventually, I worked my way through the automated help to a human. After the margin fixes didn't work -- again -- he told me to reinstall my printer.

I reinstalled.

But my results were the same.

If it weren't for the one stinking envelope I got once I'd swear this was a software bug in the new program. In fact, I still think it must be.

The nice man from Corel suggested I reinstall version X5. Run envelopes with that and see how it works, he said. (It worked fine for two years until I bought X6; I was pretty sure it'd work again now.) But -- eventually -- a new grandchild and some actual legal work got in the way -- I tried reinstalling X5.

It won't reinstall.

Not unless I uninstall X6.

That really would defeat the purpose, though, don't you agree?

* Apple says there is a difference between "disc" and "disk." I'm pretty sure I used the right version here; at least I tried to.


Anonymous said...

I like this blog its a master peace ! .

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i agree with much of this. when i worked in the law firm we used wp and had to import docs from word from time to time. we all hated it. but i will admit i hate corel more than word. not wp, just corel. now i use the apple laptop and have no problems but then i'm not working on huge documents so i don't know how it would work on something other than a letter here and there.

enjoy that g/b!

smiles, bee