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T-Cubed scientific word processing system.

T cube Scientific Word Processing System If you ever tried to produce a professional product for your scientific papers or tried to emulate the latest copy of ACCN, you have probably tried those character hidden in upper (and lower) ASCII, and found that with some cludging, some useful chemical formulae could be made. Unfortunately, what appears on the screen is often not what appears on the printed page. Often these characters are used as printer control codes. (After all, who in their right mind is going to use a heart or music notes in their text?)

There are a few packages that provide the flexibility required for technical writing. One such package is a dandy software program called T cube. It does just about everything a university undergraduate at any university or college could dream of doing. T cube provides the complete IBM character set complete with happy faces, symbols and a few Greek characters. It also provides italics, a symbol font, Cyrillic, script, mathematic (S1), chemistry, Latin accents, Greek, German (Fraktur), Built up (for mathematical expressions which include several lines), and a small font with highly useful Greek symbols.

The basic font size is 12 points. This refers to the height of the characters in 1/72 of an inch. The 12 point size is designed for 6 lines/inch (ie 72/12). The character sets are supplied in a number of proportional and fixed fonts. The latter are especially important for tables. If anyone has tried to produce tables or columns using proportional fonts, they will have noticed that alignment is difficult.

T cube is a "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" (WYSIWYG) type of program. With the exception of the proportional spacing, it is a very close approximation of what the printed page will look like. All the special characters like tab, carriage return and line format are shown on the screen. Sub and superscripts are there, but not quite aligned; headers and footers are not shown quite as they will be printed. None of these idiosyncracies detract from the product; it is a great help that these various features show in some manner since they are not usually part of standard word processing packages.

It is a multi-windowed environment with various screens popping up depending upon what combination of function keys are hit. To use an alternate keyboard, the screen containing the alternate keyboard is brought up by hitting <shift> and <F8>. Once one key is selected, the alternate keyboard disappears and the original text reappears. If there are characters that on the alternative keyboard that are required often, it can be revised. A character can be selected from any of the fonts to replace a character not used often in the alternate keyboard.

This is a very good product. It produces printed text on a 9-pin dot matrix which is letter quality (not near letter quality) and does everything the advertisements say it does.

It has a very useful, and easy-to-follow tyro tutorial. The tutorial is essential to use the product. Without guidance, the beginner will be hopelessly lost. For example, the <Enter> key does not work as one might intuitively expect. Instead, the <+> key accepts a screen, form or menu.

There is a spelling checker. Keystroke sequences can be saved as macros. This is highly useful if a complex chemical formula is being created with many repetitious keystrokes. It is possible, but not easy, to import and export ASCII files. To do so:

a document must be revised (You

never start a new document with this

system - an empty document can be

copied to make a new document

"shell" and used for the new

document.);

then you move the cursor to where

the text should appear;

the menu screen is brought up and

the ASCII file is accepted from the

operations menu;

then the copied ASCII file form must

be filled in (Various questions

concerning the characters follow. You

must be familiar with the characters

before you can tell whether they are

upper ASCII or standard IBM ASCII

character.).

With all the menus, screens and forms, a novice can get confused pretty quickly. I am sure the package will frustrate the users who need to use such a word processor once a year. Clearly, this product is intended for a frequent user who will not forget what all the keystrokes and function keys do.

It is such a good product that it is a shame to mention any drawbacks, obviously any package has drawbacks. None are really serious for the users of this product.

The first problem is it's slow. This is natural, since the program is huge and has tremendous flexibility. Typing is the least time consuming portion of the entire production. If T cube is being used by the writer, rather than a secretary, this product will probably speed up the production of the final paper or essay.

The second problem is T cube is not easy to use. Unlike the word processor packages which can be mastered in a few hours, this package, because of its depth and its peculiar idiosyncracies becomes very difficult to use as it operates in a completely different manner. It is not very intuitive to someone used to a standard word processor package. To use the product properly requires a considerable amount of time. In some situations this is an important consideration. People who need the flexibility of this product every so often may find using it too difficult. In addition, managers might be upset that it might require a week of training before anything productive is achieved.

The third problem is the price. For large companies this poses no problem, but university students, who would most benefit from this software, could never afford the package. To this reviewer, the market is not prepared to use this product. If students were familiar with the package prior to graduation, industry might make it a standard because of its flexibility. It's too bad the price makes it unavailable for most university students. I suspect every science major, engineering student, and foreign language major would find use for it.

In the short time which I have had to use this software, I have been impressed with its capabilities and potential uses. Unfortunately, I have not mastered the system, nor can I spare the time to do so quickly. It is an excellent product, and I can now incorporate Benzene rings in my text for the first time, but I cannot recommend this word processor to the dilettante who requires its infrequent use. Unlike many software packages available, this package requires dedication and time to fully utilize its capabilities. As a simple word processor, there are other packages which are just as good, or better, but as a scientific word processor, it is excellent.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Chemical Institute of Canada
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Miyamoto, H.K.
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:evaluation
Date:May 1, 1989
Words:1129
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