One of the most popular of all shareware programs is the word processor PCWrite from Quicksoft. I first became acquainted with PC-Write about five years ago when the library in which I was working acquired its first IBM PC. Because it was shareware, I was able to get a copy of the program with the manual on disk for $10. After trying it out, the library registered it. We received a hard cover printed manual, the latest copy of the program, a subscription to a quarterly newsletter, and certificates to receive two upgrades when new versions were introduced.
Although the on-disk manual contained instructions for the main commands of the program, it left out some key information for taking full advantage of the program's features. Using the printed manual received after registration, we were are able to customize the Program and make it fit our work habits.
I have used many other word processing programs in the last five years. Some, such as Textra and Professional Write, are easier to use, and some, such as WordPerfect, have more features. But I always compare them to PC-Write, using it as a standard for measuring other word processors.
In this column, I would like to use PC-Write as a case study to show how a particular piece of software can be modified to fit individual preferences and needs. Through macros and style sheets, many programs allow you to make modifications to the program. But the high degree of flexibility offered by PC-Write is not found in many other low-priced software programs. You may be able to surpass its customizing features with programs such as WordPerfect, but you will pay nearly three times as much.
Customizing with the
Edit Control File When you first load PC-Write, the program reads the edit control file, ED.DEF. This file inserts the default ruler line, which defines your margins and indicates whether you want your text justified, whether you use hanging margins, and so on. It also may contain commands for printer and video attributes.
If you do many different kinds of work - for example, memos and formal letters as well as reports - you may want different ruler lines for each activity. You can modify ED.DEF and rename it so PC-Write automatically loads the correct format for you.
Here's how it works. If, for example, you want your letters with margins set at zero and no indentation when you begin a new paragraph, copy the ED.DEF file to a new file and name it something that will remind you that it is for letters, such as ED.LET. The file's name must remain ED, but the extension can be whatever you want. Then, whenever you create a new file with that extension, the edit control file read will be the one with the same extension. If no edit file has the same extension as your new file, ED.DEF, the default edit control file, will be read, and it will control the initial settings.
If you wish to edit your new edit control file, you can do so by starting PC-Write just as you would with any other file. The command ED ED.DEF loads the edit control file and shows you all the attributes and commands active in your current edit control file. You can place the new commands in the file by starting with new lines at the bottom or by deleting those that you no longer need.
This is a fairly easy process so you can have one edit control file for letters called ED.LET, one for memos named ED.MEM, and another for reports called ED.RPT. When you do this, you will have the correct style already loaded when you write a new letter or memo. There is no limit to the number of edit control files you can have.
As I experimented with a variety of edit control files, I found it necessary to have ED.DEF available to the program as well as the modified edit control file which had the same extension as the file I was editing. What this means is that for this column, which is contained in a file called FEB.COL, I have an ED.COL as well as an ED.DEF.
Below is an ummodified ED.DEF file. During installation, you are asked about the graphics adapter you are using, the number of help screens you want available, whether you wish the file automatically saved every few minutes, and so on. This is the appearance of my ED.DEF file immediately after installing PC-Write. The ruler lines have been shortened in the illustrations.) L---+---- Tl----+-T--2-T----- 3--!pr.def !ed.* %C %M L---+---T1----+-T--2----T----3--R .X:10 .XT:6 .XB:6
To decipher: the top line is the default ruler line, which sets your margins. If you do not modify it, you are left with a 1 -inch left margin and zero for a right margin. In version 3.01 you are asked whether you wish to have I inch on each side. That is what you see in the second ruler line, where the R" signifies the right margin.
Immediately below the default ruler line is a command telling the program to use PR.DEF as the default printer file. This file is created when you install the program and tell PC-Write what kind of printer you will be using.
"%C" tells PC-Write you are using a graphics adapter with a multicolor monitor.
%M" allows the menu description lines to be displayed.
Below the second ruler line, are three commands controlling placement of the text on the printed page.
".X:10" creates a ten-space left margin offset for each line. The next two lines set the top and bottom margins to six lines each. These are the defaults whenever you create or edit a file using this ED file. Any of them can be changed within the file you are editing by simply placing new values for the offset or margins.
If you are using multiple edit control files, you may want ED.DEF to be a bare bones file, such as the one below. You can then put your unique commands and printing instructions in the edit file with the same extension as your file name.
Below is my edit control file for use on a Toshiba 1200B laptop. Because of its backlit screen, the normal color graphics command "%C" paints the screen in inverse video, something I find hard to read. %B" lets me use a monochrome monitor with a graphics adapter, which gives the correct black (or in this case, blue) text on a white background. In addition, the edit control file I use when writing my columns, ED.COL, has the other necessary commands that I use frequently. L---+---T1----+-T--2----T----3--R !pr.def !ed.* %B
The reason for having a bare bones ED.DEF and a fuller second edit control file stems from the fact that PC-Write needs to have ED.DEF present to work properly. When I deleted it and had only ED.COL available while working on this column, I found that some key redefitions I had placed in the edit file were not working. But when I re-created ED.DEF those key functions were restored.
Additionally, if you put some special commands in ED.DEF, these commands will be active every time you create or edit a file, regardless of what is in your other edit control file. 1% method allows you to have only those commands and key definitions available when you want them active.
The first ED.DEF had only some margin-setting commands placed in it. In addition to these, you can control other aspects of printing through commands placed in the ED file.
Printer Controls If you customarily use an Epson dot-matrix printer, and you print your documents using twelve characters per inch in letter-quality mode, you could place the dot line ".R:Q" in your edit file. Although, this becomes your default, you can always include other dot lines in your file when you wish - for example, to print a draft of a document. If you find yourself entering the same dot lines over and over, the commands in the edit control file can automate that for you.
For many of my documents, I found I was placing page numbers on the bottom of my reports. Instead of typing the following (which places a blank line followed by a line with the text "Page" and the correct page number centered on the bottom of each page) in each document, I put that in the edit control file and have it entered automatically each time I use the program. .F: .F:....Page$$$...
Below are some of the other common settings for simple printing. When you enter these in your edit control file or use them in a file that you are editing, always precede the dot command with an ALT-G.
.R:Q Elite, quality
.R:F Pica, draft
.R:D Double-wide (5 cpi)
.R:P Pica, quality
.R:E Elite, draft
For example, if you wish to print elite in letter-quality mode, you would enter "ALT-G .R:Q" at the end of your edit control file.
Ruler Lines As indicated above, the ruler line in the edit control file controls the left and right margin, placement of tabs, right justification, and other functions. Again, you can use ruler lines in the documents and letters as you edit them, but the one in the edit file will create a generic ruler line fitting most situations.
In ED.COL, my ruler line creates 1inch left and right margins and indents five spaces every time I press Enter.
If you need a ruler line to create right justified lines and hanging indentation, you might use the following. P---L---T1----+---2--A-----3--J
The "P" places the cursor at the left edge every time you press Enter. When a line wraps around from the right margin, the cursor will return to the left margin, represented by the "L." J" is for justification.
Each T" represents a regular tab stop. You can remove or place these anywhere you wish. The A" in the middle of the ruler line turns on automatic reformatting and leaves it on. The default is to bring up the program set for manual reformatting.
This article should give you some idea of the customizing options available to you when you use PC-Write. Next time we'll look at some of the other features, such as key redefinition, that you can control with edit files.
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|Publication:||Computers in Libraries|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1990|
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