8-Bit Software Online Conversion

Notepad Comparison and Word Processors for the BBC. Two Articles by Stephan Richardson. Here are two articles submitted by K2O (Stephan Richardson.) The first compares two notepads. The second discusses word processors for the BBC. The two articles are separated by three lines of asterisks. I apologise for the length of this article. I had to join the two together so that they would fit on the DFS version of this issue as filename space ran out. Comparison of Cambridge Computer Z88 and Amstrad NC100 This report came about because of several people asking me as to which of these two machines represents the better buy. So detailed below are the contents of each machine for you to take in and make the decision for yourselves. Z88 NC100 CPU Z80 running at 3Mz. Z80 running at 6MZ. Keyboard Standard size rubber membrane Standard size plastic keytops (Quiet) (Quite noisy) I/O Ports One serial port. One serial and one parallel port. Power 4xAA Batteries or mains adaptor. 4xAA batteries or mains adaptor. 1xCR2032 battery to preserve memory contents. Display 96 character by 8 lines with the option 80 character by 8 lines. of a pixel map at the right hand side when in the wordprocessor. This gives an indication of the layout of the current page. A small vertical bar at the right hand side of the map indicates the currently displayed lines. Expansion There are 3 slots, two of which are There is only one slot to take PCMCIA designed to take ram packs, the third cards of up to 1M capacity. In the and rightmost slot can take either a basic system, this memory is only further ram pack or an Eprom pack for available as file space, the inbuilt more permanent storage. Ram packs are applications cannot make use of this as available in 32k, 128k, 512k, and 1M main memory. and Eprom packs in 32k, 128k, and 256k. The additional ram from these ram packs is made available for use as main memory or file space as required. The main circuit board can be expanded up to 512k internal ram. Inbuilt Software Contained on an internal 128k rom. Contained on an internal 256k rom. Internal ram 32k. Internal ram 64k. Word Processor The word processing software here is The word processor here is Protext. It Pipedream, a combination of word has an inbuilt spelling checker, a processor, spreadsheet and database. macro facility and command language. There is no spelling checker built-in These enable mail merge and other to Pipedream, but one is available as facilities to be easily accomplished. an extra purchase option. Mail merge Maximum file size editable is 38k, facilities are possible in Pipedream, but a document can comprise as many but are by no means straight forward. files as required. Only one invocation Multiple invocations of this of this application is possible. application are possible. Address Book This application does not exist on this This is a purpose built application to machine, but is easily done using the hold names, addresses and telephone database facilities of Pipedream. numbers. It can also be used with the word processor for mail merging. Diary The diary application allows the user The diary application here allows the to enter text which is associated with user to enter text associated with a a date. Only one diary application is date, however, the application creates allowed to be active at any one time. a text file for each date that the user The data for a diary is held in one enters text. There is an upper limit of single file, but multiple files can be 64 files, and hence 64 dates for the created e.g. one for business and one application. Also, these text files are for personal data. The text files are normally hidden from the user. This of a fairly simple structure and can effectively forces the user to keep easily be created/amended by Pipedream only the most important dates here. or a Basic program. Note. Diary contents cannot be printed! Alarm The only limit on the number of alarms This is part of the Time Manager that can be defined is one of memory. application. Up to six alarms can be Use as an alarm clock is limited as the set. Use as an alarm clock is possible sound output from the inbuilt speaker as the sound from the inbuilt speaker is low. The alarm facility allows is adequate. Only messages can be either a message to be output or a output by this facility. command to be invoked, which makes this a very useful tool. Basic BBC Basic (Z80) is supplied here with BBC Basic (Z80) is supplied here with the following limitations :- the following limitations :- Colour not supported (obviously!) Colour not supported (obviously!) Sound and Envelope not supported Limited Sound support, Envelope not supported. High resolution graphics commands not supported (A patch to implement these is obtainable) Z80 assembler (NOT 6502!) Z80 assembler (NOT 6502!) Full access to the CLI Access to CLI limited to Filer commands Filing System The filing system is a hierarchical one The Filing system here is a linear one and supports filenames of 12 characters and therefore does not support in length with an optional 3 character directories. Filenames can be up to 12 filetype separated by the usual '.'. characters in length overall i.e. 8 Directories are supported. Spaces are characters + '.' + 3 character not allowed in the filenames. This filetype. Spaces are allowed in the application is classed as a 'Pop-down' filenames. The filer can be called from and can be called from any other any application in the NC100. application in the Z88. Terminal This provides the Z88 with the means to This provides the NC100 with the means talk to other computers via the serial to talk to other computers via the port and a modem. serial port and a modem. Import/Export This is yet another 'pop-down' which The terminal program is used to send can be called from any application documents to/from another computer. within the Z88 to instigate the import Documents may be sent via the serial or or export of documents to/from another the parallel port. The Lapcat software computer. from Arnor is the recommended software as it can use either port provided the correct cable is used. The Calculator This is another 'pop-down' which can be This is a stand-alone facility, and as called up at any time from any such cannot be called from other application. applications. The Calendar This also is a 'pop-down' and therefore This facility is only part of the diary can be called up at any time. application, and is not available elsewhere. The Clock This also is a 'pop-down' which can be This is part of the Time Manager called up at any time. application. Up to six different time zones can be maintained, one of which is selected as being the current zone. However, the current time is generally always displayed as part of the status line in most of the applications. The Calculator This is a full function calculator with This is a full function calculator with a constant facility and up to 10 a constant facility and a single memories. A set of unit conversion memory. tables are also available if required. The Printer Editor This allows you to create files that The facility to have the parameters for map the formatting requests of more than one type of printer saved for Pipedream to those of your printer(s). use at a later date is not available. These files can be loaded as required Only one printer definition is saving you the need to re-type all the saved. relevant commands each time. Additional Software There are many third party software There is no third party software other packages available for this machine than the file transfer software by which cover spelling checkers, file Arnor. transfer software, data compression routines, Databases, Event timing etc. Additional Hardware Modems, Printers, Bar Code Readers Modems, Printers, and even a floppy and even a floppy disk drive from disk drive from Ranger Computers are Ranger Computers are available. available. Bibliography (*)=Recommended reading Z88 Title Author Publisher Z88 Magic (*) Vic Gerhardi Kuma Computers Ltd Z88 Computing Ian Sinclair David Fulton Publishers Z88 Real Power Computing F.R. Flaig F.R. Flaig Using Your Z88 Patrick Hall Glentop Press Ltd Z88 Portable Computing Dave Oborne Sigma Press Z88 A Dabhand Guide Trinity Concepts Dabs Press Z88 Pipedream A Dabhand Guide John Allen Dabs Press The BBC Basic(Z80) Reference Manual for the Z88 (*) Douglas J Mounter M-TEC Computer Services Z88 Developers's Notes (*) J Harrison/M Elton Cambridge Computer Ltd NC100 Title Author Publisher NC100 Magic (*) Vic Gerhardi Kuma Computers Ltd The Amstrad NC100 Notepad Ian Sinclair Dabs Press How to Program the NC100 Notepad Patrick Hall Sigma The Amstrad Notepad Advanced User Guide (*) Robin Nixon Sigma I hope this has been of use to all prospective buyers out there. Stephan Richardson (K2O). ****************************************************************************** ****************************************************************************** ****************************************************************************** Word Processors on the BBC 8-Bit Machines. This article came about due to my having read/overheard such statements as 'xxx is the best wordprocessor bar none on the BBC' (substitute for xxx the name of your favourite!). As far as the 8-Bit BBC machines go, there are a large number of commercially produced word processors, and no one article can possibly do them all justice. Because of this I shall deal with as many of them as I have used/come across. If I have missed any out, do not think that they were omitted due to not being suitable for the job, but either that I had no knowledge of them or, more likely, that they were not outstanding enough in any one area to be mentioned. The order I shall deal with them in is mainly one of familiarity i.e. the more publicly well known ones first. So off we go :- Wordwise This is the oldest and probably the most well known word processor. It operates by means of embedding formatting commands into the text. As it operates in Mode 7, the delimiters round the formatting commands cause the commands to appear in green. The option to preview the text in 80 columns is available provided there is sufficient memory left (or a shadow ram/second processor is in force). It is one of the easiest word processors to use, but suffers from the need to preview the final layout prior to printing. Cannot edit a file that is larger than the available memory. Add-ons. Spelling Checkers, Print Enhancers. Wordwise+ This was the follow up to Wordwise, and shares some of its weaknesses, but this is more than offset by the addition of a programming language which is very BASIC-like, and 10 additional areas called 'Segments', which can either hold text or programs. It is this programming language that has given Wordwise+ the edge over other word processors as it enables the user to extend the wordprocessor or even front-end it! Add-ons. Spelling Checkers, Print Enhancers, WORDEX, and utilities/front-ends written in the programming language e.g. Continuous Processing Rom, Wordease, Wordaid, Pen Friend, Corplan, and Wordwise-Mail. Wordwise+ II This was the final extension to the Wordwise series, with extensions to the programming language, drop down menus, File selectors etc. Add-ons. As for Wordwise+, but some (e.g. WORDEX) are not required as most of its facilities are already built-in. View This was Acorn's answer to Wordwise, and a very good answer it is too. It will work in both 40 and 80 column modes (and even 106 columns if Over-View's *WIDE is invoked). It provides a nearly WYSIWYG environment but requires a printer driver for any text effects such as italics etc. Extensive use is made of the function keys and has some formatting commands that are inserted in the two character command area. It uses rulers to set out tabs, line length and left margin. View has the ability to edit a file which is larger that the available memory by means of the EDIT filein fileout and MORE/FINISH/QUIT commands. Add-ons. Spelling Checkers, Print Enhancers, The rest of the 'VIEW' family, and 'DOUBLE VIEW'. 'DOUBLE-VIEW' provides enhanced features for View including the ability to edit two documents at the same time. Inter-Word This was the last word processor to come from Computer Concepts. It is a very sophisticated piece of software, with drop down menus and comprehensive formatting facilities. As with View, rulers set out the layout of the text and the formatting is carried out as you adjust the ruler! Text may be viewed in 40, 53, 80, or 106 column modes. Text styles such as bold, underlined, and italics are all shown on screen. Support for continuous processing is done by means of a list of files being maintained which comprise the document. Multiple documents may be edited (up to 16 or memory limit, whichever occurs first). Add-ons. Spelling Checkers (especially Spellmaster), Print Enhancers, The rest of the 'INTER' Series (especially Inter-Base). View Professional This was Colton Software's first incarnation of 'Pipedream'. It is a wordprocessor/spreadsheet/simple database package. It is really only useable in 80 column modes, and hence really requires shadow ram. Its major strengths are multi-column support and inbuilt spreadsheet functions. Text styles such as bold, underlined, and italics are all shown on screen with the exception of the current cell, which displays the highlight code(s). Add-ons. Spelling Checkers, Print Enhancers, The rest of the 'VIEW' family. Master EDIT Those of you with the Master Reference Manual (Part 2) will know that EDIT has a very powerful set of document formatting commands. These are all three characters in length, the first of which is always '.'. Users of IBM mainframe computers will recognise the commands that EDIT uses as being almost identical to IBM's SCRIPT language. Because of these embedded commands, it is usually necessary to preview the file first to ensure that the layout is correct. EDIT has probably the most extensive search and replace functions of any wordprocessor on the 8-Bit machines. The ability to build an index of selected words as standard is also useful. Add-ons. Spelling Checkers, Print Enhancers. Wordpower This word processor from Ian Copestake has always been exceptionally well supported by the author. The software itself is easy to use and will operate in 40 or 80 column screen modes. Its unusual features are 'Print control paragraphs', background printing and the ability to work on two documents simultaneously. It can also handle documents that exceed the memory capacity of the BBC in a manner similar to that of View. Mail merge facilities are provided as standard. An extra purchase option is Power Fonts, a special version of PMS Multi-font system which provides a WYSIWYG display using the fonts, as well as enhanced printing from 9-pin dot matrix printers. Add-ons. Spelling Checkers, Print Enhancers (especially Power Fonts). Scribe This word processor from Merlin is rather dated now, but was one of the first word processors to optionally have a dedicated database resident on the same 16k chip! The database was used for mail merging, but was a powerful product in its own right. The word processor supported 40 or 80 column modes and was WYSIWYG in that the screen reflected what was printed unless you embedded printer control codes in the text. Add-ons. Spelling Checkers, Database option. Pendown This is one of the word processors purposely designed for use in schools, and can be used at various levels. It works in Mode 7 and supports line lengths of up to 80 characters. It has an inbuilt outliner (called the planner), allows the creation and use of Dictionaries and Help files. Support is provided for the Concept keyboard. It is supplied with a range of fonts and various utilities. Add-ons. Spelling Checkers. Edword This is the second word processor that is purposely designed for use in schools. This one is available in several languages, which is one of the reasons for its inclusion here. It is used mainly in the middle to junior schools. Add-ons. Spelling Checkers, Print Enhancers. Folio This wordprocessor is very popular in the early levels of education in schools. The software displays the text on the screen in a large clear font that closely matches the characters that the children are taught. The cursor is even displayed as a pen! The software can be tailored to inhibit some of the more advanced facilities to simplify it for the younger user. Because of the size of the text on the screen, a pixel map representation of the layout of the current page is displayed at the bottom right of the screen. Add-ons. Spelling Checkers. That just about covers the most popular word processors. Others not mentioned include Beebpen, Starword, Prompt Writer, ABC all performing what they claim to. Now we shall continue with brief details of the add-ons mentioned by each word processor. Spelling Checkers. There have been many spelling checkers for the BBC micros over the years, so here are the major players :- SpellMaster This is by far the quickest on the market, largely because the software totally resides in a 128k chip! User dictionaries are supported, but must be in either rom/eprom or sideways ram. Spell checking on entry is supported as are anagrams and crossword type searches. If you have View, Wordwise(+) or Inter-word, then this is the one to go for. ViewSpell This is a powerful program, and comes supplied with a large dictionary on an 80 track disk. Several utilities are supplied with the software. User dictionaries are also supported. The software works by loading the text and finding all the unique words and then checking those words only once in the dictionary. The words that are not found in the dictionary are then presented to the user with the option of adding them to the dictionary where appropriate. All words that are in error are then suitably marked in the text for the user to correct. RomSpell This software provides similar facilities to SpellMaster, but as the dictionary is on disk, it is not as fast or as convenient. Spellcheck I/II/III This spelling checker started life as a basic program (Spellcheck I) with a disk based dictionary. Then quickly became more powerful in its first incarnation in Rom (Spellcheck II), the dictionary still being on disk but bigger. Its final incarnation in Rom (Spellcheck III) had some of the most common words in the rom, the rest being on the disk. Words can be added to the dictionary as they are found. Print Enhancers. These came about to improve the quality of the printed output from earlier 9-pin dot matrix printers. They operate by printing out each line in graphics mode in two or more passes, with a small line movement between each pass thus improving the resolution of the characters. Later, as printers became cheaper and provided NLQ and several fonts, these products gradually lost favour. This was even more so when 24-pin printers became affordable. Watford Epson NLQ Rom This provided a single NLQ font for the 9-pin Epson printers. Since only one font is provided, the rom was easy to use and the results were quite good. CJE Mult-Font NLQ This software provided many fonts for 9-pin Epson printers. The fonts resided on disk and were loaded as required. A font editor was supplied so that the user could design additional fonts. PMS Mult-Font NTQ This software provided by far the most fonts for 9-pin Epson printers. The fonts resided in rom or rom-images to be loaded into sideways ram. Up to four fonts could be stored in one 16k image. The fonts could be printed in a variety of heights and widths. Software was provided to design the fonts and to create the rom images. A special version of this is used as Power Fonts in Wordpower. PMS Publisher. This was the final development of PMS Multi-Font NTQ. Fonts could be stored in special 64K chips (16 fonts per chip). The basic system comprised one 64k chip containing the software and 16 fonts, a disk containing the font editor and the 16 fonts, the user guide, the font catalog and the function key strip. Preview on screen was supported in View, Wordwise(+) and Inter-Word. Other stand alone print enhancers include Clares Fontwise/Fontwise+ and Beebug's Printwise. I hope that this has been an informative text, and all that remains is for me is to state that I use mainly Inter-Word, View, View Professional, Wordwise+, Wordpower, and PenDown. As I only have a cheap 9-pin Epson printer, I also use all of the above Print Enhancers. My choice of word processor is very much determined by what I am intending to do. This, for example, is being prepared in Inter-Word. Stephan Richardson (K2O).