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ISSUE 505: The high-tech office- June 29 1999


Corel offers a solid upgrade
for venerable Word Perfect

As the major software manufacturers release their Year 2000 models, you'd have to be living in a cave to escape the advertising urging you to upgrade.

This week, we'll try to keep the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission happy and look at Canadian content: Corel Word Perfect Office 2000.

Corel purchased the Word Perfect product line from Utah-based Novell a couple of years ago and eventually relocated its development office to Corel's Ottawa headquarters. This version is the first product produced from its new home.

Corel has done a good job of extending the product while maintaining tradition. WPO2000 continues to support all the file formats used in the previous versions while adding increased compatibility with Microsoft Office formats. The look and feel of the product will remain comforting to long-time users.

The new Corel Distribute utility eases the work of network administrators, making it easy to customize installation to a large numbers of network workstations.

The product comes in several different versions. A standard edition (about $400) includes the new versions of Word Perfect word processor, Quattro Pro spreadsheet, Presentations 9 (a presentation graphics package, naturally), Corel Central personal information manager and Web publisher Trellix 2. Trellix, which works only with Word Perfect, does a nice job of converting a word processing document to an attractive Web page. Word Perfect integrates its use by adding a publish option to Trellix's menu command.

The suite's programs now work with Microsoft-standard Visual Basic for Applications macros as well as those written in PerfectScript for earlier Word Perfect versions. Included add-ins allow users to save in the Adobe PDF page publishing format or would-be-standard XML.

Another $50 or so gets you the Voice Powered Edition which in-
cludes Dragon Naturally Speaking 3.0. This adds speech recognition, making it possible to train your computer to take dictation. With training, users can aim to dictate up to 160 words a minute. Naturally Speaking can also be used for speaking formatting commands.

For $100 more you can purchase the Professional Edition, which adds the Paradox database program and NetPerfect, and automates saving and publishing HTML Web documents.

A nice feature throughout the suite is a real-time, preview mode that allows you to edit and makes it easy to the view the document as you experiment with changes of font or colour. The program functions a lot like a desktop publishing program.

There's a cute AutoScroll option that allows you to easily move through your document. A lean and mean graphics scrapbook simplifies the task of finding the right graphic, video or sound to insert whether from a CD-ROM collection or from the Web. Add-ins such as the scrapbook can be installed when you find you need them, without needing to shut down and restart the applications.

Word Perfect does a good job of working with multiple formats in a single document -- especially useful for large projects. And long-time users will still be able to manipulate the basics with the classic Reveal Codes view.

Quattro Pro spreadsheet can work with Excel or Lotus 1-2-3 file formats and even mimic their menu structures. The spreadsheet can also be used to query data found in Web pages and save in Web-friendly HTML and XML formats.

Similarly, Presentations can work with Microsoft PowerPoint files, while adding powerful tools to customize imported graphics. A wizard makes it easy to save presentations for viewing on the Web. Wizards are also used in the Paradox database to simplify table-building and queries. A new Visual Database Designer eases the task of creating an attractive data entry page.

Corel Central combines a calendar, address book and task list in a version that's easier to use than previous versions and respects your existing choice of e-mail program.

This version of Corel's suite is faster and more reliable than previous incarnations. It also offers improved compatibility with both the Internet and with Microsoft Office, Corel's main competition. While Microsoft's product line is more widely used, Word Perfect remains a popular alternative and is especially commonplace in law offices. The new version should prove popular, especially because it is priced much lower than Micro-
soft's offerings.

Different versions of the Word Perfect product line are available for Windows PCs, Macintosh, Linux and other Unix variants. Currently, Corel is only offering the various Word Perfect Office 2000 products for Windows 95/98/NT. A 30-day trial version can be obtained from their Web site at *

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan