Word processor

For Models I and III

Jim Klaproth, associate editor

There is a new word processor on the market that will change the way people think about the capabilities of the TRS-80. Imagine a powerful mainframe text editor running on a TRS-80, with virtual compatibility between the two versions. Imagine total support for all popular TRS80 printers, with total compatibility with all operating systems. Imagine a word processing system with automatic mailing list text insertion built right in. Imagine on-going support second to none, with superb documentation. Imagine a disk-based product that comes ready to run with a fast, efficient operating system. All this, and more, for only $99.95 for either Model I or III. What a fantastic bargain!

Newscript is the creation of Chuck Tesler, a former programmer for IBM, who was bitten by the microbug a few years back. He decided he would write a TRS-80 version of the IBM Edgar text editor and print formatter in order to maximize his word processing efficiency. He has done a magnificent job with Newscript, which evolved from an earlier attempt called Subscript. Chuck confessed that Newscript is his full-time project now, and that as new printers are introduced, support will be forthcoming.

Newscript supports right justification in the proportional spacing mode on the Line Printer IV, Centronics 737 and 739, Line Printer VIII and the Daisy Wheel II. Most word processors insert spaces between words, giving the text an uneven appearance. With New-seript, spaces are inserted uniformly between characters and words, giving the text a typeset look. Newscript also supports all of the features of the Epson MX-80 and MX-100, the Anadex 9500 series, the Microline 80 series, the IBM Selectric and all of the features of the current crop of Daisy Wheel printers, except proportional right justification. It will even do underlining on the MX-80, even though this is not documented in the printer manual, and italics with the Graftrax option.

Newscript is a very powerful system, with features found in few other packages in this price range. As one who cut his teeth on Scripsit, I must say that Newscript may be a bit more difficult to learn; however, once learned, it is just as easy to use as any other. The documentation consists of a nicely packaged looseleaf binder packed with 160 pages of user instructions and a quick reference card. The entire manual was produced using Newscript and printed on a Line Printer IV, interspersed with some excellent lithographic illustrations. It has a professional typset look about it and truly shows off the capabilities of the Line Printer IV. It is not meant to be read from cover to cover, but as a reference manual, with the easier material covered first. Once the user becomes familiar with the basic commands, the more complex features are presented. Examples are given for each command and a sample letter is provided on the disk for experimentation. There is even a "how to" section for quick reference to a specific need.

The disk contains a minimum DOSPLUS operating system and can be used "as is" or the files can be transferred to any current DOS in production. The main programs are called "EDIT", which is for editing, and "SCRIPT", the print formatter. The author chose to separate them to keep the memory overhead small and to allow more features to be included. It is a simple matter to transfer back and forth between EDIT and SCRIPT, and the current file name is automatically passed to the next program for smooth operation. According to the author, about one-third of Newscript is written in BASIC. Yes, BASIC! Before you start thinking that this is a slow program, let me assure you that it is anything but slow. In fact, as far as text entry is concerned, it beats Scripsit hands down. It will actually handle up to 750 keystrokes per second. It has never dropped one character for me.

Newscript actually is a combination of machine code and BASIC, with about 4500 bytes of code residing in high memory. The Level II keyboard routines are completely bypassed and a machine language program handles the input. It has a 128 character typeahead buffer, so that you may continue to type while disk access or string compression is taking place. It has a repeating keyboard, a lower case driver, a screen print routine and a detector to indicate when BASIC string compression is taking place. This is indicated by a large graphic "C" in the upper right corner of the screen. There is also direct keyboard input of special characters and graphics, and other utilities that automatically load during initialization.

The editor is a full-screen type, displaying 15 lines of text and a command line at the top. A maximum of 60 characters per line is displayed on the screen, with automatic wrap-around when the line length exceeds 60. There is an option to produce lines up to 255 characters in length by moving the 60 character viewing window back and forth. This is helpful when constructing wide tables or spread sheets. There is also a small margin on the left of each line called the LIMA (Line Manipulation Area), which allows several useful functions. Lines can be inserted, deleted, duplicated or marked for block moves by issuing certain commands in the LIMA.

For example, paragraphs can be exchanged by simply marking them in the LIMA and then moving the blocks, similar to the block move routine in Scripsit. There are powerful global find and change commands that are similar to Scripsit, but they give the user more flexibility. There is scrolling by line or by page, with instant return to either the top or bottom of the document. One really nice feature automatically saves the text after a specified number of lines have been input to prevent a power failure from wiping out an entire day's work because it was never saved. Other neat features are a directory function, a shorthand for certain common commands, the ability to kill a disk file while in EDIT, the ability to merge other files with the existing one and the ability to imbed ASCII printer control codes within the text.

"Newscript is the creation of Chuck

Tesler, a former programmer for IBM, who was bitten bp the microbug a few pears back. He decided he would write a TRS-80 version of the IBM Edgar text editor and print formatter in order to maximize his word processing efficiency"

The real power of Newscript is in its ability to do things that few other word processors can. Things like automatic table of contents and index generation, that store data in a disk file and automatically print out the index and table of contents, and mailing list insertion of text into form letters. Imagine printing 200 form letters with no operator intervention, each one personalized with name, address, and greeting plus other text inserted into the body of the letter. Headings, footings, titles, centered text and automatic page numbering are standard, as are hanging indents and offsets, multi-strike, double-wide letters and chaining of files. The latter means that a document can have an unlimited length, as each segment can be called by the previous segment. The operator may even be presented with a message stating which diskette to insert next if several diskettes are required.

Using Newscript is fairly easy, especially if the resident DOSPLUS is used. After making a backup copy, the user simply types AIJTO NS, reboots the disk, and after a brief initialization, is presented with a customization menu. The next step is to choose which printer is in use, type of interface, and operating system in use. These parameters are stored for future reference and will be passed to the program automatically from then on. The user then chooses either EDIT or SCRIPT, or, if a new configuration is wanted, recustomi-zation. Let's choose EDIT first. EDIT loads and then asks for the file name the first time through. Thereafter, the name is automatically passed back and forth between EDIT and SCRIPT. The file will load, or, if a new file, will open the new file. Then EDIT displays the maximum number of lines available for text entry. The program keeps track of the actual count and will warn you in plenty of time to start a new file.

Each line in EDIT must contain either a control word or normal text. Since most sentences normally never start with a period, control words are preceeded by a period to distinguish them from the text. Control words inform SCRIPT how to process the document. Typical control words are CE for center next lines, CM for comment line, DS for double space, JU for right justify, PN for page numbering and US for underscore string. There are 42 control words, giving the user a multitude of options. There are also 7 escape commands that control double-width, underlining, superscripting, subscripting and backspacing.

Text is entered via a standard typewriter keyboard, with shift-0 acting as a shift lock. Automatic wrap-around occurs when the line length exceeds 60 characters. To insert, hit Clear-I and the flashing block cursor turns into a flashing "I". Characters are then inserted, pushing the old text to the right. To delete, hit Clear-D for each character you want deleted or Clear Spacebar to delete to the end of the line. There are 45 edit commands


Was this article helpful?

+1 0

Post a comment