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Word Perfect Suite 8 
Software Review by Clarke Bird

Photo: Word Perfect BoxJust when you think a product can't get any better, it does.

 The latest version of WordPerfect Suite, under the direction of Corel, shows imagination and vision to allow seamless integration among the suites core applications, plus backward compatibility to earlier versions of WordPerfect. In addition, WP8 is compatible with other word processor software. Opening an MS Word 7 document in WP8 is absolutely no problem. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about what you will get with the standard WP Suite 8 package. 

     
  • WordPerfect 8 word processor 
  • Quattro Pro 8 spreadsheet program 
  • Presentations 8 for impressive graphics slide shows, etc. 
  • CorelCENTRAL 8 is a PIM that combines e-mail, groupware, an Internet telephony application, an address book, and a calendar to help manage your workday. 
  • Corel Photo House to touch up and add creative enhancements to photos (this program will be reviewed in the October PC Alamode). 
  • 1,000 font library 
  • 10,000 Corel clipart images (with a 226 page full-color reference guide). 
  • 200 photos. Some of the most popular pictures from Corel's professional stock photo library. 
  • Corel Barista is a core technology Java tool developed by Corel that lets users publish content-rich, attractive pages to the Web without complicated programming.
The WordPerfect Suite 8 Professional package includes Paradox database software. 

WordPerfect 8 highlights
The first thing you will notice is the Property Bar (one of 32) which you will quickly notice is context sensitive, depending upon what you are doing writing text, composing a graphic, formatting a table, etc., different versions of the bar will be available to you, presenting only those buttons necessary to perform a specific function, thereby reducing screen clutter. In addition, each of these bars is completely customizable so you can "have it your way." 

There is a new shadow cursor, which for the life of me, I've not found a use for. The concept is the shadow cursor follows your mouse cursor around the white space of your page. When you click on your mouse, in the middle of the page for instance, that becomes your insertion point. When you type to the end of the line, the text wraps to the far left margin, leaving you with a huge indent. When I have more time, I'll have to experiment with placing a graphic or text box on the page using the shadow cursor. 

 A new Drawing Layer lets the user draw graphics objects directly on top text and add color gradient fills or patterns. This brings WP8 one step closer to being a page layout program. 

 In an office intranet environment, Versions facilitates workgroup collaboration by keeping track of document revisions. 

Nifty editing tools such as Grammar-As-You-Go and Spell-As-You-Go adds polish to WP8 documents. 

 Table enhancements let you size table rows, and join and split cells with a single mouse click. 

 Hyperlinks are created automatically by typing text beginning with www, ftp, http and mailto. 

And, those all important formatting codes shown at the bottom of the WordPerfect screen and which separates WP from other word processing programs, is still there. By moving your cursor onto one of the codes, a pop-up window describes the function of the code. That's new. 

 Quattro Pro 8 highlights
A new WYSIWYG page view allows you to work with your pages as they will appear when they are printed. 

 You have user-friendly tools help you create charts and formulas quickly and easily. There are new verification tools such as Auditing and Cell Reference Checker to help you improve accuracy. A QuickCell feature lets you drag a cell to the Application Bar and see its updated value as you change other cells in the spreadsheet. New Cross Tabs help you manipulate data easily. An Outlining feature groups data into collapsible and expandable sets to help you manage large sections of information. Quick Filter removes irrelevant data to let you focus on key information. Presentations 8 highlights Custom Audiences is neat. It lets you tailor a slide show to different audiences without saving them in multiple files. There are 180 professionally designed backgrounds and layouts included to help you create memorable presentations. 

 Corel's Suite 8 is one of the first to support for Intel's MMX technology which accelerates transitions and speeds redrawing. 

A great idea is Show On The Go which allows you to bundle your slide show for distribution to others who may not have Corel Presentations. 

 There are 120 transition effects to add visual excitement to your presentations. 

 Navigation tabs help you move around quickly within your slide show. 

 Most importantly, Presentations is compatible with MS Powerpoint, Lotus Freelance Graphics and Harvard Graphics to increase your in-office productivity. 

The nitty-gritty

I've been a WordPerfect user for 11 years, starting with WordPerfect 5.1 DOS. I just can't get into MS Word (no visual codes) although I've tried. Human nature dictates you stick with what you are most comfortable and I'm comfortable with WordPerfect. I feel I've used most of the available features in WordPerfect 6.1 and in fact, I convert PC Alamode copy submitted in MS Word into WordPerfect to edit before bringing into PageMaker to place on the page. 

 I use WordPerfect to do all PC Alamode correspondence, memos, FAXs, ad invoices, etc. using templates along with the WP address book which WP makes so easy to customize. So naturally, I was anxious to format templates in WordPerfect 8. Unfortunately, the look and feel of WP8 is so different from WP6.1, that I've had a devil of a time doing so but I've done it. I'm not sure the Perfect Expert would have liked the way I created the templates, but they work. The 513 page User's Guide that comes with the package has one reference in the index to Templates and the reference leads you to Quattro Pro spreadsheet. I intend to purchase one of the 800+ page WordPerfect Suite 8 user guides published by third party publishing companies as soon as they start appearing. 

 Keyboard shortcuts are still there for the power user as well as such favorite WP features as Make It Fit. If you have a 3.5 page document that you want to shrink to 3 pages, Make It Fit will make several passes through the document, expanding all four margins, shrinking font size, decreasing line height, etc. until the document will fit the page number you specify. 

WordPerfect Suite 8 even supports IntelliMouse features with controls for scrolling. 
 
 

Internet features

WordPerfect Suite 8 offers integrated HTML and Web publishing tools. Each major suite component reads and writes HTML and can link to the Web or other Internet resources. 

System requirements

Depending upon your choice of installation, minimum hard disk requirements are: compact (38MB), standard (109MB), custom (102-350MB depending upon items selected). Minimum CPU is a 486 although I would recommend installing on a Pentium machine. Windows 95 or NT. 8 MB RAM although 16 MB are recommended by Corel. CD-ROM, VGA graphics adapter and monitor and a mouse. 

 Just when it looked like Microsoft Office would take over the office desktop market like a steamroller, WordPerfect Suite 8 appears to not only match, but beats MS Office, feature by feature. Not only that, it does everything MS Office does for $200 less! 

 If all these features sound intimidating to the casual word processor user, WP Suite 8's PerfectExpert is part help, part show-me, part wizard and part coach. 

 Is WordPerfect Suite 8 for you? Yes, if you have a small business and you need several software programs to do what WordPerfect Suite 8 will do for you. Yes, if you are a serious desktop publisher who doesn't need the features (such as color separation) of a full-blown page layout program. Yes, if you make any kind of presentation to an audience of one to several hundred. Yes, if you want an easy-to-use spreadsheet to analyze budgets, business trends, and most anything with numbers and see visual graphs depicting those numbers. Yes, if you want an excellent alternative suite choice to that offered by Bill's company. 

 Street price in San Antonio is $139.99 for the upgrade version and $319.99 for the full standard version. For further information: 1/800/77-COREL, www.corel.com, www.wordperfect.com