Customizing WordPerfect Eight
The default settings for WordPerfect 8 (WP8) are aggressively aimed at the
"average user" and emulate Microsoft's "ease of use" approach. When it
comes to using WP8 in a legal environment, this unfortunately means that a number of
default configurations do not reflect the way many, if not most, law firms work. When you
install WP8 (or any new software, for that matter) time spent configuring it the way your
firm actually works will be amply repaid by increased productivity and end-user
satisfaction with the program. WordPerfect has an excellent network installation routine,
so once you decide what default settings are right for your firm, you can install WP8 with
those defaults enabled for all users. Remember, the three secrets to a successful
implementation are: planning, planning and... planning.
The following suggestions are intended as a starting point, not as a
final configuration. While we focus here on the legal environment, many of these
suggestions are useful for anyone heavily involved in substantial document production.
For law firms, one of the areas in which WordPerfect is indisputably superior to Word
is paragraph numbering. Corel has changed the defaults in WP8 so that tabs work like
indents. This means that numbered paragraphs will not return to the left margin, but each
level will be indented further and further. Firms can change this by turning off Quick
Indent and editing the paragraph numbering styles.
On the positive side, in-line paragraph numbering, which was readily available in WP
5.1, but had disappeared in all subsequent versions, is again functional. You can now
insert numbered items within a paragraph-- such as a) this, b) that, and c) the other--
without affecting the rest of your paragraph numbering scheme.
Turn On Shortcut Keys
Serious typists often find WordPerfect's keystroke shortcuts indispensable (there is a
reason why they are called "shortcuts"). By default they are turned off in WP8.
I had one user call me and say "where have all the shortcut keys gone?" You can
turn them back on (Tools | Settings | Environment | Interface). Available keystroke
combinations are listed in Help under "Keystrokes" and can be printed out from
the Help screen.
WP8 ships with a new "Property Bar" which is feature-sensitive. When you are
using a table, the table property bar appears underneath the standard button bar; when you
use an outline, the outline property bar appears, etc. This is an extremely useful
feature. You will want to look closely at the implementation to make sure that features
you commonly use are on the appropriate button bar. I always add buttons for printing
envelopes, various formatting, etc. on the main button bar, and it may be worth
replicating them on some of the specific feature property bars. You might consider adding
buttons for features such as merge, table of contents, or anything else you routinely use.
By the same token, you can delete the "demo ware" buttons that make for sexy
demos, but which nobody ever really ever uses.
The Corel Address Book replaces the WP5.1 Notebook mini-program, which many people are
still using. The Address Book is quite serviceable on a personal level, and allows users
to sub-divide their rolodex into different versions, such as personal, business, vendors,
etc. It also provides for custom fields and a number of other additional features. Older
Notebook files can readily be imported into the new format.
Corel Central is a new feature in WordPerfect 8, replacing the ill-fated InfoCentral.
It incorporates a version of the address book, a calendar and scheduling application, and
a licensed version of Netscape Communicator including an e-mail client (formerly Collabra
Share). If the other person is also using Corel Central, you can also schedule
appointments over the Internet.
As always, there is a problem with potentially duplicate functionality if you are
already using an e-mail, calendar and scheduling application such as GroupWise. In this
case, you may choose not to install CorelCentral since group calendaring programs are
effective only if everyone in the firm is using the same program.
If you choose to implement Corel Central, be aware that it is very much a work in
progress. It is extremely slow and the version of the Address Book that appears in Corel
Central is not nearly as functional as the standalone version, even though they both read
the same database. In addition, it uses a proprietary version of Netscape. You cannot
upgrade the Corel version with normal Netscape patches or upgrades.
Cursor In Text
By default, you can now insert text anywhere, either within a text area or in white
space, simply by clicking on the desired location. At first glance, this sounds like a
useful option. However, if you have any substantial number of macros, or even use the
envelope printing feature, this option can wreak havoc with your macros or cause envelope
printing not to work. The reason is that if users click in a white area without realizing
it, a number of hard returns and tabs are inserted to bring the text to that area, thus
causing some macros (and in certain instances envelope printing) to fail. You might want
to consider turning this option off.
Templates as they have previously existed have largely been restructured as
"projects". (You might suspect there is a conceptual problem when the default
template is located in a directory called "custom.") The good news is that you
should be able to copy over templates from WP 7 into WP 8 and have them work. You may want
to delete all the useless projects ("Book Report") from the projects list. Make
sure that all projects listed are actually installed (by default, some are listed but not
installed). Again, planning is key. Some of the projects, such as Calendar or Expense
Report, are extremely useful.
Spend some time going through what used to be "Preferences" and is now listed
as "Settings" under "Tools." Things you might want to consider
Change the label settings to list only laser labels (not dot matrix).
Deselect the default setting of setting hyperlinks for any Internet address.
Otherwise, any Internet address you type will change color and be underlined (this will
print visibly gray).
Change the default merge extension from *.dat to *.dta. The *.dat setting is
reserved by Windows 95 for the registry setting, and end users could get themselves into a
lot of trouble if they think that the registry is a WordPerfect merge file.
For performance reasons you may want to deselect "prompt as you go,"
which takes a lot of system resources.
The default display parameters were changed in WP 8. If you find the new display
clunky and ugly (as I do), you can get back the old one with an undocumented startup
parameter of /dm-90. Otherwise, the WP release notes suggest uninstalling the Microsoft
Plus font rounding feature because WP won't work correctly with it.
For heavy document production, WordPerfect 8 runs rings around MS Word. However, as
Corel targets the "average user," customizing WP to the way you work
becomes increasingly important. The settings you used to know and love are still there,
but it sometimes takes more work to find them. Check the "Where Did It Go?"
listing under Help. The above suggestions are only a part of the considerations you should
take into account when implementing a new installation of WordPerfect. Planning, planning
More Palm Pilot Links
In the last issue of "Computer News," we reported on some links that let you
synchronize data with the PalmPilot, among them GroupWise 5.2 and METZ Phones.
Since then, we have learned that there is a link available for GroupWise 4.1 (and the
16-bit version of GroupWise 5.x) from Toffa International, a British company. Toffa's
"SyncWise" also works with GroupWise Remote, and synchronizes Calendar, ToDo
lists, Tasks and Notes with the PalmPilot. The only problem we found is that recurring
appointments (e.g., the first Tuesday of every month) are not synchronized.
SyncWise is available from Toffa International at www.toffa.com
METZ Phones Pro (METZ 7.0) will have a PalmPilot link built into the program. METZ 7.0
will be compatible with SQL databases. A link for the current version (6.0) is available
from Tele-Support Software.
Expanded Web Version
The electronic version of "Computer News for Law Firms" is available on the
METZ Phones web site at www.metz.com/prodphones60.htm. The electronic version contains
additional articles written by John Heckman for the Danbury Area Computer Society
newsletter, Dacs.doc. Articles include "Criteria for Selecting a Rolodex" and
"Fighting Office 97 Annoyances."
Small Business Class
John Heckman will be teaching a course at Norwalk Community Technical College this
spring on "Optimizing Computer Use for Small Business." The course starts on
March 19 and runs for 7 3-hour sessions. For more information, contact NCTC at 203
A Pain in the Apps.
Fighting Office 97 Annoyances
Woody Leonhard must be a thorn in Microsoft's side. Author of
numerous best-selling books on Microsoft products, including The Hacker's Guide to Word
for Windows and The Mother of all Windows 95 Books, he is nevertheless
merciless when it comes to what he views as the "Annoyances" of the most recent
Microsoft products. Woody's new series (written with co-authors Lee Hudspeth and T.J. Lee)
can be grouped under the rubric "Microsoft Annoyances." Titles include Office
97 Annoyances, Word 97 Annoyances, Excel 97 Annoyances... you get the idea.
The Preface to Office 97 Annoyances sets the tone:
- "Microsoft keeps asking us all, "Where do you want to go
today?" Are they kidding? You know where you want to go today, we know where you want
to go today; the only group that seems to be unclear on this issue is Microsoft. You want
to get your work done and go home!..flip your PC's power switch to that lovely OFF
position and call it a day.
The series provides concrete suggestions and work-arounds that
will let you "get your work done" faster and more efficiently by fixing some of
the shortcomings of the Office 97 products.
When Microsoft released Office 97, there was little, if any,
provision for backward compatibility. This led to a brouhaha that eventually caused
Microsoft to publicly "apologize for the inconvenience" it had caused end users.
Windows Magazine went so far as to remove Outlook from its WinList of recommended
The Annoyances series tells you where to download the most
recent patches and where to look for patches issued after the books were published. In
particular, Microsoft has issued a converter that allows users to save Word 97 files in
previous formats (wrdcnv97.exe at http://www.microsoft.com/word). The authors strongly
recommend that you check www.microsoft.com/officefreestuff regularly for new patches and
download them for products you use. Other sites are listed in the box concerning Microsoft
Each book has an early chapter on "Vital Changes" which
describes what default settings work best and which ones to turn off. These include:
Disable Fast Find in Win 95, "we've had nothing but
trouble with it."
Turn off FastSave in Word 97. It leads to bloated files and
can cause text to disappear.
Get some third-party anti-virus software (Norton, McAfee, Dr.
Solomon, IBM, etc.). The anti-virus warning that Microsoft provides does nothing to
prevent or fix viruses.
How to avoid some of the vagaries of the AutoCorrect and
Turn on the Paragraph and Tab markers. This is strongly
recommended; in Word, all formatting markers are hidden in the paragraph markers.
Customize your startup folder and menu and work through
various default settings so that you can choose the ones you like (which may not be the
same ones as Bill Gates likes).
Change the very useful Office Shortcut Bar to reflect options
you use most often, including adding (gasp!) non-Microsoft products to the Office Shortcut
The books walk the user through modifying what they call the
"demoware" toolbars that ship with Office 97 products (good for flashy demos,
not much good for working) so that the options you use most frequently are
displayed. They also include sections on realistically assessing the danger from viruses
(and how to combat them) and detailed suggestions concerning specific features. For
example, the Office 97 book describes exactly how to run a Word mail merge against
Outlook information (it's easy to make a mistake). It lists the programs and items
contained on the CD Rom that are not installed with a standard installation, as well as
all ValuPak items.
The only way to disable pop-up tips for toolbar icons, we are
told, is to do so from Excel. If you disable them in any other application, they are
re-enabled any time you open Excel. If you've ever tried to do this without knowing this
particular glitch, it can drive you crazy.
All their suggestions are interspersed with running commentary
featuring expressions like "Bunk," "relatively brain-dead,"
"utterly useless, but very sexy, marketing garbage," and so on. No doubt your
favorite comments (once you get used to the style, which takes some doing) will correspond
to the parts of Microsoft products you find most... annoying. My personal favorite
is the comment that VBA/Word "harbors more bugs than a Louisiana bayou."
Visual Basic for Application (VBA) Routines
So why bother? As usual, the authors are quite up front about
this: "That's an awfully good question," they say. "The answer is, simply,
that VBA/Word is so powerful--so capable of overcoming Word's most annoying problems"
that everyone stands to benefit from using it. Basically, they have a Dr. Strangelove
approach to Office 97: How To Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Microsoft.
Some of the VBA routines that are included in the books are
powerful and extremely useful, and more are available on Woody's wopr.com site for free.
These include: a "ShowAll" routine that lists all of Word's built-in command
names; a way to disable Word's "float over" default; a macro to flip between
Excel's formulas and results display; a "shape grabber" macro that allows you to
select more than one shape in PowerPoint, and so on.
For all Word's power, if learning a programming language (which is
what VBA is) is a prerequisite to making it truly productive, I'm not at all convinced
that this is an acceptable tradeoff for most users. But if you are using Office 97 or any
of its pieces on a regular basis, these books can make your life a lot easier.
The Office 97 Annoyances series is published by O'Reilly
and are available in (some) bookstores, from amazon.com or from oreilly.com.
Sources for Office 97 Info
||Information on Win 95 bugs and customization
||Information on Outlook and MS mail applications
||Links to Word and WordPerfect sources
||Woody Leonhard's site. Contains answers to a lot of
questions, shareware and other goodies.
|send e-mail to : firstname.lastname@example.org (nothing on subject
||This subscribes to Woody's Office Watch, a free
weekly e-mail bulletin of bugs, fixes and suggestions for Miscrosoft products.
||List of Office 97 easter eggs and how to activate
||Gives answers for questions concerning Excel, Word,
Office 97 etc.
||List of all Microsoft files that can be downloaded.
Softlib.exe is an Access database, index.txt is text file
||Lists free programs and routines that can be
downloaded. Some valuable, others not. Caveat Emptor.
The above article originally appeared in the January 1998 newsletter of the Danbury
Area Computer Society, DACS.doc. It is available on the Internet at www.dacs.org.