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No. 10, Summer 1999 Click for PDF Version

WordPerfect Office 2000 Available

    Corel has just released WordPerfect Office 2000 - not to be confused with the "other" Office 2000. In addition to the basic programs - WordPerfect 9, Quattro Pro 9, Presentations 9, CorelCENTRAL 9, Paradox 9 and over 1,000 fonts and 12,000 clipart images-the Suite is jam-packed with supplemental applications, including Dragon Naturally Speaking, Corel Print Office, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Inso's Quick View viewers, and a limited version of Visual Basic for Applications. The suite also includes Trellix 2 and NetPerfect, which together form a complete unit for publishing documents from multiple applications (including non-Corel applications) to Web sites on multiple platforms. If the add-ons are useful to you, chances are they will be extremely useful, otherwise you can simply ignore them.

    Like the applications in the Legal Suite, many of the add-ons are "special" or limited editions. Generally, this means that if you like the application and plan to use it extensively, you will want to spend the extra money to upgrade to the fuller version. In the case of Dragon Naturally Speaking, this can cost more than the original Suite itself.

A Must for Word Conversion

    The ability to convert WordPerfect files to Word has been significantly improved and if you need to send Word versions of documents to clients, the upgrade is a must. In tests against a significant number of legal documents, many of the problems that existed with WP 8 (or with Word's conversion routines) have been eliminated or substantially reduced. This is particularly true of automatic paragraph numbering. WP 9 now converts even custom paragraph numbering correctly in most cases. Due to the nature of the beast, conversion will never be perfect, because many WordPerfect features simply do not exist in Word and consequently either do not convert or convert with very unpredictable results, Generally, WordPerfect does a better job of conversion than Word, especially for documents with auto paragraph numbering.

    Also at the top of the list of useful new features is the ability to publish to the Adobe Acrobat PDF format. This functionality still has some serious bugs in it (in particular, it does not handle full-justified text correctly, nor does it convert many WordPerfect characters - wait for Service Pack 1), but it will provide firms with the ability to send electronic versions of documents to anyone with an Acrobat reader (which also ships with the program and can be distributed freely), thus ensuring that documents display the way they are meant to.

New and Improved

    There are also a number of new features that make for improved ease of use. Microsoft is trumpeting the fact that its font selection dialog now displays the list of fonts in their native font. WordPerfect has of course had this feature for years and now ups the ante again. If you hover the cursor over a different font (or a page margin, zoom, or justification setting), the entire screen displays the new setting. Corel calls this "Real Time Preview." Click, and the setting is implemented; move the mouse to discard the changes and leave the document as it was.

    You can now "skew" the top row of a table at an angle to the horizontal rows (the angle is customizable, in the WordPerfect tradition), so column or row titles can be displayed more efficiently. Corel has also added the ability to embed fonts in a document, so that recipients see the document displayed as it should be whether or not they have a particular font on their system. Other new features include a software equivalent of the "auto scroll" wheel on newer mice that lets you scroll seamlessly through a document and Web-style "forward" and "back" buttons that take you to the previous or next insertion point. Corel has maintained the WP 6.x file format, so that upgrading from a previous version is seamless.

New and Not-So-Improved

    Unfortunately, Corel has not met its stated goal of focusing on increased speed and reliability. Initial use and testing show that the program has numerous bugs and is fairly unstable. In addition, some of the "take-aways" will be seriously annoying to users accustomed to the features of WP 8. This is particularly true of the way in which envelopes are generated and printed. If you like the way envelopes work in WP 8, you will probably hate the way envelopes work (or don't) work in WP9. For some people, the envelope issue may in itself be a sufficient reason not to upgrade.

Bottom Line: WP vs. Word

    WordPerfect 9 should have been a very nice release. The new functionality, in particular Word conversion and publish to PDF, as well as other features, offer a very powerful argument for upgrading. However, right now, the program is still a "work in progress" and we recommend buying one copy for Word conversion, but holding off wider implementation until the first Service Pack is released, which is currently projected for late summer. The program should be fairly stable about the time the Legal Suite version is released some time this fall.

    Does all that mean that the new Microsoft Office 2000 is a better bet? Is it futile to resist the Borg? Actually, upgraders to MS 2000 may be worse off: Word 2000 will require extensive retraining because of its heavy reliance on HTML formatting, and many of its features will only be available when Windows 2000 ships late in 1999 or early 2000. The fact that it is a major re-write, which WP 9 is not, will inevitably mean more bugs. As one of the main computer trade journals, PC Week, put it:

"[Microsoft Office 2000] should be kept in its scabbard until later this year or the next before widespread deployment. Small to medium-size businesses not already committed to Microsoft's technology will find Corel Corp.'s less radically overhauled $209 WordPerfect Office 2000 Professional Edition a better bet right now .... Corel ... leads the way toward Web-enabling the general business user with its inclusion of NetPerfect and Trellix Web publishing technologies throughout its suite."
                                                -- PCWeek, April 19, 1999

    Especially for the legal industry, WordPerfect maintains its substantial lead over Word in terms of productivity and the ability to format documents the way the particular law firm wants to have them rather than having to adapt its procedures and formats to the exigencies of Word.

WORLDOX 8 Upgrade Out

    Worldox 8 is due to be released during the month of June. With two major exceptions, WD8 is an incremental release. The exceptions concern an entirely new security module and Web Access.

    In previous versions, security was an all-or-nothing option. With WD8, you can set security for defined groups (e.g., Administration, Accounting, Trusts & Estates), or for specific individuals or a combination. This fills one of the major gaps in previous versions of Worldox.

    Worldox 8 now also has a Web Access module which enables users to log into Worldox from any Web browser and search for their files, download and check them out if desired. This module will have a significant extra cost, but for firms that have made a major investment in web technology, it puts Worldox on a par with or ahead of its major competitors such as PCDocs or iManage.

    Version 8 has a large number of incremental "ease of use" and background improvements. Its already unparalleled capacity for customization has been further enhanced: the toolbar can now be fully customized, including the ability to put personal shortcuts on the menu bar. Document searching has been improved and is now faster than ever. Groups are easier for administrators to manage and more useful than in previous versions. The comments field of the profile can now be displayed underneath the long file name in the "favorites" or other search list.

    Worldox help, which was previously minimal, has been substantially expanded and is now quite useful. The infrastructure has been improved, the search engine has been upgraded to 32-bit viewers, the index is faster. In short, this upgrade is a no-brainer.

    For firms that already have a maintenance contract, the upgrade is free. Best of all, it does not require new hardware, separate NT servers, etc. For those who have been hesitant to adopt a document management system, now is a good time to reconsider.

Tips & Tricks

Make it Fit. Ever have a letter or brief where just the signature line spilled over to an extra page? Use "Make it Fit" (under the Format menu) to fit the document into one less page. Simply select the total number of pages you want and the adjustments you prefer to make the document fit. You can do this for documents of any number of pages.

WordPerfect Limits Macro Virus Risks
    Note: This article and the following "Do's and Don'ts" were published as a special issue of the Heckman Consulting Newsletter for Law Firms for the Connecticut Bar Association convention on June 14, 1999.

    With the Melissa virus a few weeks ago and now the more deadly "Explorer/Zip" worm virus, anybody using e-mail to the outside world has to take a close look at what the real risks are and how to best protect itself. The Explorer virus infected major corporations, including Microsoft, Boeing, AT&T, and General Electric, forcing some of them to shut down their e-mail systems in order to deal with virus infection. The Explorer virus not only replicates itself through the e-mail system, but tries to overwrite files on any accessible drives, including network drives, thus potentially destroying documents on the entire network.

    Right now, these viruses work through and attack Microsoft products: Outlook, Exchange, Outlook Express, Word, etc. The Explorer virus also attacks Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint presentation files and various other types of files. Macro viruses are effective because the structure of Microsoft products requires macros to be contained in and run from documents. Thus if you open a Word file called "word.doc", it can contain and run a virus. The recent viruses have two "innovations" that make them particularly lethal:

• The Melissa virus reads the Outlook address book and sends messages to the first 50 listings (including groups, which are sorted first) so that an e-mail appears to the recipient to come from someone they know or to be a response to an e-mail message they have actually sent. The Explorer virus continues to reply to new e-mail you receive, sending itself out as a reply.
• The Explorer worm virus ups the ante, destroying files (and potentially all your data), whereas the Melissa virus did no actually damage other than causing a tremendous bottleneck.

WordPerfect Relatively Immune

    Current users of WordPerfect have not had to be very concerned about these viruses because WordPerfect has a different macro strategy and structure than does Word. In WordPerfect, macros exist as free-standing files and cannot be incorporated into or run from documents. While macros can run from WordPerfect templates, these must have a ".wpt" extension in order to function. It is therefore impossible to disguise a WordPerfect template as something else and fool the recipient into opening it.

    However WordPerfect 9, part of the just-released WordPerfect Office 2000 suite, is partially changing this by incorporating Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) into WordPerfect, thus potentially opening WP to Word-type viruses. For the moment, however, the capabilities of the Corel set of Visual Basic commands is limited, restricting the ability of macro viruses to spread. In addition, VBA is not installed by default when you install WordPerfect 9. We strongly recommend not installing VBA with WP 9 until you are certain that you have adequate virus protection.

What Next?

    Things will get worse with Microsoft's Office 2000. At present, you can avoid macro virus damage by not opening any attachments, but only viewing them (macros do not execute when documents are only viewed). However, the "tight integration" of Outlook 2000 with Internet Explorer means that under certain conditions it will be possible to have macros execute when a simple e-mail message is opened, eliminating what from a virus-writer's point of view is a "loophole" through which his potential victims can escape. Thanks, Microsoft!

Are You Safe?

    Some may be lulled into a false sense of security by the "fact" that they have an anti-virus program on all their PCs. There are two fatal flaws in this logic. First, having an anti-virus program on your PCs does not necessarily protect your server. You also need to be running anti-virus software on the server. More importantly, many firms purchase new PCs with anti-virus software installed and then never update the software! This means that they are "protected" for (at best) the first week or so after they receive the PC. With the speed at which viruses are being created and spreading, this is basically worthless. Many vendors install anti-virus software and never make any provisions to keep it updated, thus in effect leaving their clients helpless in the future.

    Firms using Microsoft products, in particular Word and Outlook, are at serious risk if they do not take aggressive anti-virus measures. Firms using WordPerfect will realize a new benefit: they are not at immediate risk from the current outbreak of macro viruses (of course this does not obviate the need for up-to-date anti-virus programs as well).

Do's and Don'ts
 

Don't routinely open e-mail attachments. View each one to make sure it is safe to open. You may want to save it to a specified directory and run anti-virus software against it before you open it.

Do keep your anti-virus software up to date for both PCs and the server. This will cost money and time, but what will it cost you if key documents on your server are destroyed?

Do find out what anti-virus protection your ISP (Internet provider) is offering in terms of e-mail. Consider switching to one that will do a virus scan of all your e-mail before you receive it. Companies such as DotOne (800 826-4666) and Allegro Net (800 209-6245) offer such services.

Contact Heckman Consulting at 203 831-0442 or heckman@ heckmanco.com for more information (DotOne, my e-mail provider, scans all my mail for viruses).


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No.21 April 2002
Future of Case Management Programs
No.20 October 2001
Disaster Recovery Small and Medium Firms
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