Cut & Paste
Cut & Paste from Electronic Arts is the newest word processor for the Atari computer. Originally released for the Commodore computer, the addition of this word processor brings the total of commercial word processors for the Atari up to eight. Let's take a closer look at what this word processor can do for you, and how it compares to the competition.
The user interface is probably Cut & Paste's strongest feature. There is virtually no way you are going to kill a document if you really do not want to. We are talking user friendly here. I was able to start typing this review using the program as soon as I put the disk in the drive.
Two disks come with the package: a program disk and a document disk. Once the program disk is booted up, the program politely asks you to insert its document disk, and you are then ready to begin.
The first decision you have to make is to either LOAD an existing document (file) or to create a new one. The top of the screen displays all of the document names currently on the disk. To choose an existing document, the cursor is positioned over the name with the cursor control keys. Then the ESCAPE and RETURN keys are pressed. The file is LOADed, and you may begin typing or editing.
Like most word processors, Cut & Paste features an automatic word wrap. You are always in insert mode, which means that, as text is entered, all of the text to the right and below is moved out of the way. Some word processors give you the option of using either an insert or overwrite mode. Insert mode is generally preferred, because you cannot accidentally type over existing text. But overwrite mode is useful when selected portions of your text have to be changed. Cut & Paste has no overwrite mode per se -- although, if you first mark your text, you can overwrite that particular portion of the text.
Various program functions are selected from a scrolling menu bar at the bottom of the screen. The menu is scrolled by using the arrow keys and pressing RETURN to activate the selection. If you want to delete a sentence, for example, you would move the cursor to the beginning of the sentence, press CONTROL-A to indicate (mark) the beginning of the deletion, and use the arrow keys to move the cursor to the end of the sentence. Then you press ESCAPE to enable the bottom function menu, and use the cursor control keys to move the cursor to cut. Finally, you press RETURN, and the text is deleted. To get back into the edit mode, you press ESCAPE again.
This is a rather cumbersome procedure for anything less than a couple of sentences. It has to be used, because the program does not allow the usual Atari editing function of CONTROL-DELETE to delete text to the right of the cursor. Another approach to deleting a sentence is to first move the cursor to the end of the sentence and press the DELETE key. This deletes text to the left as the cursor moves left.
CONTROL-S and CONTROL-E move the cursor to the start and end of the document, respectively. The cursor control keys allow you to move up, down, left and right within the text. Unfortunately, there are no features that allow you to easily and quickly move to the start or end of a line.
Other options at the bottom of the screen during the editing session are: SAVE, PRINT, CATALOG, CUT, PASTE, INDENT, UNINDENT and BUFFER. When each of these menu items is selected, easy to understand secondary menus appear. For example, if you selected SAVE, you would have the choice of saving the text under the existing filename, a new filename or not to save at all. If you choose to save the text as the original filename, C&P just does it. Selecting SAVE-NEW first displays a catalog of the disk contents and then asks for a filename. If it already exists, you cannot use that name. DON'T SAVE allows you to gracefully return to the edit mode.
One nice touch to Cut & Paste is that filenames can be up to twelve characters long. Letters or numbers may be used in any order. Upper and lower case and spaces may also be used. This makes for more clarity in naming documents, since you do not have to abbreviate the name to only eight characters.
The PRINT option allows you to print your document to your printer after first specifying several pieces of information. A one-line, 38-character head may be placed at the top of each.page. You can also print page numbers, beginning with any number you like. Other print options include selecting top, bottom, left and right margins. These margin settings are specified in inches rather than characters -- since most of us are more familiar with inches than characters -- another useful touch.
Up to three sets of printer characteristics may be specified. These settings may then be saved for future use. You can also select double- or single-spaced output, single or continuous sheets and number of copies.
The CATALOG menu selection displays the name of the disk files at the top of the screen but not the size of the files. You can then perform assorted disk operations. Options include disk copying and formatting, file loading, renaming and deleting, and disk drive selection (drive 1 or drive 2). As usual, the menu is scrolled until the cursor indicates the selection, and then the RETURN key is pressed.
The CUT and PASTE options are really the heart of the program. These two options allow you to take a portion of your document and either pick it up and move it to another location, or delete it altogether. The technique used to perform this magic is straightforward but may take you a few tries to get down.
The text is first marked by anchoring the cursor at the starting point and then moving it with the arrow keys to highlight the rest of the text. Then you can either press CONTROL-C directly or press ESCAPE to enable the menu and select CUT. The text that is cut disappears and is stored in the buffer (a temporary storage area), where it can subsequently be PASTED anywhere in the document. If you CUT another section of text, the previous buffer contents are lost.
I am generally disappointed with Cut & Paste. On one hand, it is very easy to use. Flipping between the edit and various command menu modes was easier and faster than with the Bank Street Writer (the main competitor at this price). The built-in fail-safe features ensure that you will not destroy any text before its time.
On the other hand, Cut & Paste just does not have enough features to make it a serious choice for anyone doing more than writing an occasional letter. Features such as right justification, underlining, searching and replacing are not available. And you can forget about superscripts and subscripts. Even such basic features as selecting the font of the printer (bypassing printer control codes) and centering text cannot be accomplished.
To top off the list of non-features, the files created by Cut & Paste are not Atari DOS compatible files. This means you will be unable to use a spelling checking program or pass files to and from another word processor. Also, the documentation is weak, containing no index and little meaty information.
Electronic Arts is a state-of-the-art software company that has, until now, delivered excellent products with superb packaging. The quality was there, and the price was right. I don't know what went wrong with their design of Cut & Paste, but I suspect that they wanted to rush the product to market. In doing so, they have marketed a less than "No-Frills" word processor that provides few features and little value. Other word processors I have used in this price category have more features than Cut & Paste.
Even the slickest manuals and state-of-the-art advertising cannot help this product. I guess, with the winning track record that Electronic Arts has demonstrated, one flop is to be tolerated. However, I am embarrassed for Electronic Arts, because Cut & Paste is, frankly, a turkey.