Slow word processor anchors Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition

Slow word processor anchors Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition

Clever Word Pro makes up for what it lacks in speed with a superior interface and useful features

By John Breeden

GCN Staff

This review is part of an occasional series about programs within the recently released major office suites: Corel WordPerfect Office 2000, Lotus SmartSuite Millennium Edition 9.5 and Microsoft Office 2000.

Lotus Word Pro is as different from Microsoft Word as a lightning bug is from a lightning bolt. Word Pro blows Word away'at least in functions.

But the word processor in SmartSuite Millennium Edition 9.5 works too slowly.

Corel Corp.'s competing WordPerfect Office 2000 does whatever it can to mimic Microsoft's somewhat convoluted Office. Lotus refreshingly has gone in the opposite direction, toward easier use.

Word Pro has powerful features and a simple interface, rather like old versions of WordPerfect before Corel tried to fancy it up.

Multiple choice

Lotus has put in a ton of features without taking control out of the user's hands. As soon as you open the program, you see a list of features, such as Quick Correct, that you can activate or disable. There are no annoying features turned on by default.

Each choice is up to you. If you dislike bubble help menus, for instance, disable them at the start.

Instead of forcing you to page through multiple menus to do simple things, Word Pro knows what you might want. To add a header or a footer, click on that part of the page.

One of Word Pro's best features is its ability to manipulate graphics within documents'anything from a small piece of line art all the way up to a full-blown color photo. When you insert an image, a little anchor appears with a line tracing back to the photo. The anchor represents the invisible point in the document where the code for the photo is.

Never again will you accidentally delete an image while editing a document, and anchor points can be far from their graphics. In this respect, Word Pro is superior to WordPerfect, which requires a user to select Reveal Codes to see where a photo is referenced.

Word Pro's menus are just as easy. Say you want to include a .gif file. When you highlight it, a new menu tab called GIF appears. From there you can manipulate the image or change it into another file format, right inside the document.

You can also wrap the text around images, even irregular ones, to produce cool effects.

Lotus has given users single-click access to common actions, such as changing text fonts and colors, styling documents and making tables.

To adjust the text, pull up the text menu and alter size, color or attributes right from one control box. Word Pro reminds me of Adobe Photoshop in this respect.

Some components stay available even when the program is not running. As long as you have the suite installed, you can access both dictionary and thesaurus from within the toolbar. No need to load the program to look up a word.

Box Score '' ' ' '''''

Word Pro

Word processor in Lotus SmartSuite

Lotus Development Corp.; Cambridge Mass.;
tel. 617-577-8500

Suite price: $370

+Excellent interface

+Useful features available from taskbar

+Good graphics handling

'Very slow

Real-life requirements:

Windows 9x, 233-MHz or faster Pentium MMX, 32M of RAM, 230M of free storage

The menus are customizable, too. If you are so accustomed to Word or WordPerfect that the Word Pro interface seems foreign, reset it to look however you want.

I had no problem converting files from other word processors.

Unlike competitors, Word Pro remembers when a file has been opened in another format and offers to save it back into that format when finished. You can always save it as a Word Pro file, too, but having the option to keep the original format is good in a mixed office environment.

So it would seem that Word Pro is cruising for a high grade, right? Unfortunately, the program's lack of speed keeps it well back behind the finish line.

The code in Word Pro must be like spaghetti. It takes forever to do anything.

If you're looking for a clever interface and a well-rounded program, Word Pro is good. If speed is what you need, pass this by.


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