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Word processing with Write&Set is very different from those Windows word processing programs such as Winword or StarOffice, and also differs in some respects from Wordstar for DOS. Word processing operations are closer to Latex than to Winword. With Write&Set, the task of 'text content editing' and that of 'typesetting' are sequention operations, rather than simultaneously.

For the moment, forget all you have learned about computer word processing and think about the time before the personal computer was invented, when your 'word processor' was pen, scissors, cement, etc. The way to get a complex document involved some or all of the following steps:

In the first step there was no need to consider the layout - page size, margins, type faces. The author concentrated only on the contents... The four steps were performed step by step. Today when you prepare a document using Winword, the steps are all intermingled, effectively taking place simultaneously. Because of this mode of operation, Winword and its counterpart word processors are difficult to use. This design philosophy produces word processing programs that are big, slow, drain system resources, crash often, and in some cases are unable to produce the document the user requires.

And, making it more difficult, Winword and its counterpart word processors change the line and page formatting of a document, if you load it on a different computer or print it to another printer. Line and page breaks which are optimized by hand can force very unpleasant layout malfunctions.

By way of contrast, when documents are prepared with Write&Set, the four steps take place sequentially rather than concurrently.

Step 1 Editing: Text is prepared as an (unformatted) 'raw' text file (a *.WS file) using WSedit (or Wordstar DOS). Such a text file will not include fixed margins. If you use WSedit, the margin of the displayed text depends only on the settings of the editing window and the screen font.

When preparing documents on your computer, WSformat will only rarely be called upon to process the text. This is the reason why I have decided not to create a single program incorporating both functions.

Step 2: Starting WSformat, formatting the unformatted raw-text WS file to produce a formatted FMT file:

The WSformat 'format' function reads the raw-text WS file and writes an FMT file. It does not modify the WS file in any way. In the FMT file, which can be also viewed using WSedit or Wordstar (DOS), the right margin is now fixed, the page breaks are apparent, and words at the end of the line which require hyphenation are displayed accordingly.

Step 3: Minor changes by hand on the formatted FMT file

If you are not satisfied with some formatting details, you can make small changes to the FMT file. These include such things as incorrect hyphenations, and more importantly, page breaks which can be improved.

However, avoid making bigger changes to the FMT file; if these are considered necessary, it is more expedient to make the changes to the WS file and run WSformat again. Because WSformat formatting is extremely fast (about 100 pages per second, depending on your processor and the nature of the text), this does not represent a significant delay in production.

The WSformat preview feature helps in locating sections of the text where the printout can be improved. The printout in the Preview window mirrors exactly page printout.

Step 4: Printing the final version of the document

After making the final changes to the FMT file, select the physical or virtual printer installed on your computer and print your document. This is done the same way as it would be for other current word processors. Besides physical printers (laser or inkjet printers), it is possible to use 'virtual' printers (FAX and PDF creation programs). These also work on files produced with WSformat.