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Corel WordPerfect Office X3 Standard Edition
By Kim Plonsky
Less than two years ago, as a staunch proponent of Corel WordPerfect, convinced it was far superior to any other word processing software, I decided to compare the features I felt were best and most important in each. After objective research and study (see “25 Reasons to Make the Switch,” May/ June 2005 LAT), I finally had to admit that Word 2003 was far superior to the last few versions of WordPerfect, specifically versions 9 through 11. In fact, I pronounced WordPerfect dead.
From that point forward, I exclusively used Word 2003, never looking back. That is, until recently, when I heard the news that WordPerfect’s newest version, X3, unleashed a full frontal attack on Word’s market dominance by breaking down compatibility barriers, including challenges presented when attempting to exchange data between the programs of these two word processing titans.
In my view, there are two features alone in WordPerfect X3 that make it worthy of a second look (or an initial look if you have not used it before), and an absolutely essential upgrade for current WordPerfect users — enhanced Word compatibility and the ability to publish to Portable Document Format.
The enhanced Word compatibility allows Word documents to be opened, edited and created in WordPerfect. When running in Word mode, WordPerfect X3 can be configured to save documents in Word (.doc) format by default. While I experienced a few minor conversion errors and the output was less than 100 percent accurate, the results nonetheless were impressive and required little cleanup. You also can save in Word format from WordPerfect mode. Similar capabilities are available in two of WordPerfect X3’s other applications — Presentations X3, Corel’s presentations program and Quattro Pro X3, Corel’s spreadsheet program.
Perhaps the most powerful and even revolutionary new feature in WordPerfect X3 is the built-in ability to import and publish any document as a PDF — a substantial value-added feature, considering the additional cost to purchase a PDF program such as Adobe Acrobat or other third-party plug-in programs. In fact, WordPerfect X3 can open, edit and save more than 150 different formats, maximizing and streamlining content reuse and repurposing, all within a single program. This truly exciting feature worked beautifully.
Consistent to its overall goal of breaking down compatibility boundaries and surmounting user-friendliness issues, WordPerfect X3 features a Workspace Manager that allows a user to choose among four workspace interface modes: WordPerfect, Word, Classic (WordPerfect version 5.1) and Legal (you must add this feature as an installation option). In addition, there is a Microsoft PowerPoint mode for Presentations X3, and Microsoft Excel and IBM Lotus 123 modes for Quattro Pro.
Of interest to the legal professional, operating in Legal mode provides specialized tools for creating legal documents and pleadings. Of course, while running WordPerfect X3 in Word mode doesn’t exactly replicate the execution and precise feel of Word, it certainly makes finding and accessing features and functions much easier for those used to Word.
Other WordPerfect X3 features similar to those available in Word include QuickFormat (which came about in WordPerfect 6). This is comparable to Word’s Format Painter, which allows formatting to be “picked up” and applied elsewhere in a document. Document Map (also called Document Map in Word) was added in WordPerfect Office 11, and lists the document’s headings in a separate pane so you quickly can navigate through a document — an extremely desirable tool for those who work with lengthy documents and briefs.
“Save Without Metadata,” a timely new tool (similar to Word’s optional “Remove Hidden Data” tool), addresses security concerns presented by transmitting documents electronically. This tool permanently removes private and perhaps hidden information (i.e., metadata), such as a document’s summary, comments, hidden text, undo and redo history, headers and footers, and more. The “Save Without Metadata” tool also features the unique ability to choose among the various types of metadata to remove.
Of course, any discussion of WordPerfect would be incomplete without mentioning its most revered and unique feature, Reveal Codes, which simplifies locating and changing a document’s formatting. Although Word’s Reveal Formatting feature exposes formatting in use (such as font, paragraph alignment, margins, etc.), Reveal Codes allows you to view and edit the actual code in an easier and faster manner. In the past few versions, WordPerfect further improved its Reveal Codes feature by adding drag-and-drop functionality and immediate access to a myriad of formatting options by simply double clicking any revealed code.
In addition to a host of other improvements in WordPerfect X3, including integrated Web browsing capabilities, the Office X3 suite introduces a robust and feature-rich e-mail program, WordPerfect Mail, and includes other core programs such as Quattro Pro X3, Presentations X3 and Presentations Graphics X3, a program for editing original drawings and pictures.
The future seems very bright indeed for WordPerfect Office X3, although I am somewhat hesitant to give my wholehearted recommendation at this time, mostly because I experienced regular and predictable program crashes.
For example, at times, WordPerfect X3 was unable to open one PDF file while it opened another flawlessly. Certain operations, such as attempting to switch to Document Map view in a pre-existing document, regularly caused the program to shut down. Of course, these kinds of issues are not unexpected in initial releases or major software upgrades, but do cause some concern for those eager to make an immediate, full-blown migration or upgrade to X3.
Overall, compatibility is indeed WordPerfect Office X3’s strong suit — specifically its built-in PDF publishing capabilities and interchangeability with Word and other file formats. Combined with its comparatively low cost, this re-establishes WordPerfect as a contender in the word processing and office suite software war.
As with most initial software releases or major upgrades, there are bugs to be worked out. However, Corel’s battle cry resonates. With the release of Microsoft Office 2007 looming on the horizon, stay tuned for WordPerfect vs. Word redux.
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