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                          REVIEW: FINAL WRITER 4
                             By  William Near 

SOFTWARE:  Final Writer 4

P.O. Box 50178
Phoenix, Arizona  85076
(800) 431-9151

DESCRIPTION:  Word processor/desktop publishing program


PRICE:  I paid US$33 direct from SoftWood Inc.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Amiga running Workbench 2.x+, a hard drive and at
least 2.5 MB of RAM

SYSTEM TESTED ON: Amiga 2000 (Rev 4.4), ECS chip set, G-Force '030
accelerator @ 50 MHz., 2 MB CHIP + 8 MB FAST memory, Quantum LPS270S hard
drive with Trumpcard Professional controller, Picasso II RTG (2 MB)
graphics board, Workbench 3.1

PACKAGING: The box contained three floppy disks and a brand new Final
Writer 4 manual

INSTALLATION: The update to Final Writer 4 uses the Commodore Installer
program to create the new version of Final Writer on your hard drive.  This
makes the whole upgrade process simple and painless.

NOTE: I am only going to cover the differences between Final Writer 3 and 4
in this review.  It would make the review quite lengthy if I were to cover
every feature of the Final Writer program.

CHANGES: These are the major changes made to Final Writer 4:

* Movement within a document -- Page Click Tabs have been added to
represent the page numbers of your documents at the top of the document
window.  They look like those little tabs that you use in a filing cabinet
to separate folders.  If you have ever seen a Magic User Interface
application that uses this feature then you know what I mean.  By clicking
on any of the tabs you can move directly to any page within the current
document.  When the first row of page numbers reaches the right-hand side
of the screen, a second row is formed directly behind the first.  This is
an excellent addition to the program and it makes the process of jumping
between pages very quick and easy.

  Section Click Tabs have also been added at the bottom of the document
window to represent various sections of your document.  By clicking on any
of the various sections you can move directly to the corresponding part of
your document.

  In the new Information/Status Bar there are two sets of arrows.  The two
up arrows are used to move to the top of the document or up one page in the
document.  The two down arrows are used to move to the bottom of the
document or down one page in the document.

  Finally, you can just click on the page number display in the new
Information/Status Bar and manually enter a page number to jump to within
the requestor.

  Any of these movement features can be toggled on or off at anytime.

* Most of the menus and requestors have been rearranged to eliminate the
messy sub-menus that were present on previous versions of Final Writer.
All of the Preferences requestors are now in the form of Click Tabs.  This
is very intuitive and easy to use. 

* Information/Status Bar -- this bar, which can be toggled on and off,
appears at the bottom of the window.  It displays: line and character
position, page number, date, and time. 

  Clicking on the line or character position buttons will display the View
Preferences requestor.  Clicking on the date or time buttons will insert
the current date or time into the document at the current cursor position.

  The up/down arrows and the page number display were described earlier in
this review.

* User Button Strip -- this strip contains the usual icon representations
for the various actions that can be performed on a document.  Now this
strip can be placed at the top, bottom, left, or right edges of the
document.  By clicking on the Next User Button Strip icon, you can access
up to eight user-defined button strips located behind the main strip.

* Type attributes can now be set selectively instead of all at once as in
previous versions of Final Writer.  There are also plain, bold, italic, and
underline buttons on the User button Strip for easy text attribute changes.

* Grammar Correction -- finally Final Writer includes a grammar checker!  I
have been waiting for this feature since using Excellence!  in the past.
You can set the various rules that the grammar checker will adhere to, such
as: strict, business, and casual grammar rules; reporting consecutive
nouns, prepositional phrases, and split infinitives.  There are forty-six
different Rule Types that can be individually toggled on and off, such as:
spelling errors, capitalization errors, punctuation errors, double
negatives, etc.

  When a grammatical error occurs, a requestor containing two windows will
give a detailed explanation of the error and some suggested corrections for
that error. 

  The grammar checker in Final Writer 4 is quite powerful and it most
definitely puts other such programs to shame on the Amiga platform.  It is
an excellent addition to an otherwise fine product and it is also one of
the main reasons I upgraded from Final Writer 3.

* Document Readability (Statistics) -- this menu choice will analyze your
entire document and return statistics and a readability rating.  The
statistics include: paragraph, word and sentence counts, and noun/verb
groups.  The readability rating is provided in the following forms: Flesch
Reading Ease Score, Flesh Reading Ease Grade Level, Flesch-Kincaid Grade
Level, Coleman-Liau Grade Level, and Bormuth Grade Level.

     Just for curiosity, here are the ratings for this review:
          Flesch Reading Ease Score:          61.13 Standard
          Flesh Reading Ease Grade Level:     8.88 8th-9th Grade
          Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level:         8.68
          Coleman-Liau Grade Level:           11.76
          Bormuth Grade Level:                10.30

DISLIKES: When loading in old Final Writer documents the settings for the
3D look and the ruler on the left side of the document window seem to
disappear.  I wish there were a way to make these attributes take effect on
any imported document, instead of having to reset these attributes and then
save the document.

The printing is still slower than a slug and the whole machine drags when
loading in a document or the Final Writer 4 program itself.  The pulldown
menus consistently fail when using MagicMenu (PD), so I had to disable this
program before running Final Writer 4.  This could be caused by something
in the code for MagicMenu, but Final Writer 4 is the only program I own
that has this problem. 

The Type Layout requestor is awkward to use.  Most of the options remain
ghosted until you click on a check box at the right for that specific
attribute.  I find this to be quite annoying when trying to change a
certain attribute of the text in question.

SUMMARY: I like Final Writer 4 much more than any other Amiga word
processor that I have used in the past.  As in the past, all of your Final
Copy II and Final Writer documents will load into Final Writer 4 perfectly,
so there is no need to worry about loss of formatting, etc.  Final Writer
is still definitely one of the top two word processors for the Amiga and
it's still improving thanks to Softwood's dedication to their products.