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                           Final Writer 5 Review
                            By:  William Near 
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     Well, here we are again with another update to Final Writer by
Softwood.  The beta of Final Writer that I received looks promising and
sports many improvements and additions to an already topnotch word
processor.

     Final Writer 5 comes on three disks and is as easy to install as
previous versions due to the wise use of the Commodore Installer.  Upon
first glance, Final Writer 5 looks very much the same as Final Writer 4,
but there's more power lurking under the surface. 

SO WHAT'S NEW AND IMPROVED ANYWAY?

     I'm glad you asked!  While I'm not going to cover every detail of the
changes to Final Writer, I will describe the biggest changes and
improvements.  Of course, this is a purely subjective thing -- what may be
important to me might be of little to no interest to you.  I'll try to
cover as many points as space will allow, though.

     One word: TABLES!  Yes, you read that right.  Table support is now
included in Final Writer.  No more of those ARexx hacks which were floating
around on the Aminet, no matter how good they were.  Tables can be created
and modified from a requester in a variety of ways.  You have control over:
grid line appearance, color of backgrounds in cell regions, text flow
around tables, multiple paragraphs in each cell, line thickness and color,
and data formatting for groups of cells within a table.  Even the type
specs and paragraph options work within tables.  This feature is most
certainly one of the biggest additions to Final Writer thus far.

     In the font's department there is now a menu choice for direct access
to the font requester.  That means no more fumbling through other
requesters just to select a different font.  Preloading fonts is now
possible as well.  Just select which fonts you'd like to load upon starting
Final Writer or creating a new document and they will appear in the font
list. 

     ASL (Amiga Standard Library) requesters are now an option within Final
Writer.  You can opt to use these requesters, the standard Final Writer
requesters, or a combination of the two for selecting files or fonts to
open.  ASL requesters are great because you can resize and position them
any way you desire, type the path name directly in the requester, use the
cursor keys for navigation, and type the first letter of a filename or font
and have the requester jump directly to the first entry that matches.

     Final Writer now incorporates an Auto Correct feature.  Auto Correct
can be used to substitute one set of letters for another.  For instance,
you could set up an Auto Correct item that would replace each occurrence of
"cm" with the word "Commodore".  This would save you the effort of having
to type repetitive words, especially long ones, over and over throughout
your document.  You could also set up an Auto Correct item that will
correct your most mistyped words in a document.  Let's say that you always
type the word "foriegn" in your documents, you could set an item up that
will automatically spell the word as "foreign".  Auto Correct can even
automatically capitalize the first letter in a new sentence and eliminate
double capitals within a sentence.

     Section click-tabs can now be displayed without also having to display
page number click-tabs.  This can be very useful when jumping from section
to section and for preserving screen real estate by eliminating the page
number click-tabs on the current document.  Of course, the other click-tab
options are still available.

     Final Writer's custom screen is now a public screen.  This enables
other programs or applications to open their screens on the Final Writer
screen.  ARexx programmers should find this to be especially good news.

     An HTML (HyperText Markup Language) save option has been added too!
Now you can create a World Wide Web page with relative ease.  Just type in
the text that you desire and import any graphics you'd like into the
document.  Save the new document with the HTML option and Final Writer will
write the appropriate code for you to use!  I tested it out and it seems to
work fine.  The only thing I wish it could do is create text links to other
pages of your document.  It's a nice addition that goes a long way towards
helping you set up your initial HTML document.

     Final Writer now allows you to save a specific set of preferences for
future use.  You can select any predefined preferences from a menu choice
and they will be loaded and made active.  This can be handy if you like to
have your toolbar in a certain position while creating HTML pages and you'd
like it in another position for general writing.  This is a very simplified
example, but you get the idea.  Anything you want to adjust and save can be
easily accomplished.

     Finally, Rich Text Format (RTF) support is here!  This is a method
used by many word processors on differing platforms to save a document and
import it into another package with a minimum of formatting loss.  Now you
can easily take your Final Writer documents to and from work with ease.

     Sections within your document can now be easily rearranged.  No longer
do you have to use the clunky cut and paste method.  Now you can just drag
the section names from within a requester to whatever position you'd like
them to appear in your document.

     Documents can now be created with a template.  If you open an existing
document with the New From Template menu choice, Final Writer will update
all time and date insertions in the document and rename it as Untitled.
This will prevent you from saving over top of the original document when
making revisions.  This has happened to me in the past while writing
reviews for Amiga Report.  You have the Auto Save feature set and the next
thing you know you've just overwritten your original document that you were
modifying!  This won't happen any more.

     The Zoom options have been moved into a direct pulldown menu choice. 
Now it is much faster to change the magnification of your document to one
of the eight predefined choices.  Of course, you can still set the
magnification manually from the requester as in past versions of Final
Writer.

     Great news for Workbench 3.x users -- Final Writer now supports
Datatypes for importing any kind of graphic into your documents. 

     The grammar checker has been updated to the latest version too.

     Floating palettes are now available for the Tool, Button, and Style
bars.  The Button and Style palettes are resizable, while the Tool palette
is not.


ALL THIS AND WINDOWS TOO.

     Softwood has also released a version of Final Writer for the
Windows-based machines.  Now you can use Final Writer on your Windows and
Workbench systems.  The files are completely portable between both versions
and a special deal has been offered by Softwood to buy them both at the
same time.

     I would like to add that this in no way means that Softwood is
defecting to the enemy.  They are just trying to open up their product on
other platforms and have assured us that the Amiga version's development
will continue into the foreseeable future.  So don't worry!


WISH LIST

     I wish that there was an insert file option in Final Writer.  I really
hate having to open a second document and then cut and paste the
information into my working document.  I would like to see a mail merge to
file option too, instead of having to wait endlessly while Final Writer
generates each page of a mail merge.  I could generate the merged file and
print it later.  A page preview feature would also be nice.  Sure, I can
set the Zoom to 55% or so, but it doesn't appear on its own screen.
Finally, I'd like to be able to create links on the HTML pages, but this
first effort in this area by Softwood is still pretty good.


SUMMARY

     Once again, Softwood has done a great job of revising an already
powerful word processor for the Amiga.  Woody and the gang should be
commended for sticking by the Amiga throughout the thick and thin times of
this platform's sorted history.  So, go out and buy the upgrade or buy
Final Writer for the first time -- you won't be sorry.