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WordPerfect X4 and HTML

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on July 11, 2008
(Issue 2628, Apple Update: Latest Plans for the Mac, iPhone, and iPod)

Last month, we started out to look at the new WordPerfect X4's handling of HTML, but got distracted by the very good (if ultimately flawed by a poorly designed search tool) e-mail client included with WP X4.

As I wrote last month in this space, I've been using WordPerfect to write this column for years, and for the last seven years or so, using it to output the column to an HTML file for posting on my Web site.

In fact, the ability to create clean HTML code that takes only slight cleaning before posting is one of the main reasons I settled on WordPerfect 7 rather than Microsoft Word. Saving a Word document to HTML is to create a coding nightmare – all kinds of ugly clutter that not only is a pain to go in and edit, but won't even display correctly in non-Microsoft browsers due to the use of non-compliant "mso" tags in the HTML.

While WordPerfect isn't a strong tool for creating HTML documents, it is among the best, if not the best, general-use word processors at exporting to HTML.

And version X4 is even better than earlier versions of WordPerfect.

As with version 12, which I was using previously, you can add the "compatibility" toolbar to your display in X4, allowing you to export any document in your workspace to PDF, XML, HTML or Word format with a single click.

But with X4, the dialogue box you see after clicking on the HTML icon (changed from the spider web icon in WP 12) includes a new choice: "Plain HTML." If you check that box before hitting the "Publish" button, the code is HTML 3 compliant: font tags instead of inline style sheets, and the tags in all caps instead of lower case.

I can't really think of a use for that, but even that older HTML code is cleaner than anything Word ever generated.

And exporting in the standard HTML 4 (i.e., with the Plain HTML box not checked) turns out good, clean HTML with font control in stylesheets.

While having more options in the HTML export dialogue (how about letting us eliminate all those meta tags?) would be nice, the code is clean, consistent and compatible across browsers.

As I use external stylesheets on my site, as well as embedded menus with PHP include tags, I have to open up the column in Dreamweaver each week and do a couple search and replaces before posting the column. But it's only a few minutes' time – far easier than it would be with Word.

Next month, we'll take a look at the HTML export capability of OpenOffice, the free Word and WordPerfect alternative that Sun issues in cooperation with the open source community.