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WordPerfect 11 and the Web

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on August 8, 2003
(Issue 2132, There's No Place Like a Home Office)

WordPerfect may no longer own the word-processing market like it once did (admittedly a decade or more ago), but for those whose primary involvement in publishing is in the online arena, WordPerfect 11 is a powerful, handy and seamless application.

I've been using both Word and WordPerfect since the late '80s, when I had ran Word 2.0 for Mac and WordPerfect 5 for the Atari ST. (WordPerfect 5 for the Atari was the first version to use point-and-click rather than hot keys, and was more analogous to WordPerfect 6 for Windows.)

I presently have Word 2000 for Windows, in addition to the review copy of WordPerfect 11 provided by Corel. (I won't buy Office XP due to Microsoft's onerous licensing policies on that version.)

And what a couple months of use of the latest version of WordPerfect shows is that it's far superior to Word for online use – from HTML to XML to the PDF capability. While WordPerfect 10 was also better than Word for HTML, WP11 has extended the lead across the board for online use.

Cleaner code

What set WordPerfect 10 apart from Word was that its HTML code was much cleaner.

In fact, if you import a Word document into WordPerfect and publish it to HTML, it will still be cleaner than the native Word version exported to HTML.

A sample 6-page Word document with no graphics exported to HTML with Word creates an .htm file that is 24Kb; the same document opened in WordPerfect and published to HTML is only 14Kb.

Looking at the source code – the raw HTML – shows that the Word version of the document is a mess, with all kinds of non-standard font calls and template IDs in its embedded stylesheet, and who knows what else.

The WordPerfect HTML also uses stylesheets to preserve the look of the document, but at nearly half the size, obviously does so much more efficiently.

In fact, all these old columns were written in WordPerfect (going back to WP 7 for Windows) and then output into HTML. I've had to clean them up a bit, but it only takes a few minutes per column – nothing like it would for Word.

Other options

In addition to exporting HTML, you can also now output to PDF directly from WordPerfect – a capability Word just doesn't offer. Adobe's PDF format may be proprietary, but it's also ubiquitous and nearly universal. For displaying documents exactly as you create them for your printer while still allowing text to be copied, there is no better option than PDF.

And while Word's HTML (Save as Web Page from the pull-down menu in Word) includes XML tags by default in its stylesheet (part of its HTML bloat), WordPerfect includes a separate XML export function.


But I will say this: The printed manual for WordPerfect is woefully short of information.

For instance, in the "What's new" section at the very front of the manual, it says you can now save files in XML and PDF. (Actually, you use the Publish to command.) But nowhere in the manual does it tell you the process.

To be sure, it's fairly simple to figure out from the well-designed menus. And the WordPerfect help file sections on XML are particularly informative, including links to online documentation that includes XML tutorials.

But the New XML Document command under File in the pull-down menu asks for you to designate XML components and an XML project – how you set those up is left unexplained by both the manual and help files.

And so we have a situation where it's quite easy to simply create your documents in WordPerfect, and then publish them as XML without knowing a thing about XML. But creating a document in XML, with your own, defined tags, is quite a bit more challenging and not nearly as well documented.

Other strengths

WordPerfect has many other strengths over Word as well: A much wider set of import filters, for instance – including Word 2002 (XP). And the export filter list takes in everything from Ami Pro to Xywrite, Lotus Notes to WordStar, MultiMate to Unicode.

In other words, with WordPerfect 11, there aren't many word processing documents out there that you can't open or save to.