Cut & Paste is one of the growing number of
word processors now released for the 8-bit Atari. It's produced by
the much respected Electronic Arts of the USA, and is available to
our American cousins on Commodore, Apple and IBM PC's as well as
Atari. It's distributed in the UK by Ariolasoft, and costs £24.95.
Cut & Paste comes nicely packaged in a hard
plastic box, which opens like a book to reveal two single sided
disks and a glossy 27 page instruction manual. The program disk
contains the Cut & Paste program, while the data disk contains a
number of example documents. These include a letter, memo, and
envelope layout, the idea being that you type your text over that in
the example, so helping you get the correct format.
The manual isn't as comprehensive as it looks at
first sight, as the first half of it contains four sets of
instructions covering the four makes of computer mentioned above.
The rest of the manual covers general topics common to all of them.
It's easy to read, but going through it I got the feeling it must be
missing out a lot of the program's facilities. Was this an
oversight, or were they really missing? I decided to write this
review using Cut & Paste to give it a practical test.
Booting up the program disk revealed instant
friendliness - on screen instructions telling you what to do, and a
menu bar along the bottom of the screen with options chosen using
the arrow and RETURN keys. All the menu items are shown in inverse
video, so to select a particular option you have to 'de-highlight'
it with the cursor. I found this illogical and slightly irritating
One of the design principles of Cut & Paste is
that the commands you use most often are the easiest to perform. In
practice, this means that you only have to press ESC to access the
menu bar, then RETURN to perform the command, as the cursor is
usually already positioned over the most used option on that menu.
Full marks to the author for this piece of thoughtful design.
No marks for the next feature, though! Cut &
Paste's files are held on disk in a non-standard format, and there's
no facility provided for converting them to DOS files. This means
you can't manipulate the files with DOS, process them with other
utilities such as spellcheckers, or merge them with Atariwriter
files. This, frankly, is appalling. Unnecessary use of custom
formats is currently a pet hate of mine.
The fun really began when I tried to enter text on
the edit screen. Like Atariwriter, Cut & Paste operates in
insert mode, so correcting mistakes involves deleting characters
rather than typing over them. But incredibly, Cut & Paste
doesn't use the delete key - you have to backspace over a character
to delete it. I found this very clumsy and unnatural in practice. In
fact, the only other editing keys which work are the arrow keys.
Attempts to use anything else elicit a noise like a half strangled
chicken from the speaker!
For deleting larger amounts of text you could use the much vaunted
cut and paste feature from which the program takes its name. The
feature does work quite well, allowing you to mark text, cut it into
a buffer, and then paste it back into your document at any point
(multiple times if you wish).
The text stays in the buffer until you make
another cut, or clear the buffer manually. It also stays there
across a document load, so you can cut from one document, load a new
document in, and then paste the buffer contents into it - a nice
To begin the review I wanted a centred, underlined
title. Horrors - there's no centring function, or any way of
underlining! I like to begin paragraphs with a 5 character indent on
the first line only, and separate the new paragraph from its
predecessor with blank lines. Cut & Paste can't do this
automatically either, you have to do it by hand. There is an indent
facility, but it indents whole paragraphs. You can't use it for
smaller units of text.
Having keyed in the review, I wanted to preview it
on the screen. Not possible. OK, so print it out. Selecting PRINT
from the menu bar brings up a full screen print menu. This has the
usual facilities for modifying margin and page sizes, line spacing,
page numbering, number of copies, and single/continuous stationery
selection. You can also supply a page header at this point, but not
a footer. Unfortunately, the header is not stored on the document
file, so next time you load and print the document, you have to
remember to type in the header again.
One of the few good points in Cut & Paste's
favour is its handling of 'widows and orphans'. These are terms used
in the publishing industry - you may not have heard them before, but
if you've used a word processor, you almost certainly know them by
sight. A widow is the last line of a paragraph which annoyingly
prints as the first line on the next page. An orphan is the converse
of this, when the first line of a paragraph prints as the last line
on a page. Both give your printout an untidy appearance. You
normally have to deal with them manually, but Cut & Paste
automatically detects and corrects them. Also, if it finds a single
line paragraph it assumes this could be a heading for the paragraph
following, and ensures both are printed on the same page. This I
There are no facilities for right margin
justification, or for selecting fonts or other special features your
printer may offer. If you want to use a Near Letter Quality font for
your final copy, hard luck!
A feature I find essential in a word processor is
the search feature. Without it, locating a particular point in a
document can be very tedious and time consuming. Guess which word
processor doesn't have this feature? Right!
I find it difficult to raise any enthusiasm for
this program. Its few good points are far outweighed by its many bad
ones. In action, it seems closer to an electronic typewriter than a
computerised word processor. But then on the front of the box it
does call itself 'The Remarkably Simple Word Processor'. If you want
something on which to compose the odd letter or page of notes, then
Cut & Paste could be for you. For anything more complex, though,
you would be much better off with one of the many other word
processors now available for the 8-bit Ataris.