October 27, 2009

WordPerfect vs. Microsoft Word

I know that this battle is long over, but I was trying to do some fairly complex layouts with Microsoft Word a few days ago, and I remembered how much I loved WordPerfect. For good or bad, Word has become ubiquitous. Fortunately almost all of the document I create are simple paragraphs with maybe a few headers and some lists, anything more complex than that and Word seems to fall apart. The last big, important document I worked on was a few years ago: my masters thesis. Rather than try LaTeX, I decided to stick with tried and true WordPerfect. I had heard to many horror stories of people trying to use word, and getting something just a little messed up, with no way to correct it. They would have to take there thesis content and recreate it in a new Word document.

Obviously this wasn't something I wanted to do. So I brought out my trusty copy of WordPerfect and went to work. I will admit that there were a few struggles to get the layout just right, but nothing that required huge amounts of time, or starting over. Other than the fact that WordPerfect just seems more intuitive for doing tables, diagrams, and images; it has reveal codes. For anyone not familiar with WordPerfect reveal codes it kind of like looking at HTML. I know Word has something that lets you look at style information, but it doesn't give you nearly the same informtion or control as reveal codes.

I also realize that something like reveal codes is not for everyone. I am a software developer so raw document codes like reveal codes, or HTML or C# don't scare me. In WordPerfect I have the best of both worlds: A really good WYSIWYG editor where I can do most of my work and an equally good view of the underlying document codes that lets me fine tune, fix, and tweak my documents. If I get a stubborn image that won't stay where I want, I can look at the detailed properties in the reveal codes to see why it isn't behaving like the rest of my images. In Word my best bet would be to remove the image, and add it to the document again, and cross my fingers that it works.

No comments: