First Look at Lotus SmartSuite for OS/2 v1.5: WordPro

By: Walter Metcalf
Date: 01/19/00


Word processors can be divided roughly into two groups: traditional character-based, and stylesheet-based, characteristic of many recent word processors, such as StarOffice and DeScribe. In the latter, characteristics such as font sizes, tab settings, and attributes are attached to "invisible" subsets of a page called style-sheets. These style-sheets can be named, manipulated, and stored on disk just like documents. In the character-based wordprocessors the same information is associated with actual characters or groups of characters. WordPro is this type of word processor, as is the venerable WordPerfect. (A certain amount of stylesheet functionality is provided in WordPro, however, through the "Named Style" feature.)

For this reason using WordPro seems very natural to me, even though I still use DeScribe for nearly all my wordprocessing work. Wordpro was not available for OS/2 when I first starting using that OS, so I was more or less forced to use DeScribe. I say forced because I struggled with its style-sheet approach. Even after about six years of regular use, I still do not feel particularly comfortable with this method of doing things. All the word processors I used before DeScribe, including WordPerfect which I used for years, were of the traditional variety.


The main features that strike you when you start WordPro are SmartMasters, SmartIcons (aka tools), and menus. Three other features that are an important part of WordPro's identity, but are not quite so immediately obvious are the Team approach, LotusScript, and Internet integration, although this is becoming more common in other word processors. The features that make WordPro unique among Word Processors today are its Team approach (special features which facilitate the development of a document by several people), its SmartMaster (an enhanced form mechanism) concept, and the concept of a full-power scripting language shared by other modules in the SmartSuite package.1

Some further comments about SmartIcons are in order. The designers/developers of WordPro almost went overboard with tools and toolbars. Not only can the number of toolbars be expanded to five, but even the tools located on those bars are context-sensitive and change depending on where the pointer is located. Fortunately almost everything about the tools (SmartIcons) is customizable through the SmartIcons Setup submenu. There are SmartIcons for almost everything imaginable (I gave up trying to count the actual number!); in addition there are several icons to which no function is assigned, and which could be assigned by the user to macros. In a wordprocessor that contains such a large array of tools and toolbars there is one surprising omission: Append to Clipboard. In fact, there is no feature anywhere that performs that function. That is unfortunate because that functionality is very useful in situations where you need to gather text from several areas in a document. There is also no easy way to construct such a function with a macro.

A large number of WordPro's features can be accessed through the SmartIcons, so it is worth your while spending some time familiarizing yourself with them and how they work; then put the ones you will use most often in two or three bars of SmartIcons. WordPro makes it very easy to construct and save custom bars of SmartIcons. This can be a real convenience.

Next page > Is it Worth it?  > Page 1, 2

Walter Metcalf

Next week: Setting up and Configuring a SOHO Peer Network


1 This scripting language, LotusScript, interfaces with C and Rexx so that it is possible to actually write macros for WordPro and other modules in the SmartSuite package in those languages.

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