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Work Around the Limitations of WPDOS


About this page | Print pages in reverse order from WPDOS 5.1 | Convert and import GIF, JPEG, and modern TIFF graphics | Convert and import modern scalable graphics | WPDOS 5.1 under Windows 2000/XP and the broken F5-F5 feature | WPDOS 6.2 and the record-block macro bug | Change field names in WPDOS 6.x merge data files | Convert WPDOS 6.x files with non-standard alphabets to WPWin | Remove passwords from multiple WPDOS 5 files | Solve QuickFinder problems | Print pages larger than 27 inches | Home page


What this page contains

This page will list ways to work around the built-in limitations of WordPerfect for DOS. Suggestions for additional items will always be welcome.


Print pages in reverse order from WPDOS 5.1

HP DeskJet and other printers output pages with the printed side up, so that the first page of a document is at the bottom of the stack of printed pages,  and multiple-page print jobs must be resorted by hand into the correct page order. In WPDOS 6.x, pages can be printed in reverse order by using Print/Multiple Pages/Descending Order (this sequence can be recorded as a macro). In WPDOS 5.1, no built-in feature exists for printing in reverse order. A WPDOS 5.1 macro that prints the full document in reverse order may be downloaded in this self-extracting REVPRINT.EXE archive. Download the file; run the program to extract the files into any convenient directory; then copy the extracted file Revprint.wpm into your WPDOS 5.1 macro directory. If you do not know where to find that directory, use Shift-F1/Location of Files.


Convert GIF, JPEG, and modern TIFF graphics for use with WordPerfect for DOS

This information has been moved to a separate page devoted to the WPG graphics format.


Convert modern scalable graphics into formats usable by WPDOS

This information has been moved to a separate page devoted to the WPG graphics format.


WPDOS 5.1 under Windows 2000/XP and the broken F5-F5 feature

(The problem described here affects WPDOS 5.1 and 5.1+, and also seems to affect at least some versions of WPDOS 6.0, but not WPDOS 6.1 or 6.2.) In WPDOS, if you press F5-F5 (F5 twice), WP displays the List Files (F5) screen that you viewed most recently, with the highlight on the file that was highlighted when you last exited List Files. Unfortunately, this feature does not work with the combination of WPDOS 5.1 or 5.1+ and Windows 2000 or XP. With this combination, the F5-F5 keystroke combination recalls the last state of List Files only on drives formatted using the old FAT16 format. With FAT32 or NTFS drives, F5-F5 simply brings up the List File screen in the current directory. (Under Windows NT, F5-F5 fails with NTFS drives, but works with FAT16 and FAT32 drives). If you keep your files on a FAT16 drive or drive letter, this will not be a problem; advice on creating a FAT16 partition on a Windows XP system may be found elsewhere on this site.

(Note: A visitor reports that a FAT16 partition solves this problem only when the Windows XP user has administrative privileges; for an ordinary user, the problem occurs with a FAT16 partition in the same way that it occurs in an NTFS partition.)

A brilliantly written WPDOS 5.1 macro by Timothy J. McGowen solves this problem, with minor limitations (marked files are not marked when a directory is revisited, and the revisited directory always displays all files). To use the macro, download this self-extracting archive; run the archive program in a temporary directory to extract the files; read the documentation carefully; copy the macro file to your WPDOS macro directory (listed under Shift-F1/Location of Files/Keyboard-Macro Files); and follow the instructions in the documentation to install the macro as a replacement for the F5 keystroke.

In some systems, for reasons that no one understands, the macro needs to be run manually before it works correctly. If this occurs in your system, launch WP with the command-line switch /m-alt_f5f5 (consult the WP manual for further information on command-line switches).

Important note: The original version of this macro worked only with directories in which none of the files had a tilde (~) in the filename. A revised version posted on 21 December 2002 removed this limitation.

Very important note: This macro works only with WPDOS 5.1+ or versions of WPDOS 5.1 dated 05/31/91 or later. To determine the date of your WPDOS 5.1 version, press the help key (usually F3, in some systems F1); the version date is displayed in the upper-right-hand corner.


WPDOS 6.2 and the record-block macro bug

WordPerfect for DOS 6.2 (but not 6.0 or 6.1) has a bug in the macro feature that prevents the program from recording any action that defines a block. In other words, if you try to record a macro that blocks a page by searching for a hard page break code, turns on the block, then searches for the next hard page break code, the block will be turned off after you perform the search, and the page will not be selected as a block. When you are not recording a macro, of course, the block remains selected after the second search.

Chris Scott offers this workaround: turn on the block again after the second search and press Ctrl-Home twice in order to reselect the block that you attempted to create. This workaround can be used for both forward or backward searches. The resulting macro performs in the same way that it would if the bug were not present and you did not perform this workaround when recording.


How to change or add field names to WPDOS 6.x merge data files

After you create a text-format data file for a WPDOS 6.x merge, it seems almost impossible to change existing field names or add new field names. The Shift-F9/Field Names dialog box does not display existing field names (unlike the corresponding dialog box in WPWin), and if you display merge codes as icons, there seems to be no way to modify the list of field names you created when you created the data file.

The solution to this problem is simple. When you open an existing data file, use Shift-F9/Display of Merge Codes/Show Full Codes. Then edit the list of field names that becomes visible in the top line of the file. Then press Home-Home-Up to refresh the file, and your new field names will become active. If you do not press Home-Home-Up, the new field names will be ignored until you close and re-open the file.


Convert WPDOS 6.x files with non-standard alphabets to WPWin

If your WPDOS 6.x files include alphabets not supported by the WP character set (like Tibetan), you will probably not see the correct characters when you open those files in WordPerfect for Windows. A utility written by Soren Munk for the Tibetan Computer Company, and distributed by Tony Duff, can help ease the transition between editing such files in WPDOS and WPWin.

Download this self-extracting CONV2WIN.EXE archive; run the program to extract the files into any convenient directory. The included README.TXT file explains how to set up the utility. You will need to modify a configuration file to identity the corresponding characters in the fonts that you use under DOS and Windows. (All is explained in the file.)


Remove passwords from multiple WPDOS 5 files

WordPerfect does not provide a method for removing the password from more than one document at a time. If you have a group of WPDOS 5.x files that all use the same password, and you want to transfer the data to Word or other programs that do not understand WPDOS passwords, you can remove the password from multiple files by running a WP Shell macro written by Niek Campagne and included in this self-extracting archive. Download the archive; extract the files, and follow the instructions in the text file. You must already know the password that you want to remove; you must know how to use the WP Office Shell; and you must have a copy of Shell 4.0 (downloadable through links here).


Solve QuickFinder problems

The QuickFinder file indexer in WPDOS 6.x was written by Novell, not WordPerfect Corporation, and is less elegant and less bug-free than other parts of the program. If you encounter error messages such as "Not enough file handles" or "Insufficient memory", regenerate your QuickFinder indexes, by using the Indexer button in the QuickFinder menu, and the problem should be solved. You need not add file handles through any other means.


Print pages larger than 27 inches

WordPerfect for DOS and WordPerfect for Windows have a built-in limitation that restricts page size dimensions to a maximum of 27.3 inches. If you wish to print a document (or create a PDF file) with a larger size, you can use WordPerfect for the Macintosh, which  has a theoretical maximum of 455 inches. The prebuilt WPMac setup available on another page includes a "Plotter-size" printer that can create PDF files in any practical size.

Technical note on WPDOS and WPWin: As Roy Lewis explains, WP for DOS and Windows uses "WordPerfect Units" (1200 units per inch) for internal measurements, and has an internal limit of (2^16)/2-1 (32767) WP Units. This number is the maximum figure that can be represented by a signed binary 16-bit integer. (Adding 1 to this figure, binary 0111_1111_1111_1111, makes it a negative value: 1000_0000_0000_0000 - the leading 1 is a "sign bit".) This number equates to 27.306 inches.

Technical note on WPMac: As Kevin McCoy explains, WPMac uses the QuickDraw coordinate system (72 dpi), not he WP Windows system (1200 dpi). It is therefore theoretically possible to print to a paper nearly 38 feet across (32767/72 = 455 inches or 37' 11"), although a lower practical limit will be set by the printer and its driver. The WPMac file format indicates that most coordinates are represented by a signed 32-bit fixed point number, which is accurate to four decimal places (32767.0000 72nds of an inch).


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