The heavyweight version of Corel’s office suite, to rival Microsoft Office, is back with version X5. Although we can’t talk about the office software market without mentioning the quality freebies available, such as OpenOffice, which is tempting many people into the fold with its lack of fiscal demand. Or indeed the likes of free cloud-based solutions such as Google Docs. Still, there’s a decent wedge of new features introduced in X5, to try to tempt the undecided into camping out on the Corel side of the office fence.
As ever, the suite consists of a quartet of main applications: the word processor, WordPerfect X5, the spreadsheet program, Quattro Pro X5, the Powerpoint rival, Presentations X5, and last but not least, WordPerfect Lightning, a digital notebook. Paperport 12 SE, Thunderbird for WordPerfect and a bunch of miscellaneous utilities round off the package. The latter include a batch conversion utility for shifting folders of files into WordPerfect format, and a scripting program that can be used to create macros to automate commonly performed tasks.
WordPerfect X5 itself presents the user with the usual Microsoft Word emulation mode, or the neater new WordPerfect interface, with crisp blue toolbars above, and your tabbed documents shown at the foot of the screen. Features encompass the expected goodies, such as a thesaurus, dictionary, auto-correct, spell-checker with red underlining, and neat extras like quick-word. The latter allows you to customise short-cuts for pieces of commonly used text, so typing “y” will produce “Yours Sincerely” on the document.
On the PDF front, the good news is the suite lets you import or export to the Adobe format, and you can even import image based PDF files as text for editing, which is clever. The not so good news is that when importing PDFs, we found that the program went awry at times, in some cases producing pages and pages of garbage. However, for the main part it turned around readable results, if not perfectly laid out ones.
While not new features, also worth a mention for newcomers to Corel Office are WordPerfect’s reveal codes and “make fit” function. Reveal codes is a window that opens up underneath a document, showing another copy of the document with all the formatting codes displayed. You can then work directly in that window, so if you wanted to remove the bolding from a paragraph, you can simply drag the “bold” code out of the window to get rid of it. Make fit is a great little feature which automatically resizes text to fit a certain number of pages. Even if you’ve got a sparse looking one page letter, with very little content, the suite will space it out better for you.
New to the suite for this incarnation is the integration of web services functionality. This means that you can query online services, and automatically import data from them into a document, as a table for example. This functions smoothly and is a welcome addition to WordPerfect’s armoury of tools, as is another fresh invention, the reference centre. This is basically a neatly presented front-end for the main help text and other PDF user guides include in the suite, which aids the newcomer in finding what’s what a bit more quickly than in previous versions.
WordPerfect Office X5 is compatible with all the latest MS file formats, including DOCX, XLSX and PPTX, plus it supports OpenOffice documents. We did a round of compatibility testing with a variety of documents, spreadsheets and Powerpoint files, and the suite’s overall performance was impressive, coping with almost everything. A couple of Powerpoint presentations had slight errors on them, but there was nothing much to worry about there. The conversion process can take a little time, however, particularly with large Powerpoint files.
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