Unitype – Global Writer 98 review

multi-lingual word-processor
Photo of Unitype – Global Writer 98
£99 + VAT

Fancy keeping in touch with business colleagues in Belorussia? Or pen-pals from Poland? Or perhaps school-friends from Serbia? It’s not as easy as it may seem, since the PC has never been particularly good at handling foreign alphabets. Originally designed to use just one language ‘code page’ at a time, typing in Sanskrit or Punjabi on the PC has always required either a foreign-language version of the operating system or some clever manipulation of fonts and code pages.

Global Writer 98 makes things a lot easier. It’s a multi-language word-processor with full support for non-Latin alphabets. Straight out of the box, it supports more than 100 different languages, from Albanian to Vietnamese, each with its own font. Some of the languages are quite obscure: in addition to Japanese, Chinese, Croatian and Hindi, there’s Farsi, Kurdish, Inuktitut and Ge’ez. Choosing a language is as simple as clicking on the drop-down menu box, just as you would to select a font in most Windows word-processors. You’re not limited to one language per document, either, so there’s no problem mixing Yiddish with Uzbek on the same page. Why you’d want to is another question entirely.

This is not a translation program, just a word-processor. Spell-checking dictionaries are included for English (American and British), Arabic, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss German, and Russian. It is possible to spell-check other languages, but you have to manually create a dictionary file or import a document containing correctly-spelled words.

The program’s input and output file formats are quite limited. You can save your document in the native Global Writer 98 format, supporting all languages, or as a pure text file or HTML document. With the latter two options you have to choose which alphabet or code page should be used. The program supports the input and viewing of Unicode character values (which are code page independent), and there’s a handy pop-up window showing the Unicode character set, from where you can double-click to insert a particular character.

Company: Unitype

Contact: 01484 689494

Compared with a conventional word-processor, Global Writer 98 is very basic, offering little more formatting functionality than the Wordpad application supplied with Windows 95. But its ability to handle multiple languages is highly ingenious, and the program should be of interest to business users and students with contacts further afield than the shores of this sceptred isle.