Thursday, July 1, 1999

Getting the most out of Pocket Word


By Jason Perlow

Pocket Word is one of the oldies and goodies of Windows CE, and, in my opinion, is one of those things that separate a " connected organizer" like the Palm computer from a truly mobile computing device like my trusty NEC MobilePro 800. Without Pocket Word, I wouldn't be able to write articles from the field the way I sometimes need to do for other publications, especially during tradeshows where I may be called upon to sit in on a press briefing or cover a speaker's keynote address. Of course, I could lug along a laptop PC, but that would put me in the category of "schlepper". And no self-respecting Windows CE fan or computer journalist (let alone a Jewish one) wants to be categorized as that!

Pocket Word has reasonable text formatting capabilities, as shown in Figure A.


Here's the depth of text formatting that you can do with Pocket Word. Not too shabby. As you can see, I've got Star Wars on the brain lately. Linux as Anakin Skywalker? Huh? (click for larger image)

Conversion issues

Pocket Word is good, but it's not perfect. It's great for basic text editing and doing simple word processing, but if you need to produce a professional quality document, you'll want to export your writing into Microsoft Word 97 or Word 2000. As a rule, if you can do it in WordPad on the desktop PC, chances are it will look just about the same in Pocket Word.

If you learn anything from this article, remember that Pocket Word has trouble handling many of the advanced formatting features of Word 97/2000, and if your PC documents are too complicated you'll seriously disrupt the document layout if you try to move it over to your Windows CE device.

Here's a before and after example. My darling wife Rachel, who is a card-carrying Word Whiz, put together my resume in the desktop version of Word, as shown in Figure B.


This shows my resume as created in Microsoft Word 2000. Anyone need a consultant? (click for larger image)

As you can see in Figure C, Windows CE Services built-in document converter has seriously messed up my nice resume with its advanced table formatting.


Here's my resume chewed up by the Windows CE Services conversion process. I don't think I want to email it to the headhunter looking like this! (click for larger image)

When in doubt, keep your document simple. Don't use fonts other than Times New Roman, Courier New, or Arial, or they will be substituted for something else. If your document doesn't look like your average memo or business letter, chances are it's going to get screwed up in the translation.

If you're going to take your documents on the road with you, remember to save your PC documents in either Word 2.0, Word 6.0/95, Rich Text Format, or better yet, Pocket Word format. If you save your document in native Word 97 or Word 2000 format, the Windows CE file converter won't know what to do with it when you copy the document over to your device.