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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Converting Documents from WordPerfect (Word 2002 SR1)

    Our office has been a Corel office for a looooong time now. We're migrating to Word and I've been charged with converting our catalog of documents (maybe 10,000 or so).

    I've never handled a conversion of this many documents before, so I'm laying my cards on the table and asking for some advice from some folks who've been there, done that!

    Our WordPerfect documents have very little formatting to them. They really have direct formatting mainly (very little use of styles or templates). Some of them have tables and/or tables of contents, but they're not much more complicated than that.

    I sent out a batch for a test conversion to a conversion company and was very dissappointed in the results. They completely stripped my documents before converting them and therefore, the results didn't look much like my originals, save the fact that the text was all there. This method would require EXTENSIVE clean up on our end should we need to utilize these files in the future.

    Then I used Word 2002 to convert some of the same files (just by opening them in Word 2002). These look fabulous! They're almost identical to the originals with very little lost in the conversion. I also played around with the Batch Conversion Wizard and found that it's rather slow, but that it does a better job than the conversion company I tried.

    I called the conversion company and asked about their customization option and they explained that they could write a custom project for me, but they couldn't do a sample for me and that it costs $30,000 to create a custom application as opposed to 25 cents per document for the standard conversion. I was trying to understand why I'm better off going this route than just converting the documents using Word when the sales associate I was speaking with got rather snippy and told me to try cutting and pasting my documents into Word and then inserting some tables or changing a font and seeing if they don't corrupt on me. Rather helpful, NOT.

    So, feedback please! What has been your experience with conversions?

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger Charles Kenyon's Avatar
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    Re: Converting Documents from WordPerfect (Word 2002 SR1)

    As you have gathered, you are in for a big project. While the documents you got by importing into Word look like your old documents, they are likely to be incredibly complex documents. You can get an idea of the complexity level by looking at the document size. Take one of the converted documents for comparison. Then take the original WP document and copy the text in it to NotePad and save it as a text file. Open that file and import it into Word. Reformat it using only styles to do the formatting - no direct formatting allowed. Get it so that it looks the same as the imported one. I expect that your new file will be about 50% or less the size of the imported file. That extra is hidden complexity resulting from directly applied formatting. That complexity is going to make these converted documents time bombs.

    While converting your documents seems appealing at first, in the long run you are going to be better off using the stripped versions that you mention.

    Start by really learning Word. What follows is my Word Perfect / Word rant. I started out using machines called Word Processors. While they were really computers, they were set up to do nothing else but put words on paper. They even had special keys for formatting, cutting and pasting. They cost a lot of money. <img src=/S/broke.gif border=0 alt=broke width=31 height=23> Eventually, I shifted to a program on a PC called MultiMate that emulated a Wang Word Processor. MultiMate eventually stumbled off the scene, even though at the time it was a superior product to both Word Perfect and Microsoft Word. <img src=/S/bummer.gif border=0 alt=bummer width=15 height=15> I then took on Word Perfect and learned to love it.

    I wrote complex macros that exceeded a thousand lines and got WP to do anything I wanted (well anything that a computer and printer can do). Then I took on a job in a Mac environment and had to use Word. I fought it all the way, even to the extent of installing WP on my Mac. Then I discovered a program called "More" on the Mac that did outlines that still exceed anything available in either Word or WP. One of the key features was something called a clone which was a way of saying a part of an outline that appeared in multiple places simultaneously. Changes to any clone would be reflected in all clones. Then the outlines could be very easily turned into presentations that would make PowerPoint users green with envy. This was in 1993 and I still can't do in Word, Word Perfect, and/or PowerPoint what I could do with More. <img src=/S/shrug.gif border=0 alt=shrug width=39 height=15>

    Then my agency decided that we had to go with the WinTel world. <img src=/S/puke.gif border=0 alt=puke width=60 height=15> The Mac was (and is) a superior product for the average user. <img src=/S/argue.gif border=0 alt=argue width=50 height=25> I can do more with Wintel stuff simply because I'm willing to get my hands very dirty. It is much harder, though, to show someone else how to produce the same results. On the Mac, I can get very close to the same results with much less effort and much less knowledge of how the computer works.

    I agree with you that WP is better at some things than is Word. That said . . . Get Over It! <img src=/S/bash.gif border=0 alt=bash width=35 height=39>

    Word and Word Perfect work very differently from one another. Each program's methods have strengths and weaknesses, but if you try to use one of these programs as if it were the other, it is like pushing on a string! You can easily make a lot of extra work for yourself. <img src=/S/exclamation.gif border=0 alt=exclamation width=15 height=15> If you are unwilling to take the time to learn to use Word's methods, you should stick to using Word Pad. You'll have a lot less grief, although you'll miss out on a lot of raw power.

    See <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.addbalance.com/word/wordperfect.htm>Word for Word Perfect Users</A> (addbalance.com/word/wordperfect.htm)
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.mvps.org/word/FAQs/General/WordVsWordPerfect.htm>Word Perfect compared to Word</A> (mvps.org/word/FAQs/)
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.mvps.org/word/FAQs/General/TipsAndGotchas.htm>Tips and Gotchas</A> (mvps.org/word/FAQs/)
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.mvps.org/word/FAQs/General/RevealCodes.htm>Does Word Have Reveal Codes?</A> (mvps.org/word/FAQs/)
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.mvps.org/word/FAQs/General/WordPerfectConverters.htm>Word Perfect to Word Converters and Why None of Them Are Perfect</A>
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://businesssoft.about.com/compute/businesssoft/library/blconvert.htm>Converting Documents from Word Perfect to Word</A>
    for information on Word for Word Perfect users.

    For more:
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.mvps.org/word/FAQs/Customization/CreateATemplatePart1.htm>How to Create a Template (Part 1)</A> (mvps.org/word/FAQs/)
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.mvps.org/word/FAQs/Customization/CreateATemplatePart2.htm>How to Create a Template (Part 2)</A> - download the Word version which includes a template built the way the tutorial describes. It is a work of art. (mvps.org/word/FAQs/)
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.mvps.org/word/FAQs/Numbering/WordsNumberingExplained.htm> Word's Numbering Explained by John McGhie</A> (mvps.org/word/FAQs/)
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.addbalance.com/usersguide/styles.htm>Understanding Styles</A> (addbalance.com/usersguide/styles.htm)


    In Word 2000 or later you can get the function keys to display in a special toolbar at the bottom of the screen if you want (something like pressing F3 twice in WP). The following macro will do this.

    Sub ShowMeFunctionKeys()
    Commandbars("Function Key Display").Visible = True
    End Sub


    Learn about <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.addbalance.com/usersguide/styles.htm> Styles</A> - really learn! I resisted for years and now regret every day of those years because although that string was still very hard to push, it kept getting longer and longer, and had some very important projects tied to it! Once you understand styles and the Word concept of organizing things into Chinese boxes everything falls into place and instead of pushing a string, you can push a button that turns on the very powerful text processing machine known as Microsoft Word and it will start doing your work for you instead of running around behind you trying to undo what you just thought you did.

    So much for my rant. <img src=/S/hushmouth.gif border=0 alt=hushmouth width=16 height=16>

    Bottom line, the sooner you get rid of converted documents and use well-formed templates in Word, the happier you will be. Assuming that you need to get work out while your transition is going on, converted documents will be a necessity for a while. Get away from the habit of opening an old document, making some changes to it, and saving under a new name. (Do a web search or even a site search for the term <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.addbalance.com/usersguide/metadata.htm> metadata</A> to get some of the reasons for breaking this habit.) You want your forms to be templates, designed to be used as templates.

    I've given you a long reading list. I strongly suggest that you get started with it, even if it is only a half-hour a day. Each half hour that you spend on this material could save you and your firm months of work down the road. Good luck.
    Charles Kyle Kenyon
    Madison, Wisconsin

  3. #3
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Converting Documents from WordPerfect (Word 2002 SR1)

    I cannot attest to how corruption-prone converted documents might be, but I think that converting them all will only encourage people to do with we all naturally do with Word documents, which is to Save As and perpetuate the old code base. As you discovered, opening WP docs in Word, particularly WP 5.x and lower, creates a reasonable facsimile of the original. At that point, rather than using the converted document as the basis for a new or revised document, it would be better to get the text into a clean Word 2002 document. Whether this is copy and paste, or through a custom macro, it would give you a fresh start going forward. I think it is possible to detect the "internal" format of a document in a roundabout way, so you might be able to enforce this by intercepting the Save and Save As commands. Do you really need to convert en masse? Just a thought.

    Last but not least, it's tempting to think that an intermediate format such as HTML or XML could be used to help convert the WP text and formatting to Word conventions. But the tools might not yet be there.

  4. #4
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    Re: Converting Documents from WordPerfect (Word 2002 SR1)

    Thank you so much for taking the time to provide me with this wealth of information and experience! I'm always amazed and so grateful that people such as yourself take the time to help out! Your information was also very entertaining (I loved the puking smiley!).

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
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    Re: Converting Documents from WordPerfect (Word 2002 SR1)

    Thank you for your input!

    You bring up a good point about the need to convert en masse. I do believe it may not be necessary to do so as we rarely access our old files, but my superior worries about WPerfect not being available at all in the future and us being completely unable to access those files at some point. Can't say I agree; I'm just following orders!

    Thanks for taking the time to answer me! I do appreciate it!

  6. #6
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    Re: Converting Documents from WordPerfect (Word 2002 SR1)

    You might want to look at this product:

    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.microsystems.com/docxchange.htm>http://www.microsystems.com/docxchange.htm</A>

    I personally have used this product for hundreds of thousands of documents.

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