Instant Text Comparative Reviews

A Comparison of PRD and Instant Text

by Gail M. Hall

Posted September 12, 1997 on

Gail Hall replies to the question:

I've have not heard much about PRD before.
Can someone tell me how it compares to Instant Text?

Operating system: PRD is for DOS operating system.
IT needs Windows.

Number of active abbreviation lists: PRD allows only one data file at a time to be loaded. IT can load several at a time (up to 15), but only one is actually *active* at a time; still you can change between them more quickly.

User interface while in document: PRD depends on the user memorizing the abbreviations. IT can show choices in "advisories" on the screen. Memorizing not required. Some like the PRD's "clean screen" better, while others like to see "tips."

Cost: PRD costs a little more than 4 times as much as IT.

Tech support: PRD tech support is almost nonexistent. However, in my experience the documentation is so clear that I have never really *NEEDED* to call tech support for it. However, when I wrote the company about things I would like to see in future versions, I got absolutely no response. I am not aware of the DOS version being updated in quite a few years, and it still cannot use extended memory.

IT tech support is super. I bought it fairly early on, so I had a lot on my wish list for improvements. Many of my wishes came true with subsequent releases.

Outlook for future: If you *know* you will be using DOS for the next couple of years and want to be able to use an abbreviation expander in more than just WordPerfect, PRD is the most flexible choice in the DOS world, I think. That is, you can use it in a wide variety of DOS applications. (Some users are having good luck using PRD with a DOS word processor in a DOS window under Windows 95.)

Instant Text version 2 works with Windows 95 or Windows NT, which are the platforms now being widely used in the business world today. [...]

Abbreviation list creation and editing: PRD allows you to add, edit, or delete abbreviations and definitions from its screen by accessing it with the PRD command (default: tap Control key twice). The PRD screen is the only way to add to the list. You can add entries one at a time or merge another list into your current list.

PRD does not allow a way to edit abbreviation lists using a text editor. You can save a list under a new name but cannot select a bunch of definitions and save part of a list to a new name.

PRD does not come with an "importer" of any kind. New abbreviations can be added easily one at a time, either by entering into the list from the PRD screen or by having PRD "capture" text from the current document screen.

Instant Text glossaries can be created in a number of ways. The most innovative way is by having IT analyze text in files you have already in your system. You can create glossaries from one file or a group of files. IT can "read" from several word processing formats.

IT glossaries can be edited with a Windows text editor as well as with the IT glossary editor.

IT also comes with the IT Importer, which can create glossaries from your PRD lists, other abbreviation expander lists, database lists, e-mail, and other types of text-based lists.

Expanding abbreviations: PRD expands defined abbreviations by using space or any of a number of punctuation marks.

IT expands defined abbreviations using expander keys which can be chosen by the user from a selection of keys. This means that using space and other punctuation marks does not automatically expand the abbreviations and therefore give you more freedom to create abbreviations including words or abbreviations that you might want to leave alone sometimes.

Users have strong feelings about these differences, so you'll find some that *hate* either one because they *love* the other one's methods for expanding so much.

IT is designed to let you use a variety of abbreviations to expand text. You can type characters in the short form list until you see what you want in the advisories, and then either shift or control till the one you want is highlighted, or type the next character in its abbreviation.

If you want specific abbreviations always to expand to specific text using IT, you can define them as phrases and make sure that is the only abbreviation in the list. (IT does let you use duplicate abbreviations and choose between them.) By having unique abbreviations, you can use IT without having to look at the advisories. If you do much copy typing, you'll want to set IT up this way because switching your eyes from the copy to the screen and back again might slow you down. For MTs who normally look at the screen anyway, having the advisories always available can be very helpful.

Abbreviation names: PRD allows you to name short forms using any letter, number, and any punctuation mark that does not expand an abbreviation. Marks like $, /, and - are all allowed. You can even begin an abbreviation with these characters.

IT has some limitations about what can be included in an abbreviation. You cannot start an abbreviation with a number but can include it after the first character. You can include fewer punctuation marks in abbreviations.

Automatic spacing after expansion: PRD does not automatically add extra spaces after an expansion. IT lets you choose if you want extra spaces added after expanding or not.

Stability: I have found both of these programs very stable. I did have one video card (Wang Labs ET3000) that did not get along well with the combination of WP and PRD unless I used the /fl switch in the command line for WP, but when I updated my video card (to Wang Labs ET4000) and updated DOS, these problems were much less. I still never used PRD with "graphics" mose, however, always only with "text" mode.

IT has been very stable on my system for the most part. With the early version 2, I had some problems with freeze-ups, but those problems were taken care of by Textware Solutions and have apparently been solved. I haven't had any freezes since I loaded the newest "build."

Continuations: When you allow Instant Text to create glossaries from existing documents, it can analyze the text so that it knows what words or phrases are most likely to follow others. You can turn the continuations feature on, and IT will display choices after it expands an abbreviation.

PRD does not have this feature at all.

Lists shipped with the package: My PRD package was obtained quite a few years ago, and I don't know if they have a different configuration of lists in recent years. What I got was a very large medical list and a smaller medical list. There were also several samples of lists for other fields and applications, such as insurance and database application.

Instant Text comes with a variety of lists and samples of lists. They are constantly updating these lists. Some were created by the company, and some were created by users and are put in a folder called "Exchange." You can get more lists at their web site. Some are free of charge, and others written by IT users are sold for a modest fee.

Limitations of this comparison: You asked only about PRD and Instant Text. I am sure that others will want to add information about some of the other products using some of the same categories I used here or add other categories.

Gail M. Hall in OH