GEMPEN/DISKPEN – A Review of the New, Improved Version By C. Bowden
A short while after I got my NASCOM 2, I saw NASPEN advertised, and I
bought a copy. Having no Disks or Printer at that time, I really did not need
a Text editor/formatter and NASPEN remained largely unused. The built in
editors of ZEAP and BASIC fufilled all of my needs. When I upgraded my system
to IMP Printer, Disks and CP/M though, I required an editor to write Assembly
Language source files. I had to learn to use ED for this. ED is very powerful,
but also very clumsy to use, after cursor type editing. (At least both the
Gemini CP/M and SYS allowed me to screen edit MBASIC source code.) Then
DISKPEN, a revised NASPEN running under CP/M, became available. I bought one,
and soon learned to use it to write my Source files, and odd letters, and also
started to do some real Text editing. After a while I added an IVC card to my
system, and upgraded to GEMPEN at a very reasonable cost, to take full
advantage of the 80 wide screen.
This situation continued until a few months ago when a new improved
GEMPEN/DISKPEN was advertised. (From now on I will call it *PEN’.) The cost of
upgrading was again very reasonable, so I got the new version. The
improvements are certainly worth while. Whilst previous versions will do most
of the things that the average user needs, there were certain bad points. For
example use of “D” instead of “d” could have fairly disastrous consequences.
Such ‘CASE’ related commands have now been removed. Another big improvement
has been in the provision of a “HELP” command. Customization information is
also provided. Another feature that greatly increases the scope and power of
PEN is that it is also possible to load and run ‘Overlay’ files.
In 80BUS NEWS Vol 2. Iss.5 the Editor refers to WORDSTAR which is a very
well known text processor program that runs under CP/M. I have used WORDSTAR,
and it is a VERY powerful program. It can deal with Files longer than RAM
Memory, which PEN cannot. Due to its power and complexity, there is quite a
lot to learn if one is to become reasonably proficient, and I have not really
devoted that much time to this, probably because PEN can do just about all
that I require anyway, and is much more suited to system hardware, unless a
lot of customizing is done to Wordstar. It is really a case of ‘Horses for
Courses’. If one needed to write anything longer than about 30-40K, or do
something really ‘Fancy’, then WORDSTAR would be the better choice. The real
‘Clincher’ for most users would be the price, which is in favour of PEN by
about 5 to l.
PEN is available in a number of versions, but those to suit GEMINI or
NASCOM Hybrid systems are the same. Minor differences can be patched as
required. The PEN module is supplied on disk together with a number of other
files. These are:
1) GEMPEN.COM or DISKPEN.COM (10K) Main Module.
2) PENI.DOC, PEN2.DOC & PEN3.DOC (98K) Program Documentation.
3) CONFIG.DOC (22K) System Configuration Docs.
4) SPOOL /MAXIFILE/.DOC; etc. (26K) pOC’s on OVERLAYS.
5) EPSON/CENT/NEC.LST (8K ea) -PRN’s for Printer Config.
6) HELP.OVL (14K) HELP Overlay.
7) OVERD/MENU-OVL (2K ea) More overlays.
It will be seen from the above that extensive -DOC files are provided. Persons
experienced in assembly language will be able to alter and Patch the main
module to support other printers, or to change other system defaults. These
may be patched using a debugging tool such as ZSID/DDT/GEMDEBUG. For example,