Throwback Memorial Day (Wordperfect 5.1)

wp_000Remember WordPerfect 5.1? I sure do. Of course there isn’t really any way for me to forget about it considering that one of my customers still uses it to this day.

I decided today to give a little bit of an insight into how I made it all work.

First off, we need an environment in which we can use wp51 and not be completely hosed due to windows or keybinding quirks. In this case, the obvious choice is DosBox. In particular, DosBox 0.74.

Now, DosBox is not meant for this purpose. DosBox’ main priority is to run old dos games (at which it excels), so we have to do a bit of re-purposing, starting with keybinds. To make things easy, I have linked to the keymapping file that I have set up for this purpose, here:

Keep in mind that this mapping file is necessary because many of the mapped keys will override the hotkeys within wp51.

Next, we need a proper display method. This part is a bit up to interpretation. My customer has a rather large widescreen and she wanted to have a lot of extra black space around the wp51 area as opposed to having it take up the entire screen area. Below is the config file I use for dosbox in order to make this work. It’s important to note that by default, wp51 will look terrible, so we force the hqx2 scaler in order to make the text have very nice edges and increase readability. The conf file that is used is available here (If you use it be sure to change the mounting stuff at the bottom — the mounting stuff in this case was very specific to this customer and her setup).

Ok, so with that, Wordperfect 5.1 should be up and running… Sweet! 🙂

But now you are getting into the groove… What about printing? Believe it or not, that is quite possible.

First off we need a few programs. We will need printfile, available here:

Next we will need ghostscript, available here:

Next all we need is a lot of patience, because the way that printfile works is very odd if you aren’t used to it.

Essentially, you set up settings profiles, and then it creates shortcuts for you to run those settings profiles. It’s kind of odd, but it works really well.

So what we need to do is first, set up a print driver in wordperfect. You will want to go into the print section (shift+f7), the select a printer, and make a copy of the default printer (probably the apple printer listed), then you will want to edit your new “printer”.

Name it “DosBox Printer” or something (the name is more or less irrelevant).

Next,t he most important part is the port settings. Go into the port selection, and choose option 8 (Other). You will be prompted for a directory/file name. In my case I chose c:\wp51\wpspool\ . I’m not going to explain this further, as I am assuming that you understand how dosbox mounting works.

Now, when you print, you should have a file named created in the wp51/wpspool folder (wherever that may be… in the case of this particular customer: C:\Users\Doris\Documents\workfiles\Google Drive\C\WP51\wpspool ).

We’re almost done! Now all we have to do is set up printfile. Printfile can act as a spooler, which basically means that it will watch a particular directory for a file, and if that file is there, it will send it to the printer and delete the file (kind of a general explanation, but close enough). In this case, we’ll want to open up printfile and go into settings.

Give your settings a name. This this case, I used wp51 printer. Once again, the name is more or less irrelevant.

Make sure that you enable the spooler function and select the correct printer. My settings looked like this:

Ok now we need to go into “shortcut and create a shortcut for it.

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This will cause a shortcut using the settings that you have chosen, to be created on the desktop. I told you this [program works very strangely… This is it’s weirdest working. However, while it’s setup is very odd, it lends itself very useful if you need to have a bunch of different spoolers running.
*Note* Put the storage directory somewhere that is writable, otherwise you will need to give printfile admin access every time you run it, and that’s annoying. I suggest something like documents\wp51 printfile

For example, imagine you ahavean office of people all running wp51. You could create a spooler for each user and have all the installs of wp51 print the ps file to a specific server network drive using different filenames. In this way, they would all be able to print without interfering with one another, assuming that the network drive is located on a server and that server is the thing running the spoolers. There are MUCH more elegant ways to do that btw (the easiest of which would be assigning each instance of wp51 a different <filename>.ps, and then instructing one printfile spooler to look in a certain directory for any files named *.ps), so while this example would work, please, do NOT do it this way -_-.

So, next we need to set up the ghostscript conversion. This part is pretty easy really. In printfile settings, click on “conversion” and in the dropdown box choose postscript and check enable (if you check enable first, it will uncheck it when you choose postscript… -_- ).

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You will need to point the location to the ghostscript(c) executable file. In this instance I am using the 64bit version, and the path on your machine will likely be the same as shown above.

In the parameters line you will need to add this string:
-dNoCancel -dQueryUser=3 -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=mswinpr2 -sOutputFile=”\\spool\&p” &i

Now, make sure that you save and apply this in the printfile settings box. Once you do, it will create a shortcut on your desktop to your specific settings for printfile. Right click on it and choose “properties”.

In order for the spooler to work, we have to feed it a parameter that tells it where to look for the postscript files. We do that by simply adding  /s:C:\WPSPOOL\ (WPSPOOL is the actual location where you told wp51 to put the print file).

So the entire shortcut target line might look something like this:
“C:\Users\Doris\Documents\WP51 Print\PrintFile – WP51Print.exe” /s:C:\WPSPOOL\

In order to make it easy for myself, I actually created a few symlinks in windows 7 so that I could reference one location instead of many. I won’t go into how to set up symlinks on windows, but you can read up on it here:

Now, you should probably click and drag the printfile shortcut that you created over to the start button > all programs > startup, so that that way it will automagically startup with windows. Go ahead and run the shortcut and printfile will come up.

At this point, you can print in wp51 and after printfile runs the conversion via ghostscript (can take up to a minute), it will print out on your printer!

Pretty easy, but the way that printfile works is very strange which make the process take much longer than it should, however, it is doable!

Hope you guys enjoyed my throwback tech Memorial Day 🙂 On a serious note, a big thank you to our troops and veterans for their service and their sacrifice. Politicians will forever spin what you do one way or another in their speeches, but that does not change the fact that you guys are badasses, and should be praised accordingly.

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