A Review by Timothy Swenson
Geoff Wicks has upgraded Solvit-Plus 2 to a full Pointer
Environment program and called it Solvit-Plus 3. This review will
cover Solvit-Plus 3 and point out the differences between it and
For those that don't know what Solvit-Plus is, it's a program
designed to assist in various word games, such as Scrabble,
Jumble, and Crossword puzzles. It allows for 4 different types of
word searches on a dictionary; Wild Card, Anagram, In Word, and
Scramble (Scrabble). Each search is different in what information
you have to find a specific word. The Wild Card search is great
for Crossword puzzles where you know how many letters are in the
word, but only a few of the letters. Anagram search is used for
solving jubbled up words that you must figure out the real word.
Besides an English dictionary, other languages are available, such
as Dutch, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Welsh, Danish,
Norwegian, Swedish, and American. For non-native English
speakers, the only differences between English and American is a
few changes in spelling (i.e. color instead of colour).
The entire package consists of three disks (2 DD and one HD) and a
16-page A4 manual. The disks are labeled as such:
MASTER DISK 1 - Non-Pointer Version, Word List.
This disk includes a couple example BOOT files, some extensions
that need to be loaded, the Solvit-Plus 2 executable, and a medium
English dictionary (64,500 words).
MASTER DISK 2 - Pointer Version, Utilities.
The disk includes the Solvit-Plus 3 executable, and two utilities,
detokenize_obj and unzip.
MASTER DISK 3 - Mega-Dictionary
This disk contains a zip file of the LARGE English dictionary (
253,000 words) and requires an ED drive or larger to unzip.
Disk 1 is pretty much what came with Solvit-Plus 2. Solvit-Plus 2
requires two different extensions to be loaded and comes with
example BOOT files. The Solvit-Plus 3 version does not require
any other extensions other than the Pointer Environment ones.
This makes it simple to load from the start.
The manualis the same that came with the Solvit-Plus 2 and has not
been updated to include Solvit-Plus 3. For someone new to the
program, I would recommend using the Solvit-Plus 2 first,
following the manual exactly, and the move on to Solvit-Plus 3
when you become familiar with Solvit-Plus 2 and how it works.
The "Quick Start" section works as-is for the Solvit-Plus 2, but
will not work for Solvit-Plus 3. There are a few items that need
to be done to get Solvit-Plus 3 running.
Solvit-Plus 3 reads in a definition (or configuration) file
(solvit_def) that defines how Solvit-Plus runs. The default file
has the program looking on FLP1_ for the dictionary file. Since
the Solvit-Plus 3 is on Disk 2 and the dictionary is on Disk 1,
this will not work. You need to it all setup so that the program
can read the dictionary file when it executes. One way to do this
is to copy the executable and dictionary onto a working disk and
run it from there. It looks like they both should be able to fit
on one 720K disk. Another option is to put the dictionary file
someplace else and change the solvit_def file to point to where
the dictionary now is.
This is basically what I did. I copied the english_dic file to
RAM1_. I then used a text editor, such as QED or QD, and changed
the one line to point to RAM1_english_dic. I then put in Disk 2
and executed Solvit-Plus 3. The program read the definition file,
went to RAM1_ to read the dictionary file and was off and running.
I believe the program reads the dictionary file into memory, so I
really had two copies of the dictionary in memory. With a 2 Meg
Gold Card system, this was not much of a problem.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SOLVIT-PLUS 2 & 3
Before going too far I wanted to point out the key differences
between Solvit-Plus 2 & 3. There are a lot of features in version
2 that are not in version 3. Since both version 2 and 3 come in
the same package, I don't see it as a major problem, I just wanted
to point them out.
Solvit-Plus 2 supports six different ways to search to dictionary.
Solvit-Plus 3 only supports 4 and leaves out Backward and
Palindrome. It does not allow you to check a text file for
spelling errors. It also does not allow you to import a text file
as a dictionary or to generate a number of staticical figures on a
To keep the development time down, it looks as if Geoff Wicks took
the core part of Solvit-Plus and moved that part to the Pointer
Environment version. A decision was made that balanced features
versus effort to provide in version 3. Since version 2 is
included in the whole package, there is no loss of functionality
to the user. Any one wishing the older features can still use
RUNNING THE SOLVIT-PLUS 3
Once the program comes up it pretty much takes up the whole
screen. The obvious PE options are there; the move item and the
sleep/button item. I've seen a number of PE programs that do not
support being a button, so it is nice to see this feature. The
four main search options are to the left of the screen. Below
that is the Help and Paramaters items. Paramaters is what Defauts
used to be in version 2. The bottom of the screen has an item for
selecting the Word List (dictionary). There are also some greyed
out items for Main Menu, New Search, Page Up and Page Down. Any
items that are not selectable are greyed out and do not function.
The rest of the screen is a window to display the results of
Starting a dictionary search is as easy as selecting the item of
the search you want. My first try was a Wild Card search. I
moved the mouse to that item and hit the Hit/Left button (the
Do/Right button will also work). A small window pops up asking
for the query string. If you selected this item by mistake, just
hitting return will take you back to the main menu.
To test out Solvit-Plus 3 I grabbed the Bonus Crossword puzzle
from my local paper and started working on it. I found one word
that gave me trouble, so I decided it would be a good test for
Solvit-Plus 3. The clue was "Theater Feature" and was a 6 letter
word. I knew that the 2nd letter was C, the 3rd was R, the 5th
was E and the 6th was N. The query string I entered was "?cr?en".
The small query window went away and the main window on the screen
went black (from being grey) and the words that matched the query
were displayed. In this case it was the one word "screen", which
seemed to be the answer I was looking for.
I next tried the query string "??f?ld". To do another search, I
just selected the New Search item. I could have selected Main
Menu and WildCard, but one click is better than two. This query
brought up three words, but I did not know if they were the ones I
wanted. My next search was for the query string "?ig??". This
search brought up a bunch of words, so many that Solvit-Plus 3 had
to stop finding them and display what it had already found. When
I was done reading that list, I just select Page Down to get the
rest of the results. When I was done with all of my searches, I
selected the Main Menu item.
When I did these tests, I also timed them with my watch. Each
search took about 7 seconds. The third search took about 6
seconds to return a screen full of words and then a few seconds
more after I selected Page Down. I ran the same tests using
Solvit-Plus 2 and came up with about the same timing, just about 7
seconds. Since I am using a Gold Card, your timings will vary
depending on your platform.
The other searches are: Anagram, In Word, and Scramble. In Word
is used to find words that can be formed from the query word.
Scramble another name for Scrabble, and finds all words that
contain all the letters of the query word.
The Help item brings up a 4 screen help display. Moving though
the Help screens is done by the Page Down item. The screens give
a brief explanation of each search, the Paramater options, and the
Word List. The Help information is stored in the program and not
on a file on disk. This is helpfull as I turn off my disk drive
often. Since the disk drive has it's own power supply and fan, I
turn it off to keep down the noise.
The Parameter item is used to change the program defaults. Things
that can be changed are: Sound On/Off, Word Length, Colors,
Printer, Device, and Word List. These options are changed in the
program instead of in a Config Block. When you save the
Paramaters they are saved in the "solvit3_def" file. Since this
configuration file is just a text file, you could edit it, but I
would only edit it for something like the Word List. Some of the
other options are just numbers and its hard to tell what you might
be changing. So, edit it at your own risk.
THINGS I'D LIKE SEE
The biggest failing I saw was the lack of any update to the
manual. Granted that once a user knows how to use version 2,
version 3 is pretty easy. Some coverage of the configuration file
and how it affects start up could be covered. An UPDATE_DOC file
could be created or a short version 3 printed manual could be
included. Once the user is past the initial installation then any
questions can be answered in the version 2 manual.
It's pretty obvious that the main point behind Solvit-Plus 3 was
to take the main features of the version 2 and adapt them to the
Pointer Environment. No new features were added. Actually, quite
the opposite, some features were removed.
The program ran well. The only "crash" was an "out of memory"
error. I was running Solvit-Plus 3, Xchange, and had the
dictionary file in memory. When I selected the Paramaters item I
ran out of memory. I think this is one of the few times I've ever
used up all of my 2 Meg. Obviously I did not really put the
program to a thorough test. I'm sure that are bound to be a few
bugs found, but as the core part of the program probably has not
changed between the versions, the only bugs that should appear
will be releated to the Pointer Environment screens.
Since Solvit-Plus 3 includes Solvit-Plus 2, I don't know if there
is any increase in the price, nor do I know what the policy is for
owners of Solvit-Plus 2 ( they don't tell things like that to us
reviews). If you are a current user of Solvit-Plus and use the
Pointer Environment, I would recommend getting version 3. Using
the same consistant PE interface speeds up the program. If you do
not use the PE then you really are not missing out on any new
features. As for non-owners of Solvit-Plus, base any purchase on
your need. Its all a matter of having or not having the patience
to wait the next day for the answers.
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