Word Filter

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Word Filter


Title remains with the author. The licensee has the right to use the software for personal purposes on a single computer at a time. The licensee does not have the right to modify the software or create derivative works. The licensee has the right to sublicense this software provided these restrictions are included in the sublicense.


The filter program was developed to clean up documents created in Word for posting on the net.

Word is a great program for creating documents. However, not everyone has Word nor does every piece of software understand how to open up and interpret Word documents.

The most universally understood format for reading text is ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) — in other words, plain text.

The problem with Word documents is that in their *.doc form, they contain a lot of "control" information that appears as garbage when displayed by software which can handle ASCII only, such as news readers, email programs, and browsers.

Even when you save Word documents as "Text only with line breaks," you still have problems. About 95% of the text translates OK, but some of the special coding remains behind. Things like trademark symbols, copyright symbols, and smart (curly) quotes are left "dirty." That is, they show up as vertical bars or boxes or some other symbol on the screen.

Furthermore, most Word fonts are proportional. That is, an "i" takes up less space than an "M" so the software closes up the extra space. The end result is that you wind up with a variable number of characters on different lines, even though the lines are of equal length (same number of inches or centimeters). When displayed by software that understands ASCII only, each character takes up the same amount of space. So, some lines may run over the edge of the page, or wrap inappropriately.

The filter program was written to filter out special characters in Word documents that are saved as text-only with line breaks. Filter eliminates "dirty" characters and replaces them with their plain ASCII equivalents. It also formats lines of variable length to 65 characters per line, so they read well on just about any screen.

There are two versions of the program: one for Unix, one for DOS. The DOS version has every bit of the functionality of the Unix version, but is not as user friendly. The reason for this is that I am much better at shell programming than I am writing a *.bat file. If anyone wants to write a more friendly "front end" perhaps even a GUI, please be my guest, and share with the community.

About the filter "set" of programs

The filter set of programs consist of the following set of files.

Unix DOS Purpose
filter.sh filter.bat the "overseer" program that kicks the others off with the right arguments
msed msed.exe a program that translates hexadecimal values into user-defined ASCII representations
mfmt mfmt.exe a program that formats variable length lines to word wrap at the specified character length.
mhyphen mhyphen.exe program that removes middle-of-the-line hyphens that occur as the result of reformatting text
word60.pat word60.pat a file containing the hexadecimal tokens and their ASCII representations

Note: msed, mfmt, and mhyphen can be run "stand alone" or as part of other applications. Manual pages are included for these executables.

Instructions for using filter

Create your document using MS-Word.

Save the word file as text only with line breaks.

Move the text file to the directory in which you would like to work.

Type "filter.sh <filename>" (Unix) or "filter <filename> (DOS).

The Unix version will do some file renaming of the input file. It will strip off any suffixes, and replace them with ".in" It will then create an output file name with a ".txt" extension. You will have an option to overwrite this file name, or merely accept it by pressing <ENTER>.

Note: If you supply an input file name with a ".txt" extension, it will be translated to a ".in" extension before processing so the original file will not be overwritten.

The DOS version is not as user friendly. It will leave the input file name alone, and output everything to a file called filter.out.

Except for renaming the file (if required), you’re done!

Download here:

Note: Instructions for making, installing and configuring the software are contained in the download packages.

Click here to download the DOS version. (Unzip into a directory called C:\bin and save a step).

Click here to download the Unix sources. (Unzip into a build directory).

This program has been compiled successfully under several flavors of Unix and in Linux.

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