Design glamorous

Reality Check.

HERE’S A REALITY check for those of us who can’t believe fax machines are still necessary in 2011. I have just learned, to my astonishment, that half the lawyers in New York create their documents in WordPerfect. That is not a typo.

The version of WordPerfect they use saves in its native format. It can also save as RTF, but it loses formatting when it does so. It can save as a particular version of Word ’97 for Windows which is not compatible with other platforms, and which also loses formatting. And it can save as ASCII, because, well.

If the lawyer wishes to preserve the document’s formatting while saving a copy for someone (say, a client) who doesn’t own WordPerfect and hasn’t seen it since DOS ruled, said lawyer and said client are out of luck.

But what of PDF, you ask?

There is no option to save as PDF. Maybe Adobe charged a licensing fee that the makers of WordPerfect weren’t able to afford (hampered as they are by the fact that nobody besides New York lawyers buys their product). Or maybe the makers of WordPerfect died before PDF became ubiquitous.

Advanced Windows users can probably finagle a PDF out of WordPerfect, say, by buying Adobe Acrobat Pro and installing a plug-in, but the lawyers in New York do not seem to be advanced Windows users.

Oh, also, IE6 is the cat’s pajamas in this world. Twenty-three skidoo!

And you ask why we still use fax machines.

By L. Jeffrey Zeldman

“King of Web Standards”—Bloomberg Businessweek. Author, Designer, Founder. Employer Brand at Automattic. Publisher, & Ava’s dad. Pete’s brother (RIP). He/him.