Reviewed by Matthew Jones


Issue 30

Nov/Dec 87

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Kuma Software

For many years I have had by my desk both a dictionary and a thesaurus for when I am writing. Every so often, I find myself thinking 'is that really how it is spelt?', but even more often, 'there must be a better word'. A thesaurus is a dictionary of synonyms –words with similar meanings. The thesaurus I have is small, never seems to have the word I require and it takes time to search for more alternatives. I have always thought that this was an obvious task for my computer.

K-Roget, by Kuma, is designed to provide just such a facility. I started eagerly by reading the 18 page manual but soon became lost as it switched from topic to topic so let me try and give you an idea of the program without the manual. K-Roget is installed as a Desk Accessory. To select a word, you select the K-Roget option in the desk menu and then type in your word. If you have K-Word 2, you can use a menu option to send the current word to K-Roget automatically but this option is not available with other software. K-Roget will search its files, and produce a list of similar words. Three slider bars allow access to more words, the top bar selecting alternative references (e.g. broadside is in with synonyms like flank, salvo and great gun), another bar selecting different paragraphs about the current reference, and the third selecting new 'heads'. The 'heads' next to that located for you are generally related to the subject. For instance the 'heads' next to 'untruth' are 'truth' and 'maxim', followed by 'absurdity' and 'ignoramus'.

You can move around in the subject you are interested in quite easily. Another nice feature is that some of the suggestions are multiple words, e.g. 'scholar' has the suggestion 'man or woman of letters' and 'academic circles'. If K-Roget cannot find the word you are looking for, it lists words that are spelt similarly, so you do not have to know the precise spelling to use it.

Once you find a word, you can find more alternatives by clicking on it in the window to select it. Also available is an history feature, which allows you to see all the words you have looked at in this session. If you are using K-Word 2, then you also have the option to send the current word to replace the existing one but with other applications you will have to note the word and insert it manually.

I have recently used the new Wordstar Professional 4 which comes with Word Finder and is, to my mind, very much easier to use than K-Roget, but is harder to look around similar subjects. I find the controls of K-Roget frustrating, as the slider bars are not fully implemented (you can drag, and click on arrows at the end, but not click on the shaded part) and you cannot double click to select and find a new word.

The manual is adequate but a bit of a struggle – everything you need is there but it seems very disorganised – but once you have the program installed and can understand the terminology, use is intuitive. K-Roget needs two 1 megabyte disks or a hard disk, or a RAM disk, (though it is supplied on three single sided disks).

Overall, K-Roget provides some good alternatives to most words, and if you do any writing, it is well worth looking at.