Jarte free word processor now works with Dragon automatically

Edit: See also New shortcuts.

VERY IMPORTANT: Be aware that I am writing this as someone who uses a word processor almost exclusively for writing. If you try to insert a table, though, Jarte will give you a message saying that Dragon can’t handle that and link to Nuance support under the Help button so that you can tell Nuance there’s a problem. I think Carolina Road is being a bit optimistic about that, but what the hell, they’re trying — which is more than most developers would do. If you frequently use a word processor for anything other than word processing, Jarte (either free or Plus) may still not work for you. But if you mainly use word processors for writing, read on.

Most excellent news: the free version of the Jarte word processor (version 3.4) now works with Dragon NaturallySpeaking out-of-the-box, as does the $19 Plus version. (I’m using the free version right now because I had to do a reformat and the flash drive containing some of my backups malfunctioned.) Some kind person set the Detect DNS value to 1 by default, and the Settings.ini file repairs itself on restart if there’s a problem. With that in mind, I’m going to give a more thorough review of Jarte than the scattered mentions I’ve given in the past. Forgive the occasional repetition.

NOTE: You need to be using the Minimal layout in order to access the menu toolbar by name. Choosing the “use alternate main menu” option (Tools — O) gives you more menus to work with, such as Tabs, Counts, Options and Zoom, and moves Paragraph into its own menu instead of being under the Font menu. Note that to choose an option from the menus, you still need to say the first letter of the option and/or Enter.

General program remarks: You probably won’t need the spellchecker much if you’re using Dragon, but if you want it, you can navigate it by pressing F7 then using the arrow keys and Enter. The free version does not have the full autocorrect function — often used for shorthand — but if you’re using Dragon exclusively, you likely also won’t need the shorthand very much.

My dictation is very quick and accurate, and selection, correction, scratching, and general navigation (new paragraph, new line, go to top/bottom/end of line, insert before/after, etc.) commands work perfectly. You cannot select sentences, but you can use the command “select <word> through <word> <punctuation>.” The quick formatting commands in Dragon 10 don’t work, but you can still select the words you want to format and give the keypress commands, or use Vocola or other Dragon add-on commands.

I like Jarte because it’s very minimalist, and there’s no visual clutter to get in my way; I can concentrate on the words as they appear. Though Jarte does have an optional status bar (which you will need to have showing if you want to use certain Vocola commands), it does not slow down dictation or block it from view as the Word status bar does. Also, I have never had Jarte crash on me, as Word 2007 did/does.

Another good feature is the option to always reopen your last session. That way, if you’re working on a document over time, you don’t have to say “start <potentially multisyllabic document name>” if you don’t want to. I also like the tabs, so that you don’t have multiple windows on the bottom of your screen.

Jarte can handle Word documents as well as rich text format, and you can set it to be the default program for those file types if you wish. You may still need a compatibility pack for Word 2007; I haven’t checked. However, Jarte doesn’t support .odt yet.

One thing that Jarte doesn’t have is the ClearType font style, which I had gotten used to when I was using Word 2007. However, if you would like it, there’s a roundabout way of getting it — though not exclusively to Jarte itself. If you set ClearType for the whole operating system, you will have it using Jarte. The downside is that if you don’t want it in your whole operating system, you’ll have to turn it back off again when you’re done using Jarte. I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble for me to keep doing it, so I might just get used to the old font style again. These instructions for setting up ClearType apply to Windows XP, to which I am still clinging.

Right-click on the desktop and choose Properties.

Click Appearance.

Click Effects.

Tab to the checkbox about smoothing edges of screen fonts (it’s faster than saying the whole line). If it isn’t checked, press Space, then tab and choose ClearType, then OK, Apply and OK.

For me, this beats hell out of trying to tinker with OpenOffice Writer, and as I’ve said before, Carolina Road gets huge points for considering Dragon/speech recognition users right out of the box. For this reason, I may still purchase the Plus version again when I’m able, just to show that users of speech recognition are a viable market and will support developers who support them. Now, if someone would only develop an entire SAPI compliant Office alternative! (Besides WordPerfect, which I’m hearing isn’t so compatible anymore anyway.)

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