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Printing and PDF output from ChiWriter

Note: For those who want to run ChiWriter from a Windows or Linux DOSBOX, please scroll down to the bottom of this page to the CWDOSBOX section; CWSTART as presented below runs in real DOS only (FreeDOS, OpenDOS, DRDOS, MSDOS).

ChiWriter is a DOS-based multifont word processor. Like (La)TeX, it is very suitable for the preparation of scientific manuscripts containing mathematical equations. Unfortunately, the development and distribution of this nice piece of software ceased about ten years ago. I started using ChiWriter in 1988 and I still use it sometimes in the case I have to write documents with mathematical equations.

Nowadays, scientific documents are supposed to be spreadable in electronic format. As .chi is not widely accepted anymore and it is a huge job to rewrite documents with mathematical equations, I made ChiWriter produce PDF output. For this purpose, I took an old cw.exe from ChiWriter 2.53 (compatible with CW3 but not with CW4), combined it with the screen fonts and elite PostScript fonts made by Joop van den Eijnde, and programmed a shell program: CWSTART (latest version 1.2). All components together can be found here.

All files from cw.zip should be placed in c:\cw; your own documents are supposed to be in c:\cw\doc. CWSTART assumes PSVIEW to be on your computer and GhostScript to be installed in c:\gs. Edit c:\gs\gs.bat to select a printer. Edit cwstart.cfg for non-default paths. Now you are ready to start CWSTART:

Unlike (La)TeX, ChiWriter has a WYSIWYG environment:

Within ChiWriter, printing should be "to file", and the output file should be called chi.bin. After leaving ChiWriter, there are three options: preview a document, print a document and convert a document to PDF file. This is a screenshot from a PDF file:

Another example of PDF output from ChiWriter can be found here. A PDF of the original tutorial.chi can be found here.

CWDOSBOX: ChiWriter in Linux or Windows

Some components of CWSTART cannot be used in Linux or Windows. For that reason I compiled an alternative version, named CWDOSBOX (latest version 1.2). All files from cwdosbox.zip should be placed in c:\cw; your own documents are supposed to be in c:\cw\doc - don't forget to create this subdirectory. CWDOSBOX includes GhostScript; no need to install it separately. Edit cwdosbox.cfg for non-default paths; if you change the document path, don't forget to change it in config.par as well. Now you are ready to start CWDOSBOX by typing CWDOSBOX from c:\cw.

Within ChiWriter, printing should be "to file", and the output file should be called chi.bin. No other name or extension allowed! Next, don't forget the "go", otherwise nothing will be printed! After leaving ChiWriter, select option 2 (convert chi.bin to output.pdf). The resulting PDF file, output.pdf, is located in the document path and can be viewed and printed by using your default Linux or Windows PDF software.

Some final notes

If you prefer CW3, you may replace the included cw.exe (version 2.53) by your own copy of cw.exe from CW3. CW4 will not work! Only cw.exe should be replaced, not the other files.

The solution is limited to the original scientific ChiWriter fonts; homemade extension cannot be used.

CWSTART and CWDOSBOX can be considered freeware. As stated on the site of Joop van den Eijnde, his fonts and printer drivers can be considered freeware as well. The original packages, v3screen.zip and v3laspsf.zip, can be found here. ChiWriter itself might still be copyright protected, although Horstmann Software Design Corporation ceased to distribute it for more than ten years. Possibly you have to be a registered ChiWriter user if you want to use the program.

latest update: 13-12-2014