How to Convert WordPerfect Documents to MS Word

I have batch converted 100’s of thousands of documents for many legal firms, government institutions to the couple for a home user has about recipes. Throughout this time I have found several things that are common and would like to share them with you.

What is the best tool to use to batch convert WordPerfect documents?

WordPerfect itself of course, who knows them better than WordPerfect? This is by far the best tool to use. I suggest you get the latest version of WordPerfect and use a converter called WordPerfect Document Converter that actually integrates with WordPerfect to use it’s conversion engine, you can find it at http://www.bidgoodsvcs.com/wpcvt2.htm WordPerfect Document Converter integrates with WordPerfect to batch convert, you can download a full 30 day trial of WordPerfect from the Corel website [http://www.corel.com] which will give you plenty of time to get the job done. You should strongly think about having at least one copy for later conversions. The converter will also use MS Word but the results are much less satisfying.

Batch converting can be easy and straight forward if you follow specific guidelines

Converting Documents:

There are three phases to batch document conversion; before, during and after the converting of documents.

Before:

This is by far the most critical stage of the whole process, what you do here will determine just how well your documents are going to convert.

Take time to get properly set up, the more time you spend getting prepared the less time you spend trying to convert the documents.

Backup, Backup, Backup…

DO NOT convert the originals always work on copies of the documents, you can replace copies but you can’t replace originals, if something goes wrong you have lost the originals forever so always convert copies not originals.

Plan for the unexpected

Leave yourself lots of time for conversion issues, I can almost guarantee you will hit some and so leave lots and lots of room for you deadlines.

Check your fonts

Ensure you have the right fonts that the documents were originally created in installed on the conversion machine you are using, if you don’t font substitution will occur and may really mess up the formatting of the document.

Break down into appropriate chunks

The first mistake most people make is trying to convert all their documents at once, it seems like the easiest quickest logical way but it’s not, breaking the documents into chunks and converting the chunks is the easiest, quickest, logical way. I suggest about 1000 docs per session, this way you can deal with problem documents much easier when you hit them.

Determine what documents need to be converted which ones can simply be archived.

Once you have broken the documents down into chunks you can then prioritize what chunks need conversion first, find out what the important documents are and do them first.

Don’t convert all of them, only convert the ones that are needed. Determine which ones should be and which ones can be archived. Many legacy documents do not need to be converted if they have not been used over a long period of time, these can be archived and converted on a need to basis. WordPerfect Document Converter has a built in date range feature that you can convert specific documents based on their date range, for example convert all documents created after January 1st 2000.

Determine extension conversion

WordPerfect documents are notorious for having weird extensions such as mydoc.frm.003, mydoc.020498.ctv, this presents a serious issue when converting to MS Word, you need to determine what extension convention you are going to use such as mydoc.frm.003.doc or mydoc.frm.doc or even mydoc.doc, just remember there may be multiple document base names such as mydoc example mydoc.frm.003 mydoc.frm.004. check through the extensions and determine the best way to rename documents.

WordPerfect Document Converter can be set up to handle these weird extensions as and name them properly for you.

Look for corruption, run through wplook.exe

Number one reason for document conversion failure is corruption, any corruption whether hidden or obvious will cause the document not to convert properly.

Two types of corruption;

Obvious

Corruption that you can see with the naked eye, garbled text, missing images and sometimes the document just won’t open.

Hidden

This is the most dangerous kind as you cannot usually see it and not know its there until you convert your documents, it will cause formatting issues, chunks of text to disappear and the converter to hang. The corruption generally occurs in what they call the prefix header of the document which you cannot see unless you look at it at the byte level. Hidden corruption is generally found in WordPerfect Styles and can creep from one document to the next if the suspect document is used like a boiler plate or template, you will need to fix this corruption or your documents may not convert properly at all.

How to Fix Corruption

Use WPLook to fix corruption

The files need to be cleaned up and all corruption removed before being converted, there is a tool called WPLook.exe created by Corel that will fix general corruption such styles and garbled text, WordPerfect Document Converter has a built in troubleshooter that you can use to fix general corruption in documents. If the documents cannot be fixed you may need an expert to repair them.

Test conversion

Take a sample of documents from different places in the folders of documents and convert them, look at them all and determine any issues, look for formatting issues or missing chunks of text.

Determine issues with conversion of documents general and specific,
Look for common issues in the documents such as font problems, tables not aligning properly text not appearing properly formatting is off.
If there is a common issue you can write a macro have it set up in the converter to run on each document to fix this issues.

We are now ready to convert the documents.

Start the conversion but keep an eye on it, if you have missed some corrupt documents the converter may hang and not convert.

If the converter hangs determine what document it is hanging on and either fix or remove the document. Restart the converter and you will be prompted to continue the session, continue the session and when prompted to replace existing files click on ‘No to All’ and the converter will pick up where it left off.

Once you have converted all the documents you need to determine that the conversion was successful.

After the Conversion

Determine any issues

Go through and compare them to the originals in WordPerfect to see if there are chunks missing or serious formatting issues, remember converting documents to any other format than what they were created in will nearly always result in formatting issues, it’s a known fact and we have to live with.

Check to ensure all files converted

Go through and compare the file structure to ensure now documents or folders of documents were missed in the conversions.

Backup:

Once you have finished always back them up and do your manual modification work on copies, once again remember you can always replace a copy but you can never replace an original.

Congratulations! You have just successfully converted your WordPerfect Documents to Word.

As you can see converting documents can be easy and straight forward if you follow the above suggestions.