18 February 2012

File conversions

During the recent spell of frigid weather, I started working on my recipe collection. Over the past eight or nine years, I've collected quite a few recipes, mostly from the Internet. Some are in French. Some are in English. When I find an interesting recipe, I copy the text, paste it into a word processing file, and re-format it, adding my own notes or modifications after I've made whatever the recipe describes.

I'm not scrapping ClarisWorks, but just saving files
in a more widely used format from now on.

The word processor I use is a very old one, by software standards. It's the word-processing application in ClarisWorks for Windows version 5, which was released in 1997. Un logiciel d'époque, on pourrait dire — a real antique. I worked at Claris for six years in the 1990s, before Apple laid 400 of us off in 1998 and closed down the company. Claris had been Apple's end-user software subsidiary for 11 years.

When it comes to ClarisWorks, I need to move on, but I've never found another word processor that I like better. One day, with changes in the Windows operating system, the old software will just stop working. When that happened, I'd be stuck with a lot of useless files, and my recipe collection would be lost. Already, I'm seeing a lot of bugs in ClarisWorks under Windows 7.

A typical recipe, now an HTML file I can open and print
using Firefox, Chrome, or another web browser

During the cold snap, while I was looking for a way to keep busy, I decided the time had come to work on all the recipes I have archived in ClarisWorks format and save them as HTML files, which we can open all open on our computers these days. And now I've done it. I had to process the files manually by opening each one in ClarisWorks and re-saving it as HTML — a laborious process.

Lucky for me, ClarisWorks has a good HTML export filter. Re-saving all my files took me several days — well, not full days, because my back would start hurting after a couple of hours in front of the computer so I'd stop for a while and do something else. Go cook something, for example. Take a walk with the dog.

The collection by category — more than 1,000 recipes

How many recipes did I convert? Between a thousand and twelve hundred. I didn't count them with any precision, but there are a lot of them. Most are filed by category, but I still have a couple of fat folders of miscellaneous recipes I need to move into the appropriate folders. It feels good to get the collection organized and "modernized" — informatiquement parlant. It's a job I had put off for years.

The Internet is an endless source of new recipes and cooking ideas, but it's nice to have your old favorites in files organized by category and in a format you'll be able to work with for the foreseeable future. You hope.


  1. Hi Ken,
    I use Open Office.org. It's free. Since Sun (the source behind OOorg)was bought by Oracle, there was worry that it would be abandoned, so the torch has been taken up by "Libreoffice" and I suppose if I felt the need to upgrade, I'd go there. (http://www.journaldunet.com/solutions/intranet-extranet/libreoffice-versus-openoffice-0911.shtml).
    For my recipes, I've used a wiki . Since I've sometimes taken your recipes, I think I gave you (or maybe Walt) permission on it some time ago. If you want to look, let me know and I'll renew the procedure. I prefer the wiki because it allows me to share the recipes with the family and I can re-organize the front page of recipe links as I add them.

  2. Ken, now the filing idea is fresh in your mind... how about using the page system in Blodger to list and link to your wonderful recipes on here... I know you have some links down the side, but that means leaving the blog and navigating back by way of Simon&Susan.

    We can have twenty pages accessed from the main page; Categorized recipe headings would use up around ten at the most, so you could even do a nice resource page on links to the Chateaux... and one for the towns... and one on St. Aignan... and one on....

    You've got so much local info, language lessons and tips, info on Life in France squirrel'd away in your blog.

    That should take you through to the end of the French hibernation at Easter.

    Have a nice day.

  3. With this new word verification or lack thereof, I wonder if my post was recorded a few minutes ago. Here it is again.

    Please, Ken, delete it as necessary.

    Ken, just like you, all my recipes and other stuff are in Word. The original Word that came with my first laptop you got me at Apple in March, 1992. It's Word 5.1 for Mac, and to this day I use it for any word processing I need, as I type this on the great great grandson of that first computer, before pasting it.

    What you say shows how much everything computerized is virtual and could disappear instantly and irremediably without notice.

    So were back to the old sure ways to keep records: clay, stone, papyrus, lambskin, paper...

    This has been twenty years of enjoyment with an Apple product [publicité non payée!]. LOL

  4. You are high tech. Our power goes out too often for me to trust my precious recipe collection to the computer.

    Back at the dawn of time, I typed all my recipes on 4x6 cards (till about 1994). Since then I've either xeroxed from books or printed out internet recipes.

    I've cooked a lot of new recipes over the years (4 shoeboxes and a wash boiler full). But I'm always looking for something new to try.

  5. i sorted thru my 3D recipes a couple of yrs ago & pitched ones I had kept but knew I would never use.....put everything in clear sleeves in various binders by subject......ended up with about 12 binders. I would be scared if they were on my computer that I would do something wrong & they'd be gone for good.

  6. Holy cow, what a big project! I'll bet you feel good having that off of the back of your mind, eh?

  7. Interesting that you still have your laptop from '92,CHM. I think my daughter had one like it when she went off to college. It was a novelty to have a laptop back then.

    I just organized my printout recipes into a big folder. I have a huge number on 3x5 cards, in books and still can't resist the lure of a new recipe to try someday, so the stack grows like Jack's bean stalk. Also have a file in my computer that I use as well...

  8. My recipe folder exists on three hard disks! and I also copied it onto a CD, just in case.

    Word 5.1 was the last great word processor, probably. I also remember Xywrite and ProWrite Plus with some nostalgie, but they were DOS programs. ClarisWorks word processing is jusr right for me, but sadly it won't last forever.

    CHM, I only got one copy of your comment so no need to delete anything.

    What I like about having my recipes on the computer is the ability to search in them by keywords. I can always find what I want to find, without spending a lot of time trying to remember how I filed them in the first place.

    Tim and Ellen, I'll look into those possibilities. But being one of the most unorganized people around, and not very persistent, don't get your hopes up.

  9. Evelyn,
    No, I don’t use that laptop anymore, though I still have it. It is hidden somewhere in Paris and completely useless. But what I still use from that first computer is Word 5.1 and Adobe Photoshop Upgrade to 5.02. Both applications are great and I’m afraid I’ll have to relinquish them when I have to change my present laptop. It will be heart breaking, but you can’t stop progress, they say.

  10. Hi Ken,
    What fun to "see" the old ClarisWorks team again. I'm in the same spot you were, only with many fewer recipes and your conversion technique seems like a good idea. Now if we could just find a decent replacement for the CW spreadsheet...

  11. Oh, to be so organized as the rest of you! I guess I need to be home-bound and put a Recipe Redux on the top of my priortiy list!

    Mary in Oregon

  12. Fun to recognize three of the people on your first screen shot! My recipes are still in FrameMaker. I can generate a beautiful PDF book of them, but it's not easy to deal with when someone asks me for a single recipe. I need to find some time to migrate them to XML.

  13. Simon, you are way ahead of me with all that. At least now I can open my recipe files in Firefox and use the good Firefox print preview feature to run out a copy if I need one. Or send recipes to anybody who wants one. Hope you're having a decent winter there in N.C.

  14. I always use Notepad. It has everything I need and hasn't changed much since the original version appeared in Windows.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?