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Words and Pictures by Jennifer Bonfilio, RMR, CBC,CCP; XHTML by G.D. Warner

CAT Wars: AccuCap

Jennifer Bonfilio Talks AccuCap


This series of articles is intended to help court reporting students or working reporters/captioners/CART providers in the never ending quest to find the ultimate CAT software.

In an effort to help with that quest, I have contacted working professionals in the field (not just (non-reporting) trainers) and asked them to tell you (yes, you!) why they use the CAT software they use -- their likes, dislikes, etc. ... and I managed to convince captioner extraordinaire to write this piece on AccuCap, Eclipse's captioning add-on.



My name is Jennifer Bonfilio. I have been in the biz for 25 years -- 16 as a freelance reporter, 14 as a CART provider, and 10 as a broadcast captioner. Of course, that doesn't add up to 25 because there was some overlap in there, but -- trust me -- it's been a long time.

As far as software goes, I've used 'em all ... well, not quite all, but I started on Stenograph. It was so long ago, I don't even know what it was called. Oz PC maybe? Baron Data? It was the '80s; I've blocked out a lot from the '80s! All I know is it had a huge disc that contained every reporter's dictionaries, and new reporters like myself were not allowed alone in a room with it!

All I know is it had a huge disc that contained every reporter'€™s dictionaries, and new reporters like myself were not allowed to be alone in a room with it!

IBM Personal Computer, 1981

IBM Personal Computer, 1981

Next came Xscribe, which I really loved, but they were bought out and I decided to become a captioner. I took a job working in-house for a large captioning company, and TurboCat/Captivator was the software we all had to use. Unfortunately, I never really gained a good understanding of the software because we had support staff that took care of creating macros and the like. We were just sheep (followed directions). It left little room for creativity and digging deep. Plus it ran on DOS, and ... well, what can I say about DOS? It's not very pretty? It's no wonder I am in absolute love with my current CAT software: Total Eclipse and AccuCap (the captioning add-on).

XScribe Logo From 2001

XScribe Logo From 2001

Ah, DOS ... How Do I Loath Thee, Let Me Count The Ways

"Ah, DOS ... How Do I Loath Thee, Let Me Count The Ways ..."

I've never been very good at reading manuals. It's not that I can't read them; I just choose not to. I prefer to "turn it on and go" and hope for the best. This is not the best approach to learning something new, but that's just me.

Love it or lump it.

The other factor at the time I purchased Eclipse was my limited time in getting up and running as I transitioned from working in-house, moving back to my home state, setting up a home office, and going on the air. So I did what many reporters do: I plugged the realtime cable in from my steno machine to the computer, closed my eyes (peeking slightly from one eye), clicked on the realtime icon, and voila! I had realtime.

Okay, maybe not on the first try, but I figured it out pretty quickly. Of course, all of the formatting was wrong. I needed to change the fonts and colors to my liking, but I was connected, and that's all that mattered on that day. I should note, as well, that there was no AccuCap manual in existence at that time.

I spoke often on the phone (daily!) with John Everhart (miracle worker), my Eclipse sales rep, who put up with my unconventional way of learning the software as quickly as possible. He answered all my questions, and when he didn't know, he called Jeremy Thorne (genius), Advantage Software's (aka ASI, makers of Eclipse) software writer and got me answers. He was even nice enough to extend the evaluation copy terms from 30 days to 45 days, as I was in the middle of purchasing a house and was advised not to open up any credit accounts until after the closing. This allowed me to learn the software and get all set up without paying for it yet. Now, that's customer service!

I am going to focus on the captioning side, AccuCap, of the software since other articles have been written on the CAT side. The following is a list of features that I love about Eclipse, many of which are exclusive to Eclipse (don't sue me if I am wrong; I can't afford a fact-checking staff), indicated by "(E!)":

AccuCap Prefixes and Suffixes Window

AccuCap Prefixes and Suffixes Window

  1. Another great feature is the Tuck Punctuation feature. If you have a brief created, for example, for "Batman," you would have to create four entries for that one quoted brief:

"BATMAN"          Primary Brief

"BATMAN'S"        Possessive

"BATMAN,"         Comma

"BATMAN."         Period

Not only will Eclipse tuck the comma and the period automatically, but it will tuck suffixes (E!), thus eliminating the need for an entry for "BATMAN'S" or a made-up word like "BATMAN'D."

AccuCap:  Tucked Punctuation

AccuCap: Tucked Punctuation

AccuCap:  Scripting

AccuCap: Scripting

AccuCap Forum Page

AccuCap Forum Page

Autobrief, again, can be a lifesaver in certain situations. If you write a name or multiple words more than once, Autobrief will offer you an instant brief. If you decide to use the brief, all you have to do is use it. If you don't want to use it, you simply ignore it. Again, when I have used it, it's been absolutely amazing. The problem I have with it is it offers briefs I would never choose myself, outlines that could possibly be a word part, for example, or very difficult to physically maneuver your fingers around. I would love to see an option that I could tweak this feature to my personal preferences. In other words, I would like to be able to define the types of briefs it offers.

Well, ask and you shall receive :o). In a recent development version,, Jeremy has incorporated a feature that allows the user to create rules that Autobrief must follow before offering briefs. This feature is so new that I have had very limited time to play with it, but it looks like with some tweaking, I may be able to turn this feature on in the near future! Depending on how comfortable one is with artificial intelligence, some captioners may not choose to use these features. I have tested them off-air and used them on-air. They are both incredible features.

Customized Font Colors

Customized Font Colors

AccuCap:  Names

AccuCap: Names

In conclusion, as a captioning trainer, I have seen the features and limitations of some of the other captioning software on the market. I work with captioners who do not have scripting capability. I am amazed that you cannot choose the layout of your windows on the screen in Stenograph's BCS (Broadcast Captioning Suite). I have used Eclipse AccuCap for nearly a decade, and I cannot imagine using any other software to caption with. I truly believe it is superior to all others that exist at this time. And if you were counting the "E!s" above, you may be surprised that there were 19 features exclusive to Eclipse AccuCap. And those are the only ones I know about!

Jennifer M. Bonfilio, RMR-CBC-CCP, is a broadcast captioner. She trains court reporters transitioning into captioning, and she is also a Certified Eclipse AccuCap Trainer. Jennifer can be reached at captions@optonline.net.