Nisus versus the future

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-dp-
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Nisus versus the future

Post by -dp- » 2009-09-21 18:41:20

I have a friend who has about 4,000 files in the defunct PageMaker format. Adobe's approved upgrade path is to InDesign. She doesn't like InDesign, and finds that her files still get mangled in transition. Even if the conversion utility worked perfectly, she would still have to touch 4,000 files unless she could find a way to batch process them. I plan to produce a large number of files over the next few years, and am in the process of choosing my tools. My friend's plight has made me sensitive to the survivability issue, to the extent that I'm considering using plain text with Markdown or MultiMarkdown, even though I would find that very tedious for detailed academic writing. I would be interested in insights from those of you who have generated hundreds or thousands of Nisus files. Does the fact that they are RTF satisfy you of their longevity, or do you have an exit plan?

Thanks,
-dp-

Ruchama
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by Ruchama » 2009-09-22 07:24:56

I think trying to assume that any standard will last forever is not wise.. RTF may be obsolete in just a few years. as someone who has been working with academic text files on mac since the mid-eighties, I must say the the problem of your friend is so very familiar..
on the other hand, limiting yourself to a tedious way of working is, in my view, also wrong. In the end, there is always a way to convert your files, at some price.
sticking to the more common software will probably increase your chances to easy conversion, if needed. but the more common software is not always the best. this is something to consider carefully.
good luck

-dp-
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by -dp- » 2009-09-22 14:12:07

Thank you for the reply. In my friend's case, the expense will be time, as she exports every file into some other format, then corrects all of the things that got lost in translation. My perception is that she doesn't have that much time, and will end up doing triage. To refine my question a bit, as I'm comparing writing environments (currently Scrivener, Mellel, NWP, and Pages), one of the issues I'm trying to weigh is survivability. No format is certain. But how does NWP measure up?

-dp-

drlaz
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by drlaz » 2009-09-22 19:29:36

RTF was a Microsoft standard. I don't think it's going away.

Ruchama
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by Ruchama » 2009-09-22 20:01:54

doc was Microsoft standard as well..

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greenmorpher
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by greenmorpher » 2009-09-22 20:02:40

Hiya dp

NWP fronts up as fine for the future, being in RTF format. In fact, RTF has been around for a long, long time. It has been upgraded, but the previous format could be read by the new. The new was basically the old with some more stuff stuck on top of it.

You won't find a better format for longevity in my view. MS changes its .doc format from time to time, but that's marketing -- they want to force people up the ladder (they even refused to supply a translator between the new form and their own old formats back in the 90s until a court ordered them to do so) and to make it difficult for people to communicate with them.

Nisus, being small, has gone for one of the most solid, most interchangeable formats -- the opposite direction -- because it wants its customers to be able to interchange with the maximum number of bigger players for the longest possible time.

As for PageMaker -- I'm an old PageMaker hand myself (v.1-v.7) who hasn't upgraded to InDesign despite the fact that I'm now on an intel Mac and PM won't run any longer. I believe it CAN, though, using Sheepshaver. I haven't tried it and I won't -- my DTP is more limited and spealised now and I do it all on Canvas X -- an integrated graphics program which is ALSO a legacy product on Mac, but at least it is Carbon and can run on OS X.

If you friend is on PC, she can continue to use PageMaker 7 -- Adobe still sells it, there are tens of thousands of users around the small publishing world, and I still sell an occasional copy of "Publication Production with PageMaker 7" by Gordon Woolf, a PM guru. In fact, just before I came to look at this forum, I was getting quotes for instant printing of another 50 copies. So PageMaker is still alive in the PC world.

Another possibility, if your friend is a Mac user, is to either run Windows on her Mac and run PageMaker on that, or to get a Windows machine just for PageMaker work. It doesn't have to be the latest or greatest; PageMaker doesn't demand that much in terms of computing power.

And then there is the switch to InDesign. An old Aldus engineer, Ole Kvern, now works for Adobe and he developed the PageMaker-like elements available with the latest InDesign version to make the switch easier. Ole is a bloke who is a user himself and is in touch with users -- he was the author of the "Real World Freehand" series and DTPed them in FREEHAND (talk about putting your money where your mouth is -- we're talking 864 pages in that book). Also, "Real World InDesign (before he succumbed to being hired by Adobe so he could eat more regularly.)

I know him as a long term participant in the PageMakr (sic) email forum, a great contributor, and a resolute advocate of unwooded chardonnay (he convinced me!). Your friend can find that forum at http://www.makingpages.org. Some of its members still use PageMaker, most have switched to InDesign. They can give serious help on conversion and acclimatisation questions -- they have been there and done it or are doing it. And they are PageMaker and InDesign experts. (Gordon Woolf, mentioned above, is one of the Listmoms.)

The thing is -- so long as she is on Mac, about the only way forward is with InDesign. Quark Xpress is there, but it is further from PageMaker than is InDesign -- which has taken a significant turn back from the dark side with Ole's input. On PC, there are a couple of excellent smaller publishers, one very PageMaker-like, at very reasonable prices. Can't remember the name(s), but it's easy to find them. Oh -- on Mac, Ready,Set,Go! is still around but it really doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

The other possibility at present is Pages. The question is -- will Apple develop it so it becomes a full-on, professional DTP program? I suspect they might -- at least low-end professional -- but I wouldn't like to bet my buttons on it.

Given the current upgrade price from PageMaker to InDesign with the PM-like extras, going to anything else really is an extravagance. I'm even thinking of upgrading myself, just to have it on hand.

But do suggest to your friend that she get on to the PageMakr list and talk about it there. She will find herself among friends.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard
Publisher, Editor, Business Writer
The Worsley Press

Get "Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes?" to deliver your words with real zing; and "How to Start and Produce a Magazine or Newsletter" to learn to step safely in the publishing minefield. Amazon or http://www.worsleypress.com

Kino
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by Kino » 2009-09-23 08:41:09

No format is certain. But how does NWP measure up?
It is just because “No format is certain” that you should choose Nisus Writer Pro.

As you see, Open Offic XML (odt) is available in Nisus Writer Pro’s Export dialog. This means that you can convert your NWP documents into the wide variety of OO’s save as/export formats via OO and they are extensible.
http://extensions.services.openoffice.org/
For example, you can convert them into LaTeX using Writer2LaTeX filters.
http://writer2latex.sourceforge.net/

Perhaps there may be NWP’s original features which would be lost in the conversion process. However, Nisus Writer Pro has a very strong macro language whch most likely would enable you to convert such features into an intermediate format, e.g. special tags, which will help you much in restoring the original status of your documents.

But why are you so pessimistic? ;-) I can imagine a future in which all computers stop working but, for the time being, I don’t spend my time in thinking it over. If all computers will really stop working, then, I will have enough time to think over that problem, I’m pretty sure ;-)

-dp-
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by -dp- » 2009-09-23 09:38:29

Thanks for all of the helpful replies. I'll pass those regarding PageMaker along to my friend.

I'm pessimistic partially because of my friend's experience (which is not unique), and partially because I don't trust Microsoft. I had some fairly serious conversion issues migrating between different versions of Word a few years back. The fact that they control RTF makes me twitchy.

I have noticed that NWP documents opened in other apps (Pages, TextEdit, Mellel) tend to survive with minimal damage, which is encouraging, and probably speaks to the current ubiquity of RTF. Good point also about OO XML export. I'm wondering, though, if apps that use XML as their default format (Mellel) could not also be opened fluidly in OO. (I haven't tried it, yet.)

The macro comment is especially interesting. Can macros be run a batch process? I.e., if my situation were analogous to my friend's, but NWP were the defunct app, and I had discovered things that needed to be changed in order to convert fluidly into New App X, is there a way to apply those changes to every NWP file on a volume?

Thanks for the help.
dp

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greenmorpher
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by greenmorpher » 2009-09-23 14:14:36

Hi dp

Check "rtf format" on Wikipedia. Microsoft has said it won't develop RTF further to keep up with the format/feature changes in its own documents, so they will diverge. However, the RTF that is out there is out there and it won't be lost. NWP is fine.

The other thing that has to be kept in mind by us all, of course, is that we are spoiled rotten. AS few thousand files to convert fr9omj one format to another? Good grief, 30 years ago you had HARD COPY ONLY, you started every publication from scratch. In fact, having many, many files to convert is not as bad as it seems. It is the same process as eating a whale -- do it one bite at a time (only don't do it, I would prefer).

You just convert the the file you are about to work on. After a while, you develop all sorts of tricks and stuff and conversion is not the problem it seemed to be at first.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard
The Ad Doctor Online

Win business with the recession-busting "How to make great ads for (sm)all business: 99 real world advertising ideas to kickstart *your* business today". See http://www.worsleypress.com

capvideo
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by capvideo » 2009-09-23 14:25:12

Macros definitely can be run in a "batch". Ones that themselves only call menus should be a snap.

Nisus macros can be called by Applescript. AppleScripts can be drag-and-drop. So making an AppleScript that took every file dropped on it and ran a Macro on each file would be simple.

Finding every file on the volume that was created by Nisus also sounds doable, but I don't know if its scriptable. Even if it isn't, though, it should be possible to do a spotlight search for every file created by Nisus, and then drag-and-drop them to the AppleScript conversion script.

I'm working on something similar right now to automatically convert Nisus documents to PDF and HTML. I'm actually using Python and appscript, but I'm using AppleScript for the initial testing (and then ASTranslate to convert the AppleScript calls into Python-appscript calls).

Macros in Nisus--at least the simple ones you're talking about--are very easy. It's literally a matter of just typing a series of menu items in a file and saving that file in Nisus's macro folder.

Menu “Page View”
Set Zoom 131
Menu “Zoom”

(This zooms the page to exactly the size of a sheet of paper on my computer screen.)

Jerry

Geoff: You had hard copy? We had everything written in stone! Our xerox machines used wet clay and it took several days for the copies to harden! And we loved it!

-dp-
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by -dp- » 2009-09-23 15:47:43

Hi, Geoff. Whale I agree that it would be manageable to digest each file as needed, the hardware upgrades surface at the most inconvenient times, swamping the whole project by requiring a simultaneous upgrade to software that can't swallow the old format. My PageMaker friend is facing an urgency driven by hardware as much as software. How ironic your reminiscence about hard copy, the one format guaranteed to be human-readable 100 years from now.

Jerry, the potential of the macros is enticing, not only for this, but for a variety of projects. I know nothing about Perl, but am starting to work through that section of the manual. This is an area where NWP definitely seems well ahead of the competition.

Thanks for the helpful feedback. It makes me a bit more sanguine about using Nisus as my main tool.

dp

Kino
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by Kino » 2009-09-23 18:06:38

-dp- wrote:Can macros be run a batch process?
Yes, the macro I posted here works on all files in a given folder.
http://www.nisus.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=15981#p15981
capvideo wrote:Finding every file on the volume that was created by Nisus also sounds doable, but I don't know if its scriptable.
If you really need to do so, you can call /usr/bin/find in a Perl block to find, for example, all RTF files in the hard drive(s). Then, you can use File.infoAtPath to check for the file creator.

Ruchama
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by Ruchama » 2009-09-23 23:52:49

Just keep in mind that there is no rose garden promised in the end of this process. Eventually, you will have to upgrade, either your word processor, or your system (or both..) and you will certainly have conversion problems. NWP is no exception, I know from my own experience. as much as I like nisus software, and its support, conversion problems take a (long) while to get fixed. just read a few posts below on yet another problem. Naturally, if you know the origin of the problem, you could write and use macros, perl scripts and what ever. but what if conversion problems are not well understood or a system dependent etc etc.. you will have to spend a lot of time to clarify facts before knowing what to do.

My advice to you is stick to mac, since the stability of your machine and systems will enable you to choose the right (?) time to upgrade, while maybe staying behind in technology, but with a running setup.

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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by greenmorpher » 2009-09-24 14:38:01

Jerry wrote:
Geoff: You had hard copy? We had everything written in stone! Our xerox machines used wet clay and it took several days for the copies to harden! And we loved it!
And on such foundations, Adobe grew!!!

At that time, I was also building an adobe house at 2 Heard Avenue, Plenty, Vic,Australia (you can see it on Google Earth). You're right, waiting for those tablets to harden was the devil; getting the measure of straw in them you needed to act as reinforcement was another difficulty.

-dp- I'm sorry, I simply don't see the problem with moving the files to the latest Mac and OS. As I said, your friend can u8se Windows in Parallels of Fusion and switch to Windows PageMaker -- limited file conversion needed -- or switch to InDesign witrh the PageMaker friendly stuff in place, and simply convert files one at a time when they have to be worked on. There is no barrier to copying the PM files into the new hardware/OS X environment.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard
The Ad Doctor Online

Win business with the recession-busting "How to make great ads for (sm)all business: 99 real world advertising ideas to kickstart *your* business today". See http://www.worsleypress.com

MBP
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Re: Nisus versus the future

Post by MBP » 2009-09-25 14:37:18

Greetings! new to the forum. Maybe the wrong place to ask this - but I too have been torn and confused between saving as rtf and odt. I was told after using rtf that odt was the new standard and the upcoming major across the board format - so I switched everything to odt. Now I am unsure as to what is best and why and why not? The odt was used in an open office type of application; but the App is cumbersome and burdened and I do not need all of the various entities. That is why I am very interested in Nisus writer pro. Thank you for any useful comments and insights.
p.s. the term was bloated and not burdened.

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