"Facing Columns"

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jb
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"Facing Columns"

Post by jb » 2015-03-21 07:17:06

For quite a while I have wanted to be able to make documents with two columns, each of which would continus onto the following page while remaining separate from the other. Let me call such a setup "facing columns"—like facing pages but all on one page. This would be enormously helpful for working on and for producing things like bilingual texts, or texts with commentary. I haven't found a way to do this.

Before giving up entirely, I thought I should ask here:
Is there any way to achieve this with Nisus?
I'm hoping—but doubting—either that I'm overlooking something obvious or that a magic macro could produce an acceptable workaround.

And if Nisus can't do this, is there anything that can?
I know next-to-nothing about other wordprocessors.

Thanks

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phspaelti
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by phspaelti » 2015-03-21 07:58:06

This would certainly be a great feature, if Nisus could add this some day. It would certainly set Nisus apart.

As for possible workarounds; the main things that one would want are (a) the ability to flow content from one page to the next (and to the correct column on the next page) and (b) the ability to align the content in the two columns. So here are the possibilities:

(1) Interspersed columns. Write one column - add a column break - add the other column - add a page break, etc. This would perform poorly on both (a) and (b). And maintenance would be a nightmare. Macros would be of little use. This is probably best avoided.

(2) (Multi-page) Tables. This would work well for criterion (b), but one could not flow content from one page to the next, and in fact it might leave big spaces on certain pages. I also wonder how well this would work for long documents, though I believe some people have praised Nisus' handling of multi-page tables. This is probably the best approach for things like bilingual text.

(3) Have one (or both) columns in the form of textboxes. This would allow flowing content from one page to the next, but aligning content in the two columns, might be more difficult. In this case too there is an issue about how well this would work for very long documents. I had a recent experience with output from OCR software, which put all the text into textboxes for a 70+ page document! Nisus did not handle this so well. It might be possible to write a macro to place text from one document into textboxes, so that one would not actually have to write the text in the textboxes directly (which would be awful.)

I am not aware of any software that can do this. Certainly none of the standard 'word processors'.
philip

jb
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by jb » 2015-03-21 08:16:03

Thanks very much, Philip.

Some ideas here I haven't tried, but I won't get too excited just yet.

In the meantime I discovered that I didn't invent the term which seems to mean that some software can do this. I guess Latex can do such things, but that might be geared toward layout and rather unpleasant for writing.
Of course I don't want to lose Nisus' many superior features...

I'll have a look at using tables.

Cheers,
jb

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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by NisusUser » 2015-03-21 08:37:31

[quote="jb"]For quite a while I have wanted to be able to make documents with two columns, each of which would continus onto the following page while remaining separate from the other. Let me call such a setup "facing columns"—like facing pages but all on one page. This would be enormously helpful for working on and for producing things like bilingual texts, or texts with commentary. I haven't found a way to do this./quote]

This would be an absolutely wonderful feature! I'm still amazed that no word processor that I know of can do this. I think the demand for this would be amazing. Also, with NWP being so multi-lingual, it just makes sense. I would put this request right up there with being able to type in words so they print out on a paper.

By the way, I think it would be great if one could set it so paragraphs in side-by-side columns started on the same line (or have a setting for that).

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phspaelti
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by phspaelti » 2015-03-21 09:03:00

jb wrote:In the meantime I discovered that I didn't invent the term which seems to mean that some software can do this. I guess Latex can do such things, but that might be geared toward layout and rather unpleasant for writing.
Of course LaTeX could do something like this. Actually I doubt it really is unpleasant, since I would assume the user inputs the text in the form of alternating paragraphs (Language A, Language B, Language A, …). The macro package will then layout the whole thing in parallel.
You could do the same in Nisus: have two styles Language A and Language B which each have the other as following style. You could then have a macro remove the Language B paragraphs and place them either in table cells next to the Language A paragraphs, or into text boxes.
NisusUser wrote:This would be an absolutely wonderful feature! I'm still amazed that no word processor that I know of can do this. I think the demand for this would be amazing.
I agree that this would a great feature, but I'm not really surprised that no word processor can do it. The kind of mechanism needed to handle this is simply not very compatible with the WYSIWYG approach, or it just ends up being the same as tables, which they already have.

Still I could imagine a nice implementation in Nisus where there were only two text objects for the two columns (rather than one for each cell in a table), and where the parallelism between the two objects were handled by some kind of 'text break' they was always inserted in both text objects simultaneously.
philip

jb
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by jb » 2015-03-21 09:24:19

phspaelti wrote: Of course LaTeX could do something like this. Actually I doubt it really is unpleasant, since I would assume the user inputs the text in the form of alternating paragraphs (Language A, Language B, Language A, …). The macro package will then layout the whole thing in parallel.
You could do the same in Nisus: have two styles Language A and Language B which each have the other as following style. You could then have a macro remove the Language B paragraphs and place them either in table cells next to the Language A paragraphs, or into text boxes....
That wouldn't be an improvement for me since it's the WYSIWYG that I want. I want to be able to see the two texts side-by-side.
As you say, Nisus could do something like this.
phspaelti wrote: Still I could imagine a nice implementation in Nisus where there were only two text objects for the two columns (rather than one for each cell in a table), and where the parallelism between the two objects were handled by some kind of 'text break' they was always inserted in both text objects simultaneously.
Sounds good!

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Elbrecht
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by Elbrecht » 2015-03-21 13:19:28

Hi -

to me this feature request sounds like a screenplay feature - did you check Final Draft/Movie Draft/Slugline, to name just the ones listed under "Apps for Writers" in the App Store.

HE

PS: Nisus Writer is NOT listed there for some reason…

EDIT: the terminus technicus seems to be "Two Column AV Script (Software)" I found out years ago - Google and especially view the Pictures concerned. There is an OpenOffice template for this Audio/Video columns feature: http://extensions.openoffice.org/en/pro ... g-template just to see, how to…

This - done in a more general way - would truely be a great feature for Nisus!
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exegete77
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by exegete77 » 2015-03-21 14:49:25

Once Pages 5 changed the ability to handle more complex aspect of page payout, I searched and found iCalamus. Initially I had some problems, but with the help of the staff, I finally have it working quite well.

The reason I mention this what I found on this page. iCalamus for Bi-lingual book. Perhaps this will help someone try to achieve this.
iMac 21.5” / MBP 13” Retina
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MacSailor
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by MacSailor » 2015-03-21 23:28:30

phspaelti wrote: I am not aware of any software that can do this. Certainly none of the standard 'word processors'.
If I recall correctly, the old Mac version of WordPerfect managed to do this quite well, but that's history now. Hope Nisus will be able to do parallel columns in the next version.
Peter Edwardsson
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phspaelti
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by phspaelti » 2015-03-21 23:30:30

Elbrecht wrote:There is an OpenOffice template for this Audio/Video columns feature: http://extensions.openoffice.org/en/pro ... g-template just to see, how to…
That template just consists of a two column table. Nisus can do that too.

I just did a quick test. I turned a 20 page document into a two column table. Nisus handles this pretty well. but there are a number of things that will make it unsuitable for the purpose.
  • As already mentioned, there is no real text flow. A cell row that fits on the page will be included, but if it is too big it will move to the next page, leaving a large space.
  • A cell containing too much text to fit on a page will simply "swallow" the extra text (It will run into an invisible area).
  • There are no footnotes in Nisus Tables (This is a failing that Nisus needs to fix. But even if Nisus allowed footnotes, where would they go? If they go at the end of the table, they would effectively be endnotes.)
  • Floating graphics behave erratically, and do not let text flow around the graphic. (Cell rows are flowed around the graphic.)
philip

jb
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by jb » 2015-03-26 05:50:20

Thanks to all for these helpful replies.
Elbrecht wrote: to me this feature request sounds like a screenplay feature
afaict, these softwares don't offer WYSIWYG. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

exegete77 wrote: I searched and found iCalamus. . iCalamus for Bi-lingual book. Perhaps this will help someone try to achieve this.
Thanks for the tip. iCalamus can do either facing pages or facing columns.* So this offers some promise. Demo is limited to two pages, so a bit hard to get a feel for what it would be like in the real world, but perhaps worth exploring.
Of course, for word processing it's a far cry from Nisus—it's really a layout program.

I guess a good solution remains elusive.

*Edit: iCalamus columns don't seem to be able to operate independently, but one can use two "text frames" on a page and these do seem to operate independently. I say "seems" because I just poked at it for a moment or two.
Last edited by jb on 2015-03-26 11:11:38, edited 1 time in total.

Vanceone
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by Vanceone » 2015-03-26 09:37:11

And here is an example of where it would make sense for Nisus to be a Linkback provider.... according to the website, iCalamus accepts Linkback! So you could write and edit your text in Nisus, and link back would update it in iCalamus.

To handle the situation in this thread, you could have two documents in Nisus; one for each column, and just edit both in Nisus and let iCalamus handle the layout. That's really the primary use case for Nisus to be a Linkback provider is to push text to some other layout program. I'm thinking of something like Canvas or Illustrator too, where it would be nice to edit the story as one whole entity but let a layout program break it up into several pieces over different pages, for instance.

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greenmorpher
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by greenmorpher » 2015-03-26 15:51:29

Vanceone wrote:And here is an example of where it would make sense for Nisus to be a Linkback provider.... according to the website, iCalamus accepts Linkback! So you could write and edit your text in Nisus, and link back would update it in iCalamus.

To handle the situation in this thread, you could have two documents in Nisus; one for each column, and just edit both in Nisus and let iCalamus handle the layout. That's really the primary use case for Nisus to be a Linkback provider is to push text to some other layout program. I'm thinking of something like Canvas or Illustrator too, where it would be nice to edit the story as one whole entity but let a layout program break it up into several pieces over different pages, for instance.
A brand new Mac version of Canvas with the latest whatevers is bruited as being released soon -- this year (they talk about Spring, but hey, let’s give them some latitude -- or perhaps it is longitude they need :)) -- after an 8 year break of Canvas development. What capabilities will it offer? We will see. They are saying a lot, but whether this means its DTP capabilities will be fully developed, I don’t know.

OMG -- I might have to shift from X.6.8 to run it! That will be a shock to my personal system! On the upside, then I can join the rest of you chortling over NWP2.1. :)

Cheers, Geoff

Vanceone
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by Vanceone » 2015-03-26 17:43:52

I know, I've heard the rumors of a new Canvas as well. Even if it's just Canvas X brought back to life, that's still better than anything else out there. And I'd love to link Nisus and Canvas together, just as in the old days with publish and subscribe!

kkatzmar
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Re: "Facing Columns"

Post by kkatzmar » 2015-06-12 17:00:43

Corel's WordPerfect, which i used for decades before switching to Mac and Nisus, does this beautifully. Its "subdivide page" feature will allow you to do do exactly what you seem to want, unless I'm misunderstanding you. I have used the the "subdivide page" feature to do many booklets and pamphlets in two languages . It will also do parallel (as opposed to "newspaper" )columns, in which the text will flow from one page to the next in parallel with the opposite column.

Of course, what WordPerfect will not do is work in Mac OS. Maybe our Nisus guys can figure out how WP does it. I'm perfectly happy with Nisus, but have not put it through the paces that I put WordPerfect through. .

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