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Lists or Outlines 
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Joined: 2007-03-27 15:30:36
Posts: 4
I have been following the various mac wps out there for a few years as we struggle to find an effective replacement for our workhorse of the past decade: AppleWorks.

We have very specific and niche word processing needs. We write plenty of general correspondence and various kinds of reports and all the wps that we have tested work fine with these. Our problem documents are architectural specifications. These are highly structured "outlined" documents. A single spec might have 30 or so individual sections, each one a different file.

So, what is the problem? For years we used AppleWorks. With whatever limitations it had it came with a unique feature: an outline style. The difference between this outline style and the common list style is that the outline style was independent of any paragraph style. In fact you could use an outline style to structure any document without ever using bullets or numbers. It worked differently than word's outline mode as well.

The beauty of it was that highly structured documents like these specifications were a snap to format and keep ordered. If you changed the level of an item it already had all the paragraph info assigned - no need to keep track of two different styles for each level. You could also change the look of all 30 sections by quickly importing a new outline style definition (although they broke this in v6 and never fixed it). We also used outline styles for structuring reports and field reports.

Right now we struggle along with Pages. Pages' implementation of outlines is so broken it makes me ill. Mellel is just geared elsewhere. NeoOffice is the same as Pages and Nisus - you need to have a list style backed up with a paragraph style.

It is hard to believe that as we march down the path of software progress the best word processing offerings we have still don't even match up with lowly AppleWorks, much less the legends of the past like Word Perfect, Full Write Pro, Write Now, and Mac Write Pro. We make progress in some areas but lose functionality elsewhere. Not just functionality, but even the basic know-how.

I like Nisus. Compared to Pages it is extremely nimble and I like the feel of the application. There is one killer feature that has kept Pages in our office and that is the templating system. The placeholder text is great when you are trying to have 14 people create documents that all look like they come from the same office. Even with the templating system I would switch us over to Nisus in a heartbeat if I could get a list style to behave like AW's outline style. It would make my day to even have someone know what I was talking about as when I discussed this feature at MacWorld with a Pages developer on the floor I got an extremely blank look.

This is a plea to Nisus disguised as a rant, BTW.


2007-03-27 16:14:09
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Joined: 2006-10-13 11:26:49
Posts: 64
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have you ever tried "Omnioutliner" by Omnigroup?
Sounds like it's the thing you need. Needs some time to get into it. I tried it, but for me, it's to specific.
You get the trial here: http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnioutliner/


2007-03-28 05:00:42
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Joined: 2007-03-27 15:30:36
Posts: 4
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Sure I have. Great program. The problem is that while it is a great outliner it is not a great word processor. Headers, footers, output, paragraph formatting, etc. is not what it was designed for. I have not tried OO Pro and the named styles feature sounds like it might help, but the OO is not really a viable substitute, especially since it means yet another application that has to be deployed and everyone has to be trained on. Thanks for the reply though.


2007-03-28 11:42:39
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Joined: 2006-09-13 17:42:08
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
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aersloat--I share your grief, but I haven't found any suitable substitute for the type of outlining in appleworks. I sure wish something comparable (modernized) was available that would read/convert those AW files!

I've got scads of documents--things like lecture notes--that I still go back to AW for.


2007-04-09 15:06:32
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Joined: 2006-12-08 00:46:44
Posts: 417
Location: London or Exeter, UK
aersloat wrote:
We have very specific and niche word processing needs. We write plenty of general correspondence and various kinds of reports and all the wps that we have tested work fine with these. Our problem documents are architectural specifications. These are highly structured "outlined" documents. A single spec might have 30 or so individual sections, each one a different file.

So, what is the problem? For years we used AppleWorks. With whatever limitations it had it came with a unique feature: an outline style. The difference between this outline style and the common list style is that the outline style was independent of any paragraph style. In fact you could use an outline style to structure any document without ever using bullets or numbers. It worked differently than word's outline mode as well.

You might think this a peculiar suggestion for you as a possible interim solution -- with due apologies to Nisus while waiting for NWP/NWE to provide full outlining capacities -- but take a look at Scrivener (http://www.literatureandlatte.com/). It provides outlining into as many sections as you want as long or as short as you want, with the benefit of the outline being an active document that can also be viewed/edited/printed/exported as a continuous whole. You also have synopses, notes, keywords, split screen capable of handling graphic/audio/video ...
Yes, it was designed as a writing environment for fiction, but it's being used for a huge range of purposes; you may just find you can adapt it to yours.
Disclaimer: Apart from being a very satisfied user (editing translations), I have no connection with the programmer.

Mark


2007-04-10 02:31:10
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Joined: 2007-03-27 15:30:36
Posts: 4
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I'll check it out. Thanks.


2007-04-10 09:48:52
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