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Joined: 2004-09-11 12:05:03

Return to the fold

Post by rallx » 2004-09-11 12:27:56

Hi all,

In MacOS 9, I used NisusWriter extensively and was a beta tester for several version. With a shift to OS X and needing functionality that NWE didn't offer, I switched mostly to Word, though the experience was painful. Now, with the release of v. 2.0 I'm back, at least part time. I'm really pleased to see how NWE has evolved in v. 2 and thrilled to have back the old familiar PowerFind. For that alone, I re-licensed the program! I thought I would post my my first impressions, mostly bugs and quirks. This by no means is to say that I'm unhappy with the program, but...

**Problems with Style Sheets**

Relationship between paragraph styles and rulers in style sheet is unclear—In the style sheet, the ruler does not represent the physical page, but apparently is used to specify relative offsets from the document margins. This is somewhat confusing for the left hand margin: in the style sheet zero on the ruler is at 1 inch — or whatever the left page margin is set to. But, this is particularly confusing for the right hand line wrap indicator. On the style sheet, this is set to 9 inches and if you change it to, say, 6.5 inches the relative offset from the left margin becomes large and your line wraps in the middle of the page — very counter intuitive!

Meanwhile, setting tab stops give inconsistent results in the style sheets: they are apparently pegged just to the left hand margin so that I can set a right hand tab stop at at 6.5 inches and one will appear (usually) at 7.5 inches on the physical page (again assuming a 1 inch left margin). Except... tab stops set in the style sheet for a particular style do not reliably appear when the style is applied to real text on the page. I have repeatedly tried to set a centered tab stop at 4.25 inches on the physical page (3.25 inches on the ruler in the style sheet for a 1 inch margin), but more often than not, the style completely forgets this setting. If I set this in the Nisus New File template, shut down Nisus, and reopen the program with a new document, the style sheet does not show the centered tab ruler.

**Other bugs/quirks**

After starting a new paragraph, but prior to typing anything, the cursor position still shows the setting for the old paragraph. This is very disconcerting. For example, I have a header, which is left justified, that is followed by body text that has a half inch indent. I type the header, press return and choose body text style but the cursor remains at the left margin until I start typing. This behavior has caused me to go to the styles palette any number of times to re-select the body style with the indent.

I see that the Symbol font and the difficulty with which one has to type greek characters has already been hashed over in the forums here. While I realize that this seems to be Apple's fault, it would be really nice if NWE could provide us technical writers with some easy shortcut to Greek Characters. Even a menu link or macro to the Character palette would be useful although even that gets old when typing a manuscript with hundreds of appearances of Greek characters. How about a special NWE palette that would go in the drawer and from which one could simply click and insert the character they wanted?

I tried to save a 3 page document with a table (spanning pages) as html. Nisus thrashed and thrashed and eventually quit. Running in the background however, was “Abiconverter” which continued to thrash the disk until I forced it to quit with Activity Monitor.

**Interface Comments**

Overall, I like the interface a lot--it is clean, simple, and attractive. But... The light gray page guides plot visibly beyond the margins of the document, especially at the 128% or greater magnification that is so useful on todays large monitors. This is confusing: what, exactly are the page guides supposed to represent?

The icons in the tool bar could be made considerably smaller, thus saving screen real-estate.

I miss the vertical page ruler. It was very useful for printing on forms, setting up templates to print on envelopes, etc.

The style palette is critical and will be very frequently used, so it should be designed for as little scrolling as possible. It could be made more efficient so as to show more styles in any given area by re-arranging the two icons for paragraph style and justification. Their current position, one on top of the other, make the cell for each style taller than it needs to be, requiring more scrolling.

**Hoped for future enhancements**

Autonumbering as in NW6.5 (please don’t ever do anything as screwed up as in Word!)

Graphics placement on page with text wrapping around the graphic. Don’t bother with “Graphic moves with paragraph” functionality, at least to begin with as that always seems to screw up.

Table of contents and indexing (the former is much more important than the latter).

Ability to work more easily with MathType and EndNote.

Long document creation/management — this may be outside the realm of your plans/interest, but I have >300 pages of course notes in 30+ separate lectures that need to be updated and handed out to students every year. It would be nice at least to have page numbering maintained automatically...

Small Caps style. Very useful for titles.

Thanks to the NWE people for all their hard work on this version!


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