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Word Interoperability 
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Joined: 2007-07-06 15:04:37
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I work in a mixed Mac/PC office where Word is the de facto standard. I would love to move to Nisus Writer Pro. Can anyone tell me how it compares to Word, feature-wise? How is it for Word compatibility? I need 100% perfect interoperability with Word to have any chance to change over.


2007-07-06 15:12:34
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Joined: 2007-07-06 15:04:37
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Also, yes, I know there is a free trial. I plan to try it, but I still wanted feedback. ;)


2007-07-06 15:17:44
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Joined: 2006-03-12 12:32:47
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I send Nisus' native RTF documents to Word Windows users, and they never even notice they are in RTF format instead of DOC.

Importing from Word to NWP is trickier; it depends on the complexity of the formatting in Word. You'll have to experiment with opening in NWP some of the more complex documents used in your office.


2007-07-06 16:33:58
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I have one tip: you'll always get better results by saving a document in Word as an RTF file instead of a ".doc" file. The latter format must go through a conversion process before NWP opens it, which is error prone and handled by our 3rd party ".doc" converter.


2007-07-06 16:45:16
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MacAddict4Life wrote:
I need 100% perfect interoperability with Word to have any chance to change over.


You're not going to get that, Addo. :drunk: Download the demo and and look for missing graphics for starters. NeoOffice does a much better translation job. I use that for opening different word files. Going the other way is less of a problem ... I think.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

"Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes" -- Revealed! The secrets of how you can use type and layout to turbocharge your messages in print. See the book at http://www.worsleypress.com


2007-07-06 18:14:28
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NWP does a pretty good job with Word documents.

Even Word isn't 100% interoperable with Word: different versions, different OSes, or just different fonts can all result in missing charcters, different pagination etc.

One missing feature that would cause you problems if you rely on it is commenting/track changes.


2007-07-07 02:21:08
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greenmorpher wrote:
You're not going to get that, Addo. :drunk: Download the demo and and look for missing graphics for starters. NeoOffice does a much better translation job. I use that for opening different word files. Going the other way is less of a problem ... I think.


If an open-source app like NeoOffice does a much better translation job, then surely NWP, which is a *commercial* app, can be improved? I was dismayed to find that relatively simple formatting in a Word doc involving tabs wasn't completely preserved in NWP 1.0.


2007-07-07 05:46:53
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sorry, but i think we should not overstress this discussion. Nisus decided to go the right way with the decision to use a well documented standard, which guarantees compatability between platforms.

Words doc format is a proprietary format. So noone will ever get nearer to word than ... word. if someone needs a 100% doc-compatability he/she has to use the m$ software. Btw. everyone who mentions that word x isn't 100% compatible to word y is right. But working with coleric bosses makes it much easier to say that when a text (which went through different machines) looks like crap: "sorry, boss, it's a m$-issue" than the other option which inevitably leads to situations like that (the boss speaking:) "where is the f...g guy with this ... text editor? lynch him, he messed this up!"

If you work with some real "experts" who type everything in this silly word text frames (this things with the anchors) or pepole who love "word art" and want you to do text corrections -- use word. If the people want doc-files from you with some special word-features -- use word. Every time you are obliged to the "original look" of a file, you are bound to word. If you work with people who do plain writing in word and do not care if they get texts from you in rtf -- use nisus.


2007-07-07 08:40:20
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thf wrote:
sorry, but i think we should not overstress this discussion. Nisus decided to go the right way with the decision to use a well documented standard, which guarantees compatability between platforms.


It appears that you are contradicting yourself. If I export a file from Word as rtf, and that file doesn't include any special (i.e. Word-specific features), then NWP should read the file correctly because, as you state, rtf is a "well documented standard, which guarantees compatibility between platforms."

So either Word isn't implementing rtf as it should, or there are still problems with NWP's implementation of rtf. My guess is that NWP is at fault.

Frankly, although this is a bit off-topic, there should be one standard document format for word processing, just as there is one for document exchange (pdf).


2007-07-07 10:19:27
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Quote:
So either Word isn't implementing rtf as it should, or there are still problems with NWP's implementation of rtf. My guess is that NWP is at fault.


My guess is that it's a bit of both. Rtf is a weird kind of standard, as you might expect, given that it is proprietary and owned by Microsoft. Also they keep changing it, most recently this January to include support for new features in Word 2007. So it is a moving target.
It is absolutely not an ISO standard.

Quote:
Frankly, although this is a bit off-topic, there should be one standard document format for word processing, just as there is one for document exchange (pdf).

The format, Open Document, used by Open Office is an ISO standard. It is not perfect, however, and it is far from being a de facto standard.

Anyway, having one standard wouldn't guarantee that a document looked the same in every word processor, since a) different word processors support the inclusion of different elements in their files (eg Word 'art', tracked changes); and b) variations in fonts, and different layout engines in different WPs make it inevitable that page layout will vary.
If you want something that looks exactly how it was when you produced it, you have to use something like PostScript or pdf.


2007-07-07 10:47:41
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well, i don't think that i am contradicting myself, because I didn't say that nisus is bug-free.
My point was that nisus decided to use a standard which is documented an which allows us to say "this should work this way and that should work that way, because this and that is documented in the rtf-specifications". We have a specification which allows to qualifiy the correctness of cross platform comptablilty.

You are right what you said about standards. I want files which i can open in 5 years without fearing that won't open. (that was my reason for a decision against nisus classic and my decision against microsoft's .doc!)

If there is a compatibility issue you should report it here, so the nisus crew can fix it. If it's against specification it's a bug.


2007-07-07 10:58:46
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nicka wrote:
[Anyway, having one standard wouldn't guarantee that a document looked the same in every word processor, since a) different word processors support the inclusion of different elements in their files (eg Word 'art', tracked changes); and b) variations in fonts, and different layout engines in different WPs make it inevitable that page layout will vary.
If you want something that looks exactly how it was when you produced it, you have to use something like PostScript or pdf.


Well, for the purposes of collaboration on documents, pagination (and even line numbers) really should be the same. Perhaps the people at Nisus should adopt the Open Document standard -- isn't that what Word 2007 embraces?


2007-07-07 12:31:49
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No. Microsoft tries to establish its own standard besides Open Document, but until now they have not been successful. ODF is an ISO certified standard, MS new format does not have ISO certification (AFAIK), but none the less MS tries to supplant ODF instead of contributing to it.


2007-07-07 12:52:31
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odysseus wrote:
It appears that you are contradicting yourself. If I export a file from Word as rtf, and that file doesn't include any special (i.e. Word-specific features), then NWP should read the file correctly because, as you state, rtf is a "well documented standard, which guarantees compatibility between platforms."

So either Word isn't implementing rtf as it should, or there are still problems with NWP's implementation of rtf. My guess is that NWP is at fault.


In all my experiences, Word-to-Nisus-back-to-Word works flawlessly when the file format is RTF. Both apps do a pretty good job of applying the RTF standard. Word's stupid, cuss-worthy, evil and arrogant excuse for a document format, .doc, works all right with the normal writing stuff, but causes all manner of trouble when you're talking about layout, graphics, and all that weird Word cruft some people like.

NWP can't be "100%-interoperable" with Word, also, because they have different feature-sets. Thank goodness. NWP does less, better.

As said before, as well, no app can be 100% Word-interoperable. It's intentionally made impossible.

odysseus wrote:
Frankly, although this is a bit off-topic, there should be one standard document format for word processing, just as there is one for document exchange (pdf).


Some people say that format is Open Document. But I consider a "standard" to be something many users and vendors accept. RTF is that standard. .doc has users (sigh), but only one real vendor. ODF has evangelists, but I've never run across an actual ODF file from anyone, and most of my apps don't use it. Nisus chose RTF knowing its strengths and weaknesses, and probably most importantly its ubiquity.

Also, RTF is treated as the text format of preference by Mac OS X. The Cocoa programming frameworks import and export RTF with almost no effort. This means hundreds of apps you already use support RTF. Ever notice how you can copy and paste from Safari to NWP or TextEdit and keep the styles? Or from Script Editor, and code will keep its syntax coloring?

RTF is not a perfect file format. Nor is it perfectly implemented by Nisus, Apple, or even Microsoft. However, it provides the greatest number of benefits for a non-layout writing app, while still providing compatibility with the widest array of other tools.

As far as Word-compatibility, Nisus gets it pretty close. Certainly good enough for writing.

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2007-07-07 13:17:28
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BACK IN THE "GOOD OLD DAYS" when I was dealing with a lot of text produced by others coming into my office for editing and DTP, I worked in Nisus Writer of various vintages, and kept five means of translating Word files:
-- the import/export filters that came with Apple software, which Nisus used.
-- AppleWorks, which used the same filters but seemed to come up with different results sometimes, presumably because of different feature sets/ways of working, once the Word information had arrived through the filter.
-- MS Word 5.1a, with the translation filters, plus the bulk translator, the courts forced MS to produce when they changed format at Word 97 (I think it was).
-- that ubiquitous translation suite, the name of which escapes me for the moment, which would translate anything from and to anything.
-- Latterly, icWord.

With quite a few Word documents, I could get five different results! I often had to copy different bits from different translations into my NW document, and then run an NW clean up macro on top of that to get rid of the garbage from the Word files.

RTF is a "standard" but the quotes are needed. MS has added its own bits to that "standard", partly because it wanted to go beyond what RTF would do and partly, it would appear, in support of its market position -- it doesn't want its documents to be translated. It wants people paying for and working in Word. So it saves to .doc format as default rather than to .rtf. And if you don't think that's powerful, try persuading your Word using friends and associates to us .rtf as their standard format for saving!

But that aside, there are still problems. Save an RTF out of AppleWorks. NWE/Pro won't open it perfectly -- there will be some odd characters. I understand that "standard RTF" offers four different ways of encoding a carriage return, for example. When you are programming, you make your choices among the alternatives. So even an RTF document needs an import filter into an RTF program!

The new Microsoft format is another "standard" -- XML -- but I have read that MS is at it again -- they have introduced bits of their own to do things they want to do that XML either wouldn't or couldn't (easily) support. They say they have improved it and are trying to get it recognized as a "standard" because a number of governments around the world have legislated or are legislating to have all data in open/standard formats so they cannot be held hostage by a private company holding copyright over their data format and therefore being able to stop them accessing it by withdrawing or refusing to grant license to do so -- or by changing format, as MS did in 1997, then (initially) refusing to supply ready access to the old format through purpose-built translators.

To suggest that NeoOffice, supported by volunteers, cannot or should not be able to produce something better than commercial quality is to not understand business realities. In fact, if you want something done TO PERFECTION, volunteers are often best. Just think about the OpenOffice/NeoOffice project. Great programming brains around the world put in many hours, free, on solving a problem, bouncing off each other, testing each other's work. Even a huge corporation would be hard-pressed to pay for the time, to say nothing of gathering the team. Ordinarily, corporations do not get things perfect. They can't afford to, because the costs increase exponentially the closer you get to 100%. But volunteers can and will go further because they are not constrained by economics.

An example at a lower level is Nisus' recent public beta. How many of us put in voluntary hours on it? I don't know about you, but I used the beta for my work which involved some risk of possible file corruption and data loss, but in addition, I put in time testing stuff which I didn’t happen to be using at the time but which I am interested in because I know I will use it some time.

There is no way that Nisus could come to market at an affordable price for us all if we hadn't put in that voluntary effort to support it. The public beta was like gold for Nisus -- hundreds, perhaps thousands, of users of a wide range of sophistication working in every kind of environment not only running the program in actual work situations, but many actively giving specific features an extended, envelope-pushing workout! Doing stuff and making demands on NW that the handful of people building the program might never have dreamed of. And although Public Beta 1 was a very well behaved program, we STILL came up with lots of bugs, glitches and "not quites" which gave the programmers the information they needed to go that one or two percent further so that now they are right up against their 100% goal ... for THIS version of NWPro.

But if Nisus had had to pay for all that testing, the cost of the project would have been through the roof and the price to cover that might have been uneconomic for lots of us.

To come at this another way in respect of file translation -- I just checked the Panergy site for the latest on icWord. icWord costs US$20. It boasts that it will show you a view of any Word, Powerpoint, AppleWorks or ClarisWorks file with all formatting intact. Pretty good, huh? Yes, but that is not a document you can actually work on. You can "save as" into "your favourite application" or copy and paste stuff -- but that's not to say you are going to get the document you saw in the icWord window, in fact, you are going to get the document + or - some features and errors and whatever because the translation won't be perfect.

So you are paying $20 for an enhanced *import* filter, albeit a very good one (the Panergy guy -- it used to be just one guy when it started -- is pretty damned good). You might be willing to do that because of your particular needs, but for most, it will be overkill or they will have no need at all.

But if that capability were built into Nisus Writer Pro, would we think it was worth an extra $20 on the price? NWPro is US$79 -- would we want to pay US$99 with the only added benefit being some refinement of the import, and only the import, of .doc and .cwk files? And how much more would it cost to get an export match for that? Another $20? So now we are up at US$119?

You see what I mean about the escalating costs -- and therefore, price? And that's without even looking at the danger of the mouse getting as close to the elephant of known irritability as it has to be to make the near perfect filters.

If you want 100% compatibility with MS Word, you have to work in Word and not only Word, but the same version of Word as the other person(s). If you want 99% (perhaps), then NeoOffice may be the go (you also get PowerPoint and Excel compatibility for a bonus), although I wouldn't want to work in it -- I just don't like the interface and some of the ways it operates. NWE/Pro has, for me, a really sweet interface -- it is really easy to work with. If maybe 95% compatibility with Word actually does the job for you, then NWE/Pro is fine. If you occasionally need that higher level of compatibility, do as I have done -- download a copy of NeoOffice to use on those odd occasions when precise translation is demanded.

And hang in there with NWE/Pro, that sweet interface will gradually get more of the "Word-like" features you want so that compatibility keeps moving up.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

"Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes" -- Revealed! The secrets of how you can use type and layout to turbocharge your messages in print. See the book at http://www.worsleypress.com


2007-07-07 16:42:39
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