NWE v Apple Pages

Have a problem? A question? This is the place for answers from other Express users.
charles
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Post by charles »

Someone asked which features makes Nisus Writer better suited for writing than Pages. Here are some of the things I enjoy (as one of the people the created it and use it everyday):

1. Draft View -- You can customize the UI so all you see is the text of your document. Great when you want to focus on your writing and not so much its layout.
2. Tooldrawer -- Having to move around floating palettes all the time with my mouse is a MAJOR distraction from writing. This feature alone makes me much more productive since my tools never get in the way of my text.
3. Language palette -- everyone love the Thesaurus-As-You-Think feature.
4. Multiple language support -- there are a lot of things you need to customize about your WP to give it first class support for a language. For most purposes, we can reduce all of that to one click.
5. Multiple/Rectangular selection.
6. Live Word Count, including selection -- Pages has this but not for selection only.
7. PowerFind/Replace -- OK, this is not yet as powerful as what we had in Classic, but it is still better then what anyone else has so far and we are not done with it yet.
8. Macros -- also, this needs more work but its is something you can't find at all in Pages.
9. QuickFix -- Auto correction can be really helpful but if you go too far, it can become really annoying. (See Word.) Most people don't even notice its there which is just how it is supposed to be.
10. Multiple, editable clipboards.
11. Tags -- I use this all the time to clean up the formatting in my text. Not a lot of people understand this feature yet, so we are going to make some changes to make it even more usable.

Anyway, I know we have more features to add to NWE right now, especially if you use Nisus Writer Classic. But among the word processors on the Mac platform, Nisus Writer Express is still among the more focused on writing.

-Charles

PS. Someone mentioned that they still need bullets and numbering to use Nisus Writer. This is actually one of the big features we are working on for our next release.
Charles Jolley
Nisus Software, Inc.

Ryan
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Post by Ryan »

Thank you, Charles, for enumerating these differences. Certainly, some of these make a big difference to me (the Tool drawer, the language palette, multiple languages) and some that really don't matter that much to me (multiple selection). I'm sure each of us, as an individual writer, craves certain things out of a writing application. No, NWE is not perfect, and (similarly) yes, it's missing some significant features. Having something that unobtrusively does most of what I want (a sharp opposition to Word, which shoves bloated features down my throat) lets my writing flow.

Ryan
www.r-blog.com

rallx
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Post by rallx »

charles wrote:Someone asked which features makes Nisus Writer better suited for writing than Pages. Here are some of the things I enjoy (as one of the people the created it and use it everyday):

...

PS. Someone mentioned that they still need bullets and numbering to use Nisus Writer. This is actually one of the big features we are working on for our next release.
that's a very useful list, Charles. There are several things on it that I had not thought of. Thanks for providing it. A minor correction -- Pages does have multiple selection via the command key, but not rectangular selection.

Autonumbers in NWE will be very useful.

Rick

JBL
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Post by JBL »

Actually, Pages seems to have multiple selection.

However the styles don't seem to be hierarchical which would be a big advantage for NWE in my book.

pastorblue
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Post by pastorblue »

Well, this is an interesting discussion, and I certainly appreciated Charles' post and largely agree with it. But it still comes down to this for me: when I purchased NWE it was version 1, but I only bought it because I believed v2 had to be better. One thing I need is columns, NWE 2.1.1 columns do not work and Nisus do not answer e-mails on the issue. Why bother to say you have columns and put in the necessary interface (poor as it is) when it doesn't work, has never worked and no-one will say when it might? Better then to not have it, and no one gets mad. Pages interface in my opinion is not as good as NWE, but what I need does work.

Graham
Cheers,

pastorblue

Anne Cuneo
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Post by Anne Cuneo »

I think the main problem for someone like us is the ability (or rather inability) of NWE to handle efficiently long documents. I appreciate very much most of the features of Charles' list - particularly the language palette. Even though in French there is no Thesaurus-as-you-think (as Charles put it), it improves my spelling so visibly that people have been asking me whether I had been training... But unfortunately NWE is not the best solution to write a 50'000/60'000-word novel (I have written a 120'000-word one in one single file in Nisus Classic and it just worked beautifully). Switching from NWE to Nisus Classic isn't possible. But let's be fair: there is NO word processor in OS X which does everything a writer can wish to have. Which takes me back to my initial complaint: OS X has NOT THOUGHT OF TEXT-WRITING as a main activity.
I'm not going to use Word, too dangerous, and unpleasant on top of that. I suppose all I am left with is writing in Nisus and then switching to Pages to have it all in one file (I tried, it seems to work).
But I do wish it were possible to just write away without having all these worries. As Ryan was saying, they interrupt the flow.
Anne

charles
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Post by charles »

Anne's complaints here are completely valid. There really is no fully developed writing-oriented word processing product on OS X. Our goal is to develop Nisus Writer to fill precisely that niche. As I stated with my list above, we are solidly down that path but there are obviously things (like improved handling of long documents) that we still need to do.

On a related note, if we were to focus on one or two things to improve long document support in Nisus Writer Express, what would you say it should be? Typing speed? File open time? Find/Replace performance? More writing tools of some type? Something else?

-Charles
Charles Jolley
Nisus Software, Inc.

midwinter
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Post by midwinter »

charles wrote:On a related note, if we were to focus on one or two things to improve long document support in Nisus Writer Express, what would you say it should be? Typing speed? File open time? Find/Replace performance? More writing tools of some type? Something else?
You know, I was just thinking about this the other day. One of the things that bothers me when I'm working on a long document is that often, I wish I could leave a "post-it" or bookmark of some kind saying "that part about X starts here" and then search THOSE comments. I guess what I'm suggesting is the opposite of an outliner: I want to be able to write, flag something as I'm writing, and then move on. I guess what I'm looking for is a way to notate what I'm writing but NOT have it show up in the printed document or in the normal view of the file.

Cheers

rallx
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Post by rallx »

charles wrote:On a related note, if we were to focus on one or two things to improve long document support in Nisus Writer Express, what would you say it should be? Typing speed? File open time? Find/Replace performance? More writing tools of some type? Something else?
Find and replace needs to be faster, but even more important is overall document stability. For me, at least, more robust graphics handling is needed. My documents can have hundreds of equations, each of which, of course, is a graphic.

Beyond that, bookmarking and cross-referencing become increasingly important as document length grows.

MikeKazlow
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Post by MikeKazlow »

charles wrote: On a related note, if we were to focus on one or two things to improve long document support in Nisus Writer Express, what would you say it should be?
Import by reference. Multiple Independent Hierarchical Paragraph Numbering. Reference Tags (the ability to track the location of tags: to generate references, indicies, TOC, etc.]

Opps thats three.

cstross
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Keyboard improvements?

Post by cstross »

Charles wrote: "On a related note, if we were to focus on one or two things to improve long document support in Nisus Writer Express, what would you say it should be?"

You're already aware of speed in long documents, which is good. After that, the most important issue to my mind is keyboard navigation.

The OSX standard keystrokes aren't well-adapted to moving around a long document; they require the use of both hands (at least, on a laptop Mac) and the use of the cursor keys. It looks like Apple's human interface folks assumed Mac users were primarily mouse-oriented -- but for writers (especially journalists and novelists, which a disproportionate number of your customers seem to be) are keyboard-oriented. Historically, the top word processors have had a user interface that didn't require a touch-typist to take their hands off the keyboard in order to edit text.

I'd love to have a Mac word processor that gives me the ability to use (or define my own) control/alt/command keystrokes to go EndOfThisWord, StartOfNextWord, NextSentence, NextListItem (if you add bulleted/numbered lists), NextParagraph, NextStyle (e.g. chapter heading), NextSection, and EndOfDocument (and the reverse). They should ideally be bound to key combinations that can be typed easily on an iBook or Powerbook keyboard as well as a full-sized extended keyboard. And if it's a flexible facility it should be possible to bind such movement commands to multiple key combinations (thus making Wordstar, or Emacs, or Word Perfect emulations possible -- maybe even my beloved vi, at a pinch).

Microsoft Word lets me assign various internal Word macros to keys, but it has already used most of the useful keystrokes and I'd virtually have to redefine it's entire UI to make it useful. (<I>Bad</I> Microsoft!) I think there's lots of scope for you to show them how it's done ...

Secondly: a bunch of the menu items (e.g. View->Show Invisibles) have no command key defined. A way of mapping command keys to menu items would be wonderful. (Especially if it also supported function key and Control/Alt/Command/Function combination keystrokes.)

But anyway. To sum up, you're writing a word processor. The default interface to a word processor (for someone who uses it to produce gallons of text) is the keyboard. Concentrate on the keyboard and you'll make lots of touch-typists very happy indeed.

cstross
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Post by cstross »

Whoops. Let's just pretend I didn't notice the Menu Keys preferences pane, okay? It'd still be nice to see function keys supported too, though. (Exit stage left, embarrassed.)

Ryan
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Re: Keyboard improvements?

Post by Ryan »

cstross wrote:I'd love to have a Mac word processor that gives me the ability to use (or define my own) control/alt/command keystrokes to go EndOfThisWord, StartOfNextWord, NextSentence, NextListItem (if you add bulleted/numbered lists), NextParagraph, NextStyle (e.g. chapter heading), NextSection, and EndOfDocument (and the reverse). They should ideally be bound to key combinations that can be typed easily on an iBook or Powerbook keyboard as well as a full-sized extended keyboard. And if it's a flexible facility it should be possible to bind such movement commands to multiple key combinations (thus making Wordstar, or Emacs, or Word Perfect emulations possible -- maybe even my beloved vi, at a pinch).
Most Cocoa applications, NWE included, already support Emacs key bindings (I'm not an Emacs user, but I know ctrl-D and such work; there may certainly be some missing).

While Nisus is working on (perhaps) adding more customizable/intuitive key commands, you might, as a vi user, be interested in adding vi bindings to all Cocoa apps as well. Check out http://aldebaran.armory.com/~zenomt/mac ... dings.html to download a file that'll take care of this.

Ryan
www.r-blog.com

Anne Cuneo
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Post by Anne Cuneo »

if we were to focus on one or two things to improve long document support in Nisus Writer Express, what would you say it should be? Typing speed? File open time? Find/Replace performance? More writing tools of some type? Something else?
The first thing I should wish to have is not so much typing speed (even though that's nice to have too) as speed in every other way: scrolling speed (that is particularly grievous, sometimes), find/replace speed, unerring stability (I mean by that Nisus not quitting suddenly after one has been working for one or two hours) and after speed, the feature I miss most is AN AUTOMATIC BACKUP IN ANOTHER LOCATION. At the moment only Mariner has it, which proves that it is possible, doesn't it? One forgets to back up when one is working at full speed. I've been asking for this from the very beginning of build 1.0 and was told several times it's coming. For someone working the way I do it is VITAL.
Well Charles, I'm sure you are overwhelmed by our wishes. They come mostly from the fact that we had been spoiled by Nisus Classic, which had most if not all of these features. And that it has shown us what it means to work with a really good wordprocessor.
Anne

joao
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Post by joao »

The two most important improvements for me when working with long documents are as follows:

1. Typing speed.

2. Having NWE make fewer demands on the CPU when printing. Since I use an ink-jet printer without its own processor, everything on my Mac drastically slows down when printing any document created in NWE. This makes it difficult to work on anything when something is printing in the background, and the longer document the greater the inconvenience.

Thanks for asking, Charles!

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