Comments: A Question

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midwinter
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Comments: A Question

Post by midwinter » 2007-01-29 17:41:52

Earlier today, I had a thought about comments this morning that I dashed off to Nisus and I'm wondering what folks here think.

It seems to me that everyone approaches the comments in-line. It also seems to me that everyone hates the way comments are done. And yet people want them in-line.

What if, instead of commenting in-line with some kind of funky graphic craziness in the margins and a database needing to be maintained, Nisus went for something simple: another document for comments. Why couldn't a user insert a comment on a document and have that comment be linked somehow to a comment in another document?

Simple. This way, also, users could print out the comments without
jacking up the formatting.

Crumpy
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Post by Crumpy » 2007-01-29 20:18:41

It seems overly complicated, and besides, more often than not I'd want the comments to print.

Really, Word just does it damn near perfectly.

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Post by mountainman » 2007-01-29 21:52:08

I wonder if everyone is talking about the same thing. It's the revision tracking that has the balloons in the margin, isn't it? If that is the topic, then there is reason to pause for thought. All those balloons with dotted lines running everywhere reminds me of somebody's bad dream. Who on earth would try to sort all that out by trying to painstakingly trace dotted lines? I'd sooner spend a day counting beans.

On the other hand, Word's annotation feature (if that's what is meant by "comments") is OK.

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Post by Crumpy » 2007-01-29 22:06:40

Sort of.

There's two components to Words "revision" tool.

The one you are referring to is the one where every single change, addition, deletion, what have you is noted in the right hand column. You're right, it's annoying as all get out.

The other one that most of us are referring to is "comments." How that works is you highlight a section of text, go to "insert comment" and a balloon appears in the right hand margin. For instance, if someone's used an acronym I don't understand, I'll highlight NSA and type "I do not know what this acronym means, please spell out."

That one is damn useful.

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Post by xiamenese » 2007-01-30 01:23:13

Crumpy wrote:Sort of.

There's two components to Words "revision" tool.

The one you are referring to is the one where every single change, addition, deletion, what have you is noted in the right hand column. You're right, it's annoying as all get out.
My wife was sent a copy of an agreement that had been typed out in Weird, where the legal-eagle in question had "track changes" set ... My wife sent me the copy she received 'cos in NWE it was reading that she was offered 21% of the shares instead of the 2% that had been agreed. In Pages it showed up as 2% with the changes bubble showing the corrected error. TextEdit showed 21% and NeoOffice showed 2% but with the corrected 21% in place marked with strike-out. If only the 21% had been correct!
Anyway, clearly change-tracking is not that simple a matter. "Caveat Wierd-user!" I say ... :D
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Post by joehardy » 2007-01-30 12:00:43

Crumpy wrote:Sort of.

There's two components to Words "revision" tool.

The one you are referring to is the one where every single change, addition, deletion, what have you is noted in the right hand column. You're right, it's annoying as all get out.

The other one that most of us are referring to is "comments." How that works is you highlight a section of text, go to "insert comment" and a balloon appears in the right hand margin. For instance, if someone's used an acronym I don't understand, I'll highlight NSA and type "I do not know what this acronym means, please spell out."

That one is damn useful.
Actually, they both work together. I use the feature for the drafts of senior project papers students send me. (It's an off-campus course with no regular meetings.) By all of us using recent versions of Word, I can "grade" the draft with comments and corrections. They can see these when they open the document on their computer, Mac or PC. When they send it back I can see changes they've made. And so on.
This feature works, so far as I've experimented, with Pages as well. Pages reads Word changes and Word reads Pages changes.
If I had this feature in Nisus Writer, I could leave Word pretty much behind.
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Post by Crumpy » 2007-01-30 12:17:43

Yeah, the Track Changes isn't completely useless, but depending on the edits, it can get in the way.

A lot of what I edit is style changes, typos, rewording, etc. Usually when I'm done with a document, there's a solid column in the margin of changes.

I am more productive with Comments, but I can see in your case where it would be effective. I tend to work on a lot of documents that are either unfinished, or don't adhere to our style guidelines.

On the subject of Pages, if it let me "Save As" to Word, and not "Export" I'd be happy with it and comments.

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Post by midwinter » 2007-01-30 13:41:04

I'm just trying to think a little outside the box re: commenting and tracking changes and commenting. Are balloons the best way to implement? Is dumping them in the margins the best way?

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Post by Patrick J » 2007-01-30 14:59:08

midwinter wrote:I'm just trying to think a little outside the box re: commenting and tracking changes and commenting. Are balloons the best way to implement? Is dumping them in the margins the best way?
I have Office 2004, I have it because I get it for free as I work at a University, however I hardly ever use it. Anyway I notice that Word puts the comments into balloons in the margin.
Patrick

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Post by scottwhitlock » 2007-02-09 01:13:07

What I think is interesting is that Pages copies this feature (and can export and read them), but it looks great in Pages while it looks like poo in Word. I agree with Midwinter, though. A bunch of bubbles on the side of your screen is hardly elegant. I actually prefer the way Word implemented in past versions, with the comment pane.

What Pages can't do, though, is track changes. :(
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Post by George the Flea » 2007-03-20 20:31:57

Please, please, please let comments/annotations be added to Nisus.

Some thoughts:

Word's implementation of comments is alright. It is not "damn near perfect." Here's why: if there are lots and lots of comments, the margin gets way too cluttered, and all the comments are are shuffled off into a weird netherlands at the bottom of the screen. If there is more than one comment on a line, it's difficult to tell which comment references which item without selecting the comment. They are not very good looking. Editing them can get funky, particularly when the little date popup happens. If you arrow out of the bottom of a comment, you end up in the next comment, which is a bit bizarre.

Pages' comments are far prettier than Word's, but they have their own special issues. First off, if you don't want to see the comments in the margin, then you can't tell what text even has a comment. Second, the line connecting comment to text runs through the middle of the other text in the line. Very annoying.

The best implementation of comments that I've found are in Jer's Novel Writer and Avenir. I personally like Avenir's best: you know exactly what text has a comment, they do not clutter up the margins, and you can fit a lot of text in them. Avenir's approach is similar to the suggestion that comments be stored in another file (which I actually don't like as much; external interface element is possibly alright, external file not cool).

There is no really perfect implementation of annotations/comments for Mac that I've found, despite there being a number of useful implementations on non-word-processing software (such as Jer's and Avenir). For word processor's, Word's is the most functional, Pages' the prettiest (sort of) and for some reason this feature doesn't appear to be particularly important to the smaller companies. Do people not use annotations? Because if not, let me tell you: you're missing out big time.

Just as a note, RTF specifications natively support comments; they are included within the document and do not require any sort of database. If Nisus is going to implement comments (please please please), I hope that they use the RTF specs so that they work in Word as well.
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midwinter
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Post by midwinter » 2007-03-20 20:36:30

Agreed.

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Post by Patrick J » 2007-03-21 07:40:59

midwinter wrote:Agreed.
I'd like to see them as well.

I remember when I moved from Word 5.1a to Nisus Writer in the early nineties the thing I missed was the comments in Word.

I rather like the implementation in Word 5.1a and preferred it to the current Word.

Pages looks neater than the current Word system.

I'm very glad to read that this is something already available to do with RTF files.
Patrick

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I just want *some* comments

Post by Jake » 2007-08-02 09:33:32

I don't need highly advanced comments -- I just need *some* comments, as I indicated <a href="http://www.nisus.com/forum/viewtopic.ph ... 0">here</a>. Without them, NW is not enough for my purposes.

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re comments

Post by jeffisme » 2007-08-10 11:31:24

comments is such a basic and useful feature, I just don't understand why nisus has left it out this long. i've been playing around with the new version of pages (am not familiar with the older version), and it does them nicely.

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