Future viability of Nisus

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loorung
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Future viability of Nisus

Post by loorung » 2014-04-11 14:43:31

Perhaps I'm worrying unnecessarily. I've used Nisus on and off since OS 9, but now find myself wondering how much longer it will be around. Given that Pages is free and a lot of Mac users will just use that as default, plus the popularity of plain text, minimalist editors, the raving over Scrivener, and the language support of Mellel, and we haven't got to Word and Google docs yet, I wondered if Nisus will survive.

Sure there's always been competition, but Pages being free, and all a lot of people need, including university students, is the future bleak for Nisus?

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greenmorpher
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by greenmorpher » 2014-04-11 15:49:39

Have conditions changed materially from what they have been for years? I don’t think so.

The only significant change from where I sit is that Nisus is about to walk away from income from 10.6.x users for the next upgrade. What percentage of Nisus's income this represents, I don't know, but presumably they have done their sums and calculated that it would cost more than they would make to continue supporting that OS. I hope they have done their sums correctly (they should consider 10.6.x sales as on the margin.

Whatever -- from my selfish point of view, I will be fine. NWP as it stands will see me out, I am sure.

I hope Nisus sees me out too.

Cheers, geoff

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Patrick J
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by Patrick J » 2014-04-11 20:58:39

My guess is that Nisus Writer has a truly tiny market share and always has done. The fact that Apple has made Pages free may not impact on Nisus Writer sales because in reality the kind of people that will use the free Pages are not the kind of people that would be interested in Nisus Writer. Nisus Writer is sought out by those wanting something more powerful and capable than Pages.

Scrivener is not a competitor for Nisus Writer as it is really a program for writing novels and suchlike. In fact Nisus Writer is really good for use in conjunction with Scrivener because you can use Nisus Writer effectively to resolve issues that can arise from a file exported from Scrivener. Scrivener has a significant problem, I think, for those who put styles in text. There is no system for managing styles across the various internal files that make up a writing project in Scrivener. So when you export from Scrivener you can find inconsistencies in styles and no way of taking control of that and sorting it out easily. Nisus Writer is perfect for resolving issues like that.

I'd rather like Nisus Writer to be updated to support versioning. I think the older document saving thing feels very clunky now even though I was very happy with it for many years, but now that I am accustomed to versioning I really like it. iCloud syncing would also be excellent to have in Nisus Writer.

I also think that Nisus Writer would benefit from a facelift. Even though this would not add anything functionally and for personal use it would make no difference, I suspect that for sales it might be beneficial to have a facelift, something similar to the facelift Omni recently gave OmniOutliner.
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techwriter
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by techwriter » 2014-12-13 18:23:51

I use Scrivener a lot to organize my research and much of my life. There is no iOS version yet so I also use Notebooks, which runs and syncs well between iOS and OS X. But these are not suitable for the kind of academic work I do as indexes are de rigueur and this is where Nisus steps in. It's not quite there yet as I still have to use ancient Macs to run an old version of FrameMaker for much of the work I need to do.

Here's what Nisus is missing to replace the old FrameMaker:

1- Dictionary-style automatic headers.
2-Two-column text neatly balanced throughout the text, not just on the last page of a document
3-A "Book" management system where long projects can be split into several sections, e.g., (1) Cover, (2) TOC, (3) Chapters, (4) Indexes

And I don't mind if they double the price of the upgrade that will do that. It will still be a fraction of what Adobe want for the current version of FM which you have to rent forever and which only runs on Windows.

One more thing where Nisus is missing the boat completely: Videos. Look at Scrivener's:

http://www.literatureandlatte.com/videos.php

Nisus should have the same, on YouTube, etc.

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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by tedg » 2014-12-15 11:40:19

Well, I am finally buying Nisus Pro myself after being a happy former user of the OS9 version. The Tinderbox discount is what pushed me over the line.

I'm posting because I really want a FrameMaker replacement. Not sure what missing feature will bother me with Nisus when IU start using it again, but it does seem to me that it is the only WP going in the FrameMaker direction now that Mellel has seemingly slowed development.
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NisusUser
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by NisusUser » 2014-12-16 07:22:07

tedg wrote:[…] The Tinderbox discount is what pushed me over the line. […]
Are you referring to the WinterFest 25% discount on Nisus Writer (Pro and Express, I assume), Scrivener, Tinderbox, DEVONthink, Aeon Timeline, TextExpander and Take Control Books, Scrapple for Mac? I got an e-mail about it today. The web link in the e-mail is http://artisanalsoftwarefestival.com/, but it redirects to http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/Speci ... rFest.html. I thought others might be interested in how to find the discounts.

I use NWP almost every day. Great app! Absolutely excellent support!

tedg
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by tedg » 2014-12-16 11:50:12

Yes, I meant the Winterfest discount. I don't know who organized it, but I heard via Tinderbox. Nisus is the last on that list that I did not own.

The purchase is timely because I am authoring a complex PDF with many internal links and I will be using Linkback extensively.

I hope over time to become the macro master I was with the classic app.

The world has changed since those classic days. I used to write everything in Nisus, everything. Now I will need to find a balance among Ulysses, Scrivener, Tinderbox and BBedit.
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peterwgallagher
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by peterwgallagher » 2014-12-19 14:49:02

A perennial topic, I assume. I'd like to know more about what the Nisus developers are up to, too. The Blog is pretty thin --- but not much thinner than, say, Scrivener's.

My own guess is that the future of Nisus depends on how difficult it will be to keep the code base aligned with the OS as it changes. If it's low-cost to stay abreast then I guess NWP will continue to survive because it fills a spot that none of the 'plain text' editors can fill and that Pages is not intended to (and doesn't) fill and that MS Word potentially fills but awkwardly and -- I have found -- unreliably.

I have recenly written a longish history book (l150k words) with about 450 footnotes and about 200 reference works (plus about the same number of non-accessible document references). I started using Scrivener + Papers 2 for the bibliography + MS Word for output formatting and bibilography/footnote insertion. Disaster. Papers was just bearable to use, but somehow it and Word jammed up trying to format the notes+bibilograpy.

Solution for me was -- as it often is -- to find mature, developer-supported software. Scrivener, of course. NWP and Bookends proved brilliant; worked seamlessly together and could do everything I asked of them (including those little hacks and fixes that any long text ends up needing).

Plain text (markdown editors of which I've got a few)? Hardly. Not for complex jobs. Keiran Healy (http://kieranhealy.org/resources/) may be able to write papers with nice bibliographies using Pandoc + BibTeX but much as I love Pandoc & TeX, I find that kind of fiddling takes more time than it's worth.

Pages? No chance. Word? Failed. Mellel? Slower in my experience and not as adept as NWP.

I don't write much on iOS, but Textilus and NWP seem to work fine together via DropBox.

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Vanceone
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by Vanceone » 2014-12-27 21:12:58

Funny. I'm in a use case where Nisus works very well for me, much much better than Word and Pages: Law.

Here's the thing: I write a lot of briefs; and court requirements are changing to require PDF's. Enhanced PDF's, to be exact. And Word for Mac utterly fails in at least two areas: 1) PDF links and 2) Table of Authorities.

Courts want clickable links in the PDF's we submit. Word, for whatever reason, will not save a hyperlink into a PDF on the Mac version. Print a PDF, export--your hyperlinks are not there. So you either edit your PDF by hand (and who wants to do that?) or use something else.

Next reason to use Nisus: Table of Authorities. Of all the mac word processors, only Word (and Wordperfect 3.5e, but as that is a classic program, it is suboptimal) has a dedicated Table of Authorities command. But it's clunky, fragile, and, most importantly, cannot generate hyperlinks like a table of contents does (where you can click on the number and jump to the page).

Enter Nisus. A while back I figured out that with creative use of the indexing stuff Nisus has, you can build your table of authorities better, faster, easier, more robust (multiple short citations to one long citation!) and so forth than Word. The only--only! advantage Word has is that in theory you can rearrange the categories to something other than alphabetically.

Nisus is simply better than Word for legal work, in my opinion. It has pleading capabilities, it saves to PDF better; the file format is less prone to corruption; Tables are better, and needed things like sections and page numbering restarts are there. Word has character styles, I think, and much better applescript support, and a few other features, but Nisus more than holds its own. I'm not sure about Mellel, but Nisus in my opinion is almost a necessity--at least for appellate work on the Mac. Pages cannot do what Nisus does.

skaertus
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by skaertus » 2014-12-27 21:42:52

Nisus Writer Pro received its last update in November 27, 2013, one year and one month ago. It is the longest gap between two updates, and we are just three days away of not having any update in 2014. Should we be worried? Has development of the software slowed down or something? I hope there is something in the cards for the near future. What about Nisus Writer Pro 3.0 in 2015? It's been almost four years since 2.0 was released.

Þorvarður
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by Þorvarður » 2014-12-29 00:13:14

Vanceone wrote:Courts want clickable links in the PDF's we submit. Word, for whatever reason, will not save a hyperlink into a PDF on the Mac version.
You must be talking about PDFs with links to Bookmarks and links to Files created in Word, because documents created in Word preserve hyperlinks to URLs and to E-Mail addresses if they are saved as PDFs.

Links in NWP:
1. Add Link as URL
2. Add Link to File
3. Add Link to Bookmark
4. [Link to E-Mail address]
5. [Link to Folder in Finder]


MS Word has only the first 4, if I am correctly informed, and only the first 2 and email addresses are preserved in PDFs.

In NWP the first 4 are PRESERVED in PDFs, but links to folders are not preserved in PDFs.

It should be noted that if a Nisus document with a folder link is opened in Word or Mellel, the folder link is still active and both applications will open the folder. TextEdit, on the other hand, will just select the folder in Finder without opening it. LibreOffice does not seem to recognize the link. Besides, LibreOffice seems to be just as clunky as Word when it comes to inserting links.

So regarding the handling of PDFs in Word and NWP, Nisus Writer Pro wins hands down.

ptram
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by ptram » 2014-12-29 08:25:07

Thank you for the analysis, Vanceone. However, please note that Nisus has character styles as well.

Paolo

Þorvarður
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by Þorvarður » 2014-12-29 19:41:57

Vanceone wrote:I'm not sure about Mellel, but Nisus in my opinion is almost a necessity--at least for appellate work on the Mac. Pages cannot do what Nisus does.
I played with Mellel for some time, and I found Nisus clearly superior in almost all areas. No multiple selection, no macros, proprietary file format that cannot be read by other programs and the notoriously bad support are just a few things that come to mind. The probability of receiving an answer to an email you send them is as great as being struck and killed by lightning.
Vanceone wrote:Word for Mac utterly fails in at least two areas: 1) PDF links and 2) Table of Authorities.
An interesting verdict, especially considering the fact that a certain well known member of the Mac user community never gets tired of saying: "I am the head of a Mac user group for attorneys. Over 9,000 of them. Many of these folks would love to be using anything other than Word...but they can't. Only Word, for the Mac, has all of the advanced features that an attorney needs, such as document comparison, tables of authorities, collaboration, etc."

Well, the first argument is obviously nonsense. NWP has an excellent macro to compare documents.

Assuming by "collaboration" he means live collaboration where two (or more?) attorneys work simultaneously on one document, is live collaboration an important feature for attorneys?

I am neither lawyer nor have I ever used live collaboration, so I'm not qualified to make a judgement on this point, but wouldn't Google Docs also do the trick? "It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating with other users live" (Wikipedia).
Vanceone wrote:Word (…) has a dedicated Table of Authorities command. But (…) cannot generate hyperlinks like a table of contents does (where you can click on the number and jump to the page).
Enter Nisus. A while back I figured out that with creative use of the indexing stuff Nisus has, you can build your table of authorities better, faster, easier, more robust (multiple short citations to one long citation!)
I would love to see an instruction for this step by step.

Most people in this forum are not lawyers, and the thread "Can you build a table of authorities with Nisus Writer?" from 2013 (<http://nisus.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f= ... uthorities> wasn't easy to follow.

While trying to figure out how a TOA must look like in the U.S.A., the biggest surprise for me was that each jurisdiction has apparently its own set of local rules; nearly every court has its own Court Rules, and they must be strictly followed.

"Each jurisdiction has its own set of local rules, and the requirements for briefs can change from one court to another. It isn’t unusual for a brief to be governed by two sets of rules — court rules and local court rules — simultaneously. Unless you are familiar with all of the requirements for each brief, it’s easy to overlook something." (<http://paralegaltoday.com/issue_archive ... h_nd03.htm>)


It would be easy to create a TOA if one could just assign a Nisus Character Style to the whole citation and then, based on that selection, create the TOA. The problem I have are the spot cites which have to be filtered out, because they are not allowed to appear in the TOA.

Here is an example, taken from
<http://www.naela.org/App_Themes/Public/ ... .li.ps.pdf>.


The first two screenshots show the citations in the text body, and the third one shows how they must appear in the TOA.

Vanceone: How do you automatically filter out the spot cites when you create the TOA?
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Vanceone
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by Vanceone » 2014-12-30 08:51:36

Some very interesting questions, Þorvarður. Let's address them.

1) Live collaboration--He may mean working on the same document simultaneously. Nisus can't do that built in, but as far as I know, Word can't either. And even if you can--don't. Word's fragile enough without simultaneous editing. Now, track changes, etc: Nisus does that. I think Word may have a bit more in that area, but Nisus at least can. I'm a solo guy, though, so I've not really had to try that one out.

Now, Table's of Authorities. The big problem with Word's Table of Authorities is two fold: it doesn't jump to bookmarks, and 2) it is very hard to deal with short citations, particularly in different forms (I.e. if you have two different ones). Another big issue with Word's TOA, and one that has bitten me more than once, is that the order of citations in your document is important. The very first time an authority is mentioned, Word embeds the long citation into the document right there. Which means that if you later move a citation to that same case in front of the original--Word breaks. In practice, that means that your TOA is the last thing you build in Word, just to avoid those problems. Bookends and so forth don't help, since they all do Turabian or APA--not Bluebook, which is the leading US legal style guide.

Okay, so how does Nisus handle TOA? Key concept: index. That's all a TOA is, is an index to all the legal citations in the document. So we use Nisus's index feature. The second key concept: sub indexing. In a TOA, we have only a few index entries: cases, statutes, treatises, rules, and so forth. So we are essentially building an index with one to maybe 9 at the most entries. But each entry has several subentries. So the "Cases" entry in the index will have 1, or 5, or 100 cases as sub entries of the "Cases" index entry.

The third key concept is that a long citation can be connected to an infinite number of short citation or pinpoint citations--something Word cannot do without explicitly editing the TOA field code. And who wants to do that?

The thing that really sets Nisus Writer above Word, though, is the key concept of a database, or "Word List". This allows you to save your citations, and instantly mark a new document with citations and short forms you have already created. So if you are a specialist in an area of the law; it's pretty likely you have a set list of leading cases and authorities. Microsoft Word doesn't care: you have to manually find and mark each new authority, every single time. With Nisus and a word list, you can mark it instantly. So if your brief has no new authority, you can literally generate a TOA in seconds without marking a thing.

I've attached two documents that have much more complete instructions for Nisus Writer and TOA's. One is a sample word list, the other is a several page long document that goes step by step on how to do a TOA in Nisus. Nisus actually asked me to create this document based on my previous instructions; so now I'm sharing it with everyone else. I hope it helps!

In answer to your specific question about short citations, I don't worry about them. Because of the way Nisus works, you just mark each citation, whether long or short, or pinpoint--and link them all to the same long form of the citation. Whether it be a short case name, an Id or ibid, or whatever--they can all link to the same long citation.

Things to do to improve handling of TOA's: write a macro that scans your document for id's and ibids, maybe supra and infra's as well, and automatically figure out the preceding indexed citation and index the id automatically, so doing it manually is easier. One of these days I'll get around to a TOA scripting utility or something. Or maybe one of the Nisus Perl guru's can create something.

Vance
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phspaelti
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Re: Future viability of Nisus

Post by phspaelti » 2015-01-01 06:29:18

Vanceone wrote:Things to do to improve handling of TOA's: write a macro that scans your document for id's and ibids, maybe supra and infra's as well, and automatically figure out the preceding indexed citation and index the id automatically, so doing it manually is easier. One of these days I'll get around to a TOA scripting utility or something. Or maybe one of the Nisus Perl guru's can create something.
Hello Vance,
I wouldn't recommend using Perl for this task. Nisus macro language is more than adequate for this. If you could provide a (short) sample of the type of file you are thinking about, this seems like it would be quite doable.

Addendum:
I just tried the simplest thing I could imagine. The following macro will index all instances of 'id.' or 'ibid.' that it finds in the document the same as the nearest preceding indexed item. It assumes the Index is called 'Table of Authorities' or otherwise lets you choose from the existing indexes in the document. For it to work correctly, you will need to have already indexed the other items (using the word list or other method as you describe.)
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