Nisus Blog

Pronounced "Nice-us"

 
 
 

The Keyboard is Fixed!

September 18th, 2020 · No Comments

Over the past year Apple has updated their entire MacBook line. Some of the line, like the MacBook Air, received updated Intel chipsets that make the machines so hot I worry that your expensive Mac will destroy itself from the inside. Some machines like the base MacBook Pro 13″ received nothing more than a storage upgrade. That’s great, but boring. The MacBook Pro 16″ was revamped significantly. However, the big news is all received updated keyboards that finally ends the reign of terror that is the butterfly keyboard.

The new keyboard now uses scissor switches with more travel. Anyone who has read past editions of our newsletter know how much the author (me) intensely dislikes the butterfly switch keyboards. While I don’t yet own a MacBook with the new Magic Keyboard I got a chance to try one of these new machines for a few days. I have to say that while it doesn’t have as much travel as the pre-2016 keyboards it feels much better. It’s also not loud, which is an added bonus. 

I’m sure it was tough for Apple to admit defeat, but they did the right thing fixing these keyboards. If they fix the thermals on these machines (especially the MacBook Air) I will have to find something else to complain about. 

I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

Apple Store in New York During COVID-19

September 10th, 2020 · No Comments

When my wife and I moved back to Manhattan in 2007, the Apple Store on 5th Ave became my primary store. Over the years I had been to the store in SoHo, Chelsea, on the Upper West Side, Grand Central Terminal, and the Upper East Side. But the 5th Ave store, which was open 24/7 was always my go-to store. Others also flocked to this store. In 2011 it was the most photographed building in NYC. People always crowded down and up the circular glass stairwell and used it as the setting for wedding photos.

Sometime by May of 2017 it was closed for renovation. The entire cube was removed. The store shifted to cramped quarters in what had been the FAO Schwartz toy store nearby. And then by September 2019, a new cube, hidden behind white plastic sheets appeared.

A short time later, when the white sheets were removed, iridescent plastic remained to hide what was inside.

The store finally reopened by early November, and then COVID-19 hit. All Apple Stores closed along with everything else in NYC. Months passed and my wife and I rarely left our studio apartment. Most of our contact with the outside world was through our Apple devices… via the Internet. Then in August it became clear that my wife’s MacBook Air needed a new battery.

We contacted the 5th Ave. store and learned that its current hours, from 6:00 AM to midnight, offered the best possibility of avoiding other people. I scheduled a visit for very early in the morning to drop off the Mac. I arrived with my mask on. The ten staff members outside far outnumbered the potential customers and I was second in line in time for my appointment. My identity was checked, then my temperature. I was asked to answer a number of health-related questions. I was able to pass muster on all counts and then I was invited to go downstairs.

The tables were set with hand sanitizer in pump jars along with boxes of individually wrapped sanitizing wipes. I was welcomed graciously and asked to sit and wait for a couple of minutes. Never have I seen any Apple Store with fewer people.

Each of us sat far more than the requisite 6 feet away from one another. Our Mac was received by a “Genius” wearing a mask and immediately wiped down. I was told that the machine would likely be ready within three days. The next day I receive an email notifying me that I could come back to pick up the Mac with its new battery. I repeated the intake process. Approximately the same number of people were present. The technician presented me with my wife’s Mac, wiped it down again and I left… through a stairwell on the far side of the store, again, minimizing contact with any other people.

A friend recently asked if I knew why Apple stores don’t get robbed. It’s not because nobody is there. The answer: too many iWitnesses.

→ No CommentsTags: General · Mark

12″ MacBook Again?

September 4th, 2020 · No Comments

Back when we travelled to places other than the grocery store I owned a 12” MacBook. I loved almost everything about it. The size and weight was perfect for me. It was like carrying a macOS powered iPad.

It was somewhat frustrating, however. I could live with the one port, and that it was underpowered. The biggest problem was the keyboard. The MacBook was the first to use the hated butterfly keyboard. I knew before I purchased the keyboard was a compromise. It wasn’t the reason I sold it, but it didn’t help. Still, I have always thought that the 12″ MacBook would be great with an improved keyboard.

Now, if the rumors are correct, Apple is resurrecting the MacBook. This time, powered by Apple Silicon. This mythical MacBook will have 15 hours of battery life and be more powerful than some current MacBook Pro models. Seemingly an improved keyboard as well.

I know this is just a rumor, but if this turns out to be true all I can say is:

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

Call For Localizers

August 28th, 2020 · No Comments

Nisus Writer Pro 3.1 (and Nisus Writer Express 4.1) were just released and added several non-English localizations. We are interested in adding additional translations, so more people can enjoy using Nisus Writer in their native language.

If you might be interested in helping out, please let us know. You can contact us any way you like, including an email to the following address:

This is purely volunteer work. We aren’t able to pay for the translation, sorry.

→ No CommentsTags: Martin · Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro

Big Sur, Apple Silicon, and Nisus

August 21st, 2020 · No Comments

We have received a fair amount of email asking us if our applications will be ready for the new Apple Silicon based Macs. The answer to this is that we will be ready when the first of the new machines are released near the end of 2020. Personally I am excited to see what the future will bring with these new Macs. 

We also receive quite a bit of email regarding macOS Big Sur and compatibility with Nisus apps. We have done some testing and so far it seems, apart from cosmetic issues, our apps are compatible with Big Sur, pending the final release of the new macOS. 

For the latest news on both of these issues, please keep your eyes on this blog and, if you haven’t already, subscribe to our newsletter. 

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · InfoClick · Nisus Thesaurus · Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro

Academic Discount on Nisus Writer Pro

August 13th, 2020 · No Comments

Nisus Writer Pro offers an ideal writing environment and great features for academics, like:

  • Footnotes and endnotes. 
  • Bibliography management with Bookends integration. 
  • Comments and tracked changes for collaborating. 
  • Bookmarks and cross-references. 
  • Table of contents (TOC) and indexing. 

Did you know that we offer a discount for students, teachers, or anyone who works at an academic institution?

All you need to do is write to us and provide proof like a photo of your student ID, or write from your school’s email address (.edu, for example). Once we receive your email we’ll send you a link to purchase. 

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · Nisus Writer Pro

Stepper Buttons in Nisus Writer

July 31st, 2020 · No Comments

Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you almost certainly know how to use steppers. They are those little up and down arrow buttons you see next to numeric controls on your Mac. For example, you’ll see steppers next to the paragraph spacing controls in Nisus Writer:

As you probably already know (or can guess!) clicking the arrow buttons changes the spacing by ±1 point.

What’s new in Nisus Writer Pro 3.1 and Nisus Writer Express 4.1 is an enhancement for steppers that refines how they react to clicks. By holding down a modifier key as you click, you can increase or decrease the adjustment amount:

• Hold the Control key to trigger smaller changes.
For example, the font size will change from 12 points to 12.1 points.

• Hold the Option key to trigger larger changes.
For example, the paragraph spacing will change from 6 points to 12 point.

The adjustment amounts are sensitive to context and ruler units. For example, changing the paragraph indent using the Option key may result in a difference of ±1 centimeters vs ±0.5 inches.

There are a few mnemonics to help you recall which modifier key does what. You will notice that the relative order of the Control/Option keys on your keyboard matches that of the minus/plus keys. This is in harmony with the Control key triggering smaller changes (minus), and the Option key triggering larger changes (plus). Another way to think about it is that the Control key gives you greater control over the measurement, since the adjustment is finer.

We hope this improvement helps you dial in exactly the measurement you want, and reduces some repetitive clicking.

→ No CommentsTags: Martin · Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro · Tips

How to Change the Font Size of Comments

July 24th, 2020 · No Comments

Nisus Writer Pro users often write in and ask us how they can increase the font size of comments in their document. The good news is that it’s easy to change the font size (and other formatting) of all comments in your document en-masse.

Whenever you add a comment to a document, Nisus Writer Pro will automatically apply a paragraph style called “Comment” to your new comment. By default this single style controls the formatting of all comments in your file. So to change the font size of all comments you need only edit this style like so:

1. Switch to your document’s style sheet, eg: use the menu View > Style Sheet
2. From the list of styles on the left, select the “Comment” paragraph style.
3. Edit the style’s formatting by using any available tools, eg: the menu Format > Size, the Character palette, etc.

In most situations that’s all you need to do. Once you switch out of Style Sheet view you should see that all your comments have been updated to account for the edited style’s formatting.

Manual Formatting and Comments
One potential complication is manual formatting, which is merely formatting that is not enforced by a style. In other words, the formatting was applied directly to text. That kind of formatting will override formatting in the “Comment” paragraph style.

This is an infrequent occurrence for comments, but you may encounter it in files imported from other apps. If your comments don’t react to your style changes, you may need to remove manually applied formatting. Luckily that’s easy too.

To remove manual formatting from all comments in your document:

1. Place the insertion point (caret) inside any comment.
2. Select the entire comment using the menu Edit > Select > Select All.
3. Use Select All again to expand the selection to all comments in your file.
4. Remove all overrides via the menu Format > Remove Formatting Except Styles.

After removing all non-style formatting, the formatting enforced by your “Comment” style should shine through as intended.

→ No CommentsTags: Martin · Nisus Writer Pro · Tips

How to Batch Rename Files

July 16th, 2020 · No Comments

Have you ever wanted to rename more than one file at a time? Me too. So how do you accomplish this?

  • Switch to the Finder.
  • Locate the files you want to rename.
  • Select all the files you want to rename.
  • Use the menu File > Rename X Items, where X is the number of files you’ve selected, eg: “Rename 2 Items”.
  • A dialog box will appear. Choose from the many options as desired and click the “Rename” button.

That’s it! Your files will be renamed the way you chose. 

If you have a tip or a trick please let us know. We would love to feature your tip in our newsletter and our blog.

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · Tips

Quick Tip: Hide the Menu Bar

July 8th, 2020 · No Comments

Did you know you could hide the menu bar on your Mac? You can! Open System Preferences > General and checkmark “Automatically hide and show the menu bar”.

Bonus tip: you can customize the order of icons on the right side of the menu bar. Hold down the command key as you click an icon to start dragging it. If you drag the icon off the menu you can eliminate it altogether.

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · Tips

New Nisus Writer Pro Review

July 1st, 2020 · No Comments

Lulu.com has posted a review of Nisus Writer Pro.

As a Mac based word processor, Nisus Writer seems like a solid investment if you want a feature rich writing tool that can also perform most of the formatting and page layout functions you need to publish. It’s not as potent as Scrivener for research or plotting out a story, but Nisus Writer’s focus on being a writing tool shows.

Thank you Paul@Lulu for your thorough review of Nisus Writer Pro.

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · Nisus Writer Pro

SummerFest 2020

June 26th, 2020 · No Comments

Spring is gone, and I don’t think many of us will miss it. It’s now summer, a time of warm weather, lounging around (socially distanced of course), and SummerFest savings!

SummerFest is a collection of independent software developers who are creating great tools for organizing, writing, and delivering your thoughts and ideas. These are tools created with care, and refined by experience. This is high quality software, on sale now for a limited time.

As part of SummerFest, you can save 25% on InfoClick and the newly updated Nisus Writer Express and Nisus Writer Pro by using the coupon SUMMERFEST2020 at checkout in our store. You can also save at least 25% on the other apps in this year’s SummerFest by using the same coupon. There is a great collection of software this year, and the official SummerFest page has all the details.

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · InfoClick · Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro

Nisus Writer Pro 3.1

June 16th, 2020 · 2 Comments

We are happy to announce the release and immediate availability of Nisus Writer Pro 3.1.

Nisus Writer Pro 3.1 is a significant update that:

  • restores non-English localizations (Danish, French, German, Italian, Polish and Portuguese),
  • improves compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina,
  • adds several enhancements, and
  • fixes many important bugs.

The complete list of fixes can be found on our Nisus Writer Pro release notes page

Nisus Writer Pro 3.1 is available now and is a free update to all users of Nisus Writer Pro 3. You can update from within the app using the menu Nisus Writer Pro > Check for Updates, or download from our Nisus Writer Pro update page. Mac App Store users can download the update directly from the Mac App Store app. 

For those who have not purchased the upgrade to Nisus Writer Pro 3, you can do so from our store for only $45. Users of Nisus Writer Pro versions 1 and 2 are eligible for upgrade pricing. A full version is available for $65, or $55 for academic users. 

Upgrade pricing is not supported on the Mac App Store. If you would like to upgrade a previous Mac App Store purchase you can do so using these instructions

Nisus Writer Pro 3.1 requires macOS 10.11 or later.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Dave · Nisus Writer Pro

App Store reviews and an odd request

June 12th, 2020 · No Comments

Submitting your app to Apple for sale on the Mac App Store is always a roll of the dice. You never know if your app will sail through the App Store review process in a matter of hours, or if you’ll be dealt a setback that takes you days to resolve.

These days App Store review delays and outcomes are pretty good. There’s still the occasional significant setback, if Apple decides to disallow the use of certain system resources that were previously permitted. Finding replacement solutions and rewriting your code can be non-trivial. But mostly there are minor changes to make, if any.

During a recent App Store review, we were given a strange request: please submit a video of your app using the Touch Bar. In all the years we’ve been releasing on the App Store we’ve never been asked for any kind of video before.

We do indeed support the Touch Bar in Nisus Writer, but its basic usage is obvious; you press buttons to take built-in actions like creating a new document tab. Some of our available Touch Bar items are actually straight from Apple and macOS, like the ability to fix spelling mistakes in your text. It didn’t make any sense that Apple would need a video to confirm this. They could simply test the Touch Bar during review like any other feature.

The only aspect of Touch Bar support in Nisus Writer Pro that’s more involved is a unique feature that lets you create custom Touch Bar items. You can turn any menu into a new Touch Bar icon.

This is nice if you have certain commands that you want to access frequently.

Whatever the reason for Apple’s unexpected request, there was no getting around it. You can’t release an app on the App Store without approval. We were going to have to make this video.

I don’t currently have access to a MacBook with a Touch Bar, now that I’m working from home full time because of COVID-19. Luckily there are other ways to interact with the Touch Bar, like the simulator in Apple’s developer tools, or the Touché utility app that allows anyone to use the Touch Bar on any Mac.

Ultimately it didn’t take long to produce the video and pass review, but it was strange. Jumping through Apple’s hoops and satisfying their fancies is just something you have to accept if you’re developing apps for their devices.

→ No CommentsTags: General · Martin · Nisus Writer Pro

Nisus License Lookup Tool

June 5th, 2020 · No Comments

There are times, for whatever reason, that you need to find the license for your Nisus app. For example, you would like to upgrade to the latest version of Nisus Writer Express or Nisus Writer Pro. Perhaps you’re moving to a new computer and you need to install a fresh copy of InfoClick. How do you find your license?

Our Nisus License Lookup Tool, located on our main support page, will allow you to find your license and have it emailed to you. You just need the email address you used when you purchased your Nisus application and you will receive an email containing your license.

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General · InfoClick · Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro · Tips

Letter Case Conversions

May 28th, 2020 · No Comments

Sometimes you need to fix text with the wrong letter case. Maybe you copied text that’s all uppercase letters, but you need lowercase letters (eg: change “EXAMPLE” to “example”). Nisus Writer has two ways to help you convert such text.

Character Conversions
Most often you will want to do a one-shot conversion of your text using the menu Edit > Transform Text. For example, using the To Lowercase command. That will convert the underlying characters to their lowercase counterparts (eg: “A” to “a”) at the single moment in time when you activate the command.

Text Display Conversions
Instead of converting the underlying letters, Nisus Writer can also display a converted version of your text. In this way your text remains unchanged; it’s just the display that changes on screen (and in PDFs and printouts).

You enforce such display conversions using the menu Format > Letter Case. Commands on that menu operate like other kinds of text formatting (eg: bold font) in that they are continual. If you retype the text to which that formatting is applied, what you see immediately undergoes the same transformation. The newly typed text will be converted for display automatically, without reapplying the command.

Typically these kinds of display conversions are employed via styles. It’s nice when (for example) your headings have consistent uppercasing, no matter what’s been typed in your document. This also makes it easy to change your mind– just edit your style and all your text will be updated as needed automatically.

Small Capitals
One very popular kind of text display conversion is small caps. That’s where all letters in your text are displayed using capitals, but lowercase letters appear smaller:

Nisus Writer supports small caps for all text and fonts. Proper typographic small caps will be used if a font provides them. If a font lacks typographic small caps Nisus Writer will synthesize their display by shrinking the font size like so:

The above screenshot shows a “faux” small cap for the Zapfino font. It’s somewhat surprising that Zapfino lacks typographic small caps considering all its other font features like crazy ligatures.

You might wonder, what are proper typographic small caps? Aren’t all small caps just shorter versions of uppercase letters? Typographic small caps may have been customized by the font designer, usually so the small caps are more distinctive. Here’s a screenshot showing Adobe Garamond Pro:

The small caps F (rightmost blue) may look like it’s simply a smaller version of the capital F (leftmost yellow), but it’s not. The middle image above shows a shrunken capital F overlaid on top of the small caps F. You can see the small caps F is actually quite a bit heavier.

Hopefully this shows you some of the many ways Nisus Writer can help you process your text and the intricacies involved. If you have any questions please let us know by commenting below, joining our forum discussion, or contacting us directly.

→ No CommentsTags: Martin · Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro · Tips

TidBITS at 30

May 13th, 2020 · No Comments

I guess I’m an old timer because as long as I’ve been a Mac user (almost 30 years now) I’ve known about TidBITS. However, there is plenty I did not know, and Adam Engst’s appearance on The Talk Show podcast fills in quite a few of those gaps.

Congratulations to Adam and Tonya Engst for 30 years of TidBITS. 

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

Ten Lorem Ipsum Generators To Make Your Placeholder Text Sizzle!

May 8th, 2020 · No Comments

Lorem ipsum is the standard text placeholder that typesetters, web designers, and other weirdos use to test text layout. It dates from the 1500s, when an unknown typesetter jumbled pieces of Cicero’s De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (“On the Extremes of Good and Evil”) to use in a type specimen book. Things didn’t work out so well for Cicero, but lorem ipsum has survived for several centuries. 

Lorem ipsum is fine for general use. If you are a Nisus Writer Pro user we offer a macro that will let you produce all the scrambled Latin your heart desires. However, if you’d like to add some zip to your ipsum, there are several variations to spice things up a bit. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Bacon Ipsum

Are you kidding? This one is great. All the bacony goodness you can stand. Here is a sample: “Bacon ipsum dolor amet drumstick filet mignon jowl, shoulder corned beef brisket ground round beef ham ball tip andouille flank tenderloin.

Veggie Ipsum

Since I chose one with meat it’s only fair I chose one for vegetarians: “Veggies es bonus vobis, proinde vos postulo essum magis kohlrabi welsh onion daikon amaranth tatsoi tomatillo melon azuki bean garlic.

Pirate Ipsum

Yar! Do I really have to explain this? “Prow scuttle parrel provost Sail ho shrouds spirits boom mizzenmast yardarm.

Hipsum

Hipsters. They really do exist. They even have their own ipsum generator: “Etsy truffaut yr sartorial, ramps cray pour-over farm-to-table cred authentic meh retro salvia put a bird on it artisan. 

Office Ipsum

Pretty straightforward here. Everything you have ever heard in every meeting ever. Try to stay awake while reading this: “Cloud strategy market-facing message the initiative or player-coach nor can you champion this that jerk from finance really threw me under the bus.

Cat Ipsum

If you have a cat, you know this is what they are thinking when you think they are being adorable: “Lay on arms while you’re using the keyboard spread kitty litter all over house cats woo paw at your fat belly hunt by meowing loudly at 5am next to human slave food dispenser.

Legal Ipsum

Legal gibberish, just like the End User Agreements we never read: “To make sure the software is provided in the code itself as the Maintenance section of LPPL to apply to the terms and conditions of Section 2.1 with respect to a third party.

Lit Ipsum

This is another favorite. Choose between seven different classic literature passages: “They now walked on in silence, each of them deep in thought. Elizabeth was not comfortable; that was impossible; but she was flattered and pleased. His wish of introducing his sister to her was a compliment of the highest kind.

Monocale Ipsum

Monocale ipsum is… well, just look at it: “Monocle ipsum dolor sit amet winkreative sleepy exquisite international Fast Lane Melbourne first-class quality of life cosy.

Cheese Ipsum

Now we are talking. All the cheese with none of the crackers: “Cream cheese stilton macaroni cheese. Cheesecake pecorino taleggio cauliflower cheese fondue cauliflower cheese pecorino croque monsieur.

Bonus ipsum: Chuck Norris Ipsum

Yet another favorite of mine. Yes, it’s silly, but it’s Chuck Norris! “Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants. There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live. The quickest way to a man’s heart is with Chuck Norris’ fist.

This is just a small sample of the many interesting takes on lorem ipsum. If you have any favorites please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.  

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General · Nisus Writer Pro

Trump and Two Spaces

May 4th, 2020 · 2 Comments

I recently came across a copy of the COVID-19 economic relief explanation letter being sent out by the White House here in the United States:

economic relief explanation letter

What was interesting to me was not the contents of this letter, but rather the spacing after each period.

You can see that there are two spaces after nearly every period. That standard is passé now (so much so that Microsoft Word is now flagging two spaces after a period as an error). The use of two spaces was not surprising. What is unexpected is that sentences starting with the letter “A” don’t appear to be preceded by two spaces:

In the above comparison you’ll see that the bottom two sentences have less space after the period, before the letter A. It looks like a single space to me. Only sentences beginning with the letter A have this reduced spacing.

These spacing differences could be explained by kerning if they occurred within a word. Fonts usually customize the space between adjacent printable characters based on the actual letter geometry, so everything looks nice and neat. But I don’t think kerning can account for the big differences seen in this letter, especially considering the spacing variations occur for whitespace, not printable characters.

Ultimately this is pretty strange. I’ve never seen a single document intentionally use both single and double spaces after a period.

→ 2 CommentsTags: General · Martin

Line Wraps and the Zero-Width Joiner

April 30th, 2020 · No Comments

Sometimes the most exciting thing about an iOS update is all the new emojis. In recent history the new emojis in iOS 13.2 included several interesting characters:

sloth emojiice cube emojiringed planet emoji

That last one is technically called the Ringed Planet emoji; but let’s get real, that’s Saturn. Even in emoji-form the cosmos is beautiful. These photos of Jupiter taken by the Juno probe are particularly stunning in their detail.

What does this have to do with line wrapping? We’ll get to that. First let’s explain a technical detail about emojis. Most Unicode characters and emojis have a distinct Unicode code point (aka character code). Each code tells software what character to display. The number 127823 is an apple, while 129411 is a turkey. But sometimes a new emoji will not have a new code. Instead the emoji is designated using a composite of existing codes. For example, the female chef emoji does not have a distinct code. Instead it combines the woman emoji with the frying pan emoji:

how the female chef emoji is composed

How does does an emoji do that in text? By using a zero-width joiner character between its constituent characters. That way software knows to display all the codes together as a single glyph or image on screen. This joiner trick is used for a variety of purposes like skin tone and gender modifiers.

Now to the part where we explain how the zero-width joiner character can help your writing. In certain situations you might consider inserting a joiner character to change where line wrapping occurs. The joiner acts as a signal to the text layout engine that the adjacent characters should be joined. You can think of the joiner like a glob of glue that keeps its neighbors together. The characters won’t display a single image as with emoji, but rather they will be kept together on the same line.

Consider the following example text:
text example

The page margins may cause an undesirable wrapping point at the slash, so the words “when” and “if” are split across lines like so:
text badly wrapped to margins

To prevent that you can place the insertion point after the slash character and insert a zero-width joiner character. That instructs text layout to keep the slash character together with the “i” in “if” like so:
fixed line wrapping by using zero-width joiner

To insert the joiner character in Nisus Writer Pro you can use the menu Insert > Special Character > Spaces > Zero Width Joiner, or use our customizable Special Characters palette.

→ No CommentsTags: General · Martin · Tips