thinking of switching from Mellel

Everything related to our flagship word processor.
Stoic
Posts: 15
Joined: 2003-07-26 05:57:45

thinking of switching from Mellel

Post by Stoic »

I've been using Mellel for several years, and been reasonably please -- especially when feature development seemed to be moving forward at a good speed. But Mellel seems to have become bogged down recently (although 2.5 is not in beta), and I've been impressed with the demo of NWP 1.1.

I'm wondering if there are any other folks out there who have made the same switch recently, who might share some of their experiences.

Ruchama
Posts: 213
Joined: 2006-08-19 18:35:27

Post by Ruchama »

I think people's experiences depend on the applications.. if you could describe a bit what do you use Mellel for, which languages are you using (if more than English) etc it would be easier for people to be more specific.

Stoic
Posts: 15
Joined: 2003-07-26 05:57:45

Post by Stoic »

Right. I should have been more specific from the start. For many years I was a Framemaker user, before it was orphaned by Adobe. I tried to use Word, but it made me so angry so many times that I began to search for an alternative. I found it in Mellel, which has been very good for the most part, but now development seems to have slowed perceptibly and features promised for long ago have yet to appear.

I'm a retired academic, and aside from English, my languages are French and Latin. I'd like to start studying Attic Greek, so that should be factored in. I love Mellel for its autotitles, text handling, outline pane, footnotes, and style handling. But most of these things are now done in NWP, along with quite a number of other features. I also get the feeling that Nisus is pursuing their app a bit more aggressively, and the "up side" is a bit stronger for the future. But perhaps that's speculation.

shades
Posts: 118
Joined: 2002-11-12 18:51:49

Post by shades »

I use both. I like NWP for the quick setup and writing feel. But, line spacing (not being able to set absolute line spacing when using superscript/subscript is problematic).

Mellel gives me the control I need for academic writing, which includes Hebrew, Greek, German, and Latin.

So, I see them as two different but complementary programs.

Wouldn't it be great to have FrameMaker for OS X?
MBP 2.4 GHz, OS X 10.5.6
NWP 1.2, Mellel 2.6, iWork 08

martin
Official Nisus Person
Posts: 4758
Joined: 2002-07-11 17:14:10
Location: San Diego, CA
Contact:

Post by martin »

shades wrote:But, line spacing (not being able to set absolute line spacing when using superscript/subscript is problematic).
Setting the line spacing to "fixed" should make the line height constant, regardless of note references or other content on the line.

samuelas
Posts: 41
Joined: 2007-09-02 09:32:02
Location: Hartford, CT

Post by samuelas »

My experience--as someone who partially switched from Mellel a while back (that is, I bought a license for NWE, then Pro, and have used it off and on)--is that for scholarly writing Mellel still can't be beat. There's much about Nisus that I like, but Mellel is the place I tend to write longer and more important documents (e.g. my dissertation), if just for its stability and Bookends (or Sente) integration: Nisus still crashes a fair amount and it doesn't have the kind of integration with Bookends and Sente that I really appreciate in Mellel. Regarding the latter, I have posted around here more than once with the suggestion that Nisus consider developing some way of integrating Zotero, for example, with no response. I'm also fine with the development pace of Mellel for the most part, since it already does basically what I want it to--I would never use, say, x-refs in a manuscript, nor would I need a commenting feature for a app/format that very few people I know use.

This said, I do like Nisus, and if it's your cup of tea there's a lot to recommend it, particularly macros and real multilingual spell checking, neither of which Mellel has. Many people also prefer the interface.

Hope this helps.
Sam

Anne Cuneo
Posts: 164
Joined: 2004-09-23 02:15:46
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Post by Anne Cuneo »

Nisus still crashes a fair amount
I read this often enough. I have been writing everything with Nisus Writer Express from 2.0 on. Including a 800'000 characters book with footnotes, tables, superscript with no problems about line spacing, etc. I have had a few glitches, but it never ever crashed, I haven't lost a comma. Should I suppose I have been endowed with magic powers?

By the way, I used Mellel for a while, when Nisus Writer Express 1.0 wasn't quite up to scratch yet.

I find Nisus simpler, and it works better with my personal sense of logic. I have the feeling it is transparent, whereas with Mellel I always had this impression of carrying a great weight. These impressions are of course one hundred percent subjective.
Anne

User avatar
scottwhitlock
Posts: 174
Joined: 2004-10-26 07:10:40
Location: Tucson, AZ
Contact:

Post by scottwhitlock »

Well said, Anne.
MacBook Pro 15
2.66 Ghz Core i7
8GB RAM
10.8.3
NWP 2.0.4
iPad 3

xiamenese
Posts: 446
Joined: 2006-12-08 00:46:44
Location: London or Exeter, UK

Post by xiamenese »

Hear! Hear!

I too started with Mellel before I found the predecessor to Nisus. I had a particular deal-breaker problem with Mellel, which meant that I didn't bother to upgrade about a year ago ... I was no longer using it anyway. Nisus pre-1 was the answer to my problem, and I've used Nisus ever since.

I have had a few crashes; the ones that come to mind were during beta-testing, so no complaint. In general, I have found all the versions of Nisus that I have used ... and that is from pre-release 1 through to Pro 1 very stable, the glitches I have had all being due to working with imported Word docs. I have found it acceptably fast even when handling 300+ page documents and its never crashed with them.

And like Anne, I find it transparent to use.

Mark
Rev. 1 MBP 2.16 GHz, 10.5.2

ptram
Posts: 280
Joined: 2007-10-21 14:59:09

Post by ptram »

I, too, am one of the lucky ones who never saw a crash with Nisus (apart for the very first betas). I work on long documents, including some with a lot of embedded images. Everything is fine, so I can say that Nisus is really solid.

I still find Nisus and Mellel different enough to deserve a long try before buying the right one. Luckily, there is a demo for each of them.

Paolo

Timotheus
Posts: 68
Joined: 2007-04-13 07:16:41

Post by Timotheus »

I agree with samuelas. Nisus is a very good and very nice application, but for specifically academic use Mellel is definitely the best choice one can make: perfect outlining, superb auto-titles, seamless integration with Bookends / Sente, and so on.

It is easy to make a list of idiosyncrasies in Mellel which few 'average' users will like; and it's easy to make a list of features which are still lacking in Mellel, and which Nisus Pro already has: cross-references, indexing, comments and so on.

And yet, when Mellel 2.5, which will have cross-referencing, will be out, it will soon become clear to anybody who really needs this feature, that Mellel's cross-referencing is a class of its own. And I have no doubt that the same will be the case with indexing, which sould be added immediately after cross-referencing.

In short, I would recommend Nisus to all 'average' users, and Mellel to the academics among us.

User avatar
scottwhitlock
Posts: 174
Joined: 2004-10-26 07:10:40
Location: Tucson, AZ
Contact:

Post by scottwhitlock »

I must be an 'average' academic, then. Nisus Writer Pro is my word processor of choice, and I think Endnote kicks Bookends' hindparts when it comes to integration into the OS (specifically, the Services menu, which allows for a very cool workflow between Nisus and Endnote).

Although Mellel and Bookends are paired together nicely, who wants to go through the hell of learning Mellel just to get to work with Bookends. And, also, and I believe that this is a much more important point, who wants to deal with a closed file-type that only one word processor on the planet can read - a word processor that almost no one outside of a small niche in academia uses.

Nisus is not perfect by any means, no. It still lacks image captioning, table wrapping, and certain other things that would make it perfect for academic writing. As for the outliner, I prefer to use OmniOutliner for that as well rather than a watered down version of an outliner in a word processor. OmniOutliner, because it can export RTF, works perfectly with Nisus.

Basically, if you want to use a word processor that flows the way you do (and is that customizable that it really can) and is rock solid and is a joy to use and whose files can be read by Word or by OpenOffice natively and interfaces with Bookends and Endnote and Sente, then 'average' or not, Nisus is your choice.
MacBook Pro 15
2.66 Ghz Core i7
8GB RAM
10.8.3
NWP 2.0.4
iPad 3

samuelas
Posts: 41
Joined: 2007-09-02 09:32:02
Location: Hartford, CT

Post by samuelas »

Mellel is quirky, but I wouldn't say learning it is "hell." You learn as you go. But the original poster in this case already knows Mellel.

The problem with using Nisus with bibliographic software is that you need to do an rtf scan; this presents a number of difficulties. You can only do the scan at the very end, for one, because if you edit the output document, then your original is out of date. This leaves you with two documents all the time, cluttering things up (and it can get confusing). For me--as someone writing scholarly articles and so forth in the humanities--no word processing application really works with or against me, as you suggest. Cervantes and Joyce and Auerbach all worked without Nisus, without Mellel, and we can, too. This said, Word 2004 is probably a good choice of word processor today (and I recognize how counter-intuitive this seems, because it wasn't even good in 2004), at least for scholars, because now it supports integration with arguably the best citation manager to ever exist, Zotero.

I notice that this Mellel-Nisus debate generally comes back to a retroactive justification of a purchase decision, or of a decision to use a word processor that no one else does, despite the fact that no one else does. In order to escape this fundamental insecurity, we must decide in favor of our own being, and decisively so, and assume the consequences of that decision to its conclusion.

Anne Cuneo
Posts: 164
Joined: 2004-09-23 02:15:46
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: thinking of switching from Mellel

Post by Anne Cuneo »

Samuelas

I notice that this Mellel-Nisus debate generally comes back to a retroactive justification of a purchase decision, or of a decision to use a word processor that no one else does, despite the fact that no one else does.
There may be some for which it is as you say. As for myself, I bought both, and for something like a year I used only Mellel, because Nisus Express was not enough for me at the time and I am adamant I won't use Word. For a long time I updated both, and often wrote a bit in one, a bit in the other. Until Nisus improved to the point when, as had been the case with Nisus Classic, I was back to the feeling that Nisus was writing with me, and Mellel was asking me to please it, somehow. I cannot express this very clearly.

I am being told that if you are a really state-of-the-art academic, you use neither Nisus, nor Mellel (and certainly not Word), but LaTeX.

I personally, being another «average» academic, don't need LaTeX, find that everything I can do with Mellel I can do with Nisus, am put off by the fact that Mellel has a unique format, whereas with Nisus I go happily from one to the other, and find Nisus' interface particularly nice. So I'll stay with Nisus and will stop updating Mellel, since I haven't felt like using it for a very long time.

No purchase justification here, just feelings and experience.
Anne

Timotheus
Posts: 68
Joined: 2007-04-13 07:16:41

Re: thinking of switching from Mellel

Post by Timotheus »

Well, I don't want (and I think nobody wants) to turn this thread into a which-is-better?-thread. Mellel and Nisus Pro are both very good. I own Mellel and have been working with it every day for the last four years. I don't own Nisus, but I'm seriously considering buying it. To be honest, I don't think I need it, but I really like it, and that's enough.

It must be said, though, that for some things Mellel is absolutely invaluable. Let me give one concrete example. I'm presently working on a book which counts hundreds of pages, countless footnotes, and many chapters and sub-chapters, all within a single Mellel document. This week I decided to radically change the order of the chapters, and of the subchapters within some chapters. In many other word processors, this would be a rather laborious task, with a serious risk of crashes. I remember that when in the past I tried to do a similar thing with Word, it crashed repeatedly. But Mellel's outline pane makes such a manoeuvre very easy, and its stability makes it disaster-proof. I don't think there's another word processor for the Mac which can beat Mellel on this point.

Having said that, I must admit that Mellel also has its clear downsides. Even after four years of daily practice, certain things in Mellel continue to appear counter-intuitive to me. Mellel is undoubtedly more difficult to get familiar with than (for instance) Nisus. That's why I would never recommend Mellel to people who will never use it for the things in which it shines.

And for those among us who don't like Mellel or don't need the things in which Mellel shines, and neither like Word or one of its clones, but want nevertheless a serious, powerful wordprocessor with a wealth of features, Nisus Pro is a very attractive (I would almost say the only) alternative.
Last edited by Timotheus on 2008-05-31 01:27:21, edited 1 time in total.

Post Reply