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Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-03 05:27:15
by joekissell
Hello everyone,

I'm currently talking with the folks at Nisus, and Adam Engst at Take Control Books, about the possibility of writing a brand new book on Nisus Writer Pro, and I'm looking for some input.

What we're contemplating wouldn't be a massive volume like The Nisus Way (600 pages); I'm thinking more like a quarter of that length. Ebook only, probably $10 or $15. The intent would not be to replace the documentation or serve as a complete reference guide; instead, it would be more of a practical how-to book on doing interesting, useful activities with Nisus Writer Pro. So, not "this feature/control does X" but rather "here's how you accomplish Y."

I'd like to have your feedback on (a) your general level of interest in such a book, and (b) what sorts of tasks you'd like the book to cover.

Are there things you want to accomplish in Nisus Writer Pro but just can't figure out how? Are there parts of the app that you feel you're just not getting the most from? Or that you want to use, but find too inscrutable? Anything at all that you really wish someone would write detailed instructions for? I can't promise that all ideas will be used, but all will be considered.

Let me know what you think.



Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-03 08:50:41
by riccardo
Great idea, and the emphasis on tips and tricks and a complete understanding of how to use the various features to accomplish things so that we're not fighting the way it was engineered to work, that would be great. We don't need a reworked version of the manual. Your Nisus Way is a classic, by the way, (as was the old Nisus, alas), on a par with Rinerson's book on Word and a couple of others.

I'll have to think about specifics, but a couple of things come to mind.
- working with images
- tables
- the navigation control
- you could have at least a whole chapter on macros, which is one of the areas that I think distinguishes NWP from the pack, and it's something I used to rely on a great deal back in my Word days
- some good ideas on managing templates and other boilerplate (we all have our own system, but more ideas are always good)
- some more in-depth on creating and managing styles, a feature I've come to rely on after using them for a quarter century in various programs.

Maybe I'll think of some more. I'm happy to purchase an eBook for something like this, where I'll be sitting in front of a computer and trying out stuff from the book. Generally, though, I'm not a big eBook fan. But I'd purchase this one.

Hope you get some positive responses.

Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-03 12:54:30
by js
And because Nisus is so well done, the largest chapter should be a "cooking book" called macros.

Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-03 13:07:34
by joekissell
Yes, I take it as a foregone conclusion that macros will receive significant treatment in the book!

I would be interested in knowing, more specifically, what types of activities folks would like to be able to use macros for, because the range of possibilities is pretty vast!


Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-03 14:21:31
by exegete77
Good to see you here, Joe. I have followed your writing for the past 18 years.

I think your book project is excellent! I don’t have specific topics, but anything that extends my knowledge of NWP is welcome!

Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-03 18:15:09
by jtranter
The way named styles are handled by Nisus Writer Pro enables texts to be carried across to say InDesign, with style information intact, which is rare and valuable.

The HTML export facility (without CSS) enables good XHTML pages to be constructed. These are important points.

The macro facility is excellent and useful.

Typography is handled well.

Stability with long documents is important.

PDF export is useful and well done.

The product has excellent and responsive support, a rare and vaulable asset.

Good luck!

Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-04 00:48:23
by Dirk_Barends
Ahoi Joe,

have been using your book with Nisus, which was very helpful indeed
and interesting to read about the history of Nisus.
My most appreciated topic was the PowerFind and macro combination possibilities.

Now I use a self edited/extended version of Quinons PowerFind Pro Reference:


Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-09 05:53:29
by George Maschke

First, let me say that I really liked your book The Nisus Way! I was a big fan of Nisus Writer as a graduate student in the '90s and used it to typeset two books. I found Nisus Writer's powerful search-and-replace, support for scripts like Arabic & Persian, and macro language immensely useful, and your book was a very handy reference. After the advent of Mac OS X, I migrated from using Nisus to OpenOffice and LibreOffice. I'm now interested in revising and re-typsetting one of the books that I earlier published in Nisus Writer and am looking at Nisus Pro as an option for doing that. This time, I'd like to produce not just a camera-ready PDF, but also a quality EPUB (from which in turn I'd also like to produce a good .mobi file for viewing on Amazon Kindles). Thus, in your book, what would be especially interesting for me is a chapter on how best to produce e-books with Nisus Pro.

A macro tutorial would also be helpful. I still have not attempted to write macros in Nisus Pro. I was once fairly adept and writing them in Nisus Writer, but it seems that things have radically changed. So a macro tutorial would be very welcome. One macro I wrote for Nisus Writer that was useful for typesetting would go through an index generated by Nisus looking for consecutive pages and insert em dashes for ranges. For example, "1,7,8,9,10,15,16,17,32" would become "1,7-10,15-17,32" (but with em dashes rather than the hyphens I've used here on this forum). It would be great if you could include a macro tutorial with that level of complexity. :-)

Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-12 09:08:10
by Cicero

I would be very interested in such a book. I am relatively new to the Mac (2-3 years) and very new to NWP. I come from a Windows background where my favoured word processor is WordPerfect. I like it for its macros and the ability to customise, not to mention reveal codes. My first impression of NWP is that it stands in a similar sort of relationship to Mac word processors as WordPerfect does in Windows, but I am still trying to learn about many of its features.

A book would, therefore, be most welcome, perhaps along similar lines to your book on Devonthink where you make recommendations about the best ways of using certain features in order to achieve particular results. I would also ask you to consider making the book slightly longer than you mention, so that you can try to cater for the experienced and inexperienced user alike.

Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-14 08:35:12
by hoberdiek
I just want to add my encouragement for you to write such a book. As it is, while everything one might want is in the manual somewhere, it is too often scattered (no doubt for good reasons, but still...). So if you could -- in KISS fashion -- show in one section [nearly] everything about footnotes/endnotes or [nearly] everything about the status bar, etc., that would be great. Good luck!

Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-14 09:55:39
by joekissell
I appreciate all the comments so far; keep them coming! I hope I haven't set expectations too high—there's no way I can write a book of any length that will address every question someone might have about Nisus Writer. But I'll do my best to pick the tasks and topics that seem to be the most useful and have the broadest appeal.


Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-22 02:02:39
by tedg
Joe --

I think what I would suggest is three different books.

One would be like Engst manages, an overall, lightweight "Taking Control."

A second would be an expert user's manual, assuming some expertise. I am considering coming back to Nisus and would want some guidance about LinkBack workflows, getting around Apple's quirky layout engine (how to handle OpenType limitations and hyphenation control). FrameMaker-like practice. Handling large documents. Integration with some applications like Tinderbox, Scrivener, DevonThink...

A third would be as comprehensive a guide to macros as possible. This latter might be a subscription model with an expert forum.

Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-22 21:16:29
by tedg
I would probably not be interested in a Take Control book. These probably are fine for a novice, but I seldom find out how to do what I want to do with the ones I have purchased.

I would instead buy both of the following at $20.

-- Advanced stuff, re workflows: LinkBack, PDF management, Devonthink, Bookends, Tinderbox, Scrivener.

-- A comprehensive macro guide, yes, including PERL.

Posted: 2012-09-24 03:21:24
by BobHughes
I too would really appreciate such a book. I _very_ much liked your book on Nisus Classic (still have it).

Main thing of course is macros. In Classic, I made loads of them (assisted by your book). With Pro, this doesn't seem so easy - maybe it's inherently more difficult, maybe not.

One thing that's rather on my mind at the moment is inter-operability with other packages.

e.g. Word allows me to edit in multiple windows. (So does SubEthaEdit, but I wouldn't really want to write a book in SEEdit. There again...). Multiple windows is a fantastic help when editing something vast and full of intertwingularities, and Nisus doesn't do them. Maybe another version will, but it will need a much, much newer machine than mine to run it on, and I ain't going to buy one. Not rich. And this one's OK.

I'd also like some thoughts about working with, say, TAO (Takashi Hamada's fabulous outliner). Outlining in Nisus, using the TOC, is not at all bad, but nothing like as good as TAO. (Its successor, NEO, is probably even better but won't run under 10.4.11).

And I notice Nisus is pushing Scrivener. How well do these two work together?

It would be good if one could go back and forth between apps - but normally it's a one-way street. This was always one of Ted Nelson's gripes: as if, having picked up a hammer, you relinquish the right to use a chisel on that particular job, ever again.

And more info, please, on just what it is that makes Nisus so attractive, so appealing. It's nice to be reminded of these things and discover new ones, and why they're there. And, perhaps more importantly, the things you learn to expect in Nisus, that you _don't_ find in Word, and so on ... (and vice versa).

But now, back to the book (currently drafting insertions on little bits of paper, with fine-nibbed fountain-pen - one needs all that stuff, too).

Hasta la revolución,

Bob Hughes

Re: Book on Nisus Writer Pro

Posted: 2012-09-24 11:49:42
by joekissell
Just to be clear, because I don't want to set unrealistic expectations… I can only sign up to write one book, it has to be part of the Take Control series, and it can't be long—150 pages is about the upper limit. It's not a matter of interest on my part; it's a matter of mathematics: I can't sell enough books on Nisus Writer to pay for the six months of full-time writing it would take to cover every suggestion made so far, and I have a family to feed. I will, however, do my level best! If we do the book and it's a run-away best-seller, then sure, we can talk about going further. But we'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.