What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

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Ken
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What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by Ken » 2013-11-27 20:23:45

Nisus is the only word processor that has a very lengthy "typesetting text" process as part of opening a document. What sort of process is "typesetting text," what is Nisus doing that takes so much time, and why is it necessary for Nisus to do it at all?

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martin
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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by martin » 2013-12-06 18:00:05

Hi Ken: typesetting is the process by which your document's content is prepared for display on screen. There's a lot to that, but here's a rough overview of some of what goes on:

1. Calculating the final displayable formatting for each bit of text, eg: combining paragraph styles, character styles, and attribute overrides.
2. Taking text character codes (ie: Unicode) and mapping those to glyphs in the final display font.
3. Calculating the way lines of text are laid out on the page, and wrapping them based on the margins, indents, etc.
4. Deciding where tables, floating graphics, footnotes, etc, should be placed and then wrapping text around them.
5. Preventing windows & orphans and enacting other layout options.

That's just a partial list, but as you can see, there's a lot going on. If the delay in a particular document seems inexplicably long, you might send us the file so we can see if there's anything amiss, or something we can optimize to speed the typesetting time in the future.

One final tip: Draft View's typesetting is a lot simpler because there's no need to consider pagination, footnotes, etc. You might switch to using Draft View for some documents.

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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by Ken » 2013-12-07 07:00:44

That's a good explanation, thank you.

I have a 1,300 page journal with daily entries. It's a simple document and I've been keeping it since 1997. In Pages (which I'm replacing) and Word (which I'm avoiding) it snaps open instantly. Nisus takes 10-15 minutes just to open it, and the only visible difference is that Nisus displays the typesetting message. With the Pages or Word version of the document, I can open the document, make a quick entry, and I'm done in little more time than it takes to type the entry. That same process takes so long with Nisus it isn't practical to open the document just to add a paragraph. I tried draft mode, but it still takes too long to be practical. It makes me wonder if Nisus is doing something upfront that other word processors do on the fly and don't necessarily have to complete.

I guess I'm reporting a problem instead of asking a question, and I should have submitted this elsewhere.

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Patrick J
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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by Patrick J » 2013-12-07 18:09:38

Ken wrote: I have a 1,300 page journal with daily entries.
As an aside to your question, I wonder if you have considered using something like MacJournal for this?

MacJournal will keep each entry as a separate file in a MacJournal database. A MacJournal database is a package, which means it looks like a file but can be easily opened if need be to reveal files within. If you wish to have all the diary entries in one single RTF file then you just export from MacJournal.

Personally I would be a bit nervous of keeping a journal in a big file of 1,300 pages. I think that it would be possible for that file to become corrupt and then the whole lot would be inaccessible.
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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by reh-im-mond » 2013-12-08 14:07:59

I'd say the same as Patrick – a word processor isn't the most comfortable place for a daily journal. Personally, I use Scrivener for my diary. Scrivener costs about the same as MacJournal but has a few other nice things to offer.

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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by Tacitus » 2013-12-09 00:06:22

If it's just a simple diary/journal type app you want then DayOne is also worth considering. iPad/iPhone versions are also available. All via the appropriate app store.

http://www.dayoneapp.com
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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by phspaelti » 2013-12-09 01:51:55

I don't have a lot of experience with files that size. Size is tolerable up to a point, but one does have to wonder why it is important to keep this all in a single file, which you then want to use for daily editing.

But returning to the real question: I tried the following experiment. I downloaded several novels from Project Gutenberg and combined them into a single file to get a 5 Mio character file (about 2000 pages). And it is true that Pages (but not OpenOffice, don't have Word) is somewhat quicker at opening this, than Nisus even in Draft view. What's more, both Pages and OO go directly to a page view. Switching to page view with Nisus is almost interminable (and seems to only work well if you first place the cursor at the beginning, so that it can 'start from the beginning').

Having said that, there are probably other points to consider. Pages and OpenOffice save the file in their own dedicated formats, and Pages format causes the file size to balloon. (OO has 2.5 MB and Pages has over 10MB. Rtf is around 6MB, and zrtf was 2.2MB). Saving that way can certainly be a way to speed up loading. (Nisus of course saves in rtf, which perhaps requires some translation at opening time?)

OO is pretty fast opening, but it does something really strange with scrolling: it allows you to grab the slider and scroll when you are at the beginning of the file, but if you are in the middle, you can no longer "grab" the scroll-slider at all! Scrolling in Pages also seems somewhat jerky. In Nisus scrolling seems completely smooth and effortless to me.

So in the end it probably comes down to the old question of using the right tool for the job. Nisus probably can't be optimized for everything.


Anyhow here are my (anecdotal) comparisons (hand-timed by stopwatch):
  • Pages ≈ 5-7 secs
  • OO ≈ 15 secs
  • Nisus ≈ 10-12 secs (zrtf only a smidgen faster)
So if you are seeing big(ger) differences that might indicate that there is something wrong with your file perhaps?
philip

David Sharp
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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by David Sharp » 2014-01-03 03:34:16

Hi (and a very Happy New Year to all Nisus users and official persons),

This topic encapsulates a number of concerns I've had for a while. I too keep a daily diary - nowhere near as long as Ken's but long enough to cause a longish "typsetting text" phase while opening it, which I always do in draft mode. Needless to say, as time goes by, my masterpiece can only get longer!

Up to now I have had two reasons to keep my document in a single file:
  • It isn't just a diary of ongoing events - I also continuously insert and update early entries, based on various sources from that large chunk of my life when word-processors, and indeed computers, didn't exist. For that reason no past entries can be considered definitive, and I find it easier to update them within the scope of a single document;
  • Above all, I find it convenient to be able to search through the entire document. Unless I'm mistaken, NWP doesn't allow users to search through a group of documents. (I recall that an early version of Word - probably the long-regretted Word 4 for Mac - allowed that, but I don't know about more recent versions).
As regards proposals for alternate types of software, I am always intrigued by writers who explain that they continually switch from one type of document editor to another for various tasks. My gut feeling is that I want to use one and only one program for all my writing tasks, given the complexities of import/export and formatting.

One aspect of my diary that might make the "typesetting" process longer is my quite intensive use of styles. I've started using different paragraph styles to format different types of subject matter, such as nature notes, household events, dreams and so on. Plus of course, all my date headers (year, month, day) have a different style. The result is a document that currently contains around 18,000 paragraphs for some 400,000 words.

At bottom, my key concern isn't the time it takes for NWP to typeset my document (I've learned from experience never to try and switch it to page view!). My worry is the possible danger of keeping such a massive document in a single file, which is raised by several commenters here.

I should add that I am an intensive user of Time Machine, with two backup disks available at any one time, plus at least two copies on ordinary external disks or thumb drives.

From the point of view of data security, should I be doing this differently?

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Patrick J
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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by Patrick J » 2014-01-04 06:43:00

David Sharp wrote:
  • It isn't just a diary of ongoing events - I also continuously insert and update early entries, based on various sources from that large chunk of my life when word-processors, and indeed computers, didn't exist. For that reason no past entries can be considered definitive, and I find it easier to update them within the scope of a single document;
  • Above all, I find it convenient to be able to search through the entire document. Unless I'm mistaken, NWP doesn't allow users to search through a group of documents. (I recall that an early version of Word - probably the long-regretted Word 4 for Mac - allowed that, but I don't know about more recent versions).
Hi David

I don't like to respond in such a contrary way, but I wonder if you have looked at MacJournal. I think that your resistance to a "multi-document" approach might disappear if you try MacJournal.

Although I say it is multi-document in fact MacJournal keeps all those documents in a "package" a type of file on the Mac which looks like a file but behaves a bit like a folder, it contains a user navigable directory, if you wish to navigate it in the Finder. However with MacJournal you would never need to open the package in the Finder in normal use.

The way MacJournal uses a package on the Mac to keep all its data is a common thing used by Apple themselves a lot (iPhoto, Aperture, etc) and many other applications. DevonThink and Scrivener are two that I can think of that do this. The great advantage of the package is that even if the application stops working for some reason, the package can still be opened like a folder, and the data accessed.

MacJournal allows you to search these multiple document from its single window interface. I keep a diary going back many years and although I don't update early entries myself, if I were, I would much rather do it in MacJournal than in a big single file. With MacJournal you can search all the files and locate specific entries very easily. Also you can open each entry in its own separate window, so if you were changing entries in several non-contiguous dates you could open all of them in separate windows at the same time and make changes.

If you want to edit your MacJournal entries in Nisus Writer you can. You can use "Edit in Other Application" option (in Entry menu) and open the file in Nisus Writer. These Mac Journal files are RTF and so they are easily editable in Nisus Writer or indeed just about any word processor (except the new Pages).

Even if MacJournal stopped being developed and it became such that you could no longer use it on your computer you can just export all the entries either as separate files or as one big file.

I would worry about having all your entries in one big file. If that file became corrupt then you could find yourself unable to open it.

For diary keeping I've tried all the options and I always return to MacJournal.

As an aside I'll mention that Nisus Writer on the classic OS did allow multi-file searching, however this has never reached the classic OS version.
Patrick

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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by David Sharp » 2014-01-05 22:25:52

Hi Patrick, many thanks for a very interesting reply.
Although I say it is multi-document in fact MacJournal keeps all those documents in a "package" a type of file on the Mac which looks like a file but behaves a bit like a folder, it contains a user navigable directory, if you wish to navigate it in the Finder. However with MacJournal you would never need to open the package in the Finder in normal use.
The way MacJournal uses a package on the Mac to keep all its data is a common thing used by Apple themselves a lot (iPhoto, Aperture, etc) and many other applications. DevonThink and Scrivener are two that I can think of that do this. The great advantage of the package is that even if the application stops working for some reason, the package can still be opened like a folder, and the data accessed.
Before I start thinking about diversifying to yet another software program - I feel I already have too many - I'd like to ask a basic question: why doesn't NWP also use this "package" approach? Or does it already, in some way I'm not aware of?

To return to that classic Word 4 for Mac, I recall that it enabled you to construct a table of contents in two ways: either within a single file, or with each chapter or section pointing to a separate file.

This created a kind of chained document, in which each of the links in the chain was a separate file. The risk involved in having huge amounts of data in a single file was therefore reduced.

I'm not sure whether more recent versions of Word provide such a possibility, and in truth I have no desire to find out, for reasons unrelated to this thread. But before looking at options such as Scrivener or Mac Journal, I would like to know if NWP can offer any such possibiities.

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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by Hamid » 2014-01-06 01:46:05

David Sharp wrote:[...]Unless I'm mistaken, NWP doesn't allow users to search through a group of documents.[...]
It is possible to search through a group of documents using the search options in the Document Manager. The range of the group of documents through which search can be done can be as wide or narrow as you like. An easy way to manage a narrow group is to have the group of documents inside one real or smart folder. For example, here in this search, I want to search through a smart folder named "@Essential".
DMsearch.gif
DMsearch.gif (27.28 KiB) Viewed 6334 times
David Sharp wrote: [...]Before I start thinking about diversifying to yet another software program - I feel I already have too many - I'd like to ask a basic question: why doesn't NWP also use this "package" approach? Or does it already, in some way I'm not aware of?[...].
I suggest you explore the wide range of possibilities available in the Document Manager.

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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by Patrick J » 2014-01-06 02:51:44

David Sharp wrote:Hi Patrick, many thanks for a very interesting reply.

Before I start thinking about diversifying to yet another software program - I feel I already have too many - I'd like to ask a basic question: why doesn't NWP also use this "package" approach? Or does it already, in some way I'm not aware of?
Nisus Writer Pro doesn't use that package approach because, I guess, it is not very relevant to most of the things you do with Nisus Writer. That package approach is great when you want to manage very large collections of files which work together in some very coordinated way. So it is great for an information manager, like DevonThink Pro, or for a novel writing outliner like Scrivener or a diary writing and management program like MacJournal. Other programs that use it, like Aperture or Final Cut Pro X manage large numbers of images or movies (FCP X uses it in its "Camera Archives").

Obviously I don't know the way you choose to write your own diary, but in general I think the diary is a unique kind of a thing in writing because you have entries with a date and time. The conventional diary is as much a database like thing as it is a word processing document like thing.

To slightly complicate things as an aside I will mention that Nisus Writer does use packages when you save documents as ".rtfd". Each ".rtfd" is a little package with a user navigable directory for any images or graphics that you included in the document. However that use of the package is really quite different from the one we are discussing.
David Sharp wrote:To return to that classic Word 4 for Mac, I recall that it enabled you to construct a table of contents in two ways: either within a single file, or with each chapter or section pointing to a separate file.

This created a kind of chained document, in which each of the links in the chain was a separate file. The risk involved in having huge amounts of data in a single file was therefore reduced.

I'm not sure whether more recent versions of Word provide such a possibility, and in truth I have no desire to find out, for reasons unrelated to this thread. But before looking at options such as Scrivener or Mac Journal, I would like to know if NWP can offer any such possibiities.
I know that Word will do as you describe, at least the last time I used it, it did.

I'm pretty sure you can link to files with Nisus Writer because it does contain hypertext links but I haven't tried it.

However MacJournal really is a much better way imho. Consider, for example, if you wish to create a single file of all or just some parts of your diary combined. With MacJournal exporting that is extremely simple whereas with a whole series of word processing files it would be quite cumbersome.

Before MacJournal arrived I used to keep all my diary in Nisus Writer files on the classic OS and then OS X. Each one covered a month. I was able to import the entries in those files into MacJournal because if you lay out the entries in a particular way in your document then MacJournal will be able to import multiple entries from a single file. Using the find/replace in the classic Nisus Writer I was able to convert the entries to the necessary layout fairly easily. If you have laid out your entries in some regular way then it might be possible to do the same.
Patrick

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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by David Sharp » 2014-01-07 00:55:32

In reply to Hamid:
Indeed, I'm taking a closer look at the document manager, having previously, I confess, only skimmed that part of the user manual.
I note however that the search engine available via the document manager is Apple's Spotlight, rather than Nisus's much more powerful search tool.
I also note that a system such as the one offered by Word makes it possible to treat a collection of separate files - such as the chapters of a book, or a group of entries in a journal - as a single file for purposes such as pagination and footnotes, as well as for searching.

On the other hand, the main reason I'm expressing these concerns is because of the warnings people have raised about the dangers of keeping a large quantity of data in a single NWP file.
Patrick J. writes:
I would worry about having all your entries in one big file. If that file became corrupt then you could find yourself unable to open it.
But surely if that were to happen, I would still be able to retrieve a good part of my text by using a tool such as BBEdit or TextEdit. Is that not so?
The average RTF file generated by NWP is peanuts compared to the size of most photos, for example.

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Patrick J
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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by Patrick J » 2014-01-07 10:26:40

David Sharp wrote: Patrick J. writes:
I would worry about having all your entries in one big file. If that file became corrupt then you could find yourself unable to open it.
But surely if that were to happen, I would still be able to retrieve a good part of my text by using a tool such as BBEdit or TextEdit. Is that not so?
The average RTF file generated by NWP is peanuts compared to the size of most photos, for example.
To be honest I have never had a very big word processing file go wrong myself, however this could be because I don't keep them.

Even a huge word processing file is small compared to image files and vide files but opening it every day and editing would be a worry for me.

The RTF can be accessed by BBEdit but sorting it out might be a bit character forming.

I will say that perhaps my concern is ill-founded, I just don't know for sure.
Patrick

Ken
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Re: What is Nisus doing when it is "typesetting text"?

Post by Ken » 2014-01-23 20:37:54

I'm the one who started this discussion.

I'm sure that there is other software that's good for journals, but I didn't ask that question. My question was "What is Nisus doing when it is typesetting text?" "Why does this happen at all?"

How the long file gets to be a long file and whether a long file is a good idea is also beside the point. I didn't ask "how can I make the file smaller?" I asked, in essence, "How do I get Nisus to open it faster?" In all other word processors, the document snaps open. In Nisus, the snap takes 15 minutes.

Here is the file size in different formats:

DOCX==2.6 MB
PAGES=2.1 MB (the real pages, not the "pages 5" coloring book)
RTF===2.6 MV
ZRTF==2.0 MB
DOC==11.0 MB

Yes, it is dangerous to save everything in one giant file. I chose to do it that way for my own reasons and it is beside the point. The only word processor that corrupted the file was Word, and it happened only once about five years ago. The question remains, why does Nisus take so long to open it? With a hint, "Can you eliminate this delay?

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