The market for NWE and how it can grow

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The market for NWE and how it can grow

Post by Digimarkus »

The following are some marketing thoughts about NWE as it relates to my experience as a potential customer.

I am a recent switcher to the mac platform. I have used various versions of the mac os through the years, having worked and studied in the creative arts and design education industries. While at University I also spent some time using the NeXT platform. And the NeXT heritage of MAC OSX was a significant part of getting me to finally switch. I love innovative people and companies who care about using technology to make my life better. I was also a long time word user, largely because it's popularity has made it the standard for word processing documents. However, I wasn't really impressed with word on the mac. In particular, because I have an intel mac. All that to say, I started to explore other options.

I was familiar with OpenOffice both on Linux and Windows and while I think it has a lot of potential it has little market acceptance at this point. Moreover, it's not very mac friendly at this point. In other words it doesn't work the way a mac app should. NeoOffice has some potential, but its not ready for intel.

Then I discovered Nisus Writer Express and Mellel. It seems that these are the two main Mac OS X only word processors out there. There is also Pages, but its not really a lean mean writing machine. It's nice for its page layout abilities, but not really great for serious writing work.

In both cases what really started to sell me on even considering NWE or Mellel over Word was its market position. These products are loved and used by professional and serious writers. The "writer's word processor" is a powerful value proposition to me - especially if the product can actually deliver on this promise. I also like the fact that both these products seem to have a good community of users who actively help shape the end result.

I am still just evaluating these products and there are things I like about both. I like that NWE uses an open file format - RFT. It's a real convenience to send people a file without having to think about doing a conversion and knowing that they can open it. NWE also has a real nice UI, which is important to me. Beautiful things just seem to work better - because they are a joy to use. Mellel has nice integration with reference management software, which is becoming important for people writing academic papers. Sure, it's easy enough to scan an RTF document, but a GUI interface make reference management a joy. I also really like Mellel's outline pane. I think this is a brilliant way to navigate large documents and keep them organized.

At this point I am leaning towards NWE, largely because I like having my files stored in a standard format - RTF. I also like the interface, although I would like to see a bit more graphic polish. More importantly, I really want to see the addition of academic writing tools like outlining and tight GUI integration with reference management software (Sente and Bookends). I also think that the nisus website could use a face lift to better promote the mac-like and innovative side of their "word processor for writers" value proposition. Right now the website looks a little bit dated and just average. To use Seth Godin's term, it's not much of a purple cow (if you haven't read the book its a good one). I think that NWE is a really innovative little gem, but you don't get this impression by visiting there website. It talks quite a bit of work before their value proposition is clear. This is a missed opportunity and Mellel is selling the NWE market position. If you look at their new website (which still isn't great) its moving in the right direction. They clearly communicate why someone should be interested in their software.

Why is this important? Because great software doesn't sell if people don't know why it is of value to them. With MS Office not supporting intel macs (well) until next year (at the earliest) people like me are looking for alternatives. This is a great opportunity for nisus. However, most people will not likely spend the time to figure out the NWE value proposition. Good marketing sells software and the more software nisus can sell the more resources they have to invest in the professional features that we all want.

I think NWE is great and has lots of potential. However, I also think nisus has a bit of a marketing problem, or at least a few missed marketing opportunities. And if you don't believe me try typing "mac word processor" or "word processor mac" into google. No nisus. Mariner and mellel come up, but no nisus. And this is so easy to fix. And if you do eventually get to the website you have to do a lot of work to understand and more importantly believe the value proposition of NWE. Again, this is so easy to fix and the competition is still limited. Although mellel is on its way to working hard to eat into the Nisus "word processor for writers" market niche.

Anyways, I thought this might make an interesting topic and could be helpful feedback for the success of Nisus and NWE.


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Patrick J
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Post by Patrick J »

I think that is a most thoughtful post you have written.

I feel that many writers do use Nisus Writer but I don't know if that is specifically the niche that NWE is targeted at.

The old Nisus Writer Classic, which I used for many years was hugely strong in that you could customise it to do the things you wanted it to. It had a macro language all of its own which was extremely powerful indeed.

The other joy of Nisus Writer Classic was that it had the best Find/Replace of any word processor or text editor.

I think NWE is growing gradually in the Nisus Writer Classic areas of strength but will take some time. Fortunately NWE has “solved” the great weaknesses of Nisus Writer Classic which were: no sections, no “based on” styles, no WYSIWYG multi-columns and very poor table creation ability. NWE is far better than NWC in those respects.

I feel it is the customisability of Nisus Writer which has always been its greatest selling point. The fact that you can turn it into the word processor of your own choosing.

I’d like to see the development over time increase the customisability, I’d like to see AppleScript support improved with an entry in the dictionary for just about everything.

I haven’t been doing anything with the Perl scripts yet so I don’t know how powerful that implementation is.

I agree with you about the PR, the web-site is not as nice as Mellel’s. In general the look and feel of Mac applications has become incredibly important. Pages is beautiful to look at and muck about with though not very useful for my particular activities.

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Post by Steve »

The reason I am swinging toward Nisus is that it is the ONLY word processor out there that I am familiar with that handles multiple unicode combining diacritics correctly. I can't explain it, but when other word processors fail to position the diacritics correctly, NWE does. Using Gentium, the Unicode Hex Input keyboard layout, and entering 0101 0303 (while holding down the option key) produces the 'a' with macron with tilde correctly, whereas the others (MS Word, InDesign, Pages, Mellel) will overlay the combining tilde onto the macron, making them worthless for any of this work. The only other program that I've run across that handles this correctly is TextEdit, which can't be considered a word processor. I had figured that since NWE uses Cocoa as its code foundation, and Cocoa is an Apple technology, that Pages, too, would handle this correctly. Nope. They must use some other technology.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to get our MS Word documents correctly and safely imported into NWE, something that as of yet is not possible.

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Post by Patrick J »

I haven't tried importing of MS Word documents into NWE. I think if I were to set about it the first thing I'd try is to save the Word documents as RTF then try opening those in Nisus Writer Express.

I agree with original poster that it is an excellent thing that NWE saves files as RTF.

For me this is a very good reason to keep using NWE.

I think Nisus Writer Express is built around the TextEdit text engine but I don't know this, I just guess. Although Pages is a Cocoa app. I don't know if that means it is built around TextEdit but I guess not.

As an aside I think that Pages is sort of a bit of a flawed idea in that personally I think that if you want to create artistic promo material etc. then the drawing type of environment which was to be found in the drawing ClarisWorks module is a better way to go.

One thing I do like very much about pages is that a search can be performed and results appear in that long window down the side.

This is something that could be done in Nisus Writer Classic using the "Summary Search" feature. This is yet another thing that would be nice to see in NWE :)

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Post by martin »

Patrick J wrote:I think Nisus Writer Express is built around the TextEdit text engine but I don't know this, I just guess. Although Pages is a Cocoa app. I don't know if that means it is built around TextEdit but I guess not.
Express is indeed based on Apple's core text engine, the same that TextEdit uses. Pages on the other hand uses WebKit, the same layout engine Safari employs.

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Post by Mark XM »

Patrick J wrote:I haven't tried importing of MS Word documents into NWE. I think if I were to set about it the first thing I'd try is to save the Word documents as RTF then try opening those in Nisus Writer Express.
I spend much of my time importing MSWord documents into NWE, mostly produced in various flavours of Chinese Windows and Word. I have found two issues:

(1) Office 97 docs--running under Windows 97 for sure--are real dogs. Word files won't open in anything on my TiBook running 10.4.X; Excel files won't open in Mariner Calc ... files produced by other versions of Office open normally. And it's not just Chinese Windows 97. The answer is to run those rogue files through MacLink Plus and translate them into some usable format--I go for Word/Excel 98 for Mac, at which point they open normally.
(2) and very much more seriously for me, graphics in Word docs don't open in NWE. Well, of course, Microsoft will use its own graphics format ... if only they would use a standard format ... TIFF, PNG, EPS ... Hell will, of course freeze over. I guess it's one of my top wish-list items ... NWE to handle graphics in Word.

To get the graphics and Chinese I have to use Pages. I can use NeoOffice but it's so slow to load, and the interface is HORRIBLE.

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Post by silas »

Another strong point in Nisus's favor: before I switched to the Mac (10.2) I spent ten or so years on Windows, and always hated Word. The word processors I used were WordPerfect 5, 6, 7 and 8. They were better designed than Word, were easier to use, were more flexible... and of course had the amazing "reveal codes" feature. (Word has never had and will never have this feature... the architectural differences that make this so are actually pretty interesting, stemming from the the approach each program took to sending text to printers way back in the 80s. Also as a result of this architectural difference, it was incredibly difficult to open .doc files in Wordperfect or .wpd files in Word. This wasn't a big deal back then, but since the mid-90s it has been a headache and has led to the slow demise of Wordperfect.)

Switching to the Mac meant switching away from Wordperfect, which was the only real downside. This presented two problems: 1st, I was stuck using Word for all the new documents I created; and 2nd, I had no way to open any of my old documents! I found a free copy of the old Mac Wordperfect, but that couldn't handle all the newer .wpd files. I got VirtualPC and installed WP9 on it, but that obviously wasn't ideal. Even MacLinkPlus doesn't do well translating .wpd to .doc!

Then I found NWE. Not only was it a joy to use - the best word processor I ever used, even better than Wordperfect used to be - but it is the ONLY word processor I've found on OS X that opens .wpd files. It generally opens them perfectly, which I find impressive.

Anyway, the point is that anyone who uses WordPerfect under Windows and then switches to OS X should be made aware that NWE is the perfect product for them.

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Post by cchapin »

Silas, your experience is very much like mine. I started with WordPerfect 4.1 and used it through version 10, then get fed up with Windows and switched to a Mac (beginning with Panther). The hardest part of making the jump was leaving WordPerfect behind.

Part of the attraction of Nisus Writer Express for me, as for you, was its ability to open WordPerfect files. This ability is worth emphasizing for the small but probably significant number of former WordPerfect for Windows users who have switched to Macs. These are people who are in general already more than open to alternatives to Microsoft, Office and Word.


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Post by midwinter »

Why I use NWE:




(images from Ftrain, which has a wonderful essay on Microsoft Word here)

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math equation

Post by gemboy27 »

two pictures = a billion words
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education/Mark Twain (1835-1910)

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