A visit to the Apple Store

Recently I’ve spent some time in the Barcelona’s Apple Store in Passeig de Gràcia, meandering between the tables. Here are the conclusions I came to:

– The 27-inch Cinema Display is exposed in a corner, as it should, because it does not compare well with the new iMac screens.
– It’s been said that the iPad Pro is a too heavy to hold it with your hands, but it seems an overstatement. I found it light for its size. Its keyboard —just for exhibition purposes; it was the US English version— is functional but too thick and quite ugly.
– The four tables devoted to the watch didn’t draw anyone’s attention. (I confirmed it in a second visit.)
– The new Magic Keyboard models are excessively compact. However, if I was forced to use one, I’d end up adapting my typing to it. The lack of space around the four arrow keys is the main gripe. The actual typing, which is really sensitive, doesn’t feel wrong at all.


– The AppleTV’s remote control is quite unfortunate. Its weight and touch don’t make it comfortable. The vertical and horizontal navigation would require the usual four arrow buttons. Using your finger in the touch surface to navigate is a pain in the neck.
– I believed that the big iPhone, the 6s Plus, would never appeal to me, but I was wrong. It’s the coolest one. Pictures, maps, notes, web pages… all of them ought to be displayed in screens like that, never a smaller one. As for the disproportionate size of the device as a phone, that’s a secondary factor.


Mellel vs Nisus

The first characteristic that emerges when you start using Mellel is how fast the application reacts to actions. I attribute it to its being based on XML. The second is how styles are organised. Paragraph and character styles are separate entities, so I can have one paragraph style for quotations and different character styles for Italian, English (UK), Catalan… And there are page styles, too. In regard to both features, Mellel drifts apart from Nisus, which is based on RTF and has a more standard approach to styles.

It’s hard on everyone to start using a word processor from scratch, but many documents cannot be written in plain text. It’d be worse to pay a monthly subscription to Adobe or to buy a QuarkXPress 2015 one-time license. In my opinion, Mellel is well worth the effort.


Quark in the Mac world

It’s a joy to see QuarkXPress 2015 featured on Macworld’s website («QuarkXPress 2015 review: Chock full of new features requested by you»). Many members of the community of typesetters and print media designers have always been keen on using Mac computers, and Quark adds to that the opportunity to live a life outside Adobeland.

There are two big reasons to take a peek at Quark’s capabilities: integration with XML and exporting to EPUB. However, Quark can be used as a regular page layout application, in other words, when the accuracy and power of the usual suspects (Word, LibreOffice, Pages, Nisus Writer…) isn’t enough.


Mellel, good news

I feel sorry for Nisus Writer people, but Mellel (38,99€ at the Mac App Store) has just made a huge step forward: in the middle of June its sibling application for iPad came to light (19,99€ a l’App Store). According to its presentation on the web, there is “complete fidelity” between the documents on the two platforms.

Mellel is a text processor intended to handle long documents, even if they are written in non-Latin alphabets. One Mellel’s functionality that seems to be ahead of what Nisus Writer offers is the management of word partitions. We’ll have to buy both applications to assess their virtues by ourselves.


Summerfest 2015 sale

Thanks to a post on Macdrifter blog, I’ve come to know that a group of independent developers have got together to offer a 25% save on their apps. There’s a code you have to use to get the discount: SUMMERFEST2015. Here is the link:

The applications make an appealing list:

  • Aeon Timeline
  • Bookends
  • DevonThink Pro Office
  • Nisus Writer
  • Scrivener
  • Take Control Books (no, these are not an app)
  • Tinderbox

I could talk a lot about Nisus Writer, Scrivener and Bookends, which I already own and use, and about Take Control books, but there’s an app in the list I’ve been waiting for: Aeon Timeline. It’s used to build timelines, namely, sequences of tokens in a line of time. These tokens can store images (maybe other media too). Timelines are useful when studying history, but they can be used to classify other types of contents, too.

There’s a Scrivener template which makes possible to sync a Scrivener project with a timeline in Aeon Timeline. That template has been talked over in the Scrivener users group in Google+.

Well, then, the Summerfest 2015 sale is a good way to step forward and try a few new apps, if not one. I’m already at it.


An iOS mystery

One can’t quite understand there isn’t an iOS app parallel to Mac OS X’s Preview. In the current state of things, in order to have PDF documents available on desktop and mobile devices, one has to use a folder from any iOS application intended to manage PDFs.

iCloud Drive folder
iCloud Drive folder containing the Goodreader’s, an iOS app.


And such apps are a bunch. Personally, I own PDFpen 2 and GoodReader. Another app well recognised is PDF Expert 5, by Readdle. Allegedly, the lack of a PDF viewer from Apple opens the door to third party actors and allows them to work whitout the competition of the mother company. However, there we have the e-mail and the browser apps. I use iCab Mobile more and more as a Safari alternative, either in the iPad or the iPhone, and that doesn’t mean Safari shouldn’t exist. As for e-mail, I haven’t tried anything different from the Apple’s own yet, but I could and many have done it.

So then, what’s the matter? Isn’t dealing with PDFs a service of the same rank than e-mail and web browsing? What I said in the title: a mystery.