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.


Ulysses as example

A week ago Ulysses III turned into just Ulysses (44,99€) and simultaneously its sibling Ulysses for iPad (19,99€) was born. The similarity between both is impressive. An area with margin to improve in the iOS application is a better handling of files and folders in Dropbox or similar services. On the iPad, we can even use a customised RTF style (or epub, or PDF) created on the Mac.

The Ulysses case and the level of integration between operating systems as of today makes me think this is the track to follow in the development of applications – at least it’s what I’d like to witness. Of course I know Textastic  and Byword already have full integration between desktop and mobile versions. I meant text processors and Scrivener. It may not be a matter of being able to write seamlessly in the two environments, but rather that some preferences match and don’t need to be manually replicated.

Screenshot of Ulysses for iPad
Screenshot of Ulysses for iPad. The colour theme used here is called Outback and is downlodable through the app or its website.

Obviously, Ulysses can afford to integrate both applications because it’s based on plain text. Other programmes like Nisus Writer and Pages include such a number of format parameters that we can’t ask them to do the same. It wouldn’t be fair. However, Apple has set the process in motion with Pages, Keynote and Numbers. The results aren’t yet satisfactory enough, but, if it’s any consolation, they’re working on it.