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#1 Rick Yentzer

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:01 AM

I will be starting seminary courses shortly and I'm researching the rival "office suites" Office 2011 and iWork ('09). I currently have Mellel which I caught on sale.

I'm also looking into bibliography software of which I have never had a need prior to this, therefore I have no idea where to look other than I've read a bit about Bookends.

I have used iWork and Office for years but mostly at a basic level. I'm a graphic designer so the only need I've had for years is to write proposals or meeting notes in Word and the occasional spreadsheet of product listings.

As a M.Div graduate student what would the Accordance family recommend? What would be your preference, or if you could do it all over again what would you do?

I'm looking to use it in a teaching ministry as well.

Thanks for the input.

Edited by Rick Yentzer, 16 April 2012 - 08:01 AM.

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#2 James Tucker

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:44 AM

Rick,

For the past several years in my research and writing, I've used Mellel (primarily for LTR/Semitics) and Bookends. It's a very cost effective workflow, and I've grown fond over the more advanced Typsetting features of Mellel. However, as I prepare to begin studies at Trinity Western University, I am revamping my entire workflow for several reasons. The most important reason is the iPad. Between working full-time, and being a research assistant, and my school load, I need a very tightly integrated workflow. Thus, I've adopted Nisus Writer Pro (still great for LTR/Semitics) and Sente. Sente has an app on the iPad that will sync with your MacBook or iMac. I can also use Pages on the iPad for my first draft. Then later convert it for Nisus Writer Pro with a Perl Macro (another reason that Nisus Writer pushed Mellel to the side)—in which event I can edit and prepare my final draft. However, the cost of the Nisus Writer Pro/Sente workflow isn't cheap, and like I said the Mellel/Bookends workflow is nearly as good. With my scheduling and need to protect my time (and take advantage of every minute), the iPad is an essential component in my workflow, thereby shifting me over to the Nisus/Sente setup. Indeed, Bookends has an iPad app, but it hasn't received very good reviews.

You can also do the above with Mellel, as Sente is compatible with it. However, the Perl Macros are what sold me on Nisus Writer Pro (not to mention it's PCRE Grep functionality).

For what its worth,

Edited by James Tucker, 16 April 2012 - 09:44 AM.


#3 circuitrider

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:38 AM

I haven't done any original language writing in Scrivener, however, I have used it quite a bit in my other college work. It is my primary word processor for multi-step assignments. It works with Bookends. Also, there is an iPad version in the works. Check it out and see what you think.

http://www.literatur...m/scrivener.php

#4 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 01:33 PM

I am working on my dissertation using Word 2011 and EndNote X4. It works great, and if I was starting over again, I would do the same thing. Pages is not an option for me because it has trouble with footnotes that span multiple pages (in that it cannot span footnotes multiple pages). I have Mellel and Bookends as well, but I have not found them as user friendly and they seem to be a little buggy compared with Word/EndNote. That being said, I am doing my dissertation on John's Gospel, so I do not have very much RTL text. If I was doing something that was Hebrew intensive, I might not use Word due to its RTL text constraints.
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#5 C Layton

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 01:44 PM

I, too, am curious about what people are using for their academic writing workflow. Because I don't work extensively with non-latin scripts, I've not needed to use a program like Mellel. I have found that because so much of my research involves journal articles available in pdf format I need the relationship between the iPad and Mac to be pretty seamless. I tend to read on the iPad and write on the Mac: each of these programs syncs two-way between iPad and Mac.
I use Pages (I prefer it to Word even though I use Word extensively for work), Evernote, Dropbox, and Papers. For me, the advantage of Papers is the ability to read pdf journal articles and annotate them on my iPad and then move seamlessly to citing them on my Mac. I also use Evernote for general note taking while doing research and I use Dropbox to store them all.
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#6 James Tucker

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 01:57 PM

I, too, am curious about what people are using for their academic writing workflow. Because I don't work extensively with non-latin scripts, I've not needed to use a program like Mellel. I have found that because so much of my research involves journal articles available in pdf format I need the relationship between the iPad and Mac to be pretty seamless. I tend to read on the iPad and write on the Mac: each of these programs syncs two-way between iPad and Mac. I use Pages (I prefer it to Word even though I use Word extensively for work), Evernote, Dropbox, and Papers. For me, the advantage of Papers is the ability to read pdf journal articles and annotate them on my iPad and then move seamlessly to citing them on my Mac. I also use Evernote for general note taking while doing research and I use Dropbox to store them all.


If you are primarily working with RTL languages and journal Articles, you might want to look into the Sente/Nisus Writer Pro option. Sente has as one of its feature the ability to annotate a PDF within the app on the iPad. Once you sync with your Mac, your annotations are accessible for working with Nisus Writer.

#7 rdtaylorjr

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:13 PM

I use Nisus Writer Pro as well and highly recommend it, especially if, as James has already said, you will be working with Hebrew or any other semitic languages. I have tried Mellel on a few different occasions and it has always felt a bit idiosyncratic to me.

As for bibliographic software, I use Zotero and also highly recommend it. The biggest advantage it has over Bookends or Sente is that it's free. It also imports bibliographic information and files from internet databases and websites (like EBSCOhost/ATLA) quite painlessly and accurately. In my brief encounters with the other two, I found that they don't do anything significantly different or better than Zotero, so I have never felt the need to spend the extra money on either of them.

#8 Chuck Schneider

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:33 PM

http://blog.macademic.org/

I just happened to see this. Don't know if it's interesting to you folks or not, but the coincidental use of the phrase "workflow" sure got my attention. ;)

#9 Robert Holmstedt

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 04:04 PM

For those serious about Hebrew language work, I haven't found any Mac word processor besides Mellel that renders the Hebrew consonants, vowels, *AND* accents properly. The best I've found is NeoOffice with the font NewPeninimMT. It's not elegant, but at least the spacing is basically correct. If anyone can prove me wrong (or behind the new software curve), I'd be thrilled.

I also used Bookends and have the iPad app. It's ok. But for marking up PDFs, which I do almost exclusively (even with student papers), I used PDFexpert.
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#10 Rick Yentzer

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 08:25 AM

I really appreciate everyone's thoughtful input as this field of interest is relatively new to me. I had some personal preferences but I didn't want to specify in order to hear from others their own.

There is going to be the need for RTL languages, with Hebrew initially.

I currently own Mellel and it seems fine, although the interface is indeed "idiosyncratic". One other thing I disliked was mellel's proprietary file extension. I may be thinking wrongly about this, but why not have a general text doc file format such as rtf, or doc? If I need to open the file on another persons computer for a quick error correction, how likely is it that they will also have Mellel? I will look into Nisus Writer Pro.

Pages and iWork in general interest me for the more general tasks and I like the idea of using Keynote as opposed to Powerpoint to layout presentations for teaching. Although I wish Apple's education pricing was more aggressively discounted.

As for the Office suite, it's advantages are that it's heavily discounted and more widely used, the latter minimizing concerns of compatibility. However, I'm holding out to see if a new iWork is in the works for a possible summer release.

For the present time, the majority of my work will be on a Macbook Pro so it appears that both Sente and Bookends are fine.

Edit: I wanted to note that for PDF's I have Acrobat Pro as part of the graphics suite. I can't think of anything I can't do to a PDF that Acrobat does not do.

Again, I really appreciate the input and still welcome more discussion!

Edited by Rick Yentzer, 17 April 2012 - 08:27 AM.

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#11 James Tucker

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 08:55 AM

I really appreciate everyone's thoughtful input as this field of interest is relatively new to me. I had some personal preferences but I didn't want to specify in order to hear from others their own.

There is going to be the need for RTL languages, with Hebrew initially.

I currently own Mellel and it seems fine, although the interface is indeed "idiosyncratic". One other thing I disliked was mellel's proprietary file extension. I may be thinking wrongly about this, but why not have a general text doc file format such as rtf, or doc? If I need to open the file on another persons computer for a quick error correction, how likely is it that they will also have Mellel? I will look into Nisus Writer Pro.


Yes, indeed. Nisus Writer Pro does offer a .rtf file management option. Here are your list of options:
[attachment=1981:Screen Shot 2012-04-17 at 6.51.38 AM.png]

Once full .rtf support is on the iPad, It will be easy to leave the laptop at home and hit the stacks with your iPad for writing. :)

#12 Rick Bennett

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 04:23 PM

I use Nisus Writer Pro as well and highly recommend it, especially if, as James has already said, you will be working with Hebrew or any other semitic languages. I have tried Mellel on a few different occasions and it has always felt a bit idiosyncratic to me.

As for bibliographic software, I use Zotero and also highly recommend it. The biggest advantage it has over Bookends or Sente is that it's free. It also imports bibliographic information and files from internet databases and websites (like EBSCOhost/ATLA) quite painlessly and accurately. In my brief encounters with the other two, I found that they don't do anything significantly different or better than Zotero, so I have never felt the need to spend the extra money on either of them.


Random thoughts on a subject I've wrestled a lot with:

I've been recently using Word + Zotero (standalone app) and it has been fine (but not awesome - if there is such a thing!?); I only research in Greek and Coptic so the lack of RTL support is not an issue for me (I used Mellel in seminary for Hebrew). While Zotero is fine for most things, it does not offer anywhere near the flexibility and customization for complex resource types like BookEnds or Sente (I actually use BookEnds to manage the whole database of Accordance resources for our bibliographic citation feature).

I'm about to begin thesis writing and am thinking about switching away from Word and possibly getting Sente largely because of the PDF annotation + iPad app. This has largely been from the recommendation of Dr. Chris Brady at PSU; see his write-up here & here (he uses NWP + Sente and researches primarily in Aramaic - which may be why he doesn't have an issue with cantillation marks like Rob mentioned).

My other recent consideration is Papers 2 + their iPad app, but that still doesn't solve citations, thus leading me back to Sente.

I also have EndNote X4 through my university, but I don't recommend it; I had a terrible love-hate relationship with an older rev in college and have long since loathed it. IMO, Zotero is a better app than EndNote.

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#13 Rick Yentzer

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 08:10 PM

It looks like I'll be giving NWP a test run. When I first opened it I was reminded of Neo Office. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a designer nit picking. After reading several of the posts listed and a few more I found—the Targuman had some interesting and thorough reviews—I'll also give Sente a run as well.

Rabbit trail ahead...
[On one particular website I read where the author used one app for short texts such as blog posts, and another for longer papers. I think this solution is fine but then he uses another app for outlining and yet another for note taking. He seemed to want to use anything but Word. I like the idea of writing without distraction, something that can be done in Byword apparently. However what I don't want is five different apps to do slightly different things. I certainly don't think Word should be avoided. Iwork is nice I have the 2007 version but I find I spend more time fiddling with the styles than actually getting work done, (the designer strikes yet again).]

I want to optimize my workflow as much as possible, meaning I want to use the least amount of apps in the most efficient way possible.

I want to see what Apple is going to do with the iWork suite this summer so I'll hold out on that or Office 2011, the latter I have at work and it works fine for work, such as short letters and proposals.

I did find the DTS Mellel group which looked promising, is there something similar for NWP that pertains specifically to theological studies and requirements?
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#14 Rick Yentzer

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 08:30 AM

I'm going to post a few sites that I have found helpful for this discussion.

For Nisus Writer Pro
Here is a thorough review of NWP 2.0 over at TidBITS. The comments add to the review.
This one at Targuman discusses references Hebrew within NWP.
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#15 Timothy Jenney

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 08:59 AM

One thing that no one has mentioned here is that many academic institutions have internal software standards. For instance, Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA), for whom I adjunct, requires that all students purchase and use the latest MS Office suite. That means students must use MS Word, as papers must be submitted in .doc or .docx file format. Yes, MS Word does have issues, especially with RTL languages, so students must find ways to work around these issues. Likewise, most publishers still expect MS Word files.

If your institution has such standards, you'll be required to adhere to them. I suggest making sure that any alternate software you choose is able to export the required file format(s), at the very minimum.
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#16 Rick Bennett

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:14 AM

One thing that no one has mentioned here is that many academic institutions have internal software standards. For instance, Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA), for whom I adjunct, requires that all students purchase and use the latest MS Office suite. That means students must use MS Word, as papers must be submitted in .doc or .docx file format. Yes, MS Word does have issues, especially with RTL languages, so students must find ways to work around these issues. Likewise, most publishers still expect MS Word files.

If your institution has such standards, you'll be required to adhere to them. I suggest making sure that any alternate software you choose is able to export the required file format(s), at the very minimum.


Good points…that's me to an extent now; I have to submit shorter assignments in .docx so profs can use the proofing feature of Word. Also, I had a lot of profs in seminary send out course notes / syllabi in Word format and depending on the formatting they use (esp. with Word's funky use of outlines) another app may not open them reliably.

In other words, Word is going to be a must at some level; but there's still part of me that doesn't trust writing a 15-20,000 word paper that I've spent the last two years researching using Word. :blink:

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#17 A.D. Riddle

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 10:27 AM

For bibliography I use BibDesk (free). It works fine for generating bibliography and as a research tool. There is a free Firefox extension, Zot2Bib, which allows me to use Zotero’s ability to grab stuff from the web and automatically push it to BibDesk.
http://mackerron.com/zot2bib/

On the iPad, I can use myBib ($2.99) and it allows me to export in BibTeX format, which is BibDesk’s native format. The cool part is using myBib to “photograph” ISBN barcodes to enter them in my bibliography.

I have used Mellel for the past four years. Sharing docs with others has never been a major issue. I can print to pdf, export as rtf or doc—there are a number of ways to pass things around if need be. I have used a variety of scripts in my notes: cuneiform, Ugaritic, Hebrew, Greek, Arabic. With Mellel’s Character Styles, I can format everything with relative ease and it handles the RTL languages beautifully. I have only experienced minor issues when I am using some punctuation or numbers and it renders them RTL when I want LTR. I really like Mellel's Auto Titles—it allows me to organize and navigate massive documents. Right now, I am working on Old Aramaic inscriptions. My document is 97 pages, but the Structure Outline and Auto Titles allow me to see all the texts in my document, and subsections for each text. I can format my work where I can see the material in more than one way at the same time (e.g., number verse lines but diagram verses by clauses in the paper, and then use Auto Titles to see larger rhetorical units).

Posted Image

Mellel also allows simultaneous use of more than one style of footnoting, so I can use numbers for comments, Greek letters for text critical footnotes, etc. (I do not know if this works with other word processors.)

The best Hebrew font I have found is SBL Hebrew.
http://www.sbl-site...._SBLHebrew.aspx

You can use SIL’s Ukelele (free) to edit or create your own keyboard layouts. This is nice if you are constantly using certain diacritic marks that are not coded to any keyboards that you have.
http://scripts.sil.o...nrsi&id=ukelele

I have an iPad, but so far it is mostly to read or annotate pdfs. I do not use it for heavy writing—yet—not sure I ever will.

A.D.

#18 A.D. Riddle

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 10:33 AM

One downside to Mellel is it presently does not support hyperlinking (e.g. to websites). I can live with this given Mellel's other strengths, but this might be a major hassle for some.

A.D.

#19 Mark Nigro

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 02:23 PM

Dr. J's point about seminary requirements is probably the only reason I own Office 2011 for Mac.

I've bounced around between apps that I would otherwise prefer for writing, but I must have Word to open course work that is emailed to me and maintain its proper formatting upon arrival and departure. Some time ago I tried limiting my work with Word to just opening and reading other docs, and then writing my assignments in iWork Pages for example, but then upon export encountered issues with formatting of TOC and other features my seminary requires. This forced me to return to writing in Word. Unfortunately, I have managed to crash even this latest version of Word (2011) during an assignment on more than one occasion.

I own Mellel and NWP and would be happy using either for my seminary studies if it wasn't for fear that the formatting issues on export to .doc might again happen. I'm just never sure how it appears on their side of the PC Word version and don't want to risk having problems.

However, now that I'm gaining momentum in my Hebrew studies, I've begun using NWP for my course notes. It's not that I think NWP is superior to Mellel, but NWP has some convenient UI features that make it really easy for switching between languages while automatically adjusting your keyboard for the respective language. One thing I should mention is that I have had NWP crash on me, while Mellel has NEVER crashed even with a 25,000 word document.

I am curious about others' experience with creating an RTL document and then exporting it to .doc or .rtf; what happens to the text on another's machine? I'm not really sure what the workaround will be for me when the time comes to submit an assignment for my Hebrew course.

Edited by Mark Nigro , 20 May 2012 - 02:26 PM.


#20 Martin Shields

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 08:51 PM

I've tried a few different word processors and here's what I've found (I need RTL support):

NWP has some very attractive features, particularly the way I can generate links within PDF documents. As I use these more and more and paper less and less this is an increasingly important feature. On the down side, NWP becomes intolerably slow in larger documents (and that's on an 8-core Mac Pro).

Pages is no use for RTL — except on iOS! Pages on iOS handles RTL far better than it does on Mac OS X. Hopefully that will one day be fixed.

Word on the Mac is useless for RTL.

Mellel is great for RTL. It is the fastest of the bunch, and has been very stable. If it had the ability to include active links within PDF documents that it generates there'd be (for me) no reason to use anything else for writing. I believe that version 3.0 of Mellel is just around the corner as well.

Of course being able to produce .doc or .docx may be necessary from time to time, but PDF is to be preferred by far because other formats cannot preserve the appearance of the document in the end because they do not embed fonts. Seminaries etc. that insist on these format need to be encouraged to change!




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