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Recommend Word Processor for New Mac Accordance User


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#1 Dick Roberts

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 05:52 PM

If this subject is not appropriate to post to this forum, please feel free to delete.

My first Bible software was Gramcord for Dos (a long time ago). I then moved up to Gramcord for Windows, using Bible Companion software. Finally I made the jump to Accordance using the emulator. This has served me well for the past few years, but I was frustrated by the few limitations inherent in the emulated version (particularly the inablility to easily insert foreign language text into the Windows word processor). So I did it! I purchased a used Powermac G4. I purchased a version of OSX (I think its called Panther) and I have transferred all of my Accordance files to the Mac HD. I finally got to see the atlas in 3D. Needless to say I am smiling big now. However, the Mac world is brand new to me and I do not have any other software. I am dedicating this machine to Accordance and to Bible study. So I need to hear from veteran users what they consider the finest word processor, especially for Greek and Hebrew texts. It also needs to be somewhat Microsoft (can I use that word on this forum?) compatible (i.e. files which can be read by MSWord - my laptop is PC). I have heard of Word for Mac, Mellel, and Note Bene. What suggestions can you give me. Oh, and I have two Accordance icons in my toolbar? at the bottom of the screen. One says Accordance 6.9.1 and the other Accordance 6.9.2. I tried dragging one to the garbage can, but it bounced right back. Do I have two copies of Accordance?
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#2 DavidKrishef

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 08:16 PM

Check out Nisus Writer Express (nisus.com) - download the program and try it out. It is word compatible (the native file format is .rtf). I exchange files with Word users (both Mac and PC), with very few problems. They are about to release a free upgrade to 2.7, which adds a some features and fixes some bugs.

I have tried Mellel -- never got the hang of it. Nisus, from the first attempt at using it, just sailed.

By the way, I neither work for Nisus, nor do I get commission, royalties, or freebies in exchange for my recommendation.

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#3 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 09:00 PM

I've also tried Mellel, and while that is the word processor Oak Tree recommends on their site, I didn't care as much for it. I've tried Word for Mac, which is very much like Word 2003 for Windows. It feels very Windows-like to me, and I wanted something that was more "Mac-like."

The word processor I use is Pages 2. It easily converts files to .rtf and .doc and can read both extremely well. It has worked fine for me with Hebrew and Greek texts. The look and feel fits with OS X very well, the auto-correct is nice because it is completely user-customizable out of the box, and the charts and tables are stunning (many people have commented on how amazing documents out of Pages look and have inquired what program I used to create the documents).

My suggestion would be to download and use a free trial of all the programs to see what you like. You can get a trial of Word, Mellel, and Nisus to see if you like any of them. Unless you buy a new Mac, you probably can't get a free trial of Pages, but if you have an Apple store or CompUSA nearby, you can try it out at the store and see what you think.
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#4 jpkang

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 09:51 PM

If proper display of Hebrew vowels and cantillation under OS X is important, Mellel is still the only program that renders them correctly. Nisus Writer Express 2.7fc1 (the latest public version) still has significant issues with dagesh, vowels and cantillation with a number of Unicode Hebrew fonts (e.g. SIL Ezra Unicode and SBL Hebrew Unicode, though with some other fonts they seem to look correct). Those of us who depended on the classic Nisus Writer are probably still waiting for Express's features to come back to par with it--or have jumped ship to Mellel.

Granted, Mellel has a learning curve, and is still missing important features, but it is a very nimble and high quality program that is constantly delivering significant new features (consider too that it is the only program in the Mac universe that correctly renders Arabic and Syriac!).

If you don't care about display but just the ability to export to Unicode RTF, I think both programs may be OK.

Edited by jpkang, 18 May 2006 - 09:53 PM.

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#5 Lorinda H. M. Hoover

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:20 PM

Another option might be NeoOffice, which is a free open source program. I haven't really worked with it in Biblical languages, but it is supposed to handle them, including RTL support that I believe Word is no longer supporting. That's part of why I decided to give it a try. It may (or may not) feel more familiar to you; it doesn't feel terribly "maclike" to me. I'm finding it a manageable substitute for MS Office, but the help files sometimes leave much to be desired. And sometimes the column formatting doesn't stay when I save files as Word files.

I haven't really gotten the hang of Pages yet-still deciding whether or not to plunk down the money for it when my trial is over in a few days. But I think that's because I've been stuck in the Mac stone age for so long (I bought an ibook at Easter-my last new computer purchase was 10 years ago!)

One advantage of Pages over NeoOffice is that it works with Font Book, so you can group your fonts and not have to scroll through a ton of them to find the one you want. (I have language groups to keep all my Hebrew and Greek fonts together, for example.)

NeoOffice does let you specify what language text and fonts are, so the spell check doesn't flag every Greek word. (Haven't tried it with Hebrew yet). I was even able to do a global search and replace and tell it to mark every word in Teknia Greek font as Greek language. All the red underlining disappeared in one fell swoop. I don't know the other programs well enough to know if they permit that too or not.

Blessings,

Lorinda H. M. Hoover

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#6 jpkang

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 12:02 AM

I'm beginning to think that there are issues with specific Unicode Hebrew fonts like SIL Ezra and SBL Hebrew, because the default OS X Hebrew fonts (Lucida? New Peninim MT) seem to render more accurately than these third-party fonts. More likely OS X doesn't know what to do with the information embedded in the font about how to render it.

That said, NeoOffice (as of the 2.0 alpha) does not have complete Hebrew support (it's not listed by default under the Language dropdown in Character formatting): there are some issues with vowels and cantillation in most fonts, though it appears that the OpenOffice project on which it is based has Hebrew and Arabic localizations. And right-to-left entry of consonants seems to work.

RagTime Solo has the same type of font issues but does not appear to support right-to-left entry (the Hebrew-QWERTY input method is grayed out for me).

AbiWord has the most serious problems with Unicode Hebrew display of any of the mentioned programs, and exhibits some very odd behavior with right-to-left input.

Bottom line: if you are OK with just consonants, then Pages/Nisus/TextEdit/NeoOffice/Unicode-aware text editors will probably be OK, but as soon as you add dagesh, vowels, and most complex of all, cantillation/te'amim, only Mellel will do the job with most Hebrew fonts.

Someone needs to compile and maintain a table tracking these various programs' capabilities with scripts and fonts of interest to Bible students! Now... who'll put the bell on the cat?

Edited by jpkang, 19 May 2006 - 12:06 AM.

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#7 Chris

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 12:46 AM

Oh, Mellel every time. It's language handling is superb and being Israeli it does Hebrew very well. It's integration with bibliographic software like bookends is well done and the outlining is superb. I'm using it for a 80,000 thesis and it has proved excellent.

I found Word to be too bloated, kept telling me what to do, was slow and buggy! Mellel is also a fraction of the price.

I haven't used Nisus (others seem to say it's good), but I found Pages too limited.

#8 Graham

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 02:32 AM

I'm certainly no Mac expert, but I have tried the word processors quite a bit, including paying for Mellel and Nisus Writer.
I'd like to use Mellel, but it is clumsy, not very quick on development and at least publicly not very sure where it is going.
I liked Pages when it first came out and I think it's good but it lacks for me one vital thing - keyboard selection of styles. I find it an absolute pain having to mouse to change between Scripture quotes (I always do them in italics) and the normal text.
I don't use Microsoft Word on principle, so I currently am a Nisus user. It is intuitive, works well enough generally and there is an active support forum. The other great thing is its native format is RTF, so you can go happily along in Nisus and send it straight to someone else, even on Windows, without any export fuss etc. Nisus also does very well with Word conversion. I have a friend who is a Christian author who sends his work for me to read over in (Windows) Word. In Nisus I highlight in colour anything I want to comment on, add comments etc., and it all works perfectly well when it get backs to him. Nisus are about to release 2.7.

Of course, all of this is no good at all if you are into Hebrew, and you have been given better advice elsewhere.

I don't know if anybody else reads the ESV blog but someone had come up with a great scheme for inserting ESV quotes in Word for Windows, just using four buttons. I'd be willing to pay for a neat way of doing that into Nisus. Of course, if some kind soul came up with some Automator actions for Accordance, who knows what could be done?

#9 jpkang

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 07:53 AM

I'd like to use Mellel, but it is clumsy, not very quick on development and at least publicly not very sure where it is going.

Having beta tested for Mellel, I have completely opposite opinions. I am impressed with how quick and substantive their progress has been (see their development history and release notes, for example, the former of which shows dot releases every few months). As for "publicly," they have a reasonably active forum at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/redlex/ where they appear to be very responsive to user requests for fixes and features. I can also vouch that every email query I have sent them since 2003 has been responded to promptly and in detail. What more could one ask?

I don't know if anybody else reads the ESV blog but someone had come up with a great scheme for inserting ESV quotes in Word for Windows, just using four buttons. I'd be willing to pay for a neat way of doing that into Nisus. Of course, if some kind soul came up with some Automator actions for Accordance, who knows what could be done?

If you're running OS X Tiger (10.4.x), have you tried the Accordance widget, which can do this for you with basically one keypress (F12)? If you configure it to "Auto Insert," as long as your word processor window is in front, the passage you type in will be copied and pasted for you.

http://accordancebib...p#anchor-widget
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#10 Lorinda H. M. Hoover

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 02:13 PM

This thread got me curious, so I tried playing around with Hebrew in NeoOffice and Pages. Accordance texts paste correctly, but I couldn't get RTL to work, or access writing tools in Hebrew even though I have the language packs installed. I'm working with their help forums to figure out what is going on.

Pages will accept pasting, but doesn't appear to let you compose RTL; I had to go rooting around in the forums at apple to find any info about doing Hebrew in Pages at all; there's nothing in the built-in help or the User Guide about text direction at all.

Running Accordance on:

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iOS 7 (iPad)

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#11 Graham

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 03:27 PM

Right, got my fingers deservedly smacked there, didn't I? :)

I plead guilty on the widget, it works really well. My only excuse is I don't like the widgets generally very much, found them to be system hogs and some of them not working too well. But on your advice I fired up the Accordance widget, spent 30 secs learning how to use it and it's fine. You're reight and I am wrong.

I'm going to fight a bit harder on Mellel. I registered it in August 2003 and I wanted it to work. I waited patiently, entered the discussions a few times on the things I needed, but it is a word processor that by its very nature attracts the attention of people with specialised language needs. They were not really listening to me, at least that's what I felt. NWE was a dog, but mainly I purchased it on the promise of upgrade to an improved v2. At 2.6, it's very good, for me much more Mac-like and slicker than Mellel. Mellel format vs. RTF is no contest, and Redlers were slow implementing little necessities like Spotlight access. It could still turn out the best for Mac OS X, but it has to work hard, especially with NWE and Pages.

Still, each to his own.

Graham

#12 Lorinda H. M. Hoover

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 03:56 PM

Just to tie up some loose ends from my previous post: My problem with NeoOffice was actually due to the fact that I had neglected to change the International systems preferences to Hebrew entry. Once I did that, the RTL seemed to work, at least with consonants. A very silly mistake on my part.

But, in the process I learned that Modern and Biblical Hebrew characters have different Unicode ranges and that NeoOffice is not really designed to work with Modern Hebrew, not Biblical Hebrew.

Running Accordance on:

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iOS 7 (iPad)

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#13 Joel Brown

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 04:40 PM

I liked Pages when it first came out and I think it's good but it lacks for me one vital thing - keyboard selection of styles. I find it an absolute pain having to mouse to change between Scripture quotes (I always do them in italics) and the normal text.


Just a quick thing, maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but Pages supports that very cleanly and simply. I use Cmd-I for italics, Cmd-B for bold, Cmd-U for underline. Its all shown in the submenu Format -> Font ->. Personally, I'm used to Cmd-T going to plain text, but I can always just do Cmd-I again to get rid of the italics.
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#14 Graham

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 01:46 AM

Well, that's true, and of course it is true for almost any word processor, even TextEdit. The difference is that for true styles where for example the italic biblical quote style might differ in a number of ways (more or less space after a paragraph, more or less line spacing, even a slightly different font) real word processor styles are essential. Now, you can do all that in Mellel, Nisus and Pages by setting up the appropriate style, and Mellel and Nisus allow you to assign a key combination - for example cmd+1 for me is normal body text, cmd+2 is biblical quote. Pages allows the setting of the styles well enough (in fact I think it has the potential to be a first class word processor) but it will not allow keyboard selection of those styles.

The other argument, which I had rather not get into, is whether using a regular type face and hitting Cmd+I for italics, is whether this just produces a faux italic when it would be better to select the actual italic face as you can in a style (provided you have the italic face installed, of course!).

Of course, there is a level at which you ask whether all this matters, and if you are just doing your own notes and not setting text for some other purpose your solution is fine. You've alost convinved me to go out and buy iWork 6 and get on with it :) Except, of course, that Nisus still wins hands down with its native RTF format. When nobody can remember Mellel or even Nisus in a few years time, you're much more likely to be able to access an RTF file.

Kind Regards,


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#15 Joel Brown

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 09:08 AM

I stand corrected! In digging around, however, pages does offer style copy and pasting from the keyboard for either character or paragraph style (Shift-Cmd-Opt-C, Cmd-Opt-C, respectively), with then paste style (Cmd-Opt-V) applying to either one. You are right, I was unable to find any direct keyboard shortcut to switch full styles, but perhaps that is enough to help you make the jump. Personally, I love Pages, but my usage is limited to the occasional multi-page paper, handout, or more complicated program design, not constant extensive notes each week. Now then, if somehow the styles could be accessible through a menu, it would be easy to add a keyboard shortcut via the Keyboard system preference, but again, I can't find that! Alas...
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#16 Graham

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 11:56 AM

Yes that's exactly the problem. I even tried Unsanity's haxie Menu Master, but that wouldn't do the trick either - and by the way, I intensely dislike haxies but I would have kept that one if it had done the trick. I liked Pages when it first came out, hoped desperately they would fix the styles selection issue in v2 and because they didn't I didn't upgrade. But it's a good product, and an easy one to love. I just need a bit more.

#17 jpkang

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 07:53 PM

I'm going to fight a bit harder on Mellel. . . . but it is a word processor that by its very nature attracts the attention of people with specialised language needs. They were not really listening to me, at least that's what I felt.

At 2.6, [NWE]'s very good, for me much more Mac-like and slicker than Mellel. Mellel format vs. RTF is no contest. . . .

I think you've nailed it on the head--I think Mellel may have started out as a general purpose writing tool, but perhaps their user base quickly became saturated with users with special needs (I will avoid the obvious joke) who started driving Redlex's developmental priorities (simple speculation). So yes, this seems like a very good example of one's treasure being another's trash (or is it rubbish in the UK?).

On the second point, I haven't compared Nisus's RTF export with Mellel's RTF or Word export, but I believe this area was also significantly improved in the 2.0 release (in case your comparison was based on 1.x).

Cheers!
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#18 mythrenegade

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 02:11 PM

Oh, and I have two Accordance icons in my toolbar? at the bottom of the screen. One says Accordance 6.9.1 and the other Accordance 6.9.2. I tried dragging one to the garbage can, but it bounced right back. Do I have two copies of Accordance?


Drag Accordance 6.9.1 to the left, off of the dock. It will disappear in a puff of smoke.

You can see your actual accordance installation by looking in the Applications folder. There should be an accordance folder in there that has the files. I would not play with this, just look...

Joel

#19 Dick Roberts

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 05:25 PM


Oh, and I have two Accordance icons in my toolbar? at the bottom of the screen. One says Accordance 6.9.1 and the other Accordance 6.9.2. I tried dragging one to the garbage can, but it bounced right back. Do I have two copies of Accordance?


Drag Accordance 6.9.1 to the left, off of the dock. It will disappear in a puff of smoke.

You can see your actual accordance installation by looking in the Applications folder. There should be an accordance folder in there that has the files. I would not play with this, just look...

Joel


Thanks Joel, that did the trick. I am beginning to discover now why everyone is so passionate about their Macs and its OS. I'm having a hard time going back to work on my PC's. Thank you for the help. And thanks to everyone else for adding your thoughts on word processors.

Dick Roberts
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#20 david Speers

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 09:44 AM

I am dedicating this machine to Accordance and to Bible study. So I need to hear from veteran users what they consider the finest word processor, especially for Greek and Hebrew texts. It also needs to be somewhat Microsoft (can I use that word on this forum?) compatible (i.e. files which can be read by MSWord - my laptop is PC). I have heard of Word for Mac, Mellel, and Note Bene. What suggestions can you give me.

I know that Mellel is probably a better word processor for Hebrew et al....but, just to put forth another name besides Word, Mellel and Nisus, I would recommend Mariner Write. I have to say that I like it very much. It is very intuitive and seems to handle any imported text from Accordance very well. They have a demo at http://www.marinerso...age.php?page=12. It is a very fast, small footprint, economical word processor with good support. Give it a try.

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