Provides: Word processing and document formatting
Format: Digital download
Developer: Nisus Software, Inc.
Minimum System Requirements: OS X 10.4.11 (Tiger) or later, an Intel-based Mac
Processor Compatibility: Intel only
Price: $79.00 ($49.00 upgrade; $99.00 family pack with three licenses)
Version Reviewed: 2.0.1
I collect word processors like some people collect tiny spoons. Difference is, though, that I use all my word processors. I’ve got Storyist for writing novels, Montage writing stage plays, Pages for heavier layouts, and when I need to open a Word document, I’ve got Word. Different functions, different tools. But if I had to get rid of them all and use just one word processor for everything, it’d currently be Nisus Writer Pro 2.
This is mainly because it’s so incredibly easy to use, but without sacrificing power or capabilities. The interface is clean and logical, and it never gets in your way. The majority of your tools are grouped into palettes on the right hand side of your main window (or left, if you prefer), easily accessed and easily hidden if necessary.
If you’re on a smaller monitor, you can hide elements of groups you may not use as freqently, but it’s just as easy to create your own groups. You can access the Palette Library to alter the provided palettes with drag and drop simplicity, or you can create an entirely new palette group that uses only exactly what you need. Then, if necessary, you can switch back to the default groups with just a couple of clicks.
What I like about these palettes is that advanced features are grouped with the more common counterparts. If I select the Type palette, for example, I not only get full font control and spacing, but I also get window/orphan prevention, lists, etc. Having these displayed in a long toolbar makes them easy to recognize and use, unlike when they’re hidden cryptically in a button bar at the top of window. And because they’re always visible, you’re actually more likely to take advatage of features you’d otherwise forget about.
If you’re more of a keystroke writer, no worries. Nearly every command can have menu keys assigned to it, and you can alter those that are already assigned. I found the defaults to be just fine, but in the event you use certain functions more than others, it’s easy enough to change in the preferences.
And, of course, you can also customize the toolbar with drag and drop simplicity.
But okay, this has all been about how easy Nisus Writer is to set up for use. How about power? For word processing and basic page layout, Nisus Writer Pro 2 holds its own. This update contains over 500 changes, even more after the subsequent v2.0.1 update. The biggest of these is likely change tracking, which now makes Nisus Writer a viable option for those working collaboratively or who just want to follow the progress of a term paper, novel, etc. And I’ll admit I got a kick out of the Track Changes icon: a monkey evolving into a man. If only my progress from first to final draft was that significant.
Nisus Writer Pro 2 now also includes paragraph borders and shading, basic drawing tools, behind content watermarks, and one of my personal favorites, the ability to generate PDF documents with clickable links to internal bookmarks. When sharing documents with those who don’t have Nisus, this makes it much easier to direct them to specific areas.
The number of new features and fixes in Nisus Writer Pro 2.0.1 is far too extensive to cover here, but there’s one issue I’m afraid I have to address; importing from Word. The 2.0.1 update switched the .docx/.doc importers from OpenOffice to LibreOffice. Along with a couple other fixes, that addresses problems such as garbled text and formatting bleed, as explained at the Nisus Website. This is welcome a welcome update, and I’m pleased to see that Word table importing is a bit more reliable. However, it’s still not a perfect process, and can be unreliable if the Word document is too complex. And unfortunately, because it seems the bulk of Word users have no idea how to actually use it, importing is often quite messy. Nisus can’t be fully faulted for that, but if your work requires you to share documents with Word users frequently, it’s something you need to consider. At the least, tell your collaborators to save their documents as RTF files, which remains the Nisus default.
Well beyond what I’ve scratched here, you can see a full list of updates and fixes at the Nisus website. I also suggest you take the feature tour. An even better idea, however, is to try it out yourself with the 15 day fully functional trial.
Whether you want the power to write novels, academic papers and such with relative ease or you just need to write a letter to your grandmother, Nisus is well-suited to the task. It’s very powerful, but the power doesn’t get in your way or slow down the process. It allows you to grow with it in a clean, logical way. And I can safely say that Nisus Writer Pro v2.0.1 is my favorite version I’ve ever used. Fans of the pre-OS X Nisus Writer may consider that heresy, but Nisus Writer Pro 2 is much easier to use and nearly as powerful.
There’s still room to grow, features to add and quirks to clean up. For instance, if you have your text at 100% in normal view and expand to Lion’s full screen mode, the text remains at 100%, which is too small. If you expand it and then switch back to normal view, it stays expanded, making it too large. But I have no fear the developers will continue down the right path. If you don’t at least try Nisus Writer Pro out in the meantime, you’re handicapping yourself. It’s that simple.