For a while now I have been on the lookout for a good word processor for my Mac. I have tried a whole load of programs, and haven’t been too impressed by most of them. I had settled with NeoOffice, which is a version of OpenOffice that is designed to sit more comfortably in OSX (OO uses the X11 framework, which is a little bit clunky and doesn’t allow access to most of the standard system functions or fonts). Unfortunately, it’s not a port of the latest release of OO, so it’s not quite as good. I have also found it to be rather slow, both in start-up time and in handling large files. Scrolling down a page seems to take an infinite amount of processor time, and it’s far from smooth. The built-in word processor that comes with OSX is fine for making short notes, but I wouldn’t want to do anything serious with it. I did download a trial version of MS Word for Mac, but it was hideously bloated and didn’t really give me anything that NeoOffice was already giving me, so I couldn’t really justify spending hundreds of pounds on it!

Today, however, I stumbled across a piece of software that might actually be what I want. It’s called Nisus Writer Express, and I’m currently on the 30 day trial. It’s not too expensive either, and from what I’ve seen so far it might actually be worth the investment. The interface is really smooth and pleasing to the eye, and it handles everything so effortlessly and accurately. It has a slide-out drawer with all the properties in it, which is quite handy (MS Word has a similar drawer, but it’s not as nicely implemented). I was especially impressed by a little feature that I’ve been wanting someone to implement for years – non-contiguous selections!! Basically that means that you can select a word here and a word there, and treat it all as one selection. So, for instance, I could select the first word of each paragraph, and apply some sort of formatting to all of them at once, rather than having to go through them all separately! The drag and drop is also fairly impressive. If you select some text, and then immediately select over it again, it doesn’t drag it, it creates another selection. However, if you click and hold your selection for half a second, it becomes a draggable selection. Not only that, but the text you drag visibly appears to move – you get a semi-transparent copy of the text floating around on the page! Very nice touch. It’s kinda difficult to explain all this in words, but the general idea here is that I’m very impressed, which is saying something!

While we’re on the subject of computers and buying things, I’ve seen something else that my Mac would appreciate – a Mighty Mouse. No, I don’t mean that cartoon character with the cape, this is a computer mouse with “va va voom”. My current mouse is a standard Mac mouse, i.e. it has a transparent body where the whole thing acts as the single mouse button. It’s a very nice mouse to use, and I’ve very happy with it, but I have to admit I miss having a scroll wheel. The Mighty Mouse addresses this problem, and then some. It may cost a bit more than a standard mouse, but it does have a scroll *ball*. This allows you to scroll in 360 degrees – not just up and down, but left and right too in any amount you like. It also has a more advanced button system, giving touch sensitive areas of the mouse body. You can use it as a normal one-button mouse, or you can configure it to have two buttons depending on which side of the mouse you press down on, and there are squeeze-sensitive pads on the side, which can be configured to do something. All in all, it’s a very impressive piece of kit. And I want one. The only problem is money – I’m supposed to be saving up for a wedding, I’m not sure splashing out on a mouse is going to help that!

Categories: Miscellaneous

1 Comment

Phill · 24 May 2006 at 1:13 pm

How long have you got til your wedding again, Matthew? Over a year, isn’t it? You can afford to get a mouse, go on 😉

The scroll balls are OK, but the only problem I’ve had with them is sometimes you only want to scroll vertically, if you’re on a web page which is too wide for the screen you can end up following a horizontal zig-zag path down the screen! But that one looks quite good so probably wouldn’t happen.

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