Over the years I’ve used lots of different text and word processors to support writing I’ve needed to do:
- nroff and similar on UNIX systems for writing documentation
- View on the BBC Microcomputer in the 1980s
- Something on an Apple II+ which only displayed 40 characters per line
- WordStar, MS Word and WordPerfect under MS-DOS (pre-Windows)
- Nisus and MacWrite on my Mac Plus and Mac LC to write my Masters thesis
- MS Word 2.0, Word 95, Word 97 and Word 2003 on various Windows computers.
- MS Word 3, 4 and 5 and ClarisWorks on my Apple Powerbook 150 and 520c and PowerMac 6100 (Still have a set of Word 5 install floppies somewhere)
- AppleWorks and MS Word v.X on the Mac OS X G3 iBook (the latter for the PhD thesis)
Of all of these, MS Word 5 on the PB150 and PB520c offered the best system for just blatting out text without getting distracted by the bells and whistles of the software. The black-and-white display and keyboard of the PB150 seemed to work for me, plus with no internet connection etc. I only turned it on to write. Word v.X was okay (and it supported EndNote) but it didn’t really inspire me to write.
Now with the thesis all written up I’m wondering whether it’s time to look at trying some different things to aid the writing process in the next few months. Some tools that help organize the writing process as much as just allowing text entry and formatting. I’d like them to run on the iBook (which won’t be replaced in the near future) and to have some support if possible for bibliographic data. MS Word compatibility is less of an issue as I still have Word v.X and Word 2003.
From looking around the net these links look helpful.
Applications that help with note-taking and organising writing material
- Note Taking Application Faceoff at The Apple Blog
- Literature and Latte – Scrivener – looks really interesting
- Mellel, which looks good for academic writing and support for non-English languages
- Journler – Wherever Life Takes You
- mekentosj.com | Introducing Papers… Your personal library of science
- Bookends, reference and bibliography software for Macintosh
- Third Street Software – Sente
- I’ve used EndNote and avoided much of the grief others I know have had with it, so that’s still a possibility. It’s integration with non-Word word processors remains an issue though.
Some articles about Mac word processing
- Mac360 – Why The Mac Is The Ultimate Writers Tool Box.
- Mac360 – Is This The Best Word Processor For Real Writing?
I wouldn’t be adverse to a Windows XP/Vista word processor and material organizer though, if they did the job. Just don’t have a Windows laptop to run it on.
Anyway, now feels like a good time to try something new, before I get caught up in not being able to change while projects are ongoing.
- For Windows users then perhaps PageFour – Software for writers – novel outliner and tabbed word processor might do the task (thanks to Bill for the link)
- Mac OPML Editor for building outlines
- Acta, the classic outliner – available free and runs under MacOS Classic and earlier. (I used it extensively to write the Masters thesis back in 1990)
- Son of Acta – Opal: Easy notes and organizing for Mac OS X 10.4. See also Opal is the new Acta – O’Reilly Mac DevCenter Blog
- Outlining should also include consideration of The Omni Group – Applications – OmniOutliner
- I’ve also played with Inspiration – a mind-mapping tool of sorts. Useful for visual learners like me, who love to diagram ideas.
- Notational Velocity – minimalist notetaker
- SOHO Notes
- Dan Schimpf Software: MacJournal
- Bartas Technologies – CopyWrite
- Flying Meat: VoodooPad
- Mori – Productivity Tools
- Sebastian Krauß / Software – My Mind