Mellel vs. MS Word--major advantages of Mellel

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gpolberd
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Mellel vs. MS Word--major advantages of Mellel

Post by gpolberd » Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:31 pm

I've yet to find anyplace on the website or in the forums that will tell me what the major advantages of switching from MSWord to Mellel are. I'm a professor who must compose documents mixing Chinese and various Western languages and be able to send them without hitch to numerous Windows, and MSWord, users, including publishers. Can someone give me a basic list of advantages to switching from MSWord that might help offset any problems or glitches I might have by switching? Thanks.
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daiyi
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Re: Mellel vs. MS Word--major advantages of Mellel

Post by daiyi » Wed Aug 08, 2007 9:59 pm

gpolberd wrote:I've yet to find anyplace on the website or in the forums that will tell me what the major advantages of switching from MSWord to Mellel are. I'm a professor who must compose documents mixing Chinese and various Western languages and be able to send them without hitch to numerous Windows, and MSWord, users, including publishers. Can someone give me a basic list of advantages to switching from MSWord that might help offset any problems or glitches I might have by switching? Thanks.
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First of all, you can see the Competitive Comparison created by Redlers. The URL is:
http://www.mellel.com/mellelcompetitive.html

My situation is very similar to yours. I, too, often mix Chinese and Western language in my academic writing. Thus far, I have not exchanged a large number of files with colleagues. When I need to, however, I export to .rtf, then open the file in Word and save it as a .doc file. It worked fine last time I sent a conference paper to a discussant. Chinese characters showed up correctly and formatting was preserved. Although it's more trouble than simply writing and saving in Word, such "mafan" is more than offset by what I prefer about using Mellel for my writing.

FWIW, I even switched to Mellel in the middle of my dissertation. Other members on this forum were helpful in allowing me to make this leap with some degree of confidence. In short, Mellel's integration with Bookends, powerful implementation of styles, outlining, ability to handle long documents, language support, and note streams sold me on it. With cross-referencing in the upcoming version of 2.5, Mellel will prove a very robust word processing application. Now, if we could just get Word/Pages comments to display properly (I noticed that they will show up at the end of a document when imported from Word; but it's impossible to match them to the passages where the comments were inserted in the first place).

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Re: Mellel vs. MS Word--major advantages of Mellel

Post by jannuss » Thu Aug 09, 2007 5:48 am

daiyi wrote:My situation is very similar to yours. I, too, often mix Chinese and Western language in my academic writing. Thus far, I have not exchanged a large number of files with colleagues. When I need to, however, I export to .rtf, then open the file in Word and save it as a .doc file.
Excuse me, but why the extra step of converting rtf files to doc files?

I often send Hebrew/English files created in Mellel to PC users. I've never had any problem sending rtf files. Occasionally an unknowledgeable PC user balks at the unfamiliar file type. For such people, I change the extension from rtf to doc (while leaving the contents untouched). WORD handles the rtf/doc hybrid without difficulty and the PC users are calmed.

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Re: Mellel vs. MS Word--major advantages of Mellel

Post by Reiner » Thu Aug 09, 2007 5:53 am

jannuss wrote:I change the extension from rtf to doc (while leaving the contents untouched). WORD handles the rtf/doc hybrid without difficulty and the PC users are calmed.
this is exactly what Mellel's "export as word-file" does (since one of the last major updates I think). so you could even save more time :D
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Post by daiyi » Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:07 am

Well, I'm all for saving any unnecessary steps in the process. Guess I'm conflating problems importing Word files directly into Mellel (which does not work so well) with exporting them as .rtf or .docs.

That being said, exporting still poses some problems for me with Chinese. The characters display correctly, but font types vary (this is, I assume, a problem with Word only being unicode savvy and not entirely compliant).

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Re: Mellel vs. MS Word--major advantages of Mellel

Post by daiyi » Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:09 am

jannuss wrote:
daiyi wrote:My situation is very similar to yours. I, too, often mix Chinese and Western language in my academic writing. Thus far, I have not exchanged a large number of files with colleagues. When I need to, however, I export to .rtf, then open the file in Word and save it as a .doc file.
Excuse me, but why the extra step of converting rtf files to doc files?

Occasionally an unknowledgeable PC user balks at the unfamiliar file type. For such people, I change the extension from rtf to doc (while leaving the contents untouched). WORD handles the rtf/doc hybrid without difficulty and the PC users are calmed.

Janet
Out of courtesy for precisely such people. I also open it in Word to spot check for any problems. Once it's open, the default for saving is .doc.

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Post by Boban » Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:36 am

I think the export as .rtf and .doc functions work beautifully. The reason for my enthusiasm is that if the format really needs to count I just send a PDF alongside (as do most collegues who use word – just yesterday one did exactly this accompanied by the note '... since Word never preserves formatting'). So If I want to so send something to colleague, PDF is easier to read and preserves formatting and anyone on any machine can read them.

In short, the formatting is firstly important to the author and then to the publisher. As for the latter, they're just going to want an .rtf or .doc file that they're going work their magic with in InDesign or Quark, using your PDF and the house style as guides.

I'm planning to start a Mellel-love-in thread soon, since my complete conversion last month.

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Post by nicka » Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:32 am

FWIW, I even switched to Mellel in the middle of my dissertation.
Me too.
Mellel's integration with Bookends, powerful implementation of styles, outlining, ability to handle long documents, language support, and note streams sold me on it.
Agreed. I would add to this: stability and slickness (compare scrolling down using a scroll wheel in Word 2004 and Mellel); the outline pane, where sections are draggable; and good typography with OpenType support for real small caps, ligatures etc.

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Post by joewiz » Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:28 am

nicka wrote:
FWIW, I even switched to Mellel in the middle of my dissertation.
Me too.
Me three! In fact, I started and just finished my dissertation in Mellel, and used Chinese and Japanese extensively; I love how Mellel lets me define one font for Roman text (I used Warnock Pro 12 pt), and one for CJK (I used PMingLiu at 10 pt or 83.3%, for consistent size and line height). Mellel never crashed despite the entire dissertation living in a single file, kept speedy despite 10 large images and numerous tables, integrated beautifully with Bookends, gave me wonderful control over section numbering and table of contents, and made me never regret leaving Word's confused notion of styles behind. Anytime I needed to share a chapter with colleagues or committee members, PDF did the trick (no objections), and they e-mailed comments separately or we met to share comments verbally.

When it came to taking notes Mellel's list function and columns were great. For storing large volumes of notes that I wanted to be able to search, I pasted into Mori. So Mellel, Bookends, and Mori got me through from start to finish.
Last edited by joewiz on Fri Aug 10, 2007 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by nicka » Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:15 am

For sending drafts to supervisors etc. I just export to rtf. That preserves footnotes, headers and footers and the appearance of the text. Then the recipient can make comments and suggestions in track changes mode in Word. I open the resulting file in Mac Word and go through the changes with Word and Mellel open side-by-side.

This is not too much different from how I would do things if I were writing the dissertation in Word, since I wouldn't drop the returned text with comments etc. straight into my thesis anyway.

Edit to add: Oddly enough, I am setting my thesis in Warnock Pro too, partly because it seems to be a very readable body text face, on screen and in print; also because of its OpenType features. That means I get to use small caps for sub-section headers and it also gives me proper sub- and superscript. It looks beautiful.

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Post by Boban » Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:41 am

This is going back a few years, (cue Monty Python-esque Yorkshire accent) but I wrote and printed my entire Ph.D. thesis with AppleWorks – with no bibliographic software. For a 400+ page document, that was something.

Now that I am on the other side of the lecturn, as it were, I prefer to get things in PDF or even better, hard copies. It's much faster and the less on-screen reading I have to do, the better. I am recomending Mellel to students for some of the same reasons I love it – it really helps to organise ones work and output. Not only is it an effective tool, but it is a joy to use. I have reformatted several old articles that I had written Word into Mellel, just so that I could see what it would have been like.

On the rare occasions when you must send a document in Word format, it usually because it is going to get a layout treatment from layout people at a publishers. For what it's worth, I've published with a number of major academic houses and without exception, when I ask about what format I should send they say something like "oh, it doesn't matter, .doc or .rft are fine, but be sure to send a PDF too so we can double check it for diacritics, formatting, etc.". They then either send a hard copy or a PDF (Oxford University Press have always done the latter).

My writings flitters between English, Czech and sometimes German (with bits and bobs in other languages) and this was nightmare with Word. In Mellel, it's a dream.

Let go of Word and step into the light!

As ever

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Post by aechallu » Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:32 pm

I completed my dissertation in Mellel, and it worked without any major problems. My dissertation was in English (with some quotations in Spanish) and just used Times 12 throughout. That is, I can't attest for Mellel's opentype and multilanguage functionality, which is one of the major sales point. Because I'm underusing Mellel's functionality, I think my experience actually strengthens the argument that Mellel is an excellent alternative for a dissertation project.

The single best argument against Word (and Open/Neo-office in my experience) is that it works great with long documents. I didn't notice any slowdown for using long files, other than when the autosaving feature kicked in (which was my own option to do every few minutes, but, still, its performance could be improved I believe). I had about 30 tables and figures, may be more, and it worked great. The outline made navigation very simple. Using Marker streams made editing considerably easy. I had one Marker stream for sections to improve, another for cross-references (it took a couple of hours to solve crossreferences in a text of about 350 pages), and a third to solve incomplete bibliographic references.

I don't believe Mellel is conceptually superior to Word/Neooffice; I still like cascading styles better and I honestly don't think that autotitles in their current implementation are that great (but they work). But in practice it is significantly better than Word and Neooffice, and this is what actually matters. Besides being able to manage long documents (in Word/Neooffice people tend to split their manuscript in chapter files); it is less intrusive; the style system is more controllable; bibliography support is better; markers rock; and the rendering seems nicer.

Mellel is certainly not perfect, anybody here can attest to areas that need major improvements. Its development pace seems to be slower, but that's expectable as the software acquired complexity and the tasks to be finished (cross-references) are difficult to implement. But in its current implementation it works excellent and is very apt to handle a dissertation.

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Post by rickl » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:47 am

nicka wrote:Edit to add: Oddly enough, I am setting my thesis in Warnock Pro too, partly because it seems to be a very readable body text face, on screen and in print; also because of its OpenType features. That means I get to use small caps for sub-section headers and it also gives me proper sub- and superscript. It looks beautiful.
Seeing all the recommendations for Warnock Pro, I did a search and found this page: http://www.adobe.com/type/browser/P/P_1709.html. Did you pay $199 for the package, which sounds like quite a lot of money to me? Or did you cherry pick the weights and styles? Or is there some other option for getting this font?

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Re: Mellel vs. MS Word--major advantages of Mellel

Post by rickl » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:55 am

daiyi wrote:
gpolberd wrote:I've yet to find anyplace on the website or in the forums that will tell me what the major advantages of switching from MSWord to Mellel are. I'm a professor who must compose documents mixing Chinese and various Western languages and be able to send them without hitch to numerous Windows, and MSWord, users, including publishers. Can someone give me a basic list of advantages to switching from MSWord that might help offset any problems or glitches I might have by switching? Thanks.
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First of all, you can see the Competitive Comparison created by Redlers. The URL is:
http://www.mellel.com/mellelcompetitive.html
Note that this comparison doesn't include the relatively recent Nisus Writer Pro, so arguably isn't much use in its present form.

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Post by nicka » Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:15 pm

Warnock Pro ... Did you pay $199 for the package, which sounds like quite a lot of money to me? Or did you cherry pick the weights and styles? Or is there some other option for getting this font?
I think my copy came with some Adobe product -- perhaps CS 1. See this forum postfor some details. You might be able to get a license for CS1 secondhand these days for less than it would cost to buy the fonts included with it separately.

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