A Subjective Comparison after Writing in Word and Mellel

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A Subjective Comparison after Writing in Word and Mellel

Post by laup » Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:31 pm

In recent months I have had occasion to write papers and a book, sometimes alone and sometimes with collaborators. I have used Word 2008 in some cases and Mellel in others. For what it's worth, here are my observations:

• Writing in Mellel is far more pleasurable. The primary reasons appear to have been: (1) no crashes or troublesome bugs (that number, again, is zero, even with big documents), (2) auto-numbering, (3) integrated bibliography work with Bookends, (4) cross references, and (5) the outline feature, which is still a bit better (subjectively) than even Word 2008's.

• The biggest problems that I've had with Word have been (1) crashes (but Word 2008 at least recovers well), (2) some long-standing odd-ball bugs that most people don't encounter involving endnotes when collaborating with PC users, and (3) document corruption (especially with large, complex documents and track-changes). Last year, I also encountered major problems with document growth because of having large numbers of graphics that took up more space than they should have in Word.

• The most annoying aspects of working with Mellel alone have involved spending much too much time working out problems associated with or marked by: (1) table of content formatting and (2) the always-puzzling problems marked by diamond-item character and paragraph formats popping up, and (3) bibliography formatting (which, ultimately, is not difficult). Some things are learned and remembered less easily than others, and these are some of the examples. I should also admit having, over time, spent a lot of hours working on and refining styles and title-flow formats.

• Trying to collaborate with a PC user when writing mostly in Mellel is problematic but possible. It would be much easier if the export to .doc (even if via .rtf) were more reliable and easier. For example, colored table cells don't carry over at all. There are other problems. The bigger is the lack of a track-changes feature compatible with Word. I have exported to Word, used track changes with collaborators, and moved results back into my Mellel document. That, however, is more tedious than in Word because Mellel formats don't export and come back naturally.

• I like the priorities for Mellel development mentioned by Ori in a recent posting. He mentions track-changes and indexing, both of which will be great.

Anyway, those are some thoughts as I wrap up a paper today, written collaboratively with a PC person (still not a recommended approach).

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