lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

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catanalotes
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lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by catanalotes » Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:16 pm

While I have had Mellel for several years now, I only use it sporadically because, frankly, I am intimidated by how complicated it is.

Recently I decided to turn to Mellel to write up a simple report. This was my first time attempting to include footnotes in a Mellel document. I was able to get my first footnote formatted just right (using the "edit footnote attributes" window), but for the next footnote, depending on what I tried to manipulate in the edit window, it alternated from improper justification to wrong font size.

I consulted the Mellel guide and realized that there are so many options available for footnotes that it becomes too complicated for those of us with more simple needs.

I don't think I'm a moron, and I fully appreciate that the majority of Mellel users benefit greatly from the flexibility available to them in all the options, and, yes, there are plenty of other word processing applications I can turn to for "simple" projects, but I just find it frustrating that something as simple as footnoting is too complicated for this "simple" use.

So, is my evaluation correct that I ought to accept the complexity of what is no doubt an excellent program, or is there a simple way to get a proper footnote in my document in Mellel?

rpcameron
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by rpcameron » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:11 pm

I suppose it all depends upon what you consider to be "simple". While I am partially in agreement with you, I feel that most problems with Mellel stem from from incorrect expectations.

I personally feel that Mellel's default style set is poorly designed. This poor style set makes it more difficult for any writer to just dive into Mellel and produce even a simple document. Beyond that, Mellel's style system, while some-what powerful, is stuck in the middle. It is a bit complex to master, and is a little limited for the complexity involved in crafting a complete style set. Also, it is quite different from the style systems of other word processors, such as Word. In order to create (nearly) any document one must ensure that their style set is created and tweaked before they even write a single sentence of their document.

However, once a good (and comprehensive) style set has been created to your liking and standards, it is relatively trivial to use Mellel to craft simple documents. Yet, there is still that large initial time investment. This awkwardness is compounded by its reliance on styles—nearly every change ought to be handled through styles, as ad hoc changes are fragile.

So, while I agree that Mellel has its fair share of issues and complications, it is a prime example of getting out what you put into it. In order to get any good looking documents out of Mellel, it will require quite an investment of time learning its quirks and manner of doing things. However, once you grasp them, it will be easy to draft beautiful documents.
— Robert Cameron

GediWorrier
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by GediWorrier » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:04 am

Again, its hard to keep everyone happy, isn't it? I use Mellel for one reason only: its method of defining style sets. After wasting so many hours fighting with MS Word's styles, quick styles, themes etc etc..., Mellel is a breeze to use. No doubt others will find Word's method (or Pages', for that matter) easier to grasp.

My gripe with Mellel at present is that it doesn't take the concept of style sets to its logical destination: full table designs and formats for each style set. But we don't want the guys at Redlers to get bored, do we? :D

GediWorrier.

shades
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by shades » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:21 am

I’m right there with GediWarrior.

I had been a power user of MS Word from v. 5 (1990) until 2004, mastering style sheets because I saw that was a strength. When Mellel came out, I was thrilled with what was the potential and it handles Hebrew correctly which I needed and MS Word still doesn’t get right. In 2005 I was in the middle of publishing a book and Word was choking. I began using Mellel and finished the writing (final layout in Papyrus). Both programs ran the entire process without ever crashing or causing a disruption.

I have been using Mellel for every project since then (except short pieces in Nisus Writer Pro). I do all my blog posts in Mellel; yeah, I have MacJournal but it began to have problems. I can’t remember Mellel ever crashing or messing up documents. I also have several style sets for various projects. I haven’t had to do much tweaking in the last three years. Start Mellel, choose the style set, and away I go.

Would I like to see more? Yep, styles for tables, and captions of images that are attached. Ultimately that is why I used Papyrus because it handled captions with images and allowed auto-numbering for that as well as chapters, sections, etc.; for the book these were essential.
Rich
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Boban
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by Boban » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:54 pm

Well, I'll dissent. I think there are a few issues to deal with. First, I don't find Word any simpler (in fact I find it baffling, but that brings me to second point). Second, Mellel is aimed at academics and once you get a few template documents and your own styles in place it makes working so much better. I find that the Mellel experience lets you focus more on the writing and less with dealing with Word's fiddly attempts to be everything to everyone. If you want to get the most out of Mellel, you need to know what you want in advance. In my case many of those decisions are made by my publishers, but now that I've used Mellel for about seven years or so I just use one of my template documents and click 'OUP' (or whatever) style in Mellel and the matching style in Bookends and just get to work. This is something that I hope Mellel clings to, its focus on the writing and working environment. I've published with a number of major publishers across Europe and in several languages (something at which Mellel excels and Word struggles) and I've lost track of the number of compliments I get on the readiness of the scripts I send them. When I have to use Word (at work, for example) the first thing I say when I open a chapter from someone is 'what a mess!'.

My advice is to to create a few ideal-looking templates and use those as starting points. For me, gone are the days of sitting there for hours fiddling with the controls. I get to spend that time writing.

B.

nvalvo
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by nvalvo » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:44 pm

EDIT: How embarrassing — I just noticed that what I proposed below more or less already exists. (When was that added?) As you were...

I wonder if an easy way to make Mellel easier to use for new users might be to provide more than one default style set. The current default is not really appropriate for any documents, but if Mellel shipped with several style sets suitable for a few different common uses it might make it more approachable. Maybe we could even host a repository of user-created styles online — if such styles could be installed from an interface within the app, it could be extremely user friendly.

Such features could even be useful for more advanced users. Imagine if the submission formatting requirements for journals could be implemented once and shared...

Of course, I'm staring down dissertation deadlines and don't have time to work on such things, so for now this is just a suggestion.

-nv

GediWorrier
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by GediWorrier » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:39 pm

I'll follow from Boban,

I still have to use Word for work, and yesterday I had to struggle with a table that had text copied in from another source (MacJournal). A dreadful experience, but made worse when Word suddenly decided to randomly change the indent of bullet lists within the table. No clue from the "hidden", edit marks, and no indents shown on the ruler. The more I selected styles, the messier it got. Aaaaghhh! I just had to get out of the office and look for a cat to kick. Give me Mellel any day. :twisted:

GediWorrier

chmars
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by chmars » Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:49 am

Is there a recommendable tutorial on how to create the necessary templates for an academic work?

I am looking for something between the Mellel tutorial for beginners and the comprehensive Mellel guide.

catanalotes
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by catanalotes » Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:55 pm

I agree that a tutorial on creating templates would be very useful.

A comprehensive, detailed guide for creating a full style set I would find personally extemely useful.

. . . or is a template and a full style set one and the same thing?

Maybe the fact that I ask this question reveals the depth of my confusion!

DRB
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by DRB » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:12 am

Yes, a template is a full style set.
If you go to Mellel's website, at http://www.redlers.com/download.html#An ... ials-47857 near the bottom you will find a substantial list of Templates.
Yes, a template is a full style set.
Chances are you will find whatever you want there.

Don Broadribb

catanalotes
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by catanalotes » Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:02 am

I have looked at four of the downloadable templates, but these are for the most part title pages.

They also remind me of the proverb, "If you give a man a fish . . . if you teach a man to fish . . ."

In other words, if I could be guided through the creation of my own template/full style set I would become a self-sufficient, proficient user and would be able to take full advantage of everything Mellel has to offer.

Maybe it is too much to ask and I should return to my original problem, that of the normally simple procedure of creating footnotes. The "style" of footnotes I was trying to create is nothing out of the ordinary, yet despite all the flexibility and options for creating this "style" I cannot understand why I am unable to accomplish such an otherwise simple task.

So allow me to bring my complaint down to a more concrete level: how do I go about creating (and making use of) a comprehensive style-set – just for footnotes?

nvalvo
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by nvalvo » Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:12 pm

I'll bite: what do you want your footnotes to look like?

DRB
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by DRB » Wed Aug 29, 2012 2:50 am

At first it sometimes looks like a newly downloaded template consists only of a title page. But further investigation will show you that the entire style set is actually there.

First, make sure you have put the downloaded items in the right place. The Tutorial and the Guide do not talk about this. That is an oversight, and I will add a section in my Tutorial giving the details.

In short: the downloaded Template has two parts, one ends with .sset and the other ends with .mtem. In the User Library click on Application Support and scroll down to Mellel. Click on Mellel there and you will find a small number of folders. Place the part of the template that ends with .sset in the Style Sets folder. Place the part of the template that ends with .mtem in the Templates folder.

Then close the Library folder and quit Mellel. This forces Mellel to look for and incorporate the new additions. Restart Mellel. With the Open Templates part of the File Menu find the new template and open it. It may well look as if it contains only a title page. But if you look at the Paragraph and Character palettes you will see that whole new sets of paragraph and character styles are now included. To see the whole shebang, go to the Styles menu, click on Edit Style Sets, and look at the details your new Template has added. For example, if you have just installed the Scriptwriting template, you will find you now have a Styleset named Scriptwriting and that set has a full amount of all the items for scriptwriting.

This is true of all the other templates you download.

If you will send me a private email I will send you details on how to create a new style set all by yourself, and also full details of setting up the footnote style. My address is donbroadribb@westnet.com.au

I will also incorporate these details in the next edition of my tutorial (which, by the way, will also contain an exhaustive index. Yes, Mellel can make an index, though no one seems to have noticed what the method is, and neither the Guide nor the Turtorial as yet talk about it.

Don Broadribb

chmars
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by chmars » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:28 pm

After some time, I used LaTeX this morning and I noticed an essential difference to Mellel: LaTeX comes with great defaults while with Mellel, you can barely write anything without spending hours to create a template. That might be intentional but a comprehensive default template would not hurt nevertheless.

rpcameron
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Re: lodging a complaint (Mellel too complicated!)

Post by rpcameron » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:58 pm

chmars wrote:After some time, I used LaTeX this morning and I noticed an essential difference to Mellel: LaTeX comes with great defaults while with Mellel, you can barely write anything without spending hours to create a template. That might be intentional but a comprehensive default template would not hurt nevertheless.
I fully agree. While Mellel is definitely a powerful word processor, it has horrible defaults. Also, 3.0 may have included a visual refresh and slightly updated UI (including the palettes), but in some regards it is still a step back. Mellel also needs a UI refresh to make it a bit more intuitive, instead of looking like an almost-modernized brushed-metal application.
— Robert Cameron

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