Mac software for managing 10+ cross-referenced books?

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xiamenese
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Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:32 pm Post

Joy Livingwell wrote:Thanks for the additional information, Mr. X -- that's very helpful.

<snip>

Since you're far more experienced with Nisus Writer Pro than I, and you understand that particular workflow better, I'd like to ask you a couple of questions:

  1. When you select all examples of a format in order to apply a named style, can NWP search for and select paragraph margins & tabs?
  2. Do you use Scrivener's auto-generated heading levels and formats? E.g. the names of nested folders determine the heading name?

I have to admit that after all these years using Scrivener, I am still learning its features and working out better ways to use it! :D

Cheers!
Joy


First of all, it's a pleasure to help. Then, to start at the end:

  • I couldn't agree more about still learning Scriv's feature after all these years, though my needs are simpler than yours. For instance, it was only at the end of last year that I realised that project search with judicious use of labels would make my life much easier. Working in editing Chinese–English translation, where much of the text for me to edit is in the form of Chinese > English > Chinese > English, I used to laboriously duplicate the document and in one remove all the English and in the other delete all the Chinese, then I could have them each in one split of the editor. After 6 years of using Scrivener, having used labels to mark the state of completion of each document — "Original", "In Progress", "Completed" — I realised that if I split the whole thing up into individual paragraphs, labelled "Chinese" or "English" I could use "Project Search" to set up collections of each language, and in the end, with no hassle, export a unitary English text or an interleaved text, whichever was wanted at the far end. 6 years to realise that! :shock:
  • In Scrivener, levels and headings: yes. Chapters — as it were — Level 1 folders; Sections, Level 2 Folders, or Level 2+ documents with Sub-documents; Sub-sections, Level 3+ documents with sub-documents or simply Level 3 documents. On compile Chapter titles 18pt, Section Titles 16pt, Sub-section titles 14pt … you could vary it by differentiating with different fonts, using italics or bold face, or colour. After compiling, starting with the Chapter level title, place your cursor in one, from the status bar at the bottom, click the 'a' icon, choose "Select All" and apply the style you've set up in NWP.
  • Nisus can't search for margins or tabs, but finding everything in a particular colour is easy. If the cursor is in a block of text in a colour other than the standard, then in the status bar at the bottom of the window a little circle of that colour appears; click on that and choose "Select all" from the menu that pops up. So colour is your friend here. If you want a paragraph to have particular tab and margin settings, in Scrivener set up a preset with the appropriate tab and margin settings and an individual text colour — it's not even necessary to set "Preserve formatting" as you're going to add the style in NWP. Set that up in your Nisus template, then when you've compiled the file, put your cursor in a paragraph of the colour in question, select all of the text in that colour and apply your style.

At this point, you're probably thinking "Heavens! That all sounds so complicated!" Actually, it's not, and it seems that you're not particularly familiar with NWP. Here is not the place to write an NWP tutorial, but I might write a Scrivener-to-NWP workflow example and put it up in the "Tips" or "Usage" forum, just in case others might be interested.

Mind you, NWP will almost certainly still choke on 1 million+ words!

:)

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nontroppo
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Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:39 pm Post

Talking about styles, don't forget, that when you use Scrivener and Multimarkdown, the main styles are already marked up for you (all headings, quotations, code and other character styles, figure legends etc.). This is still IMO one of the best way to get to a well styled document from Scrivener. Because I use LibreOffice, and it uses XML, it is easy to transform the XML and styles to one's preferences before opening in LibreOffice.

Getting back to the original request, why isn't Adobe InDesign a useful replacement for Pagemaker??? I've used Indesign for booklet production, but never for book series so can't answer personally but it certainly is used by many people for book design and production. I can't believe that Pagemaker on Classic OS was a more advanced solution than Indesign?

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xiamenese
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Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:08 am Post

As the OP, Joy, has expressed a strong dislike of using tags, I imagine she is not contemplating using Markdown. I have contemplated it, and have no real problem with tags, but I feel it's not worth my time sorting out the "downstream" part of the workflow after exporting from Scrivener; were I younger, I'd enjoy the challenge, but I'm not younger and my Scrivener to NWP workflow suits me well.

NWP is not going to be of use to Joy; it will not only choke on a million words — or should I say it apparently used to, but I don't know if the latest version would work better as I don't have enough words to throw at it — but where it does in my experience have problems is if there are a large number of floating images, particularly more than one per page, as they have a tendency to float randomly, again or used to.

I'd agree with you about InDesign. Joy was talking about FrameMaker, not PageMaker; I never used it, but I understood that it focussed more on the needs of technical and scientific publishing, where PageMaker was more general. How InDesign would shape up in comparison, I don't know as I could not afford to keep my version up-to-date. Nor do I know how iCalamus, as recommended by Exegete, would measure up. The other possibility I know of is Scribus, which I downloaded several months ago and had a quick look at, though I haven't found a need for it and it's not installed at the moment. It has the advantage, if I remember rightly, that it is free/donation/shareware, where, in my terms, iCalamus is pretty expensive I believe and InDesign costs an arm and a leg. But Joy's circumstances are not mine, and so I'm in no position to advise.

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nontroppo
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Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:15 pm Post

Mr X. yes, I suppose one can imagine you can do more at the downstream end going the MMD route, but you don't have to, LibreOffice handles the richer styles and full document structure well in a vanilla compile. But *yes* you **have** to get used to writing with plaintext `tags`, and if that means converting lots of old documents that will get tired quickly (unless you know how to script it). But then when you look at how flexible something like AsciiDoc is, it doesn't surprise me lots of technical writers would choose that route.

Floating images: the bane of any sane human in any word processing package!!! I know LibreOffice is better than Word for floating images, and Mellel I remember was much better too (though I haven't used it for ages). Never used NWP.

Hm, yes I meant framemaker! This seems like a fair comparison: https://indesignsecrets.com/better-fram ... design.php — lots of interesting comments too...

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ptram
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Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:29 pm Post

I fear the only answer to Joy's requirements is Adobe InDesign. I use it everyday, and I've a love/hate relationship with it. It's nice, it's powerful, it's a pleasure to use – until it doesn't crash, as it does very often (without, however, damaging your files). I use version CS6, that is abandonware. I doubt I will switch to version CC, and I'm anxiously looking for an alternative, considering that sooner or later I might abandon the traditional book format, and InDesign might become less of a necessity.

I've started writing technical manuals on Word 5.1 (Mac) and PageMaker about 24 years ago. Then switched to FrameMaker (Mac, then Win until version 9), that I've still used a few minutes ago to revise an older work. A couple years ago I switched to InDesign, when it gained some essential long-document tools that made it a viable replacement to FrameMaker. It is a viable replacement, apart for cross-references, so fragile that I decided to start using just a few of them. All considered, not a bad by-product of a buggy feature.

If your books are of the traditional type, InDesign is unreplaceable (even if you can look at XPress, if you have some spare time). It has great page layout design tools, great typography, great layout syncing options between chapters in a book. It exports decent RTF files, decent HTML, decent ePub. Prints great, on paper and PDF files.

Initial outlining and writing, however, has to be done in an extenal editor, for the simple reason that there isn't a way to see the structure of your document. You can write in something like Nisus Writer Pro, Mellel or Word (maybe even Pages? I've not tried its style export capabilites), then import to InDesign when it is time to work in the layout. You can also write in Scrivener, and then use a macro in Nisus Writer Pro to convert text attributes to actual paragraph styles.

Paolo
Last edited by ptram on Sat Dec 19, 2015 10:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Joy Livingwell
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Sat Dec 19, 2015 6:01 am Post

Thanks for the tips, Mr. X!

I can SO relate to using Scrivener tags and labels as you describe -- and taking HOW many years for me to figure that out?!?

(Keith is an interface design genius to pack so much into Scrivener while keeping it so easy to use.)

Useful information on NWP's format search capability -- thanks!

Hi nontroppo, I switched from FrameMaker, not PageMaker. For all the advantages of using tagging such as Multimarkdown, tagging is too much of a slowdown for my workflow for me to use it. So I would need a conversion front end that let me work in what-you-see-is-kinda-sorta-what-you-get like Scrivener does, and tag under the hood. (An interface similar to WordPress would actually work pretty well, IMO.) Got any suggestions?

NWP looks like it might be good for final document output. I'm definitely not going to use it to MANAGE my million-word 10-volume set, since it chokes on big documents. (Heck, even Scrivener struggles some! I haven't figured out why, given that I have another project containing 2.1 million words that only slows down if I do an operation involving skazillions of Scrivenings.)

Hi ptram, thanks for suggesting InDesign. The crashing issue seems problematic, however.

I remain boggled that FrameMaker, my old power tool from way back in the old OS 9 days, remains in significant ways more powerful, faster, and better able to handle giant projects and long documents than today's "powerful" software. (Of course OS X still won't run Window Monkey, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.) Thumbs up to the old FrameMaker programmers for creating such an amazing program!
I was going to procrastinate, but decided to put it off a while longer...

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xiamenese
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Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:48 am Post

Joy, I've been looking into what I was telling you, making a sort of example workflow, and in doing so clarified an important key to bulk search and format using the font icon in the status bar at the bottom of the window. It's a no brainier really: italics and bold are ignored as attributes when you select all, because you may have italicised or bolded individual words or phrases within paragraphs. So to distinguish headings or paragraphs requiring a particular style, you should use font, size or colour.

You should also leave selecting colour marked paragraphs in the same font and size as body text to the end.

:)

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Siren
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Sat Dec 19, 2015 6:52 pm Post

xiamenese wrote:CodeWeavers have just released Crossover 15 and I thought I'd give it a try. Problem ... [...] I wonder if Siren has encountered it, since she also uses WINE/Crossover on her Mac.


Sorry, Mark -- I'm just catching up with the forum and have only just seen your post; as the conversation has moved on (and you have solved the problem), my comments are moot! I'm afraid I'm still on Crossover 14, not having had the time or courage to update my installation yet. But I had exactly the problem that you encountered in Crossover 15 in a previous version of Crossover, and as far as I can remember, I got round it by storing the projects inside the Crossover file structure rather than in their normal position on my disk. The issue miraculously cleared up in Crossover 14, which makes me reluctant to modernise!

All the best,
Astrid
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xiamenese
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Sun Dec 20, 2015 12:25 am Post

Siren wrote:
xiamenese wrote:CodeWeavers have just released Crossover 15 and I thought I'd give it a try. Problem ... [...] I wonder if Siren has encountered it, since she also uses WINE/Crossover on her Mac.


Sorry, Mark -- I'm just catching up with the forum and have only just seen your post; as the conversation has moved on (and you have solved the problem), my comments are moot! I'm afraid I'm still on Crossover 14, not having had the time or courage to update my installation yet. But I had exactly the problem that you encountered in Crossover 15 in a previous version of Crossover, and as far as I can remember, I got round it by storing the projects inside the Crossover file structure rather than in their normal position on my disk. The issue miraculously cleared up in Crossover 14, which makes me reluctant to modernise!

All the best,
Astrid

Actually, Astrid, as I wrote later on in this thread, removing Scriv 1.8.6 completely and reinstalling CrossOver 1.5 and Scrivener 1.9 solved the problem. All seems to be well except occasionally there seems to be a long delay when switching between editor splits. I'll let you know if I experience it again, but I won't be using it much.

I can't put the projects in the CrossOver file system, as they are the ones I share with Shirley (in China), so they need to be in our shared Cubby. There was a moment when the coding issue seemed to be raising its head — since we'd last worked together she had had to have a new HD in her laptop so a new install of Windows 7, and I'd gone through Yosemite and El Cap updates. She couldn't update to 1.9 as the download failed on several attempts. I put the 1.9 .exe in our shared Cubby, she ran it from that and all went well, and it solved the coding problem.

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xiamenese
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Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:59 pm Post

Some while back I said that I was putting together a sort of example workflow Scriv --> NWP. It's taken time, but basically I've done it—though no doubt there are errors and omissions—so for good or ill, here you are Joy, and anyone else who's interested. I attach—I hope—the .scriv project and the final RTF produced by Nisus following my approach. They are both zipped for upload to the forum.

I hope someone finds it useful.

Mr X

Scriv-to-NWP.rtf.zip
NWP .rtf file
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Scriv-to-NWP.scriv.zip
Scriv project
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Thu Feb 04, 2016 1:52 am Post

Asciidoctor (and Markdown for that matter) doesn't use tags but a rather a lightweight markup that's very easy to learn. Don't waste your time trying to do complex technical writing with a word processor; by complex I don't mean subject but rather the workflow. If you need conditional output, variables and structural elements like admonitions, indexes and so on you're much better off using AsciiDoc, Docbook or Dita. Doubly so if you want to work in version controlled environments like Git as part of a development or documentation team.

Scrivener is outstanding at what it does: writing prose (fiction or non-fiction) when you're a single author but it falls apart rapidly when you try to use it collaboratively or to manage a documentation suite where you have to conditionally produce output formats based on variables.
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Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:38 am Post

xiamenese wrote:Some while back I said that I was putting together a sort of example workflow Scriv --> NWP. It's taken time, but basically I've done it—though no doubt there are errors and omissions—so for good or ill, here you are Joy, and anyone else who's interested. I attach—I hope—the .scriv project and the final RTF produced by Nisus following my approach. They are both zipped for upload to the forum.

I hope someone finds it useful.

Mr X

Scriv-to-NWP.rtf.zip

Scriv-to-NWP.scriv.zip


Thank you very much indeed for these, Mr X! As someone, who, thanks to MS-Word-weariness-and-disillusionment, has recently purchased NWP, I expect to well-thumb your guide (metaphorically speaking) in the coming days. And your recipes! :D
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xiamenese
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Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:35 am Post

Thanks Hugh; I hope I haven't made too many mistakes.

By the way, especially as you're new to NWP, if you need any help with anything in this, don't hesitate to get in touch, either here or on the Nisus forums—I'm 'xiamenese' there too.

To me, although NWP is a very powerful word-processor with many really great and advanced features, it is very intuitive. However, it's a bit like Scrivener; because I've been using it from the very beginning, I have developed my usage gradually as it has developed. There are people who now come to it new and find it a bit daunting. Mind you, I'm not a "macro man" so haven't really learnt the very powerful, built in macro language, but in the NWP macros forum there are extremely helpful people who contribute regularly, as does Martin from Nisus themselves.

So, enjoy using NWP, and don't hesitate to get in touch here, or by PM, if I can be of any help.

Cheers
Mr X
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Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:19 pm Post

My thanks also Mr X, as I took advantage of Winterfest to buy NWP and am looking forward to banishing MS Word from my work flow as far as possible. Will be consulting your guides in the weeks to come.

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Wed Feb 24, 2016 2:22 pm Post

Maybe this is the answer that gets the buzzer if this was QI but he goes, why not Adobe InDesign? All that you request and much, much more. Subscription pricing so you can use it and leave after one or two months, or if its a years work get cheaper monthly pricing.