Nisus Writer (now called Nisus Writer Classic) is, as far as I can tell from the enthusiastic local faculty users, the Mac word processor of choice for Hebrew and Arabic. I used to stop by the Nisus booth at Mac World and was astonished by the ease with which users created multi-column documents, annotations, and multi-language documents. Nisus Writer was the first, and possibly the only application I’ve seen with support for non-contiguous text selection. Later, when I got my first lap top, I used Nisus Writer Compact, and the free Nisus 4.1.6. I bought a copy of Nisus Writer 6 in 2001, but didn’t get a chance to use it before I began using OS X. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the OS X version.
Last week I downloaded the new Beta of Nisus Writer Express. It’s a Mac OS X response to OS 9 (and earlier) Nisus Writer that users have been using for years (I know a devout Nisus Writer Classic user and Egyptologist who wrote her dissertation in Nisus Compact). I notice that Gene Steinberg has good things to say. After using it for several days now, I”m quite pleased with Nisus Writer Express. It’s well-designed, responsive and has a lovely clean interface; frankly, I think think the only competition it will have is Mariner Write, another lovely Mac OS X word processor.
In addition to an elegant interface, with intelligent use of OS X Cocoa features like drawers and sheets, Nisus Writer Express offers Unicode support, RTF support, Microsoft Word read and write support, AppleScript, and GREP find/replace. But one feature of the Nisus Writer Express beta really caught my eye. Check out the Macro menu; that’s right, native support of Perl macros. That’s the kind of really neat feature you’d expect from Mac OS X and Nisus. Now, I’m hoping that they’ll provide an easy way for me to access and insert the Unicode characters I need for my dissertation, specifically upper and lower case thorn, y-umlaut, eth, and yogh. I can use them in TextEdit, and I can see the characters in the various Apple provided fonts, but I don’t have a word processor that can access them (Adobe’s InDesign does).