A Miscellany of Nits
I have said nothing up to now about the manual. I’ll try to be brief about this: Unless it has been heavily rewritten since the version that came with Nisus 3.01, the manual is frankly bad. Inconsistencies and errors abound. On one page an option in the find/replace syntax is described as finding any character that is "not alphabetic, nor diacritical, nor underscore" when in fact it does find underscores; there are about ten more such errors on that page, which I had to straighten out by trial and error. Explanations are frequently written in a weird, substandard English. Paragon seems to need an academic professional both to advise it on features for Nisus and to rewrite the manual. Say, guys, for a small consulting fee At least Paragon ships a couple of small reference booklets to the macro and programming commands, so you don’t really have to use the manual much.
[Adam: We’d like to be able to say that the online help is great, but it’s really clumsy. Actually, the online help and the manual suffer from the same problem – they were both done entirely in Nisus. Nisus is just not a serious publishing tool. Do you think Microsoft completely does their manuals in Word? Not a chance – for one thing it doesn’t do color separations or page impositions. You write a manual in Nisus or Word and then import it into a real page layout program for layout and printing. Same thing goes with the online help. Sure Nisus can do it with a little funky programming, but I’d far rather have a slick custom-programmed (or even HyperCard) help facility. I admire Paragon for using Nisus for everything, but in this case, I’d recommend that they go to a good graphic designer for the manual and whip up a clever help facility in their spare time. Matt didn’t mention this, but he whipped up an electronic cheat sheet for a lot of the more obscure commands in Nisus along with the syntax and options for the Find/Replace functions. It’s terribly useful little DA – Matt used Bill Steinberg’s Text DA – and one which I consider invaluable if you’re using macros in particular.]
When you start up Nisus it takes a full 30 seconds (on my LC) from double-clicking the application or a document until it is ready to work. I wouldn’t describe this as unconscionably long, but it certainly does mean that when I have something I just want to jot down quickly, or a large text-only document that I just want to look into quickly, I reach for Microsoft Word (or I used to: now Word 5.0 is slow as well). What can these programs be doing all that while?
Nisus is a mighty hog of CPU time when in the foreground, and can even slow things down a bit when in the background because its windows can be a mite slow to redraw. It can also be a mighty RAM hog; your whole document and anything else that has to be open during a project must be in memory all at once, for there is no facility for chaining small documents together. But of course this is only true if you want to work on lots of documents at once or on very large documents; and as Adam points out, considering the amount of memory that Word 5.0 wants and needs, Nisus no longer looks like such a RAM hog with its 700K minimum request. Perhaps one should call Nisus a RAM snob; if you need to use cross-referencing, you’re only going to write a book with Nisus if you’ve got the money to buy the RAM to hold the whole thing.