The Nisus Way (ISBN 1-55828-455-9), a book written by Joe Kissell <[email protected]>, doesn’t have much of a plot, but it does offer good writing and generally excellent explanations of how normal people can make Nisus Writer lie down at their feet and perform a variety of tricks. In this regard, though, Joe’s book is much like about thirty new computer books that came out in the past year, and TidBITS doesn’t review all the good computer books that appear. So why mention this book?
Two reasons. First, consider this: Nisus Writer offers a perfectly respectable set of word processing tools, but a common reason why people choose Nisus Writer over other word processors is that Nisus Writer offers text manipulation features that make other word processors look like primitive stone tools. Nisus Writer’s non-contiguous selection, multiple clipboards, sophisticated GREP-based (and optionally multi-file) searching, and two macro languages make it possible for Nisus Writer users to chew up their text and spit it out arranged in most any way imaginable. Sandra Silcot, a savvy Nisus Writer user, took advantage of these features to write a set of Nisus Writer macros for HTML, macros that – for people who can handle a certain lack of spoon feeding and who don’t use many HTML extensions – make Nisus Writer the HTML editor of choice.
Although Nisus Writer’s manuals adequately explain the program’s word processing features, they trip all over themselves explaining how to tame the powerful text manipulation tools. A few Internet users have written online tutorials to overcome this problem, but none of them much helped me, a reasonably together power user type who has always feared to tread where scripts lie. (I’m still recovering from my Advanced Placement Pascal class, which I took ten years ago in high school.) Joe’s book, the only book available about Nisus Writer, overcomes the problem with the manuals, and gives power users (and also people who are not power users) the keys they need to unlock the doors to Nisus Writer competence.
The second reason why The Nisus Way is important is that it comes with a CD. The CD has the usual things that come on disks with books: custom toolbars, custom macros, sample files, and other sundry items. But, the book also includes a 90-day, fully functional demo copy of Nisus Writer 4.1, and – if you like the program after your 90 days are up – you can then purchase it for $79 (Nisus Writer lists for $257.50). So, if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of buying Nisus Writer, this would be the way to do it. Also, note that though Nisus Writer 4.1 includes a slightly improved version of Sandra’s original HTML macros, the book also comes with Joe’s even more improved version of Sandra’s macros; book owners can use either version. (Nisus Writer users who are not using Joe’s macros should note that Sandra’s macros are now at version 2.5.2; you can upgrade using the URL earlier in this article.)
Although Adam and I attended different high schools, we both spent some enjoyable science and health classes watching educational movies about a fictional "Joe" and his organs – "I am Joe’s Heart," "I am Joe’s Kidney," and so on. We even named our QuickTake Joe, as in "I am Joe’s Eyes." Though I doubt Joe Kissell is the Joe in the movies, those movies were so great that after reading The Nisus Way, I’ve dubbed it "I am Joe’s Book."
To find out more about the $29.95 book from MIS:Press (and see a few sample chapters), check out the Web page Joe has made for it at: