I lost about an hour worth of worktime this morning due to Word 2008 misbehaving on my Mac (mid-2007 MacBook Pro 17 inch running the latest version of OSX 10.5, fwiw). Lots of delays while the old color wheel randomly spun and two outright colorwheel crashes. This was completely frustrating.
It’s been years since I’ve seriously considered using another word processor. We get MS Office for free at my institution, so price is just not an issue. And though I’ve been aware that some colleagues in the sciences and social sciences have done their work on LaTeX for years, that never seemed like a viable option to me.
Lately, however, I’ve been reading about people using three other Mac word processors that, in principle seem attractive to me: 1) Pages, the iWork word processor; 2) Nisus Writer Pro; and 3) Mellel. Nisus has been around for a long time. Pages is a relatively new addition to the iWork suite (which I already own, so I could use it for free). I just heard about Mellel last week.
So why don’t I just switch? After all, I avoid the rest of the MS Office suite at this point; I use Mail.app and Keynote and basically don’t use spreadsheets at all. In principle I’d love to entirely free myself from Microsoft and their bloated, buggy software. Each of the three alternatives I’ve mentioned is supposed to be more stable than MS Word. And Mellel is specifically designed for academic writing. It’s apparently a champ at dealing with large documents, footnotes, etc.
Here are my biggest concerns:
1) Compatibility: So much of my life involves sending people soft copies of documents. Can they open documents that I produce on these other word processors?
2) Mark-up: I’ve become addicted to MS Word’s editing functions. This is how I read and mark-up student papers these days. And it’s how I collaborate on written projects. Do these word processors have similar features and if I’m relying on others opening my documents in other word processors, will they see my comments?
3) Learning curve: I know MS Word. How long will it take me to get up to speed in these other programs?
I imagine that much of our
small exclusive readership uses word processors in similar ways to me.
Have any of you tried to switch from MS Word to any of these other programs? If so, what advice can you give?