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Nisus Writer Pro 1.3 review

Verdict:

Nisus Writer Pro is a quality application at a good price.

Review Date: 30 Jul 2009

Price when reviewed: (about £48) for single licence; $99 (about £60) for family pack

Reviewed By: Giles Turnbull

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

Amid a slew of other features and fixes, the first striking thing about this version of veteran word processor Nisus Writer Pro is the brand new Document Manager.

It offers an iTunes-like view of your Nisus documents, or of any text file you drag into it from the Finder. Your work can be viewed through several pre-defined filters such as 'Currently Open' or 'Recently Saved', or via custom groups.

These groups can be manually controlled (just drag documents into them), linked to specific folders, or act as smart searches that will only display files matching certain metadata or search criteria.

The Document Manager is no Finder replacement, but it reduces the need to switch to it from Nisus Writer. Documents can live in more than one source, which makes organisation simpler and more intuitive. The built-in search can hunt through file names, file content, or conduct an advanced search of metadata. This is an excellent tool for managing collections of documents, with less fuss. There's no reason why all your texts can't live in a single location on your hard disk, but be managed and controlled entirely from inside Nisus Writer Pro.

While editing, the new Selection History feature remembers all chunks of selected text in order, and makes it possible to jump backwards and forwards through them. This isn't an undo tool or document history, but it does add a useful new way of navigating through long documents without having to depend on their formal structure of headings.

Another clever new addition is a widget for turning any menu command into a clickable toolbar button. You pick a menu command, assign an icon and optionally change its name, and the Customize Toolbar sheet automatically descends to let you put your new button in place. Nisus Writer Pro has always prided itself on having a flexible, userorientated interface and this latest idea takes that concept further than most.

Combine this with drag-and-drop control over palettes via the Palette Library, and user-definable keyboard shortcuts, and Writer soon proves itself to be about as flexible as you can imagine. Spend enough time on it, and you can practically roll your own version of the app, custom-made to fit your habits.

The last time we reviewed Nisus Writer Pro, we praised its features and thoughtful design, but ruefully pointed out that because Express had almost all the features at almost half the price, it was a much better deal.

The gap between the two apps is wider now. Express remains an excellent low-cost option, and does include a Document Manager, but not one with the power of the Pro version. Consequently, there's a clearer choice to make. Both applications are stable, thoughtfully designed and powerful word processors, but Pro is now more aptly named, standing out as a tool for professional writers.

Some might consider Nisus expensive, but in comparison with better-known alternatives like Word, it offers good value for money.

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