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Academic writing software needs


Rick Yentzer
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Mark,

 

The process isn't trivial, and requires knowledge of programming in general and NWP adaptation of Perl specifically. Here is the overall process:

 

1. To write is to think! My first draft is very much like a list of Pensées. I read, read, and jot a lot of notes.

 

2. To write is to think! I think a great deal about what I read. Because of my academic discipline of linguistics, I like to think through various arguments with particular attention to cross-disciplinary implications (e.g., how does premise A in theoretical linguistics affect, relate, or otherwise illustrate premise Z of Hebrew Linguistics [and how it relates to Premise A.Z of Comparative Semitics]). In other words, I begin to think through the nature of inference and coherency (attempting to seek after a clarified, succinctly stated thesis).

 

3. To write is to think! The next step I attempt to write out my thoughts in a formal argument. This is where iOS pages (used to be implemented). I would just write, not paying attention to a final format (the editing process is very important to me). I did this iOS Pages for I could sync it with my Mac (thus always having my paper with me). N.B.: Nothing like redeeming 15 minutes while sitting in the doctors office!

 

**I now have replaced iOS pages with Textastic. Textastic syncs with Dropbox, and supports XML. More importantly, it made use of the Textexpander APIs, thereby allowing me to implement XML more effortlessly.

 

4. Write a Macro to convert the XML to NWP (this is where knowledge of NWP Macro language is necessary).

 

5. I can edit in either Textastic or NWP at this stage. Formatting issues, I will typically take of in NWP.

 

Like I said, it's not trivial. But, if you have some knowledge of (or the aptitude for) writing code, then you can easily and very effectively take advantage of automating some rather mundane tasks.

 

James,

 

Thanks so much for the VERY informative response. I liked seeing your personal approach to academic writing...you are indeed a thorough bloke.

 

I am assuming that if you go to such lengths to convert your text created on the iPad, and you do the formatting in NWP, there is some content that cannot be simply copied and pasted or sent over to the Mac in the body of an email? What exactly requires you to take this conversion process? For mere text created on my iPad, the email approach has been my inroad.

 

In all honesty, I'll probably not learn the code to create a macro. At least not anytime before 2013, as I've just got too much already that I need to read and write.

 

Next, I want to look into bibliographic software with the hope that it really will save me time...I've been copying/pasting my bibliographic references and avoiding the learning curve for something like Bookends or Sente. Any suggestions for helpful tutorials that cover the ins and outs? And in particular, that will help to understand HOW they work rather than just how to accomplish certain tasks that are assumed to be common knowledge? I am completely green in this area and the one video I saw from Bookends did not help explain what is happening in the referencing process....

Edited by Mark Nigro
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Sorry, realised this violated my NDA, so I deleted it

Edited by Ken Simpson
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I use Markdown for this type of text-based capture that may need to be format-encoded later.

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I wanted to give an update on my current setup that is still a work in progress.

 

I'm successfully using NWP with my assignments. For the syllabus's and course notes I have general success with conversion from a Word .doc over to NWP. However, I have found LibreOffice to give the most accurate conversion of .doc files. I circumvented that by asking the professor to post PDF's along with the .doc files so that I could catch and inconsistencies. This works fine.

 

I am testing out nvAlt for taking general notes while listening to lectures. I don't own an ipad but I do occasionally use my iphone to browse the notes. I have nvAlt set to save my files as plaintext in my Dropbox. I've tinkered with markdown, but I haven't committed to it yet. I'm looking for text preservation as well, and like the idea of a general format such as .rtf. NWP has impressed me in this regard because it gives the ability to chose a default file format.

 

My background is in graphic design and the arts, so I'm adjusting to a different process in an unfamiliar area: academic writing. NWP has been a pleasant bridge because it's given me the ability to minimize the UI clutter. Now, NWP reminds me of the simplistic UI, and deceptive textual power of BBEdit.

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I've recently bought Mellel, and I'm adjusting to the different way it does things from MS Word. One thing it doesn't seem to have is any drawing tool. Even a simple line (I'd really like an arrow, but a line would do) seems to be beyond it. Also, copying Hebrew text from Accordance into a document anywhere close to a Roman numeral (as in a scriptural reference) seems to result in splitting the numeral from its context to the wrong side of the Hebrew text no matter what I do.

 

So, all-in-all, it's a little frustrating for the moment. Perhaps I'll get to solve the Roman numeral problem, but the lack of even a basic drawing tool is a little trying.

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A. W. Riddle asked what can NWP can do that Mellel cannot. The drawing tools in NWP 2.2 (2.0 and up actually) are one thing among a few others that currently sets it apart from Mellel. Mellel does have some serious WP power, and version 3.0 is currently in Beta. But like you Nick, today I wanted to create a visual preposition chart in Hebrew, using arrows and shapes but couldn't. It's one reason I want to upgrade from NWP 1.4.2, to 2.2.

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lso, copying Hebrew text from Accordance into a document anywhere close to a Roman numeral (as in a scriptural reference) seems to result in splitting the numeral from its context to the wrong side of the Hebrew text no matter what I do.

 

Just as a note to this, if you set the verse references to be original language, rather than English, this issue should be circumvented.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Mellel 3.0 is out with various enhancements. Unfortunately still no drawing tool as far as I can see. There's a new features list here.

 

Hope this is helpful.

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I am not sure if this should be on a different thread, but it seemed like it was part of the conversation. I am taking my first Hebrew course and there is nothing more frustrating right now than typing my assignments. I can't seem to figure out the workflow of typing in English and Hebrew in the same document. My professor requires the SPTiberian font. I like the way the keyboard is set up for this font, but I can't seem to type from right to left using this font in Pages. Is there a trick? Or is this impossible? I also downloaded the Mellel and NWP, but like Pages, you can only type right to left using the unicode font. I can't stand the unicode keyboard for Hebrew. Having to hold the "option" key while pressing the number keys is awkward and slow. Please help!

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There are other Hebrew keyboard layouts available, and if none suits, you can create your own. My utility Ukelele, available (for free) at http://scripts.sil.org/ukelele, can help you with that. Some links to Hebrew keyboard layouts:

 

http://www.linguistsoftware.com/lhebu.htm (Laser Hebrew font and keyboard layout)

http://www.redlers.com/download. html#Anchor-Keyboard-11481 (Mellel keyboard layouts)

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  • 1 year later...

I use Nisus Writer Pro as well and highly recommend it, especially if, as James has already said, you will be working with Hebrew or any other semitic languages. I have tried Mellel on a few different occasions and it has always felt a bit idiosyncratic to me.

 

As for bibliographic software, I use Zotero and also highly recommend it. The biggest advantage it has over Bookends or Sente is that it's free. It also imports bibliographic information and files from internet databases and websites (like EBSCOhost/ATLA) quite painlessly and accurately. In my brief encounters with the other two, I found that they don't do anything significantly different or better than Zotero, so I have never felt the need to spend the extra money on either of them.

 

Yes Zotero is the best.

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