In one of my previous articles, I wrote about LyX, an easy way to produce documents in TeX without any prior knowledge of the typesetting language. However, for anyone with a knowledge of TeX, LyX can seem a little limited in its functionality and can, sometimes, be complicated to use. To really appreciate the power of TeX and what it can really do (especially if you do a lot of writing), it is worth taking some time out and learning the typesetting language (which is a lot simpler than it actually seems!).
There are quite a few TeX editors out there for the Mac however most of them are simply ports of native Windows or Linux editors and don’t really make use of OS X’s design and functionality. However, this has now changed. Independent developers Valleta Ventures have come up with TexPad, a native TeX editor for OS X with some handy features that make TeX editing a breeze. Let’s take a closer look.
TeX is one of the lesser known ways of creating documents as it has mostly extremely specialized uses. The typesetting system was designed and written (mostly) by Donald Knuth during the late 1970’s and is a popular choice for typing documents for two main reasons. The first is that documents are standardized across all computers and the results do not change with time. Despite the fact TeX is an old system, the documents still look (relatively) up-to-date, albeit a little lacking in color and design.
The second reason why TeX is so popular, especially in the academic world, is the way it renders maths and mathematical formulas. The range of formulas that can be constructed using TeX is vast and far more flexible than the offerings of other programs (for example Word’s built-in equation editor). The only hindrance to typing up your documents in TeX is that there a very steep learning curve associated with it. TeX is more like a code, with commands and functions and it’s not as easy as simply loading up Word and tapping away.
Way back in my unenlightened days as a Windows user, I spent a great deal of time using various PDF editors. In an effort to avoid conflict with our friends at Windows.AppStorm, allow me to clarify: I don’t hate on Windows simply to hate on Windows–and indeed there are a lot of great Windows apps out there. But I think that even they will agree with me when I say that there are a lot of poorly designed PDF manipulation apps floating around on the Internet.
As an unrelated product of circumstance, my need for PDF manipulation apps has decreased since I became a Mac user. However, all of those frustrating memories came rushing back when I was given the opportunity to check out PDFactory from the folks at Appthology. An app that promised to be the perfect balance between the power of Adobe Acrobat and the slim-profile native glory that is OS X’s very own Preview had to be worth a try, right? Hit the jump to find out exactly how PDFactory holds up!
If you, like me, are a word nerd, there’s a good chance that you’ve already run a search for ‘dictionary’ in the Mac App Store. Doing so brings up a number of dictionaries in various languages, a few games, language courses, and a surprisingly small number of English dictionaries. Perhaps developers know that all Macs are shipped with the New Oxford American Dictionary baked right into the operating system, so they shy away from duplication.
Unfortunately, the truth is that the built-in dictionary app is limited – likely adequate most of the time, but still limited. For this reason, now and then you might find yourself calling upon a higher authority and refer to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which is widely held to be among the world’s best and most definitive references. That’s when you’ll be glad that WordWeb Software has brought this tome to the App Store.
Join us after the jump for a look at how the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary works, and how it might be a useful and even enjoyable addition to your Mac.
To-do apps have such a big market, with new ones coming out almost every week. But what about a to-do app made specifically for students? Keeping up with assignments from all the different courses that you have as a student can be pretty difficult.
The app that we are reviewing today is called iHomework, and, as can likely be guessed by its name, its purpose is to help you keep up with your assignments.
There are already many options available to those of us who’re after simple writing tools. These apps encourage their users to focus in on the evolving text, minimizing distractions by cutting back both on visual clutter (I’m looking at you Microsoft Office) and on informational overload in the form of too many options and tweakable settings. We’ve previously reviewed Byword and Writeroom, as well as running a round-up that added a few alternatives. We also published a discussion piece on whether such apps are necessary, which got some interesting debate going in its comments.
Such apps abound on the iPad too, and on that platform one of the most popular choices has been iA Writer. Now Information Architects, the design firm that developed iA Writer for iPad has turned it into a Mac app, available for purchase on the Mac Appstore.
I’m going to settle down for a while, open up iA Writer for Mac, and walk you through its features.
When you open up your computer to get to work, you open up a world of distractions. As a writer, you could just pick up pen and paper, and forgo the entire digital realm – until, that is, you have to type up what you’ve written and double your workload. Minimalist writing apps like Byword attempt to recreate the simplicity of the pen-and-paper experience while supplying the benefits of digital convenience.
Whether or not these apps are necessary is itself a whole argument (Kevin Whipps’ article proved that people are very passionate about their workflows) but love them or hate them, how does ByWord stack up? Read on to find out whether it’s worth giving a try!
Do you ever wish there was a single place you could keep all your notes, web clippings, voice memos, and incredible ideas for screenplays? Somewhere that synchronised your notes across all your various devices and made them fully searchable by their content or tags?
Introducing the uninitiated to Evernote – a single place for all the things you need to remember! Is it worth the money you ask? Well it’s free so we should probably have a look…
Scrivener is an application for composing virtually any type of writing. It is the work of Keith Blount, himself a writer who had been unsatisfied with all the writing applications he’d used over the years. He decided to teach himself programming and built his own unique writing tool. I and many other writers are very thankful that he did.
After more than two years of work, Blount and his growing team at Literature & Latte recently released Scrivener 2.0. If you are familiar with the first version, you may not immediately notice any changes to the Scrivener screen, but believe me—there are changes.
The overview of additions and improvements takes six pages in the new manual. Mac AppStorm featured a delightful and thorough review of version 1.5 in March. Today we’re going to take a look at how Scrivener 2.0 differs from its predecessor, and what that might mean for writers looking for a software solution.
My desk has become a sea of paper. Drawers and drawers filled with old reports, warranty guides, receipts, and papers whose origin I haven’t the slightest idea about. I’ve never really considered trying to scan and catalog my physical world, converting it to a digital one.
I guess that is why I was taken aback when asked to review Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software like ABBYY FineReader. I never really thought I’d be able to organize everything in any of my drawers. But after looking at the different scanned-file organization and OCR options, I may yet find a way to search through the mess…
After the jump, I’ll explain what exactly OCR is, and walk you through a number of different solutions available for the Mac!