Why we settled with using MS Word for our book 22:47 on Monday
I was asked on the comments to my post on MS Word which word processor I would choose now, with the knowledge I got from our book project. It’s a good question with no good answer. If you want to know which word processor I prefer, that would be Apple Pages. Would I recommend it? Not really.
The problem with the online editors is that there’s no real structure, in the same sense as enabled by Word styles (or Latex for hardcore unix freaks). The other big drawback is that you don’t have a document map of any sort. I’ve found the Word document map very helpful for navigating long documents and for having the document structure “there” and visible at all times when writing.
With the online editors there’s also only little variety in style, which I personally don’t see as a drawback when you’re writing instead of crafting a colorful document to impress your “friends”. Writeboards allow only plain text editing with Textile, which combined with the lack of a document map makes navigating a big document next to impossible.
Our main motivation for starting with online tools was that we needed a way to collaborate on the book. We were willing to give something away in favor of good version control and reviewing tools. All of the above mentioned products have version control, but not the sort of versioning useful for a book project.
So, I like Apple Pages, but it wasn’t an option for the book, as Sami had a Windows laptop and I was on a Mac. Not that Pages would have worked either. It’s notorious for its buggy implementation of numbered lists, which until version 3.0.1, still have not been fixed. Not a huge problem when all you have is a few pages, but go over a hundred pages and listen to yourself scream when doing the numbering again every time you open the document.. one heading at a time. There’s no way to manage captions for images or tables, and there are no endnotes or cross references. Therefore, Pages is not the best option for academic work.
But if anyone finds a really good option for a word processor, let me know.