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Becoming obsessed with the idea of a mac

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Posted by Hugh Pile
Nov 23, 2007 at 10:12 AM

 

Stephen R. Diamond wrote:
>Ask a question like that and you’re bound to get encouragement to switch. Microsoft is
>the monopolist. Nobody has a great interest in its defense. Your sample is also
>biased, because those who have already made a Mac commitment are the ones in the best
>position to respond.
> >Nobody answers that Scrivener is good, but ignores the other
>side of the equation. Are BrainStorm and Zoot more or less valuable than DevonThink
>and Scrivener? 
> >There are other matters to be concerned about when embracing the
>Macintosh. The biggest one, generally unmentioned, concerns the companies’
>policies on backward compatibility.
> >Anyway, before jumping platforms, check out
>the new MaxThink, the true state of the art pure outliner, guaranteed not remotely
>available on the Mac.
> >
> >Matty wrote:
>>I’ve been following this forum with great
>interest for the last six months or so with
>>great delight since I share many of the
>obsessions of the community.  I am a historian
>>working with a combination of
>biblioscape, brainstorm, whizfolders, microsoft
>>word, and I’ve been playing
>around with zoot.  Lately, however, I have become obsessed
>>with two programs for the
>mac, Devonthink and Scrivener.  Does anyone have any
>>experience with these?  Please
>tell me that they are not that great and I should stop
>>fantasizing about switching
>platforms when really I should be writing. 

I am in the possibly happy position of running Windows on one machine and Macintosh OS 10.5 on another. I have licences for Zoot, Scrivener and DevonThink, and a copy of Ecco. Whilst recommending the Macintosh platform, I try not merely to post-justify a leap of faith.

In my experience, Ecco and Zoot are as close to unique as you can get; only Tinderbox on the Mac comes anywhere near as a “text-sippet manipulator/notes outliner”, and of course Tbx is not a PIM. But Scrivener is also unique; there is no drafting tool on Windows to compete with it. I know - I’ve probably tried them all!

DevonThink’s current version is in some respects somewhat long in the tooth, as previously pointed out, but if you want a heavyweight personal file manager that takes classification logic to its furthest conclusion and is demonstrably stable and acceptably quick with thousands of files and millions of words, there’s probably none better.

I don’t have a licence for Brainstorm, but I trialled it some years ago. I thought it was a perfectly good piece of outlining software (though at the time I preferred NoteMap). But having used OmniOutliner Pro, I think it’s better, and its development cycle is certainly faster than either (the Omni Group being a notably vigorous and expanding developer).

Omnifocus has been mentioned. Although it can’t challenge Ecco as a fully-featured PIM, it’s an impressive task outliner that’s only the latest in a large number of such tools available on the Macintosh, several of which are at least as useful as MyLife Organized or Achieve Planner.

For me, though, what is most attractive about the Macintosh platform is not individual applications or even the OS itself (Leopard seems to be more nimble than Vista). What impresses me most is that I can see that if these applications lose their edge or die, there will soon be others to replace them that are just as good or better. To mix metaphors, the platform appears to be a relatively more fertile one for medium-to-small developers than Windows. Why this is so, I’m not in a postion to say, although, yes, Microsoft’s much smaller presence in the Mac-world probably has something to do with it. It’s true that backwards compatibility is an issue and Apple itself appears to be not immune from MS-like behaviour on occasions, but these disadvantages don’t seem to deter developers or their customers - witness the writing niche.

And of course, since Mac went Intel, all Windows programmes (including MaxThink) can be available on the Mac using Boot Camp or Parallels - whilst the reverse is not possible without significant technical ingenuity and patience, and a willingness to defy Macintosh’s licence.