Mariner Write

I write a lot of articles and one of the things I hate is for the word or text processor that I use to get in my way. By getting in my way I mean that I donit want to think about the tool, I just want to get my thoughts down as quickly and as efficiently as possible without a lot of pop-ups, blinkies, reminders, warnings, or other nonsense. Just leave me the heck alone and let me get on with writing. Believe me, writing is hard enough without all of the extraneous distractions.

Up until recently Iive written all of my articles in Text Edit; itis simple, easy, and is completely non-distracting. This article, however, is being written using the latest version of Mariner Write, an impressive word processor from Mariner Software. I explain this because many other reviewers of this application look at it coming from larger word processors, which may explain some of our minor differencesof opinion about Mariner Write.

Whatis impressive about Mariner Write is what it does as well as what it doesnit do.

What It Does
Word processors from Microsoft and Corel (WordPerfect is no longer available for Macs) are huge applications loaded, some would even say overloaded, with features that you seldom use, even in an office environment. While Mariner Write canit compare to Word, for instance, feature for feature, it is amply endowed with almost enough options to suit almost anyoneis writing needs.

Footers and header? Writeis got them. Inline tables? They are in there. Custom page numbering? No problem. There are many, many other features as well, just not things you really donit need.

Because of its reduced feature set Mariner Write is a spry application that keeps up with you, even on a old iMac (G4 800mhz) like mine. It starts quickly and presents an interface that is clean and easy to understand.

Using Write is a joy, it includes a spelling checker, but no grammar checker, which is actually OK. Iim quickly becoming a believer in not relying on my tools for things I should know. I keep a copy of William Shrunk, Elements of Style nearby. I donit always catch my grammar mistakes, but the effort should be mine, not my application.

Lightweight, feature rich, Mariner Write

(Note: Mr. Shrunkis orignal 1918 version of Element of Style can be viewed for free on many sites around the Web. How this is so, I canit say; the work is copyrighted, after all. The version youill find on Amazon and in bookstores is the most updated version co-authored with E. B. White. The basic rules of grammar are no different today than they were in 1918, so you may only need the original text. Of course, the latest version will only set you back US$10, which should hardly break anyoneis bank.)

(Another note: I think computerized spell checking is a good thing. Far too often, while immersed in thought and typing?away I will have misspelled some common word, or find that a word that I donit use often is a bit of a stretch. Spell checkers help in this regard, they let me stay relatively more focused on my writing while grammar checkers, by default must interrupt my writing to bring the grammar problem into focus.)

Another benefit of fewer features is that the features that are available are far easier to find and use, not buried in confusing menus or tool bars. Setting styles , creating footers and headers, creating tables and more are just a mouse-click away. Even the tool bar, which is customizable, can be made to disappear.

Write also lets you open, edit, and save documents in several different formats, including Word documents. Unfortunately Write does not yet support Open Text, the new open standard for documents being adopted by many large organizations around the world. Perhaps it will in a later update.

Another very interesting feature is Writeis ability to intelligently merge data from one document with that of another.

If, say, you have a list of names in Document A and youive created a form letter in Document B, Write will let you define fields in Document B so that the names appear in the final documents individually. The obvious use for this is to send out form letters, which Write also lets you do.

Understanding and using the Merge feature is not as simple as it could be, but this is a very powerful function, and it is worth the small effort to learn and understand.

What It Doesnit
While Mariner Write is light in weight yet feature rich, there are still some things I wish it could do. Chief among them is numbered bullets or lists, for some reason this much used feature is missing. You are able to create bulleted lists, but even that feature could use a bit of tweaking.

For instance; the bullet dialog window lets you customize how your bullets are formatted, and it will also let you change the bullet character, but doesnit offer you suggestions, you have to hunt for the bullet character you want to use, which is a pain.

Another feature that could be improved is the spell checker. This may seem odd to current Write users because the spell checker does work very well, but it cannot compete with Appleis built-in spell checker, which not only provides spelling alternatives, but word meanings, which is essential to insure that you are saying exactly what you meant to, and a simple access a really good thesaurus. Mariner Write would do well to at least offer using the Appleis built-in dictionary as an option.

Also, there are no chapter and indexing features, which, if you are writing that Great American Novel, you may want. This isnit such a big deal, however, because there are other tools available, like Avenir (which Iill review soon) that provide serious writers a gaggle of features geared specifically for their profession.

Mariner Write is for the casual writer, who pushes out an occasional letter to a friend, or maybe a writes a bit of poetry every now and again, or has lightweight business writing to do.

One final niggling complaint, and this really is only a bother and not something that is in anyway a deal-breaker: I wish I could change how fast the document scrolls when using the mouse scroll wheel. This will come into play when working with large documents. Few things are more frustrating than scrolling for something and having the pages zip by so fast you can see whatis in them.

All thatis needed is a little something that lets me set the scroll speed.

Bottom Line
When looking for writing applications on the Mac you can find text tools of nearly every type and itis hard to know why you would choose one application over another. What Mariner Write brings to the table is its efficiency.

Mariner Write is not a striped down version of Word, it is a lightweight application that stays out of your way, for the most part, and lets you get on with the business of writing. It offers an impressive list of features while maintaining a slim profile.

Write is not without flaws, the absence of numbered lists is chief among them. I also would prefer to use OS Xis built-in spell check/dictionary, which is far more capable that the one the comes with Write. And the lack of chapter and index features might not appeal to professional or hobby writers.

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that I normally use Text Edit for article writing, but Iim writing this in Mariner Write. After the experience, am I ready to switch to this very capable, but somewhat flawed word processor for my article writing in the future?

Almost. I really enjoy Appleis spell checker and use it extensively while writing, and if Mariner Write would let me use it instead of its built-in spell checker then this app would be my new best friend.

I recommend Mariner Write.

Review Item Mariner Write
Manufacturer Mariner Software

US$59.99 (Boxed)
US$49.99 (Web download)
OS X version 10.3 or above
Any G3 or better Mac
(Versions available for older Macs including those running OS 9)