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211 Chapter 8. File Management

In this chapter, you’ll learn…

File management…you may be thinking, “Oh boy—opening, saving, closing; got it. What’s the big deal?” Well, opening, saving, and closing files are certainly not complicated tasks, but Nisus Writer gives you much more control than that over your files. In this chapter, we’ll skim over the basics of opening and saving your Nisus Writer documents and look at the import and export capabilities the program provides. We’ll also look at the File Access menu and the Catalog, two unique tools for working with your files. And for those of you using PowerTalk, we’ll cover the ins and outs of mailing documents with Nisus Writer.

212 Opening, Closing, and Saving Files

To open a Nisus Writer–format document, choose Open… from the File menu. Nisus Writer’s Open dialog box (Figure 8.1) is similar to any standard file dialog box, but with some added options. The icons on the bottom allow you to restrict the display to only certain file types. Click the Nisus Readable icon to display all kinds of Nisus Writer documents, plus any document with a file type of “TEXT.” Click Nisus Only to display only Nisus Writer documents or click one of the other icons to display only Nisus Writer glossary, macro, or dictionary files. If you want to open a graphics file or a document created in another word processor, click Import to display the Import dialog box (see below for details). If you check Read Only, you will not be able to make any changes to the file you open unless you first save it in another location or under a different name. After choosing 213 the desired options, select the file you want to open and click Open.

Figure 8.1. The Open dialog box.

To close a file, click the window’s close box or choose Close from the File menu. If the file has been edited since the last time it was saved, a dialog box will ask you if you want to save the changes. To close all open files at once, hold the Option key while clicking the close box or choosing Close All from the File menu. If you have made changes to several files and want to save them all at once without clicking Save repeatedly, press the Option key while clicking Save in the first dialog box that appears, and all the documents will be saved as they are closed.

To save the file you’re working on, choose Save from the File menu. If you have not yet given the file a name, the Save As dialog box will appear, prompting you to choose a name and location for the file. You can also save a copy of your file under a different name, in a different location, or in a different format by choosing Save As… from the File menu. The Save As dialog box (Figure 8.2), like any other Save dialog box, has the standard text box for entering the file name and controls for choosing a location for your file and additional options on the bottom. The Change Name, Don’t Save button is certainly a curiosity, but it does just what it says: it allows you to change the name of your document (whether or not it is currently “Untitled”) without saving the file. Below that button are three icons that let you choose the format in which your file will be saved. Click the Nisus® Document icon (selected by default) to use Nisus Writer’s standard format, the Nisus® Stationery icon to save your file as a stationery pad, or the TEXT Only icon to save the file as plain text (no formatting, graphics, and so on).

Figure 8.2. The Save As dialog box.

The Save command takes on some additional functions when you press a modifier key. To save all open documents that have been edited since the last time they were saved, press the Option key and choose Save All Changed. If you want to save all open documents, regardless of whether they’ve been saved, press Shift-Option and choose Save All.

214 Nisus Writer saves its documents in “TEXT” format. The text of the document is stored in the file’s data fork, while the graphics, formatting, and so on are stored in the resource fork. This means that Nisus Writer files can be opened by any word processor, although the formatting will not show up if the program does not support Nisus Writer’s format directly. So why would you want to save a file as “TEXT Only”? Text-only files are smaller than regular files, because all nontext information is removed from the resource fork. Saving files as text-only is also a quick way to verify how your file will look when viewed in a program that can’t import Nisus Writer’s full format.

The File menu has some other interesting saving options. If you’ve made some changes to your document that you regret (and you don’t want to step back through lots of Undos), you can choose Revert to Saved to close the file without saving it and then reopen the last-saved version. (Be careful; this is not undoable!) If you press the Option key, Revert to Saved changes to Revert All Changed. This performs a 215 Revert to Save on all open files that have been edited since the last time they were saved. While you have a file open in Nisus Writer, if you (or someone else) has the file open in another application, you can tell Nisus Writer to pick up the changes that have been saved from the other application. To do this, press Command and choose Update if Newer; to do this for all open documents, press Command-Option and choose Update All Newer.

Nisus Writer can automatically save and back up your files as you work. Automatic saving options are set in the Saving Files Preferences dialog box. See Chapter 9.

The File Access Menu

The File Access submenu of the File menu (which I’ll refer to simply as the File Access menu) has several important functions (see Figure 8.3). First, it automatically keeps a list of the files you’ve opened most recently, making it easy to go back and make additional changes. Second, it allows you to designate essential files that can be opened with a single menu command. And it contains the Import and Export commands for opening or saving files in other formats.

Figure 8.3. The File Access menu.

216 Starting at the bottom of the menu, we have the names of the last files opened. To open one of these files again, choose its name from the menu. The number of files remembered (up to 24) depends on the preference you’ve set in the Start Up Preferences dialog box. Choosing Last Files Used… from the File Access menu displays the Start Up Preferences if you want to change this number. (Uncheck the List Last XX Files Used box if you don’t want any recent files to be displayed.)

Moving toward the top of the menu, we find a list of “Essential Files” (this area is empty until you add files to it). Essential files are files that are always available on this menu, regardless of when (or if) they were last used. To add files to this area, choose Essential Files… to display the dialog box shown in Figure 8.4. Locate a file you’d like to add in the left side of the window and click Add to add it to the list on the right. To remove a file from the list, select it and click Remove. When you are finished selecting files, click Done.

Figure 8.4. The Essential Files dialog box.

The Essential Files list can contain any type of Nisus Writer file—including stationery, macros, glossaries, dictionaries, thesauri, and hyphenation files. If you often switch between macro files, say, or spelling dictionaries, you can save time by adding them to this list. Don’t forget, you can also assign a keyboard shortcut to any item on this menu!

The top three items on the menu are Import…, Export…, and Open Selection. We’ll talk about importing and exporting in a moment. The Open Selection command serves a very interesting function. If your document happens to contain the complete pathname of a file, you can highlight it, choose Open Selection, and that file will be opened. (Pathnames always have the form 217 “Hard Drive Name:Folder Name:Folder Name:File Name” and must be entered exactly as the names appear in the Finder.)

Importing Files

Standard Open and Save dialog boxes now give you the option to choose any file format—so you don’t have to go through a separate Import or Export command.

There are two sides to importing files into Nisus Writer. You may want to open a file created in a different word processor, and inserting graphics files into your existing Nisus Writer document is also considered importing. While both activities involve essentially the same steps, there is a difference. When you import a text file, a completely new document is created, but in order to import a graphic, you must have a document open that it can be placed into—Nisus Writer does not open graphics as separate windows. You’ll want to keep this distinction in mind as we talk about importing.

To import a file, you use the Import dialog box (Figure 8.5). There are three ways to open this dialog box.

Figure 8.5. The Import dialog box, showing available import formats.

The Import dialog box includes a pop-up menu at the bottom that lists the types of files that can be imported. The first (and default) choice on this menu is All Available, which means that the window will list all the files that can be imported. To narrow the display down to a particular kind of file, choose the file type from the pop-up menu. Locate the file you want to import, select it, and click Open to import the file. If you have chosen a text file, it will be opened as a new untitled document; when you import a graphic, it is placed into your frontmost document at the current insertion point (on the text layer) or the paste spot (on the graphics layer). (Please refer to Chapter 5 for complete details on working with graphics once you’ve imported them.)

218 In most cases, if you open a file from the Import dialog box with All Available selected, Nisus Writer will automatically figure out what format the file is in and use the appropriate translator. Sometimes, however, it gets confused—particularly when there is more than one format that uses the same file type. (For example, RTF and HTML both have a file type of “text.”) If you have trouble importing a file, try specifying the file type in the Import dialog box before clicking Open.

Nisus Writer and XTND

A lot has changed in the world of document translation since this book was written—but getting files into and out of Nisus Writer hasn’t gotten any easier. In fact, in some cases it’s significantly harder. Conventional wisdom says that if you‘re having trouble importing or exporting files, your best bet is to invest in the full MacLinkPlus® Deluxe version 11 package for about $99 and translate your documents outside of Nisus Writer.

Nisus Writer uses the XTND system of file translation developed by Claris. The idea is that you can have just one set of translators for all the different file types you need, and these translators can be accessed from within any application that supports XTND. The translators (sometimes referred to as filters) live in a folder called Claris Translators, which is in the Claris folder in your System folder (Figure 8.6). Nisus Software does not actually create the translators—is licenses them from third parties. This means that they’re limited in what they can ship with the product, because the more translators they include, the more expensive it gets. But other sources of translators are numerous, and any translators you obtain from somewhere else can simply be dropped into your Claris Translators folder and they immediately become usable from within Nisus Writer.


Figure 8.6. The Claris Translators folder.

If Nisus Writer is running when you add translators to the Claris Translators folder, you must quit and restart before the new translators will be visible in the Import dialog box.

What are the other sources of XTND translators? Well, for starters, nearly every Claris product (including FileMaker Pro and ClarisDraw) includes a bunch of them—you may already have some on your hard drive. Other applications that use the XTND system and come with some translators include Stuffit Deluxe, FrameMaker, WordPerfect, FullWrite, and BBEdit, but the biggest and best source of translators is MacLink Plus from DataViz. This translation package can get you from nearly any format to nearly any other format. I should also point out, though, that there are lots of XTND translators available that don’t require you to buy a separate application. I’ve seen freeware and shareware translators for HTML, DOS word processors, unusual graphics formats, and more. Check your favorite on-line service to see what’s available. If you’re on the Internet, try ftp://sumex-aim.stanford.edu/info-mac/cmp/ for a variety of translation tools.

If you want to open Word 5–format files (but not other types), you can drag and drop them onto the Nisus Writer icon in the Finder. Nisus Writer will automatically choose the correct XTND translator and import your file.

You should be aware that some parts of a document may not import exactly as you’d expect. Translation problems may be due to differences in the capabilities of the two programs, lack of robustness in the particular XTND translator you’re using, or limitations in the XTND system itself. For example, if you import a Word document containing a table, the table will appear in Nisus Writer as tab-delimited text 220 rather than as a real table, because the formats the two programs use for tables are incompatible.

If you’re having trouble importing a file created in another word processor (either you can’t find the necessary translator or too much information is being lost), try using RTF as the medium of exchange. Open the file in the program that created the document, save it as an RTF file (most word processors—even in DOS and Windows—support this format), and then import it into Nisus Writer using the RTF translator. RTF preserves most of the document formatting and is as nearly universal a format as you’ll find.

Exporting Files

Exporting files is just like importing them. The major difference is that you can’t directly export graphics as separate files, other than by using the Clipboard. To display the Export dialog box (Figure 8.7), either choose Export… from the File Access menu or press the Option key and choose Export… from the File menu (Save As… changes to Export… when the Option key is pressed). To export a file, navigate to the location you want the file to be saved, type in a new name for it (if you wish), choose a file format from the pop-up menu, and click Save.

Figure 8.7. The Export dialog box, showing available export formats.

You may notice that in addition to graphics formats not being available for export, the list of export formats is either larger or smaller than the list of import formats. This is because certain XTND translators are import-only and some are export-only. Most, however, allow you to both import and export the designated format.

As with importing files, if you’re saving files in another word processor format, some parts of your document may not show up in the target application due to differences in capabilities of the programs. For example, Nisus Writer has an Invert style but MacWrite II doesn’t, so if you export a file in MacWrite II format, that style information will be lost. Other things that tend to get lost in translation (depending on the file type in question) are variables, sounds, anything on the graphics layer (character graphics are generally preserved), text marks (e.g., for index or table of contents), and tracking. In addition, XTND can handle only one header and one footer per document—so if you have multiple headers or footers, only the first one of each will be translated, even if the target application also supports multiple headers and footers. Likewise, XTND can’t translate ruler or style names to their equivalents in other applications.

Although you can’t use XTND to export graphics files from Nisus Writer, there is a way to export any page of your document (whether it contains text, graphics, or both) as an EPS file. You must have the LaserWriter 8 (or later) driver selected in the Chooser. Choose Print…, enter the page you want to export, and click To File. When you click Save, a dialog box will appear that allows you to choose a file 221 name, location, and various formatting options. In the pop-up menu on the bottom of this dialog box, choose one of the EPS options. (For best results, choose an EPS format that includes a preview.) A similar procedure can be used with the latest version of the LaserWriter GX driver if you have QuickDraw GX and the necessary extensions installed. Consult your QuickDraw GX documentation for details.

Using the Catalog

In addition to the Open and Import dialog boxes, Nisus Writer has another way of opening files called the Catalog. Choose Show Catalog from the File menu to display the Catalog window (Figure 8.8). This window lists the files on your drive much like the Finder does, making it a much friendlier way to access your documents than the standard Open dialog box. The Catalog window is nonmodal, meaning you can have it open all the time, in the background or on another monitor, while you edit in other windows. You 222 can also move, resize, or zoom the Catalog widow anywhere you like—and even change the font, size, and style (except italic or user-defined styles) used for the display using the Font, Size, and Style menus.

Figure 8.8. The Catalog window.

To set your Catalog window to display files in the same font and size as the Finder, select Geneva, 9 points, Plain style. You’ll find that you can fit many more files in the window this way than with the standard Chicago 12-point font.

Like Finder windows, the Catalog displays small triangles next to folders; to expand the folder to see its contents, click the triangle next to it once. The other controls (the Desktop button and the Folder Name and Volume Name pop-up menus) function just like their counterparts in other standard file dialog boxes. However, unlike modal Open dialog boxes, the Catalog allows you to open any number of files at once. You can shift-click to select a range of files or command-click to select noncontiguous files. Click Open to open the selected files.

Since the Catalog window behaves just like any other Nisus Writer window, you can do cool things like check the spelling of your file names using the spelling checker or use the Find/Replace dialog box to find and select files in the Catalog window. You are limited, though, in that you can’t change file names from the spelling checker or Find/Replace dialog boxes. To change a file name, you must use the Move/Rename… command (see below).

The Catalog Menu

Whenever the Catalog window is the active window, the Catalog menu (Figure 8.9) will appear on your menu bar, 223 giving you additional file-management options. The first set of choices determines which files will be displayed in the window. As in the Open dialog box, choosing Nisus® Readable will display all Nisus Writer files and all text files, regardless of creator, while Nisus® Only will only display Nisus Writer files. Choosing Nisus® Macro, Nisus® Glossary, or Nisus® Dictionary will restrict the display to just that file type. If you choose All Files, then every file on your hard drive will be displayed—even applications and binary files. You can actually open a binary file in Nisus Writer using the Catalog, although it will be displayed as a lot of garbage characters. Choose Applications Only or Folders Only to display only applications or folders in the Catalog. When Open as Read Only is checked, you will not be able to make any changes to the files you open without performing a Save As first. Open as Read Only can be selected in combination with any of the file types on the menu.

Figure 8.9. The Catalog menu.

The second part of the menu contains the commands Add to Search List and Remove from Search List. These commands are used in conjunction with Find/Replace (see Chapter 11). Nisus Writer has the ability to search not just the current document, but any number of documents at one time, even if they’re not open. To search for something in multiple closed documents, first select the documents you want to search in the Catalog window and choose Add to Search List from the Catalog menu. An eye icon will appear next to each file that will be searched (see Figure 8.10). When you’re finished adding documents to the list, choose Find/Replace… from the Tools menu and make sure Search Search List is checked in the Find/Replace menu. Nisus Writer will search through all files on the search list for whatever your Find expression is. Only those files that contain a match will be opened (and have a Replace performed, if requested). As soon as the Find/Replace has been performed, the Search List will be erased and the eye icons will disappear. To remove a document from the search list before performing a Find/Replace, select it and choose Remove from Search List. To clear the search list completely, press the Option key, making the command Clear Search List.

Nisus Writer trivia: In version 5, the “eye” icon for items in a search list was colorized along with the rest of the icons. I chose the color green because that’s the color of my eyes. So remember…I’m watching you.


Figure 8.10. The Catalog window with files added to the search list.

PowerTalk letters, unfortunately, cannot be added to a search list. To perform a Find/Replace in PowerTalk letters, the files must be open.

If you want to search a particular set of files multiple times but you don’t want to go through the hassle of adding them all to the search list every time, check out the Save Search List and Restore Search List macros in the File & Folder Macros file that comes with Nisus Writer (it’s in the Prepared Macros folder inside your Nisus Writer folder). These macros allow you to save and then re-create a search list with just a couple of mouse clicks.

The bottom of the Catalog menu has some additional commands that let you manipulate the files on your drive without switching to the Finder. Choose New Folder… to create a new folder on your hard drive. You’ll be prompted to give the folder a name, and it will be placed in the location shown in the Folder Name pop-up menu at the top of the 225 Catalog window. To delete one or more files or folders, select them and choose Delete…. A dialog box will ask you to confirm that you want to delete the files. Choosing Delete… is equivalent to dragging a file to the Trash and then emptying the Trash, so you should use this command with caution. If you select one or more files and choose Move/Rename…, a dialog box will appear asking you for a new name and location for each file. If you change the name but not the location, it will be renamed; if you change the location without changing the name, it will be moved. You can, if you wish, change the name and location at the same time. Finally, if you’re at the Desktop level in the Catalog window and you have a floppy disk (or other removable media) icon selected, you can choose Eject to eject it.

Mailing Your Documents with PowerTalk

PowerTalk has, alas, joined the ranks of such promising technologies as OpenDoc and QuickDraw GX—features that never quite got up the momentum to survive the next major OS overhaul. So unless you’re particularly interested in history, you can skip over this section entirely.

The final aspect of file management we’ll talk about is in a rather different category from opening and saving—mailing your documents electronically using Apple’s PowerTalk services. With free gateways now available from Apple, you can use PowerTalk to exchange messages with users of QuickMail, Microsoft Mail, and the Internet. Gateways for additional E-mail services are available from other vendors. If you have PowerTalk installed (which requires System 7.1 Pro or later), the Mail submenu of the File menu (see Figure 8.11) will be enabled. Choose Add Mailer to attach a standard PowerTalk mailer to the top of your document (Figure 8.12). Type a subject in the Subject field (PowerTalk won’t mail a letter if there isn’t a subject), and click the Recipients button to select recipients from a PowerTalk catalog or to type in an address manually. If you wish to enclose one or more files with your message, you can either drag them from the Finder into the Enclosures portion of the window or click the Enclosures button to choose the files from a standard file dialog box.


Figure 8.11. The Mail menu.

Figure 8.12.A document with a PowerTalk mailer attached.

When you’re ready to send your message, choose Send… from the Mail menu. Nisus Writer will immediately send your message. At this time, only the text is sent; formatting is not preserved. A postmark icon will appear in the mailer to indicate that the message has been sent.

227 If you’re reading a piece of mail that you received in your In Tray, some additional options will be available on the Mail menu. Choose Reply to create a new untitled document with a mailer preaddressed to the original sender of the letter. Choosing Forward will add an additional layer to the mailer, allowing you to send the entire document, with or without additional changes, to someone else. And if you are viewing a document that already has a mailer, Add Mailer will become Remove Mailer; choose this to delete the mailer.

If you want to forward a message with changes or add comments of your own, use Reply rather than Forward. Currently Forward sends the message exactly as you received it, ignoring any changes you’ve made.


Here ends Section II. If you have read everything to this point, you know all the basics of creating, printing, mailing, and managing files with Nisus Writer. This, however, is only the beginning—now comes the fun part. You know how to get around, but now it’s time to do some in-depth exploration. In Section III, we’ll cover advanced editing techniques, including the mysterious and wonderful PowerFind. You’ll also uncover your hidden programming talents as we examine macros in great detail. And for the multilingual among us, we’ll cover Nisus Writer’s unique WorldScript capabilities.

Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1999 by Joe Kissell

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