Nisus Writer
Nisus Writer, originally Nisus, is a word processing
Word processor
A word processor is a computer application used for the production of any sort of printable material....

 program for the Apple Macintosh. The program is available in two varieties: Nisus Writer Express, and Nisus Writer Pro.

The program is valued by its users—especially users like book authors—for its reliability and unique features.


First introduced in 1989, the Nisus Writer was the first word processor for Macintosh — long before Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 was introduced — which was able to handle multiple type systems within one document, e.g. Arabic
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

, Hebrew
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

, Japanese
Japanese writing system
The modern Japanese writing system uses three main scripts:*Kanji, adopted Chinese characters*Kana, a pair of syllabaries , consisting of:...

, etc., thanks to WorldScript
WorldScript was the multilingual text rendering engine for Apple Macintosh before Mac OS X was introduced.Starting with version 7.1, Apple unified the implementation of non-Roman script systems in a programming interface called WorldScript. WorldScript I was used for all one-byte character sets and...

. Therefore Nisus Writer was an indispensable tool for people who had to integrate passages written in non-Roman script into a regular document, for instance theologians and archaeologists. Other distinguishing features of the program were non-contiguous text selection, multiple editable clipboards, one of the earliest implementations of multiple undo
Undo is a command in many computer programs. It erases the last change done to the document reverting it to an older state. In some more advanced programs such as graphic processing, undo will negate the last command done to the file being edited....

, voice recording, and inline annotations. It also offers powerful search and replace in a user-friendly format that is helpful for non-technical users. It also offers grep
grep is a command-line text-search utility originally written for Unix. The name comes from the ed command g/re/p...


A unique feature of the Nisus file format
File format
A file format is a particular way that information is encoded for storage in a computer file.Since a disk drive, or indeed any computer storage, can store only bits, the computer must have some way of converting information to 0s and 1s and vice-versa. There are different kinds of formats for...

 was that the font and formatting information was saved in the file's resource fork
Resource fork
The resource fork is a construct of the Mac OS operating system used to store structured data in a file, alongside unstructured data stored within the data fork. A resource fork stores information in a specific form, such as icons, the shapes of windows, definitions of menus and their contents, and...

, with the data fork containing only plain text
Plain text
In computing, plain text is the contents of an ordinary sequential file readable as textual material without much processing, usually opposed to formatted text....

. Thus, if the file were to be opened on a Windows PC the text would be readable (although style information would be lost). This predates cross-platform
In computing, cross-platform, or multi-platform, is an attribute conferred to computer software or computing methods and concepts that are implemented and inter-operate on multiple computer platforms...

 file formats as used by word processors like Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is a word processor designed by Microsoft. It was first released in 1983 under the name Multi-Tool Word for Xenix systems. Subsequent versions were later written for several other platforms including IBM PCs running DOS , the Apple Macintosh , the AT&T Unix PC , Atari ST , SCO UNIX,...

. Contemporary editions of Word had different formats between the Mac and Windows versions and required a translator if the file were to be readable at all. Using the resource fork to store style information was later duplicated by Apple Inc. for the standard Macintosh styled text format as used in SimpleText
SimpleText is the native text editor for the Classic Mac OS. SimpleText allows editing including text formatting , fonts, and sizes. It can be considered similar to Windows' WordPad application...


Nisus Writer 6.5 is the last classic version of Nisus. It is still available for purchase and runs under Mac OS 9.2.2
Mac OS 9
Mac OS 9 is the final major release of Apple's Mac OS before the launch of Mac OS X. Introduced on October 23, 1999, Apple positioned it as "The Best Internet Operating System Ever," highlighting Sherlock 2's Internet search capabilities, integration with Apple's free online services known as...

 and PowerPC
PowerPC is a RISC architecture created by the 1991 Apple–IBM–Motorola alliance, known as AIM...

 based Mac OS X
Mac OS X
Mac OS X is a series of Unix-based operating systems and graphical user interfaces developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc. Since 2002, has been included with all new Macintosh computer systems...

, but only in the Classic
Classic (Mac OS X)
Classic, or Classic Environment, was a hardware and software abstraction layer in Mac OS X that allowed applications compatible with Mac OS 9 to run on the Mac OS X operating system...


Nisus developed a fundamentally new product for Mac OS X: Nisus Writer Express (see below). It is based on Cocoa and complies with Apple's user interface guidelines. Nisus Writer Express is a compact word processor with good Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is a word processor designed by Microsoft. It was first released in 1983 under the name Multi-Tool Word for Xenix systems. Subsequent versions were later written for several other platforms including IBM PCs running DOS , the Apple Macintosh , the AT&T Unix PC , Atari ST , SCO UNIX,...

 compatibility. It was originally developed as Okito Composer by Charles Jolley of Sprout Systems. Nisus bought Okito Composer and hired Charles as Managing Director where he oversaw further development of the word processor he had created.

Nisus Compact was an extra-lean word processor, which was especially designed for Apple's 68K PowerBook
The PowerBook was a line of Macintosh laptop computers that was designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Computer, Inc. from 1991 to 2006. During its lifetime, the PowerBook went through several major revisions and redesigns, often being the first to incorporate features that would later become...

s. It was designed to fit entirely within RAM to avoid accessing the hard disk on a battery-powered system. It was at first a commercial product but was later given away with various books and magazines as part of a marketing campaign. "Upgrades" were offered to Nisus Writer at a discount.

Current product range

As of December 2007, Nisus currently sell two versions of its word processor: Nisus Writer Express and Nisus Writer Pro. Both versions come with more than adequate functionality for most users, although Pro leans more towards business documents, and is designed as a replacement for the likes of Microsoft Word for Macintosh. Pro version supports more file formats.

See also

  • List of word processors
  • Comparison of word processors
    Comparison of word processors
    -General information:This table provides general information about selected word processors.-Characteristics:This table gives characteristics of each word processor.-Operating System Compatibility:...

  • OpenDocument software
    OpenDocument software
    This is an overview of software support for the OpenDocument format, an open document file format for saving and exchanging editable office documents.-Current support:...

  • Office Open XML software
    Office Open XML software
    This is an overview of software support for the Office Open XML format, a Microsoft document file format for saving and exchanging editable office documents.The list here is not exhaustive.-ECMA-376 1st edition implementations:...

  • MathMagic
    MathMagic is a mathematical WYSIWYG equation editor, available for Windows and Mac OS X since its first debut in 1998. MathMagic is known for its DTP quality equations and widely used by Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress users...

    equation editor for Nisus Writer, supporting automatic baseline alignment
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