Mariner Write 1.3.1
Price $69.99 (or $49.99)
By Tim Robertson
Mariner Write from Mariner Software Inc. is a new, very well done word processor. I was sent a demo of it, and have “played” with the program for a few days. I must say, I am impressed, though not overwhelmed.
First, I am a die-hard ClarisWorks user. I have Nisus Writer, Microsoft Word 5.1 and 6.0.1, not to mention a few others. However, I always fall back to using ClarisWorks. Why? I am more comfortable using its interface, and it was what I had when I bought my first Mac. It also works great, and I have never had a problem with it. Yes, it is limited when you compare it to Word 6.0.1, but what isn’t?
So then I receive Mariner Write. To be honest, I was not expecting much. What do I need with another Word Processor? Feature rich cannot be claimed as one of Mariner Write’s attributes, but this is a damn fine program, worthy of any Mac user’s hard earned cash.
For starters, the layout and feel to Mariner Write is well done. Like Word, it sports a floating menu bar pallet above the work area, and you will find all the standard menu items here, such as Save, Print, Undo, Redo, Open, Print Preview, and more. This floating menu bar is very reminiscent of Microsoft Word 5.1, which is a good thing. It is familiar and new, all at the same time. No Mac user will get confused using it. Of course, there are command keys for all of the functions as well, and in a word processing program, your hands are usually on the keyboard most of the time anyway. But the floating menu bar is a nice touch.
Unlike some other programs, Mariner Software made sure that Mariner Write has the most beloved of all Mac standards: Drag and Drop. Too many programs leave this holy grail of features out, and it is great that Mariner Software has added this feature.
Another nice touch is the mini menu bar in Mariner Write. This will display the font, size, style, and color right above your working area. No need to go all the way up to the Menu bar or to the floating pallet to change these most basic of features. It should also be noted that when you select all your text, and then change the font size, Mariner Write will still line up everything as if you wrote it that way. ClarisWorks, as well as Word, tends to mess up that most basic function from time to time. Not so Mariner Write. I am impressed.
Compatibility is another issue when working in a word processing program. Here Mariner Write did not do so well. I saved a text only document in Word 6.0.1, and Mariner Write would not open it. In fact, the Word document would not even show up in my open dialog window. Nor would Mariner Write open a ClarisWorks 4.0v4 document, or one created in Word 5.1a. It would, however, open a ClarisWorks 3.0 document. Of course, it can open a SimpleText document just fine, even one with graphics.
Mariner Write would not open any graphic file other than .gif or .pict. While the .pict file opened without any loss of graphics, though a .gif file would not. Most .gif files would not convert correctly. Not sure why, but the picture/artwork would lose much when Mariner Write opened them. Again, no problems with .pict files at all.
To be fair, most people probably would not use Mariner Write to open graphic files. In fact, Word would no open ANY graphic file, while ClarisWorks would open a .pict and a .tiff, and a .gif. Of course, it was not the word processing part of ClarisWorks that would open these files, but rather the painting or drawing side of it. Still, that is a nice feature ClarisWorks has over most other programs.
One of the most compelling reasons to like Mariner Write is its small memory requirement. Mariner Write asks for 1248k, with 800k being the minimum. Microsoft Word 6.0.1, on the other hand, asks for 3000k, 1700K minimum. ClarisWorks 4.0v4 wants 1400K, and 1000K minimum. The lowest goes to Microsoft Word 5.1a, which asks for only 1024K (That’s 1MB, folks.) With a minimum of 512k. Of course, Word 5.1a is four years old, and not nearly as nice or easy to use as Mariner Write.
Mariner Write gives you many cool options. One is a nice feature in the File menu, which is its “Open Recent” option. This will display the names of your most current used document you created in Mariner Write. No need to search for that last letter you wrote, it’s just a quick trip to your File menu! Mariner Write also lets you select your level of undo’s, up to 10! This is a great feature all programs of its type should have.
For the person looking at buying their first word processing program, you really can’t go wrong with Mariner Write. It’s fast, easy to use, and has many features. If you need a program that uses less hard drive space, then Mariner Write is for you. Small, yes, but not lacking in many features found in products costing three times as much.
Price. This is what it boils down to for most users. The other two programs I used to compare Mariner Write to, ClarisWorks and Microsoft Word, cost at least three times as much. That makes all the differences to me. Less than $70.00 for all this? Even less if you already own a competitive product, are a user group member, subscribe to Guy’s Kawasaki’s EvangeList, are an educator or student, or…. sounds like Mariner Software knows how to make a deal!
I like this product. I may just buy it. Why, when I have all the other programs mentioned above, and more? Well, I like Mariner Software. I like the way they seem to be committed to the Mac market. I like it when companies realize that by catering to users, rather than to the stock market, better products get developed. I see Mariner Write as a future industry standard if Mariner Software continues on its present course.
In closing, I would like to whisper one word to Mariner Software. This one word will change the way people use their computers, and if Mariner Software is smart and fast enough, they could jump leagues ahead of the competition. That word? OpenDoc. Make this a OpenDoc container, and this could very well become the “must have” product for all Mac users.