Mellel, Bookends, Sente, Zotero....

I’m new to Scrivener and in discovering Scriverner I’ve come across several other pieces of software with which people here are apparently familiar but that I’d never heard of before.

The first is Mellel. I’ve had experience with Word, OpenOffice, and am currently using Pages. Really don’t want to go back to Word or OpenOffice, I’ve encountered problems moving documents between them and Pages, and now I see that there are issues in working with Scrivener and Pages. I’m intrigued by Mellel, but at least as implemented in OpenOffice I’m baffled by styles, which I understand Mellel makes heavy use of. Any experiences related to these or other aspects of working with Mellel would be appreciated.

I have no experience so far with bibliography/citation management software, but I can imagine it becoming useful in the not too distant future. I knew about Endnote, but Bookends and Sente are significantly less expensive and seem to offer a similar level of functionality, including in bibliographic research. Any experience with these applications, especially in relation to Mellel and Scrivener, would be appreciated.

Finally, I have Zotero installed in Firefox. I know it’s being developed and supported in coordination with academic institutions and disciplines. Does Scrivener work with it?


Well, lotsa views, no replies, so I’ll reply to myself. I’ve decided to go with Nisus. As with Scrivener, as with all software, there’s a learning curve. But I’m making progress. Things seem to work the way they seem to work. With Word and OpenOffice I was almost always confused. Nisus is helping me convert Pages documents for importing into Nisus. I save the Pages document as a DOC document, open it in Nisus, save as an RTF file, then import it into Scrivener. Comments, footnotes, and bibliography are coming through intact. Just minor document-wide tweaking for format is required.

I’ve given both Bookends and Sente a trial. There were a lot of things in Bookends that didn’t work for me. “Reveal attachment in Finder” didn’t reveal attachments. “Rename attachment” didn’t rename attachments. They couldn’t figure out why, and ultimately told me Bookends wasn’t going to work for me and to go try something else.

I had more success with Sente. Most things worked. It struck me as overall just more convenient. But one critical feature, Quick Add, which I was trying to use to get bibliographic data on documents I’d found and downloaded but which can be used in other ways, never worked for me. There seemed to be an awful lot of unresolved problems on their forum, too. [Others were also complaining about Quick Add not working.]

So, I’ve decided to stick with Zotero. I find it more convenient for doing research on the web, and I haven’t encountered anything that doesn’t work. Zotero has announced that it will be releasing a significantly expanded application programming interface, if it hasn’t done so already. I’m hoping Nisus will take advantage of it to integrate Zotero into Nisus.

Hi Eric,

Somehow I missed your initial post, so sorry for being one of the many non-responders.

I haven’t used Mellel (or Nisus) so have nothing useful to offer there.

I currently use EndNote because it is supported by my university and hence free. My favourite price. However, I only use it for cited references. All of my academic references go in Papers and everything else goes in DevonThink Pro Office (which I also sync with my Papers folder). If you are looking for a reference manager for scientific papers (from “hard” science through to social science, but medical science is it’s particular strength) you really can’t beat Papers. It makes it sensationally easy to add PDFs or to add bibliographic citations. Anything that I use in my writing I import into EndNote to manage citations and my published reference list.

It is a long time since I’ve looked at BookEnds or Sente, so again not much useful to say except that I didn’t see anything in either of them worth the extra cost (compared to EndNote which, as I said, is free at my university). Personally I don’t like Zotero as I have a distrust of online services that don’t have an offline equivalent. Glad to hear it works for you. :slight_smile:

Actually all of Z’s core functionality is offline. The only online features are those that would likewise require net connectivity in Endnote and other applications.

I think its as good as anything out there for my purposes (having used Endnote for years) and most of the PhD students at my institute use it now. I also use it for just general storage of web-delivered information that I would previously have saved and stored, as a web archive in a file directory, or otherwise. My only recommendation would be to have a back-up procedure in place. I have had Firefox crash on me twice leading to a corrupted profile. They are not easy to repair. Zotero allows for exporting your library, so good to store it outside of Firefox. I also use the online cloud sync, which is free up to 100MB, but Ive gone for the $20/yr 1GB service.



I said it had been a while… :confused:
Thanks for the update, when (if) I graduate I’ll re-examine Zotero again as an alternative to EndNote.

Wow! Some actual responses. Next time I’ll respond to my own post sooner. :smiley:

Intrigued by this, especially the DevonThink and Papers references? DevonThink has been of interest for a long time. Just became aware of Papers. Didn’t look at it because I thought it was bibliogrphy record management only, not citation management. What’s your word processor?

I’ve been using an application called TiddlyWiki that runs in browsers.

I use TiddlyWiki to collect, organize, reorganize, and reorganize again short notes of all kinds. The cool thing is the organizational structure can be develped, revised, re-revised as I go. I don’t have to have it thought out ahead of time, and I’m never locked into anything. I have multiple TiddlyWikis with notes collected for different purposes or on different topics. I can move notes – or in Tiddly-speak, Tiddlers – between them with ease.

There are TiddlyWiki Google groups for users and devlopers, and the community is extremely creative and very generous.

As I think I mentioned in my response to my post, Zotero is going to become a “stand alone” application soon, if they haven’t done so already. I think that means it will run in many browsers, not just Firefox, as well as independently of any browser.

They’ll also be released a greatly expanded application programming interface that should enable other software developers to integrate Zotero into their applications. I’m hoping Nisus will take advantage of this opportunity.

This was the initial announcement: There have been subsequent updates on the progress of the project.

Ah thanks for the link Eric, thats great news! Maybe now Endnote will even consider dropping their outrageous prices!



I’ve never been able to get the hang of wikis - my brain just doesn’t seem to work that way. I admire those that do use them though, I can appreciate their power. You can set up wiki-style links in DevonThink but, as you’ve probably guessed from the previous lines, I’m not the one to ask about that.

Papers can’t manage in-text citations, but can manage all (well, most) of the bibliographic data as well as source PDFs. Hence my continued use of Endnote for cited references. The benefit of Papers is the way it automagically looks up bibliographic data online and adds it references all the click of a mouse. I never grow tired of that! :smiley:

The strength of DevonThink is it’s search capabilities. I can dump stuff in there and know I can always find it. For research it’s even better because it can show semantically similar material (not just identical text strings) which occasionally throws up some interesting links previously not considered. As I type that, I begin to wonder why I invested some of my thesis research budget into NVivo - maybe I could have stuck with DevonThink… :unamused:

The “sync” with Papers is actually just a folder sync. You can set up DevonThink to index a folder and treat it as if it had imported the contents except it won’t actually change the source data. Saves duplication, but massively increases (to my mind) the search capacities. I have all of my academic material from thw past 8 years in a DevonThink file as well as recipes, clinical references and personal correspondence (different databases for each).

I’m using Scrivener (obviously) for primary text creation. I haven’t exported (yet, so little to compile) but will probably use Word for it’s ubiquity. Since I have to use Word most days, across different platforms, and am used to it’s quirks and power (after years of use!) it seems simpler to just stick with it for editing the big stuff. I like Pages, but am not yet a power user and don’t trust sending my work to and fro between it and my Word-based colleagues and supervisors.

Nor does mine. And the “wiki” in TiddlyWiki is misleading. It is, you won’t be surprised, possible to use a TiddlyWiki as a wiki. But it can be used in other ways, too, and I don’t use wiki-linking at all. I have access to my data through a search feature that matches text strings across all the Tiddlers, through an alphabetical listing by title, a listing by date of creation/modifcation, through tags, which can be hierarchically structured, and through a tree/outline that’s built on the tagging system. It’s the hierarchical tagging, and ability to create, revise, and restructure tags as you go along that has been especially powerful for me. It helps me think about my topic or issue.

Sounds a lot like a Windows application that I used for many years, InfoSelect. They cluttered it up with a lot of functions that simply duplicated the functions of other types of software and never developed a Mac version. I have it installed under CrossOver/Wine, but since getting comfortable with TiddlyWiki I don’t use it much anymore. Just have lots of old, mostly unused stuff in it.

DevonThink sounds pretty powerful. I may have to check it out.

As you or may not know the company that owns Endnote sued Zotero. Apparently there were Zotero staff who’d previously been at Endnote, and they claimed Zotero was using some of their proprietary procedures." Unfortunately – for them, fortunately for us, or at least for me – they lost.

I’ve had experience interacting with support staff at Bookends and Zotero. By far and away the staff at Zotero are more helpful.

I’ve checked out Bookends, Sente, and Zotero. All have that capability.

In my inititial response to you I said I might have to check out DEVONthink. I have done so and am now and impressed and happy DEVONthink Pro user. In spite of its power, I’ve been able to get started with it quickly and feel confident that my exploitation of its capabilities will expand over time.

I was not impressed with its tagging capabilities, though. It can’t hold a candle to TiddlyWiki in that regard. I’ve got Ammonite, which greatly expands DEVONthink’s tag management capabilities, except for the creation part. Since I’ve done so little tagging in DEVONthink so far I haven’t been able to really check it out, and am uncertain how useful it will be. It was recommended, however, by the folks at DEVONthink.

Regarding your use of Papers for doing bibliographic research on the web, I wonder, since you’re a DEVONthink user, if you’ve had experience with, or given any thought to, DEVONagent. It sounds like a powerful web research tool. Of course, it would integrate well with DEVONthink. I’m not sure how well it would work with any of the bibliography/citation managers.

It would be really cool if Zotero could be integrated into it the way it is now into FireFox. With the work the Zotero people are doing now to make it available on other browsers, and their release of an expanded API, I wonder if it would be possible. I imagine it would, if the DEVONthink folk were interested.

Howdy. I use both Nisus Writer Pro and Mellel and have for the past seven years. Neither has crashed during that time. I need (and like) that kind of stability. Both are very powerful and would meet the needs of most writers. In both programs it is well worthwhile to learn how to use styles (both paragraph and character); that will pay immediate and long-term dividends whenever you do. Tables are adequate but not sophisticated; image handling is not a strength (Pages is better at image handling), but both programs a serviceable.

Nisus tends to slow when many footnotes are used. Nisus just “feels” right when using. For everyday writing, I tend to use Nisus. It is convenient, easy to work with from the get-go. Its native format is .rtf, which means it is universally readable.

Mellel has a little steeper learning curve, but the rewards are worth the time. It provides multiple, independent footnote streams. The style sheets are as powerful as any as any program. Mellel handles most languages very well (for me, writing in English, also requires Hebrew and Greek); never causing problems. Mellel handles any length of document without slowing down. While I have not reached that length, some have mentioned 500+ pages with many hundreds of footnotes, and Mellel keeps up to speed. Its built in outliner is sufficient for writing needs (not on the level of a dedicated outliner, though).

So, day-to-day writing, I tend to use Nisus; any serious writing (academic, using Hebrew, etc.) is done on Mellel. Either or both are excellent word processors. Are there improvements that can be made? Absolutely, and of course, users tend to think that these new features should have been added yesterday.

PS: I also keep OpenOffice up-to-date so that I can work with any occasional Excel spreadsheets that are sent my way. I also use it for some interchange with Word documents, but those are rather simplistic.

Hope this helps… from a satisfied user of both NWP and Mellel.

Glad you finally got some responses, all of them excellent. I have used EndNote for years, largely because it costs $13 a year for a campus license. It has plenty of auto-lookup and auto-format power, and the interface is now quite Mac-like.

For me, Pages is a solid Word replacement. I’ve transferred some Pages files to NWP, using both DOC and RTF filters. The problems so far: NWP can’t retain Pages layout or outline styles. So I mostly use NWP to edit or create fairly basic RTF files.

I have used DEVONagent extensively in the past. A research project I was working on a few years ago involved extensive web research and I found it invaluable. I haven’t used it much recently as most of my current research is limited to academic texts (journal articles and text books). In fact I’m not sure if I have even used the current version since I last updated. Hmm, maybe I should revisit…

One thing that (I don’t think) anyone has addressed yet is precisely how they integrate Zotero citations into a Scrivener flow. The drag and drop works fine, but this is simply a text citation. No longer works as a citation marker that can be used to generate bibliographies, combined with other citations, etc. Can anyone discuss how to import Zotero citations into Scrivener in a way that retains their format as citations? Thanks.

One way is to use the RTF scan feature in Zotero. Enter the citation references in Scrivener, export the final document to RTF format and then run the file through the RTF scan in Zotero itself. The resulting formatted file can be opened in a word processor.
For details see

I hope this helps.


I see I haven’t responded to the most recent responses on this thread. My apologies. Thanks to exegete77, druid, and nom for sharing your experience using Scrivener in conjunction with other software.

I may have said this above, but for the time being I am going with Nisus and Zotero. I’m hoping that with the release of versions for other browsers, a free-standing version, and an expanded API to make it easier for other software developers to integrate it with their applications, it will become possible to use Zotero with a wider range of word procesors, especially Nisus. [Though they say that at present they have no plans along this line.]

For what it is worth (sic) I see that the developers of Mellel have just reduced the price. I find the fiddling around with styles a bit too much for me, so I use Nisus at the moment. But Mellel is now quite cheap.

Best, Martin.

I’ve found styles baffling in my encounter with them in Word, OpenOffice Writer, and Pages. Why I don’t know, but I’m making better use of them in Nisus. But then my formatting is minimal and very simple. I imagine if I was attempting anything more involved I’d be as baffled in Nisus as in the others.