A new word processor is being developed for OS X that some here might be interested in. Version 1.0 is available for demo download at pagehand.com. It features a single-window interface with controls swapped into and out of the sidebar and toolbar as needed. The UI is de-iconized and very textual. (You’ll see what I mean.) Apple’s cool and somewhat hard-to-find typography features are exposed and highlighted here. The user works in page layout mode exclusively.
The default save format is PDF, with the XML document data saved as a compressed object inside the PDF. Thus the file can be viewed on almost any computer. Ingenious, really! There are some features lacking (e.g., footnotes) as this is a very new product, but it has other cool features (numbered section headers, column layouts). Perhaps I missed it, but I saw no support for lists. The app is small (8 MB) and loads quickly. There is good support for styles. The app uses a ‘document with saved styles’ as template approach (like Nisus or Word) as opposed to style sheets being disconnected from documents like html/css, docbook, or TeX. It exports to many formats using the same file converters that Text Edit uses. The app’s help file is kind of a hoot, as it dwells somewhat on the correct use of apostrophes, etc. On the other hand, it’s clear that people aren’t learning this kind of thing in school, so maybe the help file of a word processor is the most appropriate place for it after all.
I’m intrigued by Pagehand (full disclosure: I develop Bean and am kind of a word processor junky), but I feel that the textual UI philosophy was perhaps followed a bit too rigidly. Even Apple ignores their own UI guidelines when the situation calls for it, or when a bold stroke is needed. However, I think (what appears to be) the underlying XML document model will provide power, flexibility, and extendability as the app matures. The cocoa text system (what Bean uses) is powerful but hard to extend. So the developer of Pagehand has brought a lot of new ideas (textual interface, read/write pdf format) and powerful solutions (xml document model, single window interface) to the table. What do you all think?