Test Driving The Editors

  1. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    Following my recent thread:
    http://www.sffchronicles.com/threads/551483/#post-1887721

    I thought I would document my progress with whichever software editors I use and see how the results go down.

    Firstly SmartEdit. This comes in two forms, one that is a standalone program, the other that functions as a plug-in to MSWord.

    I've decided, due to the limited time of the trial and because it seems to be generally more expedient to use a short story as the test piece.

    And just because it seemed right I thought I'd use the oldest one I could find (without OCR'ing something or typing up from whatever I wrote on Papyrus back in the day).
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2015
    Feb 13, 2015
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  2. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    I've found four, and the're old enough that I can't really place an age on them:

    Dreams of Supermen - this comes in at about 2000 words and is probably the oldest one dating back as far as the late 1980's. This has been very heavily edited over the years though....

    Descent Into Dystopia - About 3250 words, I can barely remember writing this, but it has a killer last line. The properties give it a date of 1999.

    For the Glory of God - Just over 1600 words, this is the shortest one, but I can't remember when it was written. The properties list it as being created in 2007, but that might just be when it was transferred.

    ...And a Tale in the Telling - About 4,500 words. The properties date this one to 2001. It is the longest one, and although I have a fondness for it I think for the purposes of this trial it might be a little long.

    So now just got to make up my mind which one to go with...
     
    Feb 13, 2015
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  3. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    Okay I thought it would be best to start with the shortest story (Easier for me too)

    For the Glory of God. The original copy is uploaded here just for the hell of it. I don't think it is by any means my best story, but it will serve for this test!

    According to Word it is 1618 words long, with 7 possible grammar errors, and one spelling (which looks like a repeated word).
     

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    Feb 15, 2015
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  4. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    In this instance I am using SmartEdit for MSWord. It only works on the more recent versions, I'm using 2013 (or 365). SmartEdit acts as an add-on to the Word Processing program appearing as an additional choice on the main menu.

    SmartEdit1.jpg

    By clicking on the Tab we get all the SmartEdit features

    SmartEdit.jpg

    By clicking on Run Checks the SmartEdit scans through the document and provides the results:

    SmartEdit2.jpg
    On the right is the confirmation that it has run through all the areas it can check, common points that often need looking at, on the adverb box listing all adverbs used and more importantly how often they have been used. Obviously on a longer piece there are going to be more than you can see here - and sometimes you might use the same word a number of times without is being repetitious - but in something this short the 3 uses of 'slowly' might be considered excessive, and even if not it allows me to decide whether I need to replace one or two of them.

    The middle box shows where these words occur.

    And rather usefully clicking on the line takes you to that part in the document. For the sake of this exercise I have removed or changed the words.

    Next time I have a look I'll move on to another selection.
     
    Feb 15, 2015
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  5. Kerrybuchanan

    Kerrybuchanan Delusions of Grammar

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    This is really useful, Perp. I'm following with interest.
     
    Feb 15, 2015
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  6. Ray McCarthy

    Ray McCarthy Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.

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    The ones no sane person uses if they have Word 2003, Open Office or Libre Office? Ghastly ribbons GUI and Supercomputer required?

    So that one is no use except for people forced to use Corporate MS Office. The Office 356 is a mad idea.
     
    Feb 15, 2015
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  7. HareBrain

    HareBrain Bunny of Wonder Staff Member

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    Is that the version which gets Bank Holidays off?
     
    Feb 15, 2015
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  8. Venusian Broon

    Venusian Broon Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity

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    Well, I lost Word 2003 to a hard drive failure, but I'm happily using 2013 and I wasn't forced nor am I corporate. (I might possible be mad and I've got a good computer, I'll give you that.)
     
    Feb 15, 2015
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  9. Ray McCarthy

    Ray McCarthy Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.

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    Actually their up time has been poor. :D
     
    Feb 15, 2015
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  10. Glitch

    Glitch #452

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    The problem I find with the 2013(07/10) interface(s) of Word/Excel, they are slower to use. Everything I want is on a different tab.

    Word/Excel 2003 was nice and quick to use as the features were easy to find. At least that's been my experience.

    I haven't tried Office 365. I don't like the subscription model for software.
     
    Feb 15, 2015
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  11. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    Thanks! I'll keep going, I've had a quick look through the other sections and it really was quite informative.

    As for Word - I used Word 2003 for a looong time, but new computers around the office, not covered by the license meant a change. Over the course of a year I tried quite a lot of the free ones, and we settled into Kingsoft which seemed to look and function a lot like Word and was compatible with Word files. (It could open .docx but not save in them.) There were a few things it could not do, but Libre Office could - I think this might have been opening Publisher files, so I'd use that to open the .pub extension and either convert to pdf, or build a new version of the pub in word.

    However as time went one I began to notice that there were a few things that could not be done easily on KIngsoft or Libre that I used to be able to do on MSWord. So I looked into the current versions. I did not like the look of them, but in the end managed to get a trial of 2013/365. To start with it really was awkward because it was so different. Bit by bit I picked it up, found how to do the things I needed and got used to it, enough that I was prepared to pay for it.

    Two things of note, as Glitch says 365 is a subscription model, which basically means you pay for it each month, doing it this way you can get a single subscription or a 5 use license, that allows you to put it on 5 different computers - it also allows you to install it on an additional 5 tablets/phones as well which sounds good until you realise that it has yet to be released for android.... (It is coming, in Beta at the moment. It is simple, straightforward and probably the best Word Processor I've used on the Android platform).

    Of course, as has been pointed out, the new look, ribbons and all, that started coming in with Office 2007, is very different - a case of MS saying that it's what their users want, even when the majority say they don't... but there is an extension out there that gives you the traditional menu bar! Of course you have to pay for it.
     
    Feb 16, 2015
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  12. Kerrybuchanan

    Kerrybuchanan Delusions of Grammar

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    I've shuffled through the various versions, and I agree Office 2003 or even Office XP are the best, especially for Publisher.

    I used to teach basic computing (up to Advanced ECDL/CLAIT Plus) so I've had to adapt to the new versions, because my students always turned up with whatever software PC World had sold them. I guess now I just adapt without thinking. Probably Bill Gates' dream user, really.
     
    Feb 16, 2015
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  13. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    Next it is repeated phrases. I guess this is not just useful as an editing feature but also to allow the writer to see just what words they keep using, and perhaps overusing. Again on a longer work you might expect a couple or repetitions, but on something this size there is something to be said.

    I apparently used the words 'there was no...' four times (my most used phrase apparently), and all on the same no less.

    It is quite interesting to see the number of repetitions throughout, obviously some are necessary but the way the program works allows you to see what is there, pick out those that can be changed and change. (Some you might think don't need to be changed, but when you see them realise they HAVE to be).
     
    Feb 16, 2015
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  14. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    Then we have repeated words. I found this really interesting, an excellent way of seeing my common usage. I guess there is always going to be some repetition of words through out a manuscript - you are hardly going to go through the entire thing without repeating some words once, butagain there is the point where some words are used to much and could easily be replaced with another.

    In my case the most used word is 'could' which is used 12 times. Having been through the words used up to 7 times it's amazing to find how many of them were redundant. It was not just a case of replacing them, but removing them entirely worked just as well or better.

    So far the SmartEdit seems to be doing everything I wanted and more.

    When I come back to it next it is with one of the sections I'm most looking forward to - cliches
     
    Feb 16, 2015
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  15. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    Clichés - Nothing beats a good cliché, and sooner or later I am sure they are going to creep into some text. I doubt whether SmartEdit has every cliché possible hidden away in its database, but it is going to find the most common ones.

    I am not sure that it is going to matter if you have one or two, especially if they are in keeping with the context of your story but if you use the same one a number of times it is probably something that is worth looking at.

    The check here finds two - 'giving no quarter' and 'Take it easy.' As both of these easily fit in the story as intended I'm not touching them.
     
    Feb 17, 2015
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  16. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    A bit of a delay, work commitments and all that so, the next check is monitored words - it claims that this is defined by the user, but I have not defined anything yet. It still managed to pull up every instance I used the word 'their.' I'm guessing this is to do with the confusion between there - their and they're - but I've only used it three times and it's right each time. I hope. ;)

    I'm guessing that you can add words you use a lot and the program will pull them out to make sure you are not over using them.

    This is followed by Proper Nouns. Again on a longer piece this might be really useful, but here it only finds a few that all check out quite happily (I use God twice for example.)

    The story skips the next two sections and goes to what could be one of the most entertaining parts of the editing process as SmartEdit delves deep to discover how many profanities you have used in your work. Obviously one does not want to be too over the top (unless it is needed). In this instance it has found one, which is the word 'Hell.'

    For some reason I'm not that concerned.

    This brings the main section to an end, but there are two other sections available.
     
    Feb 23, 2015
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  17. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    The first of these comes under the heading 'Global Actions'

    This contains three sections, the first of which is Dialogue Tags. This is a list of the number of times you use words generally used for speech. ie. said, told, shouted etc.

    In my case I can see that I have used the standard 'said' only twice, but 'told' gets five uses. I can now go back through and change them a bit.

    Following this is the Sentence Start List - how many times you use a given word as a sentence start. It seems I have used 'I' an awful lot, but then I would not expect much else in this case. This is followed by 'it.'

    I'm not sure whether I would actually change any of them, but it certainly is useful and in a longer work it might be very helpful.

    Finally it offers a fun graph of how long your sentences are. Again something that might be useful.
     
    Feb 23, 2015
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  18. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    Finally it looks at punctuation. A simple but comprehensive section that allows you to review just what punctuation you have used, how many times you have used it, and where. It is as simple as that, as useful as you might need it to be.
     
    Feb 23, 2015
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  19. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    So that is it for the MSWord version of SmartEdit.

    In summation: To me it seems to be a very comprehensive program, that really helps with the editing process. It pointed to areas I have had pointed out in the past (by human eyes) and although at this stage I have not fully been through my story with it (I was painfully aware that there was a time limit on the trial software and I did not want to run out before I'd finished testing it.) I think it has really improved the construction of the story, and made me look and think about what was there.

    As it is integrated with Word it looks quite at home and works as part of the Word process. I found it very easy to use, making it a good all round editing aid: It does the job and is easy to use.

    Of course there is one thing that has to be mentioned: it is not freeware and it is something that has to be paid for.
    The trial period is for 10 days, although mine seems to be lasting longer than that (it might just seem that way).
    The cost for the Word integrated version is $67 which translates to about £43
    Is it worth it?
    Well after I've test driven a few other editors I'll come back to that question and answer it.
    I would recommend to explore it by using the trial. For a first look it has set a high standard.


    Next up SmartEdit standalone.
     
    Feb 23, 2015
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  20. Perpetual Man

    Perpetual Man Tim James

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    Outside of the MSWord plug in there is a stand alone SmartEdit program, This is designed to work quite happily if you don't have word and edit your documents in much the same way. Every part of me screams that this should be the 'main' bit of software, but it certainly seems as though the Word plugin is seemed as more important.

    But lets see.

    Smartedit.jpg

    As cab be seen I've installed the trial program and opened the same story as in the previous test. The interface looks as straightforward as on Word, perhaps even more so as it clearly shows all the available options on the same page rather than under different tabs.
     
    Feb 24, 2015
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