When it comes to word processors and spreadsheets for the Mac, we may have more choices in browsers.
Leave it to Tera to make sure the word and numbers playing field stays open and level. Here’s another good couple.
I should have known I’d take a little heat when I reviewed Mellel and considered it one of the best Mac word processors ever. It’s good. Great for some. But it’s not the only good word processor available.
Others took me to task and pointed out that Tera uses Nisus Writer Express and that I overlooked the popular and mature Mariner Write.
Then, Tera took me to task for that oversight and asked (she has a ‘way’ of asking) me to review Mariner Write and Mariner Calc; partly as penance for my oversight, and partly because it’s a good time to point out that there are other spreadsheets besides Excel.
I spent nearly a week with Mariner Write and Mariner Calc. Not every day, mind you. But enough time to become familiar with each, and be able to compare to Microsoft Word and Excel.
Since I tend to graviate toward bargains I’ll have to ‘fess up and admit I missed the boat with Mariner (nice pun, huh?), as both Write and Calc are worthy of anyone on a budget.
This is especially true because there are still millions and millions of Mac users who haven’t made the switch to Mac OS X, who still run Classic, and still need modern applications.
Mariner Write and Calc fit the bill. Now at version 3.7.x Write and Calc (v 5.5.x) both are mature, stable, fast and both run on both Mac OS X and Mac Classic. You don’t need a quad PowerMac G5 to run Mariner’s software. A lowly Mac mini, iBook, or eMac will make Write or Calc scream (figuratively, of course).
As word processors go, the Mariner folks decided not to throw in the kitchen sink. Microsoft did that and Word often functions as if it’s made of kitchen parts.
What I found with Mariner Write was a lean, elegant, intuitive approach to creating documents. Menus are where they should be, and even if you’re not sure what or where to look for something, a few clicks gets you there.
Write opens Word documents. All of the test documents I keep. And Write saves in RTF format, which can be opened easily in Word and pretty much everything else on Mac or Windows, so compatibility isn’t much of an issue unless you’re writing War and Peace with bibliography and footnotes.
There’s a built in dictionary, standard drag and drop and cut and past, and something I hadn’t paid much attention to and isn’t available in all word processors—mail merge.
Mariner claims that Write and Calc have about 70-percent of features of Microsoft’s Word and Excel. Since I only use about one third of that with Word and Excel, that makes the $59 bundle for Write and Calc an absolute bargain.
Speaking of Calc, can you name all the spreadsheets available for Mac OS X? Well, there’s Excel, and there’s the spreadsheet in AppleWorks, and then, uh, um, there’s, oh yes, the spreadsheet in Neo/J (Open Source), and uh…
Yeah, I have the same problem. When we think of spreadsheets we simply think of Microsoft Excel. The Mariner bundle also includes Mariner Calc.
Now at version 5.5 (just like Tera, these applications are ‘mature’), Mariner Calc looks very much like Excel. If there were a button on Excel which would trim out and not show all the stuff you don’t know how to use anyway, it would look like Mariner Calc.
Calc opens Excel spreadsheets, as well as the common format SYLK. It also saves in SYLK (for Excel), CSV, and other text formats.
Calc is not Excel. You may not notice the difference. Included are 150 built-in functions; ranges, split windows, charts, sorting, autosum, cell borders, graphs, pie charts, line charts.
There’s also ‘layered sheets’ which function similarly to Excel’s multiple workssheets. Tabbed palettes make navigation and tool finding easy, even for those without Excel experience.
All in all, very impressive. If Word and Excel’s annual tax is getting heavy, consider an alternative from a long-time Mac developer. During my ‘Tera imposed’ research, I noticed that Mariner’s been developing these applications for 15 years.
That’s a long time, so Mariner obviously has a loyal and dedicated following. I was in middle school when they started Mariner so they’ve matured. Tera was already mature before then.
MS Office will cost you about $400. The upgrade alone is usually $200 every year or two. Mariner Write and Calc in the MarinerPak bundle are $59. For both.
Also noteworthy is the free download and trial, so you can try before you buy. Click Here to view the Mariner site and download.
Tera Jean Patricks
See, Alex. Was that so hard? For those of us more ‘mature’ we may remember MacWrite and especially the fabulous WriteNow (which ran on NeXT, too). Mariner Write gives you the same feel.
Jack D. Miller
I’m a little embarassed to say I’ve not used Mariner Write or Calc until now, though I know a number of Mac users who’ve had it for years.
Carol Mary Miller
Jack, you’ll be impressed to know that Mariner includes a built-in spell checker which works both in Write and Calc. Try it sometime.