Saturday, May 21, 2011

Atlantis and Chapter by Chapter

Chapter by Chapter or "CbC" for short is a deceptively simple program. It is designed to work together with MS-Word: "It allows managing and organizing chapters within a book far easier than in Word just because it deals with one doc file per chapter rather than one big file containing the whole book. When the book is finished (or whenever the writer wants), CbC generates that big file."

This is it: "Using CbC is pretty straight forward: a few menus, drag'n drop in the treeview, right-click on treeview items (act or chapter) to show their contextual menu, and double-click on a chapter to open it in Word. The only thing you should know: add the '#' symbol at the beginning of your chapters (in the .doc files) where the chapter number should appear, CbC will replace it with the correct chapter number."

How closely is CbC wedded to MS-Word? Can you use another program to edit the files?
The answer is that it is wedded fairly closely to MS-Word. Still, you can use another word processor—with some limitations:
  • there is no "open" icon next to the file names to indicate wether a document is open in the editor or not
  • no asterisk after the file names to indicate if a document has been modified and needs a save operation
  • no Editor Window autosnap (CbC can detect MS Word window and snap it next to CbC window)
  • no automatic update of the Page/word counts, you will need to trigger this update manually via the "Update Counts" function in the "Tools" menu.[1]
It works fine with Atlantis. It also works with Word 2002, of course. I did install it some time ago, even though I hardly ever use it. (But an installation of Word is necessary for CbC.[2] Without such an installation, it cannot compile.

Though CbC works with Atlantis, I am not sure I will use it. The reason has to do with (what I would consider to be) a missing feature. CbC does not allow you to search across all files in a project. Having the entire file loaded in Atlantis, allows me too search it easily and quickly, which is necessary in the process of revising a complex manuscript. And Atlantis has not crashed on me even though the file has now approximately 215,000 words (though inserting a new footnote is slow). It also allows you to see the outline of a whole book. See here:

Click to enlarge!

1. This information is based on the FAQ of CbC. See here.
2. Why did I install it? I tried out Writing Outliner, but I never really got it to work (as the help file was rather defective). It seems to try to hard to do too many things. Apparently, it does have a search function (which I could not test).

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