The Proofreader’s Parlour
A BLOG FOR EDITORS, PROOFREADERS AND WRITERS
I’ve recently posted links to a couple of overviews of PerfectIt, Version 3 of which was recently launched to the delight of regular users like myself.
I believe that user reviews can play an important part in helping others make the decision on whether a particular tool or piece of software is a wise investment.
However, the developer’s voice is invaluable too because no one knows the tool/software better.
With that in mind, I asked Daniel Heuman, Managing Director of Intelligent Editing and developer of PerfectIt, if he’d like to join me and the Parlour’s readers in a discussion about his proofreading software, and he graciously accepted.
The following relate to some comments I’ve made in the past, here on the blog, and more general issues about the software.
Feel free to join in the discussion in the Comments below if you have something to add.
Daniel Heuman: Hi Louise. In the interest of generating discussion, I’ve got some questions for you about PerfectIt 3. You described one review of PerfectIt 3 as “robust”. I’m not sure I’d agree with you; below I’ve provided some questions and examples to help illustrate the issues.
But for now, I’m interested to know why you used this term, particularly since I think it may be holding you (and others) from reviewing Version 3 themselves.
Louise Harnby: You make a fair point, Daniel, though I used the word “robust” in quite a general sense to mean “uncompromising” rather than in the more academic sense that some might be used to.
You’re correct that I haven’t yet done a public detailed review of PerfectIt 3 myself (though I’m using the software on a regular basis), and if it seems like my links to other people’s reviews are a case of time-strapped piggy-backing on other people’s hard work, you’re not far wrong!
But this isn't the only reason: as a proofreader who specializes in working for publishers on hard copy and PDF, I’m rarely in a position to take advantage of PerfectIt’s full functionality – it simply isn’t apporpriate for the kind of intervention my clients require.
Having said that, I don’t think others should hold back on doing their own detailed exploration of the software, particularly given that you offer a try-before-you-buy option. [Readers, you can access the trial version here.]
DH: One review was entitled “Quality Software for the Experienced Editor”. Do you think someone needs to be an “experienced editor” to use PerfectIt?
What about editors who have completed training but are just starting out? What about non-editors with a good grasp of language?
LH: I don’t think someone needs to be an experienced editor (or proofreader or writer) to avail themselves of the benefits of PerfectIt.
I do, however, suspect that to maximize the full functionality of the software, one would need to be reasonably comfortable with using Word and its plugins.
It’s not that newbies can’t use PerfectIt – they can, and I think they should. Rather, I’ve come across many people in the international editorial community who are still nervous about using complementary tools to improve their efficiency and output quality.
I’m not just talking about PerfectIt, but a whole range of tools – from Word’s find/replace function, to both simple recorded macros and more complex scripted ones.
Having experience of using such tools gives one the confidence to experiment with their various features, and this in turn can have a really positive impact on one’s editorial business practice.
My feeling is that the review title in question was acknowledging that those editors, proofreaders and writers who do have this confidence will be able to maximize PerfecIt’s functionality, and given that the review was written by a very experienced editor, it’s understandable that the article was positioned in such a way.
DH: The reviews you’ve featured haven’t addressed in detail PerfectIt’s full functionality; rather, they’ve just looked at the new features in Version 3. Again, here I’d question the appropriateness of your using the term “robust”. Does not “robustness” require a fuller discussion?
LH: I think a robust, as in uncompromising, review could include details of only the new features. I think that a software review that addresses the challenges and benefits experienced by the user who writes the review can still be robust in its analysis.
Those of us in the blogosphere are always aware that our readers are time-limited, so when we’re sharing information about new (or revised) editorial tools, we want to focus on the most exciting elements of the product as we see them, and then help readers navigate to other resources (including the websites of the relevant developers) that will provide more detailed information.
DH: I’d like to address some of the issues that one of the reviews highlighted, just to reassure any potential new users who might have decided that PerfectIt 3 was too complex for them to use.
But I’d like to know about other people’s experiences, too, whether they are newbie users or old hands. What do they like best, what are they struggling with, what are they confused by, what works well, what benefits to their work flows have they noticed?
LH: So, readers, if you’ve recently had the chance to experiment with PerfectIt 3, and you’d like to share your experiences with others in the international editorial community, drop us a line in the Comments.
As Daniel said, you needn’t be an experienced user (or editorial freelancer for that matter). All input is welcome.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s a LinkedIn discussion group, "PerfectIt Users", dedicated to getting the best out of PerfectIt – if you have questions about how to take advantage of the various functions but need a little friendly guidance, there are plenty of experienced users online who’ll be happy to chat with you and share their expertise!
To start the discussion, my personal favourite features (some of which are new to Version 3, and some of which have been available since PerfectIt was initially launched) are as follows:
Louise Harnby is a fiction copyeditor and proofreader. She curates The Proofreader's Parlour and is the author of several books on business planning and marketing for editors and proofreaders.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader & Copyeditor, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.
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