Of the four project development variables – scope, cost, time and quality – quality isn’t really a free variable. The only possible values are “excellent” and “insanely excellent”, depending on whether lives are at stake.
“XP Explained” by Kent Beck
For a long time my impression of Papers 2 was rather negative. A lot of really great ideas but a terrible execution. It literally hurt to see great ideas badly executed. But over time, and surely with Papers 2.7.3, these problems seem to be (mostly) solved. It’s stable, it allows me to focus on writing, it assists me.
I love Papers 2.
Given that I work with content outlines, writing the last article with Papers 2’s “cite while you write” feature was a breeze. You create a content outline, write the text and just by pressing ctrl + m you can insert a (magic) citation. That’s how citations should work … simple and easily accessible. Without interrupting the writing flow.
Also invaluable, I can easily sync my literature to my iPad and iPhone. Yeah, sure, you could improve any reference manager or citation software (got a couple of ideas), but, hey, it works.
Unfortunately, the current version of Papers is Papers 3. After seeing the initial bad reviews of Papers 3 a while ago, I did not upgrade beyond Papers 2. Trusting my references to a buggy software — with errors I might not detect, yet stake my scientific integrity on the correctness of the references — hell, no way. I rather continue to use a prior version.
But that’s no stable situation. The question in the back of my mind is whether Papers 3 is up to the task after a couple of updates and bug fixes. Because you cannot retain an existing version of any piece of software. You just cannot.
Give it five or ten years and your computer will need replacement and the old operating system will not run of the new hardware and the new operating system will not support the old software. In any software that is needed continuously, upwards compatibility is key. And while there are few pieces of software that you really need continuously, literature references is one of them.
But it seems that Papers 3 still has massive problems. I trust Aleh Cherp’s update (“Papers 3: still disappointing”) here.
Unfortunately, this reinforces my impression of the developers of Papers. They have brilliant ideas, but they lack the necessary skill to implement them on the required level. And — sorry — but when it comes to scientific literature, there is just the choice between “excellent” and “insanely excellent”, and it seems Papers 3 is neither of them. And I think they know it. The website states:
A Papers 3 license entitles you to use both Papers 2 for Mac, Papers 3 for Mac, and Papers 1.5 for Windows.
So, if you buy a Papers 3 license, you can use the previous version, too.
Seriously, if you have to offer the option to use Papers 2, Papers 3 is not ready to be released.
Meep. Yup, I really love Papers 2, but I am thinking about switching to Sente. Not sure whether it is better, and I am sure to miss the “cite while you write” feature. But that’s a minor annoyance if everything else works out.
Yup. Because literature management is not a game to me. Mistakes in citations kill a submission, and thus — over time — my career. Seriously, Papers, you are the Steve Wozniak of literature management for Mac. Great ideas, but terrible execution. Get a Steve Jobs into your company to get the quality issues under control.
You still have the chance to achieve something great.