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Ease your way into NVivo for Mac Beta

11 March 2014 - IN beta, for, mac, nvivo, test

Yes, throw away that virtual machine - NVivo for Mac Beta is here.

As a technical communicator at QSR, I'm on fairly intimate terms with NVivo 10 for Windows and I watched with amazement (and a little trepidation) as the development team brought NVivo to life on the Mac.

I needn't have worried.

There is no steep learning curve and everything is where you'd expect it to be - but the interface elements (icons, menus and dialogs) are distinctly Mac. It's a bit like going to another country, the culture just feels different. Even the lingo. Did you know that it's 'click OK' on Windows but 'click Done' on a Mac? Could probably write a philosophical thesis about that.

Last year, we asked a select group of users to beta test NVivo for Mac and, after incorporating the feedback, we think it's time everyone tried it out. Remember, this is still a beta product so not every feature is available. Although, judging by the consumption of caffeinated drinks around here, updates will be rolling out at a speedy pace as the year continues.

It's also worth pointing out that any projects you create in NVivo for Mac Beta will be fully compatible with the commercial release of the software - so go ahead and get busy.

Want some ideas on how to start ? Here's a gentle path you might take (especially if you're new to NVivo):

1. Start with a 'play' project

Avoid the pressure of beginning your life’s greatest work. Create a new project and just play for a bit.

2. Bring in some data

Import a few interview documents or PDF articles. If you’re feeling bold, you can make folders to organize them:

3. Practice the art of coding

Open a document and, as you read the content, ask yourself “What is this about?”

Make nodes (containers) for the themes that you find - for example, comments about ‘water quality’ go in the ‘water quality’ node. You might start off with this descriptive type of coding and then take a more analytical approach later on.

4. Get down to the nitty gritty

Open a node to see the fruits of your labor -  you can review everything about a topic in one place.

See, you can explore what everyone had to say about water quality:

5. Talk to yourself in a memo

After a bit of coding and node reviewing – stop and debrief. Maybe you want to start thinking about your ‘real’ project and how you might approach it.

6. Spice things up with a query

Queries are at the beating heart of NVivo.  You can start small and get a feel for how they work. Take a Text Search query for example  - you could search all your material for the phrase "water quality":

If you want to explore NVivo using sample data - then have a look at the Down East sample project (you can get to it from the Welcome screen). Or if you want a quick lay of the land, watch the Explore NVivo for Mac video - it introduces some key concepts (that I glossed over in this post).

We'd really like to hear your ideas, suggestions or epiphanies in the NVivo for Mac Beta forum - hope to see you there.

BTW - If you decide to join the beta testing tribe, then you might like to save one of these badges and include it on your blog or website: