Atlas.Ti 6 vs NVivo 9: A Comparison
A couple of days ago I received an e-mail from one of my research blog (in Arabic) followers asking for my opinion on choosing NVivo or Atlas.Ti. I've sent her a summary of some of the issues that I faced when I tried both of them.
Today, I was asked by a friend of mine, Salma Patel of why I chose Atlas.Ti over NVivo as well, therefore, I decided to write a detailed post about this to help those who may be looking into this as well.
I found that Atlas.Ti 6 and NVivo 9 were two of the most used software packages out there. So, I went ahead to do some research and I decided to try them both. I ended up choosing Atlas.Ti although I was much inclined to use Nvivo for the following reasons:
Nvivo stores everything within 1 project file. There is the obvious risk of losing everything if this file becomes corrupted.
Yes, I will make backups, but I still want to be safe. Furthermore, what if there is a bug in the software itself? It wouldn't really be able to access anything.
Atlas.Ti has a project file that only stores projects information and certain details. Documents/PDFS do not have to be imported into the project. Atlas.Ti can get them where they are :).
In the worst case scenario that something may be wrong with the file, you can still access external documents such as PDFs.
|I already have a working structure of my documents (Thanks to Mendeley), why would I need to copy those files over to NVivo too? Waste of space in my opinion. Some could say delete the PDFs from Mendeley and just have the record for each document. Well, this can be done but then, I wouldn't really be using Mendeley's nice features such as effective searching within PDFs and pictures, etc..
Because Atlas.Ti will reach your documents where they are, you could have Mendeley arrange your library into a certain structure, then, you ask Atlas.ti to link those documents to your project.
Note: You may want Mendeley to sort your documents into folders based on Years at the the top level so that you could easily see which document your passage you are reading if you output a list of passages within Atlas.Ti. I have also had Mendeley rename the files so that Author's names are in the begining of the file name for the same reason too.
|Because it relies on 1 project file, there is no doubt that the file size would become bigger as you go on.||Project file remains very small.|
|I found NVivo to be a bit slow although I was working with an empty project...||Still going fast|
|The bigger the project size the laggier NVivo becomes.||Would not lag as much because the project file which runs the show is relatively small.|
|Until recently, NVivo had a very bad support for PDFs and I was surprised to see the company taking their time (months!!!) to release an update that would fix this although I would expect this to be a core feature in this age! I haven't looked into the update which they said should fix any PDF issues because I had already decided to go with Atlas.Ti.||Excellent support for PDFs!|
|Due to the above point, I believe that NVivo should look more into updating more frequently, especially when certain things should be fixed and are demanded to be fixed by customers in the forums||Many updates released continuously which improves the way Atlas.Ti works or fixes bugs and so on. In fact, I think I've seen 4 minor updates for Atlas.Ti within the last 2-3 months. It tells me as a customer that they care!|
|Although a bit slow sometimes, the UI is better than Atlas.Ti which was one of the main reasons I was seriously hoping to use it. However, the late release of the update and the slow response killed any chance I had of using it.||UI not as nice as NVivo, but, as I started working more with Atlas.Ti, I started to appreciate the UI and how it is arranged. However, it is obvious that I am more interested in performance.|
These are what I think some of the key issues I based my comparison on, when it comes to features, both software packages offer very similar set of features.
After writing this comparison, I have to say that I do not hate NVivo, I simply think it wasn't for me. Others may find working with NVivo is better for their own reasons. I still follow the development of both NVivo and Atlas.Ti, and I still retweet some of their announcements and so on to my Research Blog (in Arabic) followers.
I hope some of you out there find this helpfu! and I am happy to learn about your experiences with any of the mentioned software packages.