iWork Arrives

by Chuck Toporek

So, I'm sitting here, snarfing my tuna sandwich, taking a break from cleaning up the Server book and prepping it for production, when the doorbell rings. Ah, the wonderful sound of the FedEx lady, arriving with a package from Apple.

(Rael: Feel free to start singing your "Circle of Packages" song.)

Today's shipment: iWork.

Initial thoughts are:

  • Very small box, actually about 6x9 in size

  • Includes 1 install DVD with both Pages and Keynote 2

  • iWork now requires a serial number

  • Also included in the box are:

    • Fold-out Quick Reference cards for both Pages and Keynote 2

    • User Guides for both Pages and Keynote 2 (manuals are 5.5 x 6.5 inches in size)

    • Pages' User Guide is 191 pages

    • Keynote's User Guide is 151 pages

Of course, there's no time to play with these today, so I'll have to wait for the weekend to get these installed.

What do you think of iWork? Have you had a chance to play with either Pages or Keynote 2? Do you think iWork can replace Microsoft Office?


2005-01-21 13:32:40
I'm still surprised that there's no spreadsheet in iWork. It won't be an Office replacement for a lot of people without one.
2005-01-21 13:52:51
Re: Spreadsheet
I agree with the lack of Spreadsheet comment. Played with Pages a little bit today once I got it loaded. After using it a short time and loading some word docs, my first impression is that Pages is awesome. I already took Word and PowerPoint off my Dock! We'll see if they stay off.
2005-01-21 14:12:06
re: Spreadsheet?
Yeah, I was surprised as well that iWork didn't come with some sort of spreadsheet application. My guess is that Apple is trying to figure out how to position iWork without pissing off Microsoft and the MacBU. For most people, having Word and Excel are critical to everyday business. It's great that Pages will open and save files in the .doc format, but there are a lot of features in Word that I (and "we" as O'Reilly) rely on for our jobs. For me, the big one is change tracking. You can bet your bippy I'll be checking to see how all that works in iWork, and if it doesn't, then iWork will go on my wife's PowerBook, since she's more of a casual Office user than I am.
2005-01-21 14:13:41
Re: Spreadsheet
What do you mainly use Word and PowerPoint for? If it's just for letters and simple presentations, I can see where Pages and Keynote would eliminate the need for Word and PowerPoint. But if you're doing something more complex, please let us in on how you were using the apps, and what you foresee being able to do with Pages and Keynote.
2005-01-21 14:33:28
re: Spreadsheet?
in the keynote, jobs said that they are "building the successor to appleworks" starting with iWork...so it's not complete yet, and I'm sure they'll have spreadsheet and maybe simple drawing modules in the future.
2005-01-21 15:36:36
Initial Thoughts
Just got my package today as well, and have had some time to play with it. Here are my initial thoughts:

- Word importing seems pretty smooth. Haven't tried it with a ton of docs, but fonts/styles, margins, etc. all seem to come through fine. However, font highlighting was a big one for me and it doesn't make the jump from Word to Pages. ;-/ But little import problems like this will get better over time, I imagine.

- Templates are excellent. Apple has really created an easy to use DTP application, not just a word processor. I love the fact that each template comes with several page designs, often in the area of 6-8 different ones.

- Apple trademark ease of use. Want to display a picture at an angle? No problem. It still looks sharp and smooth. Everything looks pro, and all you need to do is type and drag and drop. No black magic required.

- Flash export!!! Yes!!! Only works with Flash 7. Ugh. :) I'm not sure I've ever been so excited and bummed out by a feature at the same time. The odd thing is that the problems are with basic things, for example, in Flash 6 all the text appears *without spaces*. Another compatibility issue that I hope they can sort out. More control would have been nice too. Some of the transitions they pick for Flash are so slow, it seems.

- Audio support!!! Yes!!! No audio recording capabilities for narrating slides in Keynote itself. Ugh. Another win/lose feature. There are ways to do this, so it's not a major loss, but it would be great to see this make it into version 3.

- Features like the web view and more advanced presentation controls are clear winners, as are the new templates and transitions/effects.

- Overall, Keynote is a very slick looking app that's going in the right direction. Like Pages, it's missing a few very important features, but Keynote 2 is much closer to what I am looking for than Keynote 1 was. With Flash export, I can probably use it to make some web-based presentations for projects I work on. I just have to let people know they need to upgrade. ;-/ In a year or two, however, many people will have upgraded and life will be much better.

I think Apple is definitely heading in the right direction, and it was definitely worth the money. For a number of people, particularly home users (families) and those who don't use advanced MS Office features, iWork is an affordable, high-quality replacement for MS Office. For others, like me, it's got some unique features that will come in handy, but I still can't remove MS Office from the Dock yet. But if Apple keeps this pace up, with iWork '06 I may be able to take MS Office out of my Dock. :)

2005-01-21 20:23:52
Apple again demonstrates prescience...
I haven't picked up a copy yet, but here are a couple of thoughts that should prove once again that the folks at Apple are really, really clever.

Earlier this year, Adobe killed FileMaker, the word processing/layout used almost exclusively by tech writers and others in publishing. This shocked the community, as it was so popular and widespread that Adobe had produced native-code versions for years in Mac, Windows, and even UNIX. (Personally I never got what the big deal was -- I felt it was clunky, and it had obvious bugs in its display system, regardless of OS.) But it was popular even amongst the most die-hard MS freaks, as it was common knowledge that MS Word, while seemingly stable, would do bad, bad things to graphics-intensive files much over 75 pages.

A year or so before this, Adobe also killed PageMaker. Another brilliant move there, Adobe. Whether a person was a new hire straight from college, or whether they were old hands at desktop publishing, they had probably first learned their on PageMaker.

So, Adobe kills two great, profit-generating pieces of software and offers expensive crossgrades to the multifunctionalInDesign, because they think the Apocalypse is coming in the form of Quark and they want to circle the wagons around the professional users, and are leaving the casual/learning user aside.

Apple, who created Desktop Publishing in the first place, and thus to which Adobe owes its very existence, notices this. They've long been working on a sequel to AppleWorks, and now there is the added incentive of Adobe killing two of its most popular prosumer/professional applications.

Let's face it, for all of its indisputable power, most people use MS Word as a typewriter. Most never even bother to change from TimesNewRoman 12.

Apple is now out with Pages, which to all appearances is a replacement for the EOL'd Adobe Products but with Apple flair, beauty, ease-of-use, and Apple Help files, instead of those god-awful things Adobe tried to pass off as Help. Since most people use MS Word as a high-tech hunt-and-peck typing system, they will be very surprised and delighted when they see what they can do with Pages.

2005-01-22 03:50:57
That's FrameMaker, not FileMaker
I think you've mixed up FrameMaker with FileMaker.
2005-01-22 07:51:50
Apple again demonstrates prescience...
I'm excited about Pages too, since I'm also writing quite a bit now. One thing that is painfully missing in Pages is the lack of a grammar checker (I use Word's built-in formal writing style and tone back from there). That will probably be the only thing that stops me from uses Pages (which I just received yesterday) for now. I really hope that Apple can add a preference like this system-wide so I can toss Office.
2005-01-22 10:23:48
Initial Thoughts
I've never used Keynote (I tend to agree with Tufte that slideware hinders a good presenter's ability to give good presentations. He picks on PowerPoint, but I see no real difference between Keynote and PowerPoint as far as his criticisms are concerned). So I am very unfamiliar with Apple's products in this category.

I'm wondering about the whole template thing. I know that Apple includes a bevy of useful and attractive templates right off the bat, and I also imagine that more templates will become available for download or purchase as has already happened with earlier versions of Keynote.

In Pages, is it possible to define your own template? What are the tools like for doing so? Do you just create a document from scratch and save it differently (like most apps)?

I know this seems like a simple and stupid question. Perhaps the reason I can't find the answer to this question anywhere is because this is such simple and basic functionality that most people just assume it's in there. But I've gone digging through all the iWork info I can find and no one's addressed this yet.

So, can you define your own templates?

2005-01-22 16:04:01
Apple again demonstrates prescience...
The grammar checker in Word is too simplistic and pretty useless, like many other Word features. Apple knows how to balance function, style, and ease of use. MS hasn't got a clue.
2005-01-23 09:43:44
I must be one of the remaining few running my business in Appleworks. Started on a GS with Appleworks GS and Appleworks 6 is still working well on the office G4s & G5s.

IWorks looks like a winner too but would bury Word for the masses with an "iWeb" module, a web page editor/converter of Pages.

2005-01-23 12:14:00
Apple again demonstrates prescience...
What kind of logic is that? There is NO grammar check in Pages, so that's supposed to be better than the one in Word that is too "simplistic"? That's your argument? What rock did you just crawl out from under?

How is the statement "Apple knows how to balance function, style, ease of use" valid? Checking grammar isn't an estoteric thing to do--especially as grammar is the foundation for clear communication in the written word.

You: "Duh, grammar? What's that? That's too many menu items, I'm disoriented..." I'll take a half-ass M$ attempt at it if it saves me the embarrassment of writing poorly.

You're obviously the reason Apple still makes a single button mouse.
2005-01-23 12:33:35
Initial Thoughts
Yes, you can define your own templates. Just go to File->Save As Template (under Export).