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iWork ‘08 brief once-over

August 9, 2007, 2:26 pm

Apple just made major updates to the software I probably use the most, namely iWork and particularly Keynote. I downloaded the 30-day trial (which makes me wonder why we can’t just download software from Apple) and have given Pages and Keynote a very (VERY) brief once-over. I hope to have more later. But for now, here are some first impressions.

They are really pushing Pages now as a word processor. Before, it was a little hard to know exactly what it was. Is it a word processor? Is it desktop publishing? Is it something in between? We didn’t really know, and I hardly ever used it unless I had a document to print that had a lot of graphics in it. But now, check out the updated toolbar:
Pages Screenshot

Mercifully, you can now adjust stuff like font size, typeface, aligment, etc. from the toolbar — no more click, click, click to navigate through those damnable Inspectors to do such simple stuff. Just like… a word processor. And just so you don’t forget, it tags the name of the document with (Word Processing) at the top. Actually this appears to be because you can switch between “word processing” mode and some other kind of mode (“page layout”?). I didn’t play with it long enough to find out the difference.

I made out a document in Pages ’08 just to see what it was like, and the experience was pretty much the same as with Pages ’06. One thing I was thankful for was this commonly-used Inspector item for laying out objects within a document:
Pages Screenshot 2

In ’06, the choices here were “moves with text” or “fixed on page”. The latter option confusingly meant that the object being selected could be moved around and the text would wrap with it, which to me is the opposite of something being fixed on a page. “Floating” is a much better term for this.

Keynote ’08 has some nice new themes to it and has the feature I have been secretly wishing for ever since I started using Keynote: The ability to animate an object along a user-defined path. There is also a new option that lets you export a presentation directly to YouTube — which is nice, but won’t the screen resolution be terrible?

There are more features to boot, and I hope to delve deeply into them later.

Finally, there is a new spreadsheet package with iWork called Numbers. From the Apple tutorials, it sounds… rudimentary. There are all sorts of media-rich enhancements, like the ability to edit images right in the spreadsheet, but honestly, I use a spreadsheet for number-crunching and data analysis. All I can say is, if it doesn’t do multiple forms of regression, it ain’t a spreadsheet, and I don’t care how media-rich it is. We’ll see how it stacks up to Excel pretty soon.

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