2010.09.17

iWork

I have a confession to make… I’m becoming a fan of Apple iWork.

I’ve always hated office suites. I entered the work world through the creative door, and we used tools like QuarkXPress, and Photoshop, and when I got into web development I used text editors. I never really had a need for office suites to create anything. My relationship with them was always in the form of document transcoders. Transcoding documents was not always easy in the times before free office suites like OpenOffice or NeoOffice.

Oh yes, OpenOffice and NeoOffice… When these came along I was thankful. Very very thankful. Finally, we could open those damn Word documents, and get the text out of them for whatever purpose we needed! Print brochure, web site, whatever. They were like can openers (or crowbars) for those .doc formatted files.

Years ago I did a contract job as a web developer in a Windows shop. They gave me Microsoft Word for some work I had to do, and no matter what I did, I could not get the thing to work the way I wanted it to work. Maybe I was used to QuarkXPress or InDesign, which are page layout applications where you have control over everything, but Word seemed to have a mind of it’s own as to where it would place things and how it would format them. It was maddening!

Sadly, while OpenOffice and NeoOffice are free alternatives, and great open source projects, I still didn’t find either one that good for creating documents. They just seem to do “weird” things that I don’t want. But recently, I started using Pages… lo and behold, it actually seems to do things that make sense. It actually seems to work the way I expect it to work. I don’t know if there’s some “Do What I Mean, Not What I Say” magic in there or what…

My only gripe about Pages so far is that it can’t open .odt documents. This would be an ideal feature, as I could easily open all those files I’ve created with OpenOffice and NeoOffice. Sadly, to get the most widespread ability to open a document, it looks like .doc is the best option. It can be opened by Pages, TextEdit, OpenOffice, NeoOffice, Microsoft Word, and many others… It’s not an ideal solution, but it works.

And Apple, why can TextEdit open .odt files but Pages can’t? You obviously have the capabilities. Yes, there is some loss of formatting, but it would save one more step in the chain… Hmmm, maybe you’re working on better .odt support for Pages… yeah, that must be it.)

See Also: iWork Smarter, not Harder (Part II)

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