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Thinking of switching to iWork/Pages, have some questions..

2038 Views 16 Replies Latest reply: Oct 7, 2008 6:40 AM by KOENIG Yvan RSS
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John P. Level 4 Level 4 (1,145 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Oct 3, 2008 8:40 AM
Hello..

I am a longtime Office user from my PC days, and am looking at purchasing either iWork or Office 2008 and I have some questions.

I've downloaded both the trial for iWork and for Office 2008 and am (literally) playing w/ both right now to get a feel for how they work. Office is like a new-old glove and iWork feels radically different and much more simplistic.

a) I do a lot of word processing (lecture notes and reports) and I like the way Pages handles graphics along w/ text; it sort of reminds me of Pagemaker. When I save a document in Pages, I notice that I can also export the file to Word and PDF (nice!). When I save a document in Pages, I notice the file sizes are on average a little higher than those in Word 2008 in DOCX format. For instance, I created a file in Pages and just put one single sentence at the top, saved it, and it came out around 50k; I did the same in Word, and noticed it came out around 12k. My concern is if I start blowing out 20-30pg documents, it seems that the Pages format is a little more bloated than DOCX. I noticed the same thing in Numbers too. Any input on this?

This may belong in the Numbers forum but I'll ask anyway. I opened a 25k 1 page .XLS file in Numbers and it looked fine, so I decided to save it in the numbers file format. The size of the file ballooned to 500k under the Numbers format.

b) I cannot for the life of me find an autosave feature in Pages, Keynote, or Numbers--is it non-existent or am I just blind?

c) How well does Proofreader stack up against the Grammar Checker in Office? I've been playing w/ Proofreader and it seems to work ok as far as I can tell, but I haven't really used it at length to make a full assessment.

d) One thing I've done a LOT of in Word is mail merge (esp. for envelopes). I have yet to play w/ Mail Merge in Pages, so I'm curious if you have used mail merge in Pages and if you have any input on it.

Thanks, in advance, for your input. I'm just torn right now between either switching completely over to iWork, or to just go with Office (which is my old tried/true suite).

JG
BlackBook 2.4Ghz, iPhone 3G 16GB (Black), 20" iMac 2.66Ghz, Mac OS X (10.5.3), Xbox 360 Nintendo Wii
  • Level 8 Level 8 (41,760 points)
    Juan Guapo wrote:
    I am a longtime Office user from my PC days,


    Nobody's perfect

    a) I do a lot of word processing (lecture notes and reports) and I like the way Pages handles graphics along w/ text; it sort of reminds me of Pagemaker. When I save a document in Pages, I notice that I can also export the file to Word and PDF (nice!). When I save a document in Pages, I notice the file sizes are on average a little higher than those in Word 2008 in DOCX format. For instance, I created a file in Pages and just put one single sentence at the top, saved it, and it came out around 50k; I did the same in Word, and noticed it came out around 12k. My concern is if I start blowing out 20-30pg documents, it seems that the Pages format is a little more bloated than DOCX. I noticed the same thing in Numbers too. Any input on this?


    True, the Xml format used to describe the documents is really loquacious (I know that there is an other word but I don't remember it. It's usedd to describe a behavior on startup)

    This may belong in the Numbers forum but I'll ask anyway. I opened a 25k 1 page .XLS file in Numbers and it looked fine, so I decided to save it in the numbers file format. The size of the file ballooned to 500k under the Numbers format.


    same comments

    b) I cannot for the life of me find an autosave feature in Pages, Keynote, or Numbers--is it non-existent or am I just blind?


    You aren't. I wrote an AppleScript to fit the gap but I just discover a tool which brings an Autosave feature to every program. Have a look at:
    http://savecircle.softonic.fr/mac

    c) How well does Proofreader stack up against the Grammar Checker in Office? I've been playing w/ Proofreader and it seems to work ok as far as I can tell, but I haven't really used it at length to make a full assessment.


    As I'm not really fluent with English, I will not respond on this point.

    d) One thing I've done a LOT of in Word is mail merge (esp. for envelopes). I have yet to play w/ Mail Merge in Pages, so I'm curious if you have used mail merge in Pages and if you have any input on it.


    CAUTION as delivered in the box, the only database which may be used for mail merging in Pages is AddressBook. If you want to use an other source of info, you will have to use one of my free scripts.

    Yvan KOENIG (from FRANCE vendredi 3 octobre 2008 18:00:27)
    To be the AW6 successor, iWork MUST integrate a TRUE DB, not a list organizer !, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • Level 8 Level 8 (41,760 points)
    Juan Guapo wrote:
    Hey, thanks for the quick reply, and the info.

    Ok cool, but if I am understanding you correctly--if I wish to do mail merge with Pages, I would need to use the Address Book, and cannot use an Excel or .CSV file?


    Almost exact. If you want to use datas stored in Excel, you would be forced to export them in a TAB delimited text file and use my scripts.
    As I hate CSV format, I will never write a script to use this perfectly odd format.

    Also, is the Pages (and to some extent, Numbers) file format XML based (like DOCX)?


    I thought that my response:
    +True, _the Xml format used to describe the documents_ is really loquacious +
    It seems that it was not.
    Pages, Numbers and Keynote describe their documents using a very loquacious Xml syntax.

    Yvan KOENIG (from FRANCE vendredi 3 octobre 2008 18:29:03)
    To be the AW6 successor, iWork MUST integrate a TRUE DB, not a list organizer !, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • Level 8 Level 8 (41,760 points)
    I'm afraid this might be a deal breaker for me since I keep all of the data in Excel


    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

    Apple Human Interface Guidelines:
    Apply the 80 Percent Solution
    During the design process, if you discover problems with your product design, you might consider applying the 80 percent solution‚ that is, designing your software to meet the needs of at least 80 percent of your users. This type of design typically favors simpler, more elegant approaches to problems.
    If you try to design for the 20 percent of your target audience who are power users, your design may not be usable by the other 80 percent of users. Even though that smaller group of power users is likely to have good ideas for features, the majority of your user base may not think in the same way. Involving a broad range of users in your design process can help you find the 80 percent solution.

    -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

    It seems that you aren't in the 80% targetted

    but what REALLY seemed strange was the 500k Numbers file vs a 25k Excel .xlsx file;


    It would be useful to compare which properties are described in a Numbers document and in an Excel one.

    It's easy to look at the Numbers document contents.

    Ctrl + click the document's icon
    Select "Show Package's contents" in the contextual menu
    Double click the file entitled 'Index.xml.gz"
    Then open "Index.xml" with the tool of your choice. I uses the free TextWrangler.

    Yvan KOENIG (from FRANCE vendredi 3 octobre 2008 18:52:41)
    To be the AW6 successor, iWork MUST integrate a TRUE DB, not a list organizer !, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • dwb Level 6 Level 6 (19,710 points)
    a) Pages files do tend to be larger than Word files but the increase doesn't balloon with larger documents. IOW, don't expect a 120MB file in Word to turn into a 600MB file in Pages. A Pages file simply has more overhead than DOCX. The same is true for Numbers.

    b) There is no auto-save. Should you decide to stay with Pages, be sure to offer feedback. Look under the Pages menu next time you are usingit.

    c) They both catch some errors but give many false negatives. To use the vernacular of my students - they both suck

    d) Mail merge in Pages is one of its Achilles Heels because so far Apple has provided mail merge only through the Address Book application.

    I prefer Pages to Word for everyday tasks but for collaborative tasks I prefer Word. My major complaint with Word (and I have to admit I haven't yet used 2008 enough to know it is any different) is that is like a Labrador puppy - cute and wonderful at first, but eventually annoying as all get out. OTOH, I'm still using Excel 2004 because I need the macros.
    MacBook • 20 + 24 iMac • MBP, Mac OS X (10.5.4), Win • Linux • iPhone
  • dwb Level 6 Level 6 (19,710 points)
    Re autosave - when I was still actively doing IT consulting a lot of my clients turned it off or wanted me to turn it off. Back then there were several complaints, one which remains valid today. Many complained that it slowed the computer down causing them to lose keystrokes - obviously faster computers and hard drives negate that one. Some complained about a poorly implemented autosave that popped up the save dialog if the document had no name resulting in lost keystrokes and concentration - I've not seen this in a long time. FInally, many, myself included, want control over saving and not ceding it to the computer. I might save a document and then change come formatting to see how it looks or I change some of the text around to see how I like that arrangement. I don't want an autosave to overwrite my save while I'm in the midst of experimenting. Still, it can be a useful feature and probably should be an option.

    The first version of Pages had no mail merge at all so being able to at least use the Address Book is a step up. Were I stuck with only Pages I could make it work but I much prefer the flexibility of grabbing data from a text file, FileMaker Pro, and/or a spreadsheet. We'll hope that the next version has great merge flexibility especially since iWork now includes Numbers. (Here's hoping/wishing we also get a nice illustration program and a database.)
    MacBook • 20 + 24 iMac • MBP, Mac OS X (10.5.4), Win • Linux • iPhone
  • Level 8 Level 8 (41,760 points)
    About AUtosave, it seems that a passed info was no sufficiently visible.

    I wrote an AppleScript to fit the gap but I just discover
    _a tool which brings an Autosave feature to every program._
    Have a look at:

    http://savecircle.softonic.fr/mac


    Yvan KOENIG (from FRANCE vendredi 3 octobre 2008 20:13:53)
    To be the AW6 successor, iWork MUST integrate a TRUE DB, not a list organizer !, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • Level 8 Level 8 (41,760 points)
    True, the Xml format used to describe the documents is really loquacious (I know that there is an other word but I don't remember it. It's used to describe a behavior on startup)


    I got it: It's "verbose"

    Yvan KOENIG (from FRANCE samedi 4 octobre 2008 12:18:53)
    To be the AW6 successor, iWork MUST integrate a TRUE DB, not a list organizer !, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (27,380 points)
    Juan,

    You only tried a short example in Pages, try a longer one by cutting and pasting and/or importing an existing document into Pages and comparing the results.

    You do not have to stick with Pages or Word for your word processing (with or without graphics). I personally use *iText Pro* having upgraded from its free sibling *iText Express* and find this is brilliant for most tasks.

    Pages or Word are very clumsy and slow for 95% of jobs I do.
    Aluminium iMac 24" 2.8Ghz, Mac OS X (10.5.4)
  • Level 8 Level 8 (41,760 points)
    Given a document where I typed:
    Yvan
    KOENIG
    KŒNIG

    The Index.xml file contains:
    411514 characters.

    The description of the text body is quite short:

    <sf:text-storage sf:kind="body" sfa:ID="SFWPStorage-8">
    <sf:stylesheet-ref sfa:IDREF="SFSStylesheet-2"/>
    <sf:text-body>
    <sf:page-start sf:page-index="0"/>
    <sf:container-hint sf:page-index="0" sf:cindex="0" sf:sindex="0" sf:lindex="0" sf:frame-x="56.692916870117188" sf:frame-y="57" sf:frame-w="481.6141357421875" sf:frame-h="728" sf:anchor-loc="0"/>
    <sf:section sf:name="Chapter 1" sf:style="section-style-368">
    <sf:layout sf:style="layout-style-20">
    <sf:p sf:style="paragraph-style-32">Yvan<sf:br/></sf:p>
    <sf:p sf:style="paragraph-style-32">KOENIG<sf:br/></sf:p>
    <sf:p sf:style="paragraph-style-32">KŒNIG</sf:p>
    </sf:layout>
    </sf:section>
    <sf:insertion-point/>
    </sf:text-body>
    </sf:text-storage>

    But there are a lot of other informations.
    They describe the structure of objects which we are allowed to insert in a document.
    To be honest, I feel that storing them in the document is odd.
    It would be more efficient to have this chunck of datas grabbed from the program when we open the document.
    I understand that my scheme may have a drawback which requires that the program keep a version of this chunk of datas matching the program version used to save the document.

    Yvan KOENIG (from FRANCE dimanche 5 octobre 2008 11:52:20)
    To be the AW6 successor, iWork MUST integrate a TRUE DB, not a list organizer !, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
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