Previous 1 2 Next 16 Replies Latest reply: Oct 28, 2009 5:54 PM by PeterBreis0807
jimthing Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
(I know I know this has been discussed a lot I'm sure, but I still have some unresolved issues, so please try to bear with me.)

I know iWork is NOT the same as Office and is NOT meant as a replacement for Office (regardless of most Apple Store staff misrepresenting this "Save As" MS Office file extension functionality). However still longterm legacy issues persist that I'm wanting some help on from users here so that I won't have problems opening files in 10+ years time without in some way losing the original document formatting.

Just bought recently Macs, and I like Pages and Numbers usability, and understand they are not Office replacements when it comes to what they do and especially the formats you can save to while using (yes there's a script to save continuously CMD+S as .doc/.xls, but still the formatting allowed in iWork apps is usually not then allowable!).

My main issue then, is if Apple have changed their native formats (.pages & .numbers) heavily between '08 and '09 versions, so much so that users are complaining of losing formatting even on Apple's own upgraded products, then what is going to be the state of opening these things in 5-10-20 years time?
Is it really worth the risk of having HUGE legacy issues when archiving current files with Apple's format types, as Office formats are being ISO standardised?

The reason I raise this, is that from what I have read, MS Office is currently using these "Office Open XML" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OfficeOpenXML ) standards (.docx, .xlsx, pptx) which will be an International ISO standard. Thus ANY office program in the future will be able to open and edit cleanly WITHOUT losing any formatting on the original program.
Why is Apple outside of this with it's proprietary iWork formats, which are not very compatible. And more to the point, as a user who doesn't want format issues in the future when opening older files, what would be the benefit of saving to the iWork extensions?

I also have read about this other competing 'open' standardised format of OpenDocument/ODF (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument ) —.odt, .ods, .odp, etc.— which only OpenOffice/NeoOffice seem to be going down (yes, I know TextEdit can open but limited).

But seeing as .doc & .xls have been the business formats of choice (MS Office legacy), are being ISO standardised, and still remain high % universal with most other users, why use ODF or iWork fomats AT ALL?

How do others around here deal with all these choices, when it comes to archives in the future?
Yours perplexed, Jim

2 x MBP 2.93 GHz, 4GB RAM, OS X 10.6.0 "Snow Leopard" / iPhone 3G, OS 3.0.1
  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (32,845 points)
    Jim

    These are all very important points and you are not alone in being concerned. I have been on the Mac almost 25 years and I do not trust Apple with our needs at all. Apple suits itself, always.

    I would not entrust anything long term to Pages documents, nor any of the iWork suite.

    You can save everything to .pdf files but as Henrik has pointed out there are problems with accessing content in those. They will in all probability be readable in the long term but the content maybe difficult or even impossible to extract.

    The Microsoft solution is a perilous one as I see it as Microsoft trying to subvert the inevitable and in all likelihood sabotage or simply mismanage it in the future.

    I would put my support behind the OpenDocument format due to its governmental and standards support.

    OpenOffice, NeoOffice, TextEdit and Bean all support the .odt formats and I am sure more applications will as well as the general demand and support grows. Eventually Apple will lead from behind, as it often does, and also will support .odt.

    Particularly if governments and large organisations demand it.

    It doesn't listen to us, so we will have no input.

    Peter
  • jimthing Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    Thanks Peter for prompt reply. I read a lot of your previous posts on the subject; pretty helpful.

    However, clarification needed.
    These ODF formats, they are just not widely used enough, due to the business dominance of MS Office and it crossing over to domestic market too. So even though it's supposedly nice and open, hardly anyone uses it, especially when we are dealing with exchanging files. And I can't say I'm overly enamoured with OpenOffice or NeoOffice who are using this as their main format either, as they look rather undesigned and not as easy to understand quickly.

    Against this, I thought these new MS Office formats are being standardised (ISO'd?) deliberately so that users across platforms and programs will now NOT have the previous Office format problems with other programs... or do i have this 'standardisation' thing wrong? Please explain if so.

    If that's the case, then thanks to Apple's lack of foresight here (not using either ODF or, even better and easier, the MS Office formats) I feel I basically have no real option, for my longterm piece of mind, but to be forced to use MS Office 2004/2008 For Mac on my Apple machines.

    Which seems bizarre doesn't it?
    ...what formats do you and everyone else around here save files to then, and using what program?
  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (32,845 points)
    The EU and several American States are pushing the open doc format.

    It is still early days to see if they will get up sufficient momentum and even if they do it could be like the metric system internationally accepted and recognised as the best solution but one holdout, The United States, spoils it for everyone else.

    Microsoft's proposals have not taken hold yet either so we can safely say we are in a state of uncertainty.

    You can always stick to .rtf files and Apple's extention of this, .rtfd which does an excellent job of combining open .text layout with bundled graphics. Not super sophisticated but it works. It is what I use in iText Pro '09's files.

    Peter
  • jimthing Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    Yeah but to ask again, for clarification; are the MS Office formats (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) being made available cross-program with this standardisation or not?
  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (32,845 points)
    They are not even really cross platform as they exist.

    Mac Office is not a perfect match for Windows MsOffice, and even the MsOffice will not be compliant with Microsoft's proposed "open" standards until next year.

    Not everyone is buying this anyway.

    The Free Software Foundation has stated that "Microsoft offers a gratis patent license for OOXML on terms which do not allow free implementations".

    Does anyone really expect Microsoft to stop being Microsoft?

    I'll believe it when I see it, and there is nothing in place yet that anyone can really sink their teeth into.

    I know you want a definitive answer, but the game hasn't played out yet.

    P.
  • jimthing Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    Read this press release from MS in May 2008:
    http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2008/may08/05-21ExpandedFormatsPR.mspx

    To summarise:
    Basically MS Office are supporting BOTH formats: OOXML (Office Open XML: .docx, .xlsx, .pptx) and ODF (Open Document Format: .odt, .ods, .odp). So users will have the choice of which ISO standard to use.

    This makes Apple's iWork completely redundant and out of the equation, as it only supports fully its own proprietary extensions (.pages, .numbers, .keynote). With half-exportable abilities to the old pre-XML Office formats (ie. without the "x" on the end) of .doc, .xls, .ppt.

    So, if you really want a paid-for product (rather than the free, but not very good graphically "GUI" programs), you should almost certainly go for MS Office For Mac 2008. At least then you'll know that you'll be able to use BOTH the leading file standards going forward into the future.

    Even if macro's are not on Office Mac 2008, the next edition will almost certainly have the full suite that the Office Windows 2010 will get.

    ...shame cause I really like iWork's interface more. Why Apple didn't focus on the iWork user interface and productivity rather than their own special not-widely-adopted proprietary formats, seems lacking in business sense, given us users are not completely thick and can work out a future dead-end format when we see it. (pages 08 not even working with pages 09 - outrageous IMO?!?)
    Surely they realised that these two format systems are the future, yet are attempting to go completely against the grain WRONGLY trying to gain some kind of market share for themselves at the loss of interoperability with other users and platforms.
    You can understand it from a straight money point of view (gaining a market share of users to keep for their own products only), but with online Google Apps now and MS's online offering improving soon, both using these two ISO standard formats; why would anyone want to be stuck on their own with the Apple iWork ones?

    And hence why staff in store tell half-truths about iWork working with Office. As a relatively new Apple user I expected some specialities, but this I am most unimpressed about. Bad Bad Bad Bad.
  • Magnus Lewan Level 4 Level 4 (3,655 points)
    jimthing wrote:
    Read this press release from MS in May 2008:
    http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2008/may08/05-21ExpandedFormatsPR.mspx

    To summarise:
    Basically MS Office are supporting BOTH formats: OOXML (Office Open XML: .docx, .xlsx, .pptx) and ODF (Open Document Format: .odt, .ods, .odp). So users will have the choice of which ISO standard to use.


    Hmmm... My version of MS Office 2008 for Mac does not seem to have any support for .odt.

    This makes Apple's iWork completely redundant and out of the equation, as it only supports fully its own proprietary extensions (.pages, .numbers, .keynote). With half-exportable abilities to the old pre-XML Office formats (ie. without the "x" on the end) of .doc, .xls, .ppt.


    For any serious long term documents, yes, I think iWork is redundant. iWork's formats make sense to create good looking document, but they are failing in compatibility with other programs and platforms and they are useless for long term archival.

    And hence why staff in store tell half-truths about iWork working with Office. As a relatively new Apple user I expected some specialities, but this I am most unimpressed about. Bad Bad Bad Bad.


    They probably read Apple's own marketing material: "Save as Microsoft Office files. Share your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with anyone on a Mac or PC. You can save everything you do in Pages, Numbers, or Keynote as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF files. " (From http://www.apple.com/iwork/compatibility/ )
  • jimthing Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    Magnus Lewan wrote:

    Hmmm... My version of MS Office 2008 for Mac does not seem to have any support for .odt.


    Yep your right, MS Office Mac 2008 doesn't, I just opened my copy of Word, and ODF's are not their yet to be saved to...
    It's due to come with the next Mac edition AFTER they release the one for Windows -- ie. MS Office Windows 2010 (due around spring-2010 perhaps). So the next Mac version in probably 2011. Shame it has to be months after Windows get's theirs, but then MS is going to give its own Windows platform the edge here aren't they; like the 2007 (Win) vs 2008 (Mac).
    See links from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MicrosoftOffice2010 .

    You also have to realise that Apple HAVE TO make some kind of word/spread/pres program of their own, by having iWork. Otherwise they would be saying to their users, and potential new computing customers, 'we can't support you without the use of our major competitor making an office program for our platform'. It just wouldn't look good.
    So in the end, us users have to read between the lines, and ignore this Apple product and go for the MS one (or opensource, if that's your bag; they're free, so you can have both !
  • Dave Robertson2 Level 2 Level 2 (285 points)
    I'd say make your decisions based on the computing experience you want now. You'll go nuts trying to predict the future and you'll probably be wrong anyway. (Will quantum computers handle any of this stuff the same way?) And personally I'd go nuts if I had to spend any time at all in NeoOffice. If you want permanence go back to pen and paper
  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (32,845 points)
    Have to agree with you about NeoOffice.

    Having spent a good year recommending it as an alternative, I needed to use it for something myself and gave up in frustration having spent most of a day on the problem.

    I think you are safe though if you stick to .rtf/.rtfd files, which is why I use iText Pro.

    P.
  • Dave Robertson2 Level 2 Level 2 (285 points)
    Just checked, it seems bizarre to me that TextEdit won't even open a simple Pages 09 document. Less surprising that NeoOffice can't do it. So you really are on your own then if you choose this path, as pleasant as it may be compared to some of the options. That would be a concern if you're a writing professional.
  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (32,845 points)
    Dave

    There are a lot of differences with TextEdit's supported formats and Pages, but you are right in one respect. I believe Pages' formatting is based on .xml which TextEdit can read if copied from a web page.

    P.
  • L-sham Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
    I writer for a living and I'm constantly bouncing between WP for exactly the reasons people are talking about. Most clients use Word and don't understand all text-based documents aren't of necessity .doc; Pages has a great GUI but has compatability and longer term format problems; Mellel very good but complicated and I don't like their upgrade policy; NeoOffice is huge and clunky; Bean is fast and funky but not heavyweight enough.

    I use Scrivener for most actual writing - all the individual documents are .txt files in the package and the interface is great. Then Nisus for anything more hard core, as its native format is .rtf which is pretty universal and Word users hardly ever notice isn't .doc.
  • PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (32,845 points)
    Personally I absolutely love *iText Pro.*

    But then there are plenty of fish in the sea:

    http://www.freeforum101.com/iworktipsntrick/viewtopic.php?t=47&mforum=iworktipsn trick

    Peter
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