Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thoughts on iWork's Pages

When Apple released iWork '09 I picked up a copy and thought I'd give it a try. Last night I was writing a meeting agenda for one of my classes and I decided to use iWork's word processor, called Pages instead of my usual Microsoft Office Word 2008. When you open up Pages, you get a list of preset templates to choose from including things like resumes, letters, envelopes, reports, etc., or you can choose a blank document.

The layout of the application windows looks like a simplified version of Word. I started doing my homework and I had to hunt around for some of the formatting option I wanted to use, which is understandable given that it is a different application. The designers had their own ideas about where to put certain features and they cannot be faulted for that.

My real gripe with the application is that there is only one format you can save files in: .pages. With Word you get options like .doc, .docx, .txt, and .rtf to name a few. These are all standardized formats. Okay, .docx might not be standardized, but everything else there is and a lot of software can open .docx files even if they cannot resave into that format. Word may not be perfect but at least it give you plenty of options for saving your files. Pages gives you a single proprietary option. I do not want to save files in proprietary formats. I want my files to be readable on any computer I go to. If I don't want them to be opened I'll encrypt them. For this reason, I don't want to save anything in the .pages format.

Pages will export files to .doc format, but it will not save to .doc. Effectively, what this means is that if you want to maintain the file as a .doc and not a .pages, you will need to export it each time you want to save. I am a compulsive saver. My fingers automatically seek out the save keyboard shortcut each time I pause in my typing. If I export to a .doc then it just exports the content but doesn't save the current document. Now every time I hit my save keyboard shortcut the "save as" dialog pops up.

My solution to this: switch back to Word.

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