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Old Jan 28, 2005, 02:58 AM   #1
friendlyghost
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A Review of Pages, Word and HTML support disappointing

I gave Pages a pretty decent run through. Details here:
http://obviousdiversion.com/index.php?p=229
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Old Jan 28, 2005, 04:36 AM   #2
johnnyjibbs
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Nice review there. I can't yet comment on the actual details because I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive (it shipped yesterday).

It sounds like you have summed it up very well. It's a pity that the HTML export is poor, since I was hoping this could be a chance for me to create basic web pages (a bit like the old Microsoft Publisher on Windows). I'm no CSS or whatever programmer and I simply want something a bit better than .Mac Homepage and Netscape Composer to create web pages. I can't afford (or need) anything like Dreamweaver and I'm stuck with Word at the moment, which is pretty rubbish (and doesn't export right).

I don't think Word export can all be blamed on Pages though. Although I can't see for myself yet how good (or bad) the Word export is, you could never expect everything in Pages to come out as nice on Word. Just like you would never expect a Keynote export to look as good on PowerPoint - it can't - for PowerPoint doesn't use any of the wonderful effects that Keynote does. The same applies to Word. If the text and most of the formatting survives, then that's the best you can hope for. A document for Word would have to be customised towards Word's quirks - something that could never be done 100% accurately automatically. Or, put another way, if a program could export with 100% accuracy a complex document to Word, it would be Word, or have at least to use the Word file format (and all its limitations).

But I don't see this as a major setback. As you have hinted yourself, I don't think Pages is aimed at the same market as Word. And indeed, Apple wouldn't dare stray too much into Microsoft's territory. Even Steve Jobs himself said was going towards building a new Appleworks. I see Pages as something to use alongside Word, not just completely instead of. A long document or report would be better suited to Word, while a newsletter or more graphics-rich report would be better suited to Pages. And those who can't afford Word could get away, for the most part, with just Pages.

I also don't mind the lack of automation in Pages. I think, and I bet a lot of others will, that instead it is a blessing! I never rely, for example, on the automatic capitalisation of the first letter of a sentence in Word because I think that encourages lazy typing and then exposes you on applications that don't have this feature. Plus, in certain instances, when you intentionally DON'T want the first letter to be capitalised (i.e. when not working with long prose) it's a right pain in the arse when Word keeps trying to capitalise it for you. Pages, in many of these respects, will be a breath of fresh air.

But I'm most excited about Pages' other features: the ones that set it apart from Word. I'm looking forward to the styling aspects. You still can't create a decent looking newsletter-type document in Word and I can't wait to get started with that. Plus, it looks so simple and easy to use. I want my text to look good, with proper drop-shadows and the like. I can't wait.

But I'm sure that there will be some frustrations and annoyances - there are bound to be - but hopefully, if people send Apple feedback, they will be fixed in the near future. Apple is normally pretty good at listening. (I think I'll stop now or this will turn into a bigger review than the original and I haven't even laid my hands on the app yet!!!).

Last edited by johnnyjibbs; Jan 28, 2005 at 04:42 AM.
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Old Feb 1, 2005, 11:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
It sounds like you have summed it up very well. It's a pity that the HTML export is poor, since I was hoping this could be a chance for me to create basic web pages (a bit like the old Microsoft Publisher on Windows). I'm no CSS or whatever programmer and I simply want something a bit better than .Mac Homepage and Netscape Composer to create web pages. I can't afford (or need) anything like Dreamweaver and I'm stuck with Word at the moment, which is pretty rubbish (and doesn't export right).
Try Nvu (nvu.com), it's a open source alternative to Dreamweaver. It doesn't have as many features, but runs faster. Just what I was looking for...

Thanks for the Pages review. For a 1.0, I'm not surprised that the Word export is so poor, although I was hoping for much better HTML export. I guess it's not a web authoring tool, but still...

You bring up an interesting issue about UI, and how to manage UI as you add more features to a program. The simple answer is perhaps not to have too many features, but that's not a real solution, just a shortcut.

I wonder if Apple designed the interface for bold, italics, and underline assuming that many people use the command-key shortcuts. One of the best things about OSX is that command keys are generally very consistent across apps and the OS itself. So I would actually prefer not to have those formatting buttons taking up space, when I just reach for cmd-b anyways. But obviously you can't assume everyone knows these shortcuts.

I would prefer to use command keys as much as possible, not only to speed up my work but to minimize the amount of toolbars, etc. onscreen. You can't have individual commands for every function, but I don't mind using say cmd-t to bring up a text/font toolbox, click my command, then hit cmd-t to make the box disappear.
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Old Feb 1, 2005, 12:50 PM   #4
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The funny thing is that as consistent as keyboard shortcuts are across apps, Pages has adopted it's own shortcuts for a lot of common functions (ie: centre is cmd-| instead of cmd-e, zoom in is cmd-> i think instead of cmd-+, and so on). It's very annoying for a new user.
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Old Feb 1, 2005, 01:30 PM   #5
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Good to know info about pages. I think I may wait until the next revision as my needs are not that great for a word processor.

"johnnyjibbs", also check out Rapid Weaver which cost you a few bucks (35), but very easy to use.
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Old Feb 7, 2005, 03:46 AM   #6
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And how does it handle big text documents (I mean hundreds of pages)? Is it fast or not really?

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Old Feb 7, 2005, 03:50 AM   #7
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Does anyone know how it compares to OpenOffice
Thanks
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Old Feb 8, 2005, 03:42 PM   #8
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Thanks for the advice everyone on an HTML editor! I'll look into those options. Sorry, I've been at an interview and reunion all week (and then work) and haven't had much time with iWork yet. I have to say that Pages seems a bit slow and could do with being a lot better performance-wise (poorer than Word) but I haven't really used it for anything yet. And I find the templates a little frustrating - I'll mainly be sticking with the blank canvas I think. Keynote, on the other hand, is superb!

I guess I do need to give Pages more time.
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