A Review of Pages '08 (v3.0)

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by musicfan82, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. musicfan82 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    #1
    A Review of Pages '08 (v3.0)
    --
    Let me make something clear at the onset of this post (my first to this forum, by the way): I am not an immaculate, needs-everything user of Microsoft Word. I have used Microsoft Word for all of my word processing needs up until this point, but I will not be able to cover every aspect of how Pages compares to Word. In fact, I think it's probably useless to do so because the applications, while intended for similar purposes, are entirely different in their approach.

    I have spent a little over ten hours with the iWork '08 demo, most of that time in Pages. Given that I write a variety of documents on a regular basis, Pages was the most important application for me to try out. My reasoning for trying iWork '08 at all is this: the addition of Numbers puts it in direct competition to Microsoft Office. Others may claim otherwise, but with Mail/Address Book/Stickies/iCal, Numbers, Keynote, and Pages, Apple has crafted a suite of applications that matches directly against Office. And, I think for the most part, fairs well against it for average, normal users like myself.

    I tried Pages in its v1.0 release form several years ago and switched back to Word almost immediately. Fortunately, my software experimentation abilities have matured since then. Unlike many of the posters I've seen on a variety of forums, I decided to give Pages a fair chance on its own terms. Comparing it to Word was the problem I had with v1.0, and I think many people are still waiting for an Apple-fied version of Word instead of a radically new, easy to use, fun word processing application.

    One of the immediate things I noticed about Pages in v1.0 was its use of 6 pt spacing after each paragraph by default. With the inspector and the fact that it was not readily available, I basically gave up on Pages v1.0 right away. Why? It didn't feel or look like Word. Now I've matured and so has Pages. I think Apple recognized this "problem" and has fixed it. Now, the default styles in Pages have no spacing after each paragraph and it immediately makes you think of Word.

    Fortunately I was able to move past this "feature" and explore everything else as well on its own terms. I found myself on several occasions noticing myself "thinking Word" and having to remove myself from years of bad habits. The first instance of this was with styles. In Word, styles are almost impossible to find unless you know what you're doing. For years now, I have had no clue what styles were nor how to use them. In Pages, styles are the bedrock of writing in the application. You're presented with several styles by default: Free Form, Body, etc. Manipulating these styles to meet your individual needs is not terribly difficult, but I do wish that I could change the master font for all of my styles at once. For example, I like to use the "Optima" font for all of my styles, and going through each one to change it at the onset of writing is a bit annoying.

    However, one of Pages' best features is the ability to save your own templates. So, once I manipulated the styles to my liking, I went ahead and saved a template with all my settings and styles applied and it is now stored in the "My Templates" section. When I create a new document that I know needs certain formatting, I can simply load up one of my templates that meets the specifications and start writing.

    Speaking of writing, last night I discovered something about Pages I had missed from the previous days and hours of working with it. I was starting to get annoyed that "Free Form" was the default style chosen by Pages every time I opened a new document. Last night, I started to realize that Apple probably had a reason for doing it that way. And it all clicked. You see, Pages is made for you to write as well as do some basic layout. Word is similar in this regard. Perhaps one program is stronger than the other in writing and vice versa, but the programs are similar in this regard. Where Pages shines is its use of styles. If you create a new document and just start writing, using the "Free Form" style, you can always go in and change the styles of various pieces of text at a later time. Pages is made for you to go in and write first and do layout and formatting second. It's a brilliant idea that I hadn't been accustomed to using Word.

    There were several features I needed Pages to have:

    1) Ability to input Hebrew and Greek words and possibly some Aramaic. Pages passed the Hebrew and Greek test (using the input menu via the International preferences), and I haven't had a chance to try Aramaic.

    2) Footnotes. Pages is fine here, although a keyboard shortcut for adding a footnote is still not a feature. Annoying, but manageable. By the way, somehow or another, it is being spread around that Pages does not support endnotes. This is false, plain and simple, and must be being propogated by people who have not even touched the software. It's not immediately accessible from the "Insert" menu, but if you take the time to open the inspector and look around, endnotes are there and can be used.

    3) All the other stuff I use in Word on a regular basis: page numbers, fonts, double-spacing, etc. All of these formatting features exist as well as some more advanced features I've used on occasion in Word: mail merge, track changes, etc.

    Are there problems with Pages? Yes.

    First and foremost, it's not Microsoft Word. If you have to deal with Word documents on a regular basis, Pages probably isn't for you. If you're fortunate enough to be able to use PDF when sending documents and only need to read Word documents, Pages would probably fit the bill just fine. Importing and exporting is never the best-case scenario. So, if you'll be dealing with Word documents on a regular basis, I'd recommend against Pages.

    Second, cross-referencing is still not supported as far as I can tell (and I've spent a decent amount of time in this program the past few days). If that's a make-or-break feature for you, Pages isn't for you. I consider cross-referencing a high-end word processing feature, and since Pages is more aimed at the normal, occasional word processing user, it doesn't surprise me that this feature is not included. I've always had cross-referencing on my list of criteria for a word processor, but when I thought about it more, I realized I had never used the feature! Obviously it wasn't as important to me as I thought.

    Third, annoyances abound. The inability to set a master font for all styles quickly. The lack of a keyboard shortcut for inserting footnotes (and the lack of being able to assign one). The fact that you have to use the inspector for certain things instead of a toolbar. Yes, these are "problems" if you're mentally attached to Word. As soon as you let go of "thinking Word," however, they cease to be problems and you start to see the benefits of doing it Pages' way.

    The features in Pages are great. The ability to assign F1-F8 for styles is fantastic. The ease of use and implementation of styles is brilliant. Media integration is better than in any word processing program I've seen (Mellel, Nisus Writer Pro, and Word). The ability to add, delete, and move pages is helpful, even in "pure" word processing (I want to add a title page... done, add section break, move it to the top, finished). And the new formatting toolbar is wonderful. A bit small on the text-size, but puts the most-needed items right at your fingertips.

    My conclusion? The demise of Microsoft Office on my system is finally complete. I've waited years for this day, and it has finally arrived. Pages is feature-rich and functional enough to meet my needs, and it does things better than Word and it makes sense to me. I was a non-styles word processor up until two days ago. Pages has converted me in a short period of time. With the addition of Numbers and the continued development of Keynote, iWork '08 will be great for my purposes.

    If there's one feature Apple needs to add to Numbers in a point-release, it's error bars. Obviously that's an important feature to many people. I won't use Numbers for anything more than keeping track of my CD collection and some very simple budgetary work. With Pages, I would recommend two simple changes that Apple could implement in v3.1 or v3.0.1, depending on how they number things.

    1) Auto-save. Implement something simple. My guess is that Apple wants this feature included, but wants to implement multiple revisions, "time machine" like document management. That would be great, but for now... give us something. Pressing Command-S isn't that hard, though... but do it often.

    2) Keyboard shortcut for footnotes. This continues to bother me. Just include it, for goodness sake!

    Pages is a great application. Try it out and give it a fair chance on its own terms. Unless you really need some of the "more powerful" features of Word, I don't see any reason to not use Pages for word processing.

    http://www.apple.com/iwork/trial/
     
  2. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #2
    An excellent review. Very thoughtful, complete and fair. Thanks! :)
     
  3. jwkay macrumors regular

    jwkay

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #3
    You can define your own keyboard shortcut for any function via System Preferences.

    Go into System Preferences->Keyboard & Mouse->Keyboard Shortcuts
    Click the "+" to add a new shortcut, and select "Pages" from the Application list (I had to select Other... as Pages is in it's own iWork '08 Folder).

    Type "Footnote" in the Title field, then move the cursor to the Shortcut field and press the key combination you want to assign to Footnote.

    You have to quit and restart Pages to activate your new shortcut.
     
  4. WannaGoMac macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    #4
    Can you please comment on the ability to OPEN and SAVE documents in MS Word 2007 format (OOXML).
     
  5. valiar macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #5
    While it is true that you can make endnotes in Pages, you are limited to either endnotes or footnotes. You cannot have both. This is actually a big limitation, as far as I am concerned.
    I would have dumped Word in a millisecond - if only Pages saved in a format that is compatible with common bibliography applications, like Bookends. Alas, the format is proprietary - and export to RTF dos not count.
     
  6. pianoman macrumors 68000

    pianoman

    Joined:
    May 31, 2006
    #6
    great review! very thorough and fair. i'm going to try to use Pages exclusively and this update certainly makes the transition from Word smoother.
     
  7. musicfan82 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    #7
    To all who have responded - Thanks for the kind comments about the review.

    jwkay - Thanks for the information about the footnote keyboard shortcut! It took me a couple of tries to get it to work, but it did the trick. For some reason, it didn't like Shift+Option+Command+F, but Option+Command+F seems to work just fine. That's the best Mac tip I've been given all year! Many thanks!

    WannaGoMac - I'm afraid I don't know anyone using Word 2007 nor do I have any Word 2007 files on hand to try it out. If you'd like to send me something to try, I'd be happy to do so on your behalf. Don't forget that there's a trial download for you to use as well.
    http://www.apple.com/iwork/trial/

    I'm still sticking to my original comments about Pages and Word, though. If you need to use Word documents (i.e. save in that format on a regular basis), use Word. It might be painful, but it's the better option. I imagine that if all you need to do is read Word documents (i.e. open in that format), Pages would be a fine choice for your word processing needs. Some of the forum postings I've read thus far seem encouraging as far as Pages/Word collaboration is concerned. You may want to investigate those claims further before making a decision, however.

    valiar - Yes, that is true. Endnotes and footnotes cannot be used at the same time. But, I've never run into a situation where I've needed both. The majority of my academic writing has required one or the other, but never both at the same time. And your comment about use with bibliography applications is another common complaint about Pages and, unfortunately, true. Export to RTF is an option but, as I said in the original post, a hassle and probably not worth it if you need to use it on a regular basis. Perhaps Pages will offer bibliography support in a point-release. Doubtful, but we can hold out hope.

    I still think Pages is a great application, even with its limitations. And, again, if you need to use Word, use Word. I'm already tired of the forum postings I've seen lambasting Pages for missing this or that. If you need that feature, use Word. It's as simple as that. Ask Apple to put it in a future version and don't write the product off forever, but use Word for now. Better safe than sorry.

    For me, fortunately, the time has come to part ways with Microsoft Word. I'm sure I'll run into a situation in the future where I'll wish I had Word's feature set and be limited by Pages in some way, but I'm willing to bet that those situations will be so few and far between that Pages will fit my needs perfectly.

    I should also mention that I have tried to use Mellel and Nisus Writer Pro over the past few months. Mellel, to me, is the ugliest application I've ever seen. That alone almost rules it out. Just plain nasty to my eyes. NWP is a great application, but expensive. And it still doesn't replace the other Office applications for the price. iWork '08 includes Pages which, as I've already said, meets my needs quite well and includes Numbers and Keynote.

    Apple released this product at exactly the right time. College students, if you're looking for a great word processor that will have your output looking sharp in no time, take a look at Pages.
     
  8. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #8
    The Word format is also proprietary, so while there might be a reason why bibliographic applications are not supported in Pages, proprietary file format isn't it.
     
  9. jackc macrumors 65816

    jackc

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    #9
    By the way, you can change the brushed metal appearance of Mellel, it is a vast improvement. I don't know why they insist on making that the default.
     
  10. panamajack macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    #10
    Comments / tracking changes

    Have to say, I'm initially quite impressed with Pages ability to track comments and changes .... the fact it works with imported/exported word.docs is a HUGE plus for folks who say want to send a document to a prof for revisions but otherwise don't need close collaboration all the time (then you should be using word).
     
  11. jackc macrumors 65816

    jackc

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    Oct 19, 2003
    #11
    What happens to your styles if you go back and forth with Word?
     
  12. aafuss1 macrumors 68000

    aafuss1

    Joined:
    May 5, 2002
    Location:
    Gold Coast, Australia
    #12
    Mellel is a nice program to use in conjuction with Pages (my copy was free ,full version from a Mac magazine CD).
     
  13. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #13
    Nice review. It's interesting how you note that the "Free Form" style in Pages keyed you in to writing first and applying styles second, in that you can do exactly the same thing in Word but never noted it.... I've noticed that too with MacOS, where I'll suddenly find myself doing things frequently that are possible in Windows, but which I rarely did in Windows for whatever reason... perhaps because Apple put it in the UI in such a way that it made sense to us?
     
  14. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #14
    You find out it's the rare Word user who can figure out how to do styles.

    Seriously, it's true. Every time I open a Word document in Pages, I see a huge list of styles virtually none of which are actually being used. Everything is set to "Normal" with fonts and tabs set manually.
     
  15. jackc macrumors 65816

    jackc

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    Oct 19, 2003
    #15
    I totally agree, it's extremely rare. But I'd be curious to see if styles are maintained if you switch between these apps. I'll have to try myself, but I'm too lazy.
     
  16. hfancy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2007
    #16
    Footnotes

    Great tip about the footnotes shortcut. That was annoying me, too!

    One thing that is missing, however, is the ability for footnotes to continue on to the next page. This makes pagination look somewhat awkward in heavily annotated documents. Does anyone have a fix?

    I hope they can implement an easy solution soon.
     
  17. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #17
    As nearly as I can tell, they are. When I open a Word document in Pages, I see all the styles as they've been imported. Presumably some style settings which are unique to Pages and Word don't translate, but that's to be expected.
     
  18. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    Nov 3, 2005
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    UK
    #18
    Isn't it? I suppose it is just XML, though I'd like to see a "Pages reader" for windows.
     
  19. Lesser Evets macrumors 68040

    Lesser Evets

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    #19
    That was a really good review of Pages across Ages.

    I just dipped into it, and all other software in Work and Life '08, and found it excellent. But I haven't done a major run on it yet.
     
  20. kcmac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 22, 2002
    #20
    They carry over back and forth very well. The biggest problem is Word dumps a lot of extra styles that are not in use into Pages. I delete these in Pages. When they make the next round trip, they now match Pages.

    I use Pages a lot for reformatting and fixing styles in Word documents that have been butchered in Word. Pages did actually help me learn how to deal with Styles in Word but Pages, with the Inspector is so much easier to adjust and create your own styles or to tweak them.

    I have used Pages since version 1. This latest version is now something that I enjoy using. And I think it is also finally at a place where the more average user will be able to open it and go to work. Earlier, you really did have to read the manual and get your arms around it. The format bar is simple and wonderful.

    Thanks for a nicely done review.
     
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #21
    No kidding -- though for the sake of complete accuracy, it's not Word but Word users who create all those extra styles. This is an artifact of Word's opaque method of creating and managing styles. I'd say maybe one in twenty Word users understand how this is supposed to be done. Odd that an application which handles one of its most important functions so poorly is so widely regarded as the "standard."
     
  22. soLoredd macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #22
    Great review. I love Pages and I will not be going back to Word - or Office, for that matter.

    Would you guys care to elaborate, though, on the whole "styles" thing? You say it's extremely rare somebody actually uses them correctly. How about explaining the use of them and how to implement them? Please? :)
     
  23. CmdrLaForge macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Location:
    around the world
    #23
    Styles and list of content

    Hello,

    I just started and tried pages because I would like to replace Office. But I do have some problems with the styles. I need to write a thesis with the following numbering scheme:

    1. Main something
    blabla
    1.1 Second something
    more blabla
    1.1.1 Third something
    even more blabla

    2. Second main something
    even more blabla
    2.1 Second something
    even more blabla
    2.2 Third something
    even more blabla

    and so on. I think you get the idea. In the end I would like to get Pages to create a page of content.

    I now tested the app for a while and I do have a major problem getting this done. I read the HELP page.

    I assign the styles for the second and third levels but it doesn't apply them correctly. Instead of doing a 1.2 for example it starts again with 1. even if I assigned the style correctly and then applied it.

    The list of content is as created without the numbering. If I add it then it confuses the numbering in the document.

    I am not happy with pages at the moment.

    Any ideas ?

    Cheers
    LaForge
     
  24. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #24
    I'm afraid I don't really get it. Styles have always worked properly for me. Are you sure you're defining them correctly? Also, to assign a complete style you need to click on the style in the drawer twice. The arrow next to the style should be black. If it's red, the paragraph style isn't fully applied.
     
  25. CmdrLaForge macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Location:
    around the world
    #25
    Hi,

    thanks for your feedback.

    Yes - I do format them correctly. First I modify the text to a style I want and then I click on the RED arrow and select either a new style or modify the existing one. The main problem is with the numbers that are more indented e.g. 1.1 or 1.1.2 because the next time I use it it makes just a 2. or 3. or whatever. I have to go into the Inspector and indent it myself.
     

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