Highly compatible with Microsoft Office documents. Canvas-style page holds multiple tables. Presentation software outclasses competitors. Great bang for the buck. Cons Not as feature-rich as Microsoft Office.
Sample templates too elaborate for most users. No view that hides top, bottom page margins. Bottom Line Apple's productivity suite isn't yet a replacement for Microsoft Office for the Mac, but iWork '09 offers a terrific set of programs for light word processing and medium-to-heavy spreadsheet use. And the stellar Keynote presentation app leaves the competition in the dust. Keynote, still the most dazzling presentation program on any platform, now offers spectacular slide transitions.
The uniquely innovative Numbers spreadsheet the sole such app to support multiple tables on a single page continues to one-up Microsoft Excel in many ways. And, this time around, the table-organizing feature works. The Pages word processor adds to its already powerful graphics glitz and makes a start at supporting features for long documents by adding easy-to-use outlining.
Apple has also put a toe into the online-document world by launching iWork. If you're a Mac user, can you trash your copy of Microsoft Office for the Mac?
If you're a Windows user desperate to switch to OS X, is iWork '09 the tool you want for getting serious office work done on the Mac? The answer in both cases is: It depends. If you're a home or high-school-level user, you'll find it more than up to the challenge. But business and professional Office users will still want to stick with Microsoft's venerable suite.
Those who write long documents, for example, or use database functions in worksheets, will find iWork '09 both tantalizingly close to displacing Office and frustratingly distant from that goal. As usual, Apple has put tremendous effort into features that look terrific and make work seem less like drudgery.
But for hard-core users who need the raw power that only Office can provide, well…Office is still the only suite that provides it. Go Nuts With the Office Installs Pages is both a word processor and what used to be called a desktop publishing program—software that let you create graphics-rich leaflets, posters, and greeting cards.
Pages' strength is creating pages that look terrific. It's clearly designed for the more casual user, the kind of casual student or home-based business user who might use it to type letters; create menus, greeting cards, and announcements; or send out those long end-of-year reports on the family that no one else wants to read.
And for that user, it's a great product. But it's better suited to creating individual pages than long documents. If you really want to, you could use it to write a full-scale senior thesis, or a scientific paper, or a multi-chapter book, but you'll probably grit your teeth much of the time you're doing it. You choose between two different editing modes when you create a document in Pages: The first creates a conventional document with a stream of text flowing down the page.
Page layout treats each page as a canvas on which you create text and graphics boxes. I started the app in word processing mode and chose the Personal Photo layout. Pages created a letter that had my name and a sample picture as the letterhead with some boilerplate text beneath it. To replace the text, I simply clicked in the boilerplate area and started typing.
The template looked terrific, but I quickly tired of replacing sample text each time I wrote anything at all. After a short time, I started over with a blank page, as you normally do when working in a word processor.
I found Pages to be a highly competent program for entering and formatting text, more straightforward though less powerful than Microsoft Word. I was able to use an Inspector panel or menus to format text, insert graphics and either footnotes or endnotes but not both , and build tables of contents.
I could also easily create hyperlinks between two parts of a document , but I could only create the kind of hyperlink that works when the document is viewed on screen—meaning a browser-style of link that says something like "click here to see the details.
Of course, I could simply have typed in "See page 9," but I would then be forced to check that the text I was referring to was still on page 9 after I made any revisions. Pages introduces a nifty new full-screen option, available from the View menu or a hotkey, that blacks out everything on-screen except the Pages document.
Using it let me concentrate on what I was writing, undistracted by everything else on my desktop. Even better, the feature is implemented intelligently. I could access the hidden items I needed by just moving the mouse appropriately: Apple could, however, have increased the full-screen option's anti-distraction value even more by having it hide the top and bottom margins of every page.
As it is, if a sentence begins near the foot of one page and extends to the next, it's broken in half by two inches of vertical space—the bottom and top margins of the two pages, respectively. Writing long documents with this distracting kind of display is, at the very least, seriously annoying. True, Microsoft Word for the Mac doesn't have this option in its page-view mode, either Word for Windows does , but at least it lets you switch to a minimally formatted normal view, which hides the distracting margins.
If you never type anything longer than a single page, or if you're not easily distracted by sentences split in half by slabs of white space, then this won't bother you. If you write longer papers or books, it will drive you crazy. If you want Pages for freshman English, you're fine; your Master's thesis, a lot less fine. There are, however, a number of iWork improvements that could appeal to students of all levels and other users, too, of course.
The latest Pages plays catch-up with Word's outlining capability by offering a similar and easy-to-use though less powerful outlining mode. Note, however, that iWork still doesn't fully acknowledge that a lot of written work, especially in corporations and colleges, is done in collaboration. Pages still doesn't match Microsoft Word's "subdocument" feature, which lets each member of a group of Word users edit his or her own individual chapter called a "subdocument" in a multi-chapter book, while the general editor of the book works with a "master document" that acts as a container for the subdocuments and always reflects their latest state.
Eyes glazing over at that description of the feature? Then you probably won't miss it—it's not the sort of thing many of iWork's target audience will want to do. Pages makes some gestures toward advanced-document features by adding integration with Thomson Research's Endnote X2 bibliographical software, which is almost universally used in the scientific and academic markets. Unlike Word, Pages doesn't include an equation editor, but at least it offers reasonably tight integration with the high-powered MathType application sold by Design Science.
So it's now possible to write scientific papers in Pages—but without Word's ability to have both footnotes at the foot of each page and a separate set of endnotes at the end. Despite its name, Endnote X2 doesn't create traditional endnotes that can include explanatory or additional text—just like a footnote but at the end of the chapter instead of the foot of the page.
Instead, Endnote X2 creates a bibliography that lists the full references to books, articles, and other items cited in the main text. What many scientific and academic authors need is a combination of footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography. But Pages only allows either footnotes or endnotes, plus the kind of bibliography created by Endnote X2. Pages' first version was widely criticized because its mail-merge feature worked only with the OS X Address Book.
In the new version the feature works with data stored in a Numbers worksheet. That, in effect, means you can also use mail merge with any data stored in an Excel spreadsheet. That's a big improvement. Pages ' File Conversion and Templates Pages ' File Conversion and Templates In keeping with its iWork 09 target audience, Apple hasn't done a ton of work on file conversion of legacy documents. The situation is even worse for PC users contemplating a jump to the Mac.
They won't be able to import files created in any Windows word processor except Word 97 or later—nothing created by WordPerfect, WordStar, or the early few versions of Microsoft Word. The average iWork user might not care a bit, but some will. As a software connoisseur, I personally find it frustrating, because Apple clearly knows how to write a dynamite file converter.
When I imported a complex Microsoft Word for Windows document into Pages, the import was absolutely perfect. And it was notably better than the results I got when I opened the same document in Microsoft's own Word for the Mac, which changed the layout in small but annoying ways. Apple could add a lot of value to Pages by giving it the ability to import other document formats equally well. In page-layout mode, you get the same full-screen view option you get in word-processing mode, but it's also tightly integrated with OS X.
So, for example, you can easily bring in images from iPhoto by opening Pages' image gallery. If you're putting together a graphics-rich leaflet or a poster, Pages is superbly powerful, and the luscious-looking templates that come with the package give you a delicious taste of the program's capabilities.
Unfortunately, most of these templates are absolutely useless as starting points for further modification. They're so heavily and elaborately designed, you'd need to be a professional graphic artist to adapt them for your own use—a lesson I learned the hard way. To get started with a newsletter, I did exactly what Apple recommends: I selected a template from the template chooser and tried to modify it with my own text and images rather than Apple's.
After picking the gorgeous Green Grocery Newsletter template, I quickly discovered I had bitten off considerably more than I could chew. Everything in the newsletter looked terrific—as long as I made only trivial changes in Apple's layout and ensured that my own text was exactly the same length as the boilerplate.
The document is designed to be a monthly newsletter—but trying to change the layout so next month's newsletter looked even a bit different requires graphics expertise I doubt the average home or small-business user has. The templates look wonderful in Apple's advertising, but I wish the company had given its customers canned documents they could actually work with. The templates also lack an option that takes text you insert in a graphics box and resizes the fonts automatically for the best possible appearance.
Apple has the technology—witness the shrink-to-fit option in Keynote—so I'm especially disappointed that it's missing from the Pages application. Pages has come a long way, and the latest version is definitely worth a look, but be sure to try it with the type of real-world projects you're apt to need it to handle before you commit to it.
The average light-duty user will probably love it. But while Microsoft Word may be clunky and annoying, it's still the app of choice for getting the tough high-end jobs done. Pages does admirably well at serving the users Apple is targeting.
I'd just like to see the company aim for a broader segment of the market with iWork ' I'm not just saying this as a neutral reviewer—there's so much that I like about Pages, including its Mac-like interface and its tight integration with all the superb conveniences in OS X, that it's a program I personally want to use instead of Word for the Mac.
Numbers Numbers When Numbers originally appeared, in the previous version of iWork, it was the first truly innovative worksheet application of the 21st century.
I was going to purchase this off Appstore. It was way too expensive to purchase off Appstore. I Purchased this here on eBay. It seems as though the "09" version is the one with the User interface that is easier to use. I would actually rate this ten stars. I have used this quite extensively. It has been an extremely useful tool.