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back to article Apple admits to Mavericks iWork cockup, promises rescue

Apple has responded to the criticism heaped upon it by users when it removed some features of its iWork productivity suite – Keynote, Pages, and Numbers – and has promised to reinstate "some of these features" in releases over the next six months. In a posting on its support website, Apple also instructs users how to revert …

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"To your humble Reg reporter, it's a bit puzzling why anyone would use Numbers for anything other than slick-looking charts, or Pages for ... well ... practically anything"

Well one negative reason for using Pages (or any other non MS Word, word processor) is because just using Microsoft Word for long document editing, if the document contains many references, is likely to result in a hopelessly corrupt document. For years across major releases, if you use the document map at the same time as editing references, you can be almost guaranteed that within a couple of hours of editing your document will reach a corrupted state that cannot print, or randomly loses whole sections of text, or some other document killing ailment. Corruption is less likely to occur when the document map is not being used (as said it is almost guaranteed when editing references and using the document map) but does still occurs far to often. Worse, if it is a long document, the corruption may not be obvious and may (as once happen to me) may end up backed up across all your backup sets. Worse it is more likely to occur the longer your document is, so the more effort it represents the more likely it is to be hit. Worse once you realise it has occurred, Microsoft support documents provide no less than 9, NINE, different methods to try to correct the problem whilst acknowledging it may be that none will actually work (half the several times I have encountered corruption, none did). Worse, this bug hasn't been fixed for several major version number releases of Word (was present on PC Word when I used to use that, is still present on Mac version of Word - I can't talk to the latest PC release of Word).

The fact Microsoft allow a product to be shipped in full knowledge it contains such an issue, is one of the reasons I detest them with a passion.

One positive reason for using Pages is, while it may not be as powerful as Word, overall the new interface is really good, has much less cruft than Word and feels very natural in use. Indeed I would go so far as to say it is a masterpiece (in general structure, if not yet in the detail of some of the features which Apple acknowledge should be improved). If you don't need the additional features Word supports (and few actually do), Pages is in my view now a far better choice. And the collaborative working through the web interface is excellent and renders that old nagging feeling you need to stick with .docx as a base format "just in case" you need to change plan and share it with someone who may not own Pages, irrelevant.

While Numbers, like Pages, has a lovely feel (and I really like how you can define and size multiple tables on a sheet) it is unfortunately, for me, still on the wrong side of the "good enough" divide and I do worry there will be too many occasions when I need the advanced features Excel provides. Plus due to the multi-table on a sheet feature, if you have used it, the export to Excel won't provide a clean equivalent. I use it for documents that I know will remain of limited scope. Excel pivot tables are just too damned useful and powerful to be ignored.

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Pages cannot reliably do subsection numbering. That rules it out for use in any technology business.

You can try to do it, and it looks like it works -- until you reload the document and all the sections have renumbered to "1.1" or "1.1.1". Bizarrely, this means that, without doing things manually, Pages cannot be used to write technical docs that conform to Apple's own internal formatting guidelines. (Or at least the version of them that was in use when I worked there).

In short, it's a handy tool for high-school and Arts students to hand up term-papers with, but it is not a word processor yet. The other annoyance with Pages is that too few functions have keyboard shortcuts. As this is a text tool, where the user's focus will be on the keyboard, the repeated context-switches between keyboard and mouse really slow things down.

Numbers looks like a spreadsheet written by someone who never learned how to use a spreadsheet. It's beautifully presented, but there are gaping holes in the function set, no pivot tables, and a multi-window layout that just won't transfer to any other tool. ClarisWorks had a better spreadsheet, and that's nearly 20 years ago now.

I don't use any of the iWork tools anymore - OpenOffice 4 provides a much better set of features and the UI has got to the point where it isn't horrible.

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True

You still need Word (or a FOSS substitute) for the heavy lifting. But, for home use and lighter tasks, iWork is actually enjoyable in use.

When I launch an Ms Office programme, I feel like I'm going into battle against a cunning and amoral foe who'll resort to any underhand trick to fuck me over just for the sheer malicious pleasure of it. It feels great when you win, but it's draining.

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ClarisWorks - God! I would love to have that back!

It may not have been as well featured as Office but it had enough to make it very useful and it's integration between the tools was so sweet.

I want it back, as it was, right now!

BTW Claris Homepage was quite sweet too. Definately needed to be updated but very usable.

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"The other annoyance with Pages is that too few functions have keyboard shortcuts."

Kristian, you are talking about the previous version of Pages and clearly haven't checked out then new version before posting. The new version has an extremely comprehensive set of keyboard shortcuts as defined here:

http://help.apple.com/pages/mac/5.0/#/tan014c3bd19

Plus the new version has a completely overhauled numbering with every imaginable style plus for each section "continue from previous" and "start from" options which ensure they work in exactly the way you want them to and preserve whatever numbers have been entered.

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Unfortunately, to get working section numbers, you have to lose other features, as 5.0 is the version that has sparked the current furore.

The point is moot, though. In the intervening time I found several better alternatives. But as "the intervening time" was nearly four years, if I'd been really stuck, I could have written my own word processor in that time too.

Regarding key shortcuts, that's pretty much the set from the '09 version. What's missing are the things that let you write without having to resort to the mouse to change things like paragraph styles. As a simple example, in OpenOffice, the style inspector, (Command-T), can be navigated using the keyboard, which means that you don't have to keep selecting text and applying heading styles, or breaking the flow of typing to make the changes in place. Pages, on the other hand, puts these in a drawer that won't accept keyboard focus.

This misses one of the keys to success of the original MacOS: the visual UI let you get used to the software, but once you were used to it, nearly everything could be done with keyboard shortcuts. This has been lost somewhat as the newer touch-centric UIs once again subject users to the tyranny of direct manipulation.

Of all applications, a word processor needs keyboard commands. Adding these isn't a major technical leap; it's just something that the designers of Pages never even considered, and when you look at the default templates in Pages ("grocery letter", "invite", "Brochure", "Resume") you see why. It's not intended for complex documents, and it never was.

When Apple announced they'd finally updated iWork, I was interested, because Pages (in particular) had the germ of a good word processor buried in it - it just needed a lot more refinement, and after all, I'd paid the price of a really good meal to buy the software. Like a lot of other users, though, I was disappointed to see that rather than improve the function of the software, they clipped it back to the lowest-common-denominator that is iOS.

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Your right it took them far too long to get the new iWork out. I suspect they were trying to eat their own dogfood and use CoreData. But Core Data sync via iCloud hasn't been working too well, they've only just sorted it out. Additionally they've changed the data format, I suspect because mobile devices have less memory and, paradoxically, the way to get better performance is to avoid trying to get a document data structure which follows the principles of a database and implements 1st Normal Form, but instead re-cache key data at strategic points which actually then results in a larger file size. With the file format changed as much as it is they have had a lot of work to do. Now they have a good platform though so hopefully they will quickly add in new features as they did with Final Cut Pro.

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storm damage

In German it is not a "Scheiße Sturm" or even a "Scheißesturm", they seem to have adopted the English term so it is "der Shitstorm".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shitstorm

Anglicism of the year 2011, Word of the year 2012.

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Pint

You're iWorking it wrong

Hats off to the Reg for their continued reporting of what's a happened to the quality of Apples entire product range since the demise of St Steve.

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6 months to fix

Or just put the old one back in the App store, which should take 2 minutes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 6 months to fix

For those commenting without any kind of knowledge of what is actually going on (so that the majority of you and possibly the author of the article); if you upgrade iWork, it copies the older versions of the apps you have installed into a folder called "iWork" in your Application folder. If you download from new, it also downloads the old version and puts them in a file called "iWork" in your Application folder. See, I know how you like to jerk your knees and make mountains out of molehills, but as per usual, there really is no need...

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Not a power user

of Pages or Numbers - but I prefer to use them.

I didn't like the 'new' versions of Office, so took a choice to use iWork. OK some things are not as good, but for most things they are worth it. Atleast some of the stuff missing is coming back - and I can believe the explanation that as it was newly developed some things went astray!

When I first moved over it was also A LOT CHEAPER than Office.

And all UK staff get Macs we get it free now.

As for making pretty graphs etc - yep - at one place I worked a meeting was suddenly called - in 10 minutes I created a slick looking graph to compare the information that I had, dropped that into a Keynote presentation and blew the socks off people there, who believed that 10 minutes was not enough time to prepare anything (Civil Servants...).

And Keynote - much better than PowerPoint IMHO, but Powerpoint was Mac based originally anyway...

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DJO
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UnderpoweredPoint

Except for Keynote, which has always been hands-down superior to Microsoft's creaky PowerPoint.

An OHP, some clear sheets and a box of crayons is superior to PowerPoint, coloured chalks on the pavement are superior to PowerPoint, even MSPaint is superior to PowerPoint.

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Anonymous Coward

Now all they need to do is fix Ibooks in Mavericks taking away the ability for people to sync pdf's with it and their ipad using itunes.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple's PR man is not named .......

Nick Cotton by any chance?

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Meh

Powerpoint vs Keynote

I'll probably get downvoted since reasoned responses have difficulty competing against emotional outbursts, but at one point I sat down and actually compared (totally subjectively, purely for my own benefit) Powerpoint and Keynote. I wanted to know what was similar and different about them.

My observations can be summed up as:

Powerpoint gives you a a LOT more options than Keynote. More templates, more transition styles, more animation types, more options for object manipulation (eg: turning an image into a limited 3d object)

Keynote gives you less choices, but the choices it gives you are of a much higher quality. The animations, transitions, etc, seem to be significantly more polished. By comparison, most of the features in powerpoint look like they haven't been improved upon since powerpoint 1.0 was first written. Some of the transitions actually caused me to go, "Oh wow that was cool!" Meanwhile, if you need to do anything with individual objects beyond simple transformations, you will have to turn to other tools to do it for you.

Both products have merits. Both products can do things that the other can't. It boils down to a matter of personal style (and, of course, whether you even have a Mac or a Windows machine). If Microsoft could improve the quality of the effects in Powerpoint, or if Keynote had more options for object manipulation, then there would be clear winner. As it stands, neither is better or worse than the other. It totally depends on what the user is looking for.

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WTF?

Alarming

Lately it's beginning to look like Apple has dropped the ball on Quality and in feature choices. I hope they are not moving away from the Apple I've come to know under Jobs. I've become extremely alarmed by this.

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