Look what Apple did!

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dennisg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2004-05-16 07:51:28
Location: Seattle, WA

Look what Apple did!

Post by dennisg »

Now, that's a word processor...

http://www.apple.com/iwork/pages/word.html
- Dennis

"Is that your little friend in the wood chipper?"

rallx
Posts: 38
Joined: 2004-09-11 12:05:03

Post by rallx »

Hard to tell from the propaganda and the famous reality distortion field. The initial releases of iCal and Keynote were both painfully slow and bug ridden. Pages may have the a lot of promise, as does NWE, but we'll have to wait until someone outside of Apple has seen it and tried to stick their 200 page manuscript in it. With non-hot technologies (and word processing is certainly a mature field), Apple's development often seems slow and half-hearted.

We shall see...

JBL
Posts: 168
Joined: 2003-04-25 14:33:59

Post by JBL »

Anyone go to MacWorld and actually try it out. To me it looks like its only real advantage over NWE is in graphics handling. I doubt that Pages will beat NWE's implimentation of styles etc.

Tom Gorham
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Joined: 2004-09-21 00:07:50
Location: Scotland

Post by Tom Gorham »

It looks more like a DTP application to me, which is something that the Mac desperately needed at the low-end.

Different market to NWE entirely.

Denis
Posts: 7
Joined: 2004-09-10 09:20:31

Post by Denis »

It does look more like a DTP program, but the announced list of features is impressive, and the layout and graphics possibilities are impressive. I own NWX but haven't been able to really use it. It somehow always crashes or fails to render pages consistently (skipping a column for no apparent reason, etc). So, although I'd really like not to have to use Word, I've had to fall back to it for my projects. I will certainly look into this Page program when it comes out.

edd1e
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Joined: 2004-08-21 21:13:17

Post by edd1e »

NWE uses RTF as its base file format. That is one of the major advantages to NWE, since overall any import/export process is transparent.

charles
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Post by charles »

I played with Pages quite a bit at Macworld. It is definitely a more of a lightweight DTP application. (In fact, lots of people were calling it "PageMaker Lite") If you need more of a writing tool, then you will definitely need something more like NWE still.

This makes sense since the product is targeted at users who barely do any writing at all except to do things like newsletters, envelopes and such.

-Charles
Charles Jolley
Nisus Software, Inc.

JBL
Posts: 168
Joined: 2003-04-25 14:33:59

Post by JBL »

I also played with Pages some at MacWorld yesterday and agree with Charles. However, the writing tools in Pages are a step up from TextEdit (it does have styles and such), even if they don't match NWE. I put a manuscript I am working in NWE on my iDisk and opened it in Pages. I was a little disappointed that Pages did not recognize the figures or import the styles (the text all looked correct but, for example, my comments were not in a style named "Joel's comments". Word, does import the figures and the styles, and the guy there showed me that Pages does see the figures from other rtf files. I hope that Nisus and Apple can get their products working together since it would be nice to be able to write things in NWE and then pretty them up in Pages (at least until NWE gets better graphics handling or Pages gets some more polished writing tools).

Soda
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Location: London

Post by Soda »

In his address Steve Jobs said that Pages was put together by the same team that did Keynote, which suggests that it is a spin-off, a by-product. This isn't Apple rethinking the word processor.

It is also very telling that the feature Apple are selling above any other is the collection of templates. It must be aimed at kids doing school projects or small businesses who don't have the time, money or skills to tackle something like InDesign.

There still is a need for a serious word processor on OS X, a proper writer's tool with decent typography and a useable interface.

IMHO

midwinter
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Post by midwinter »

Is it possible that Apple is trying to split the difference between Word and a page layout application? At any rate, I bought it (mostly for Keynote) and I'm interested in seeing what it's like. I'm an academic writer in the humanities, so my needs out of a word processor are fairly meager—I need text-edit with headers, footers, and footnotes. Tables are a plus, but in the end aren't a deal-breaker (I use them for my syllabi, but I don't have to). The ability to convert effortlessly between footnotes and endnotes (like Word will do) is an amazingly cool feature that saves me boatloads of time when different journals require footnotes or endnotes.

It seems to me that the emphasis on styles in pages is an attempt to really push styles to the forefront, especially for users like me for whom they're more or less a mystery. Hell, it wasn't until I started using NWE that I ever messed with them.

In the end, a word processor is a word processor is a word processor, and they differ only in terms of features and usability. What I'd like to see, as I've said before, is for NWE to rethink word processor user interface to recognize that, often, people need to move back and forth between multiple documents—that, in other words, it is inefficient for a writer to have multiple windows open just to work on one document. Hell, earlier today I had 7 document windows open, all so I could work on a single document. This is a huge opportunity for a company like Nisus.

gke
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Location: Russia

Post by gke »

For me as well this is the single thing missing under MacOS X, a full-featured, snappy word processor like Word 98 was under OS 9.2.2. Word 2004 has the features, but it is debilitatingly sluggish, at least on my iBook G3. For a long time I had my hopes pinned on NWX, even was on the verge of buying a license at several points, but always changed my mind as soon as I tried to do anything profoundly more serious than plain notetaking, because the application's performance really is not good enough. This is a real waste, because its architecture is really well thought-out and fulfilling most of my wishes for a word-processor. The problem is in the details, which undoubtedly will get set right in the end, but how much more time is it going to take? As for now, these many, all in themselves minor defects, bugs and performance issues (I still find the programme slow, if less so than Word), together make it impossible to use NWX as a word processor for work-purposes, which is where I really need it. With the announcement of Pages my hope flared for a moment, but judging from the comments on this forum it is not going to do the trick. Is is, by the way, a Cocoa programme as far as you know?

dennisg
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Location: Seattle, WA

Post by dennisg »

gke,

I'm not so sure I'd judge the capabilities of Pages by the comments you read in a forum devoted to evangelists for a competing product.
- Dennis

"Is that your little friend in the wood chipper?"

joao
Posts: 55
Joined: 2003-04-25 04:42:14

Post by joao »

gke wrote:For me as well this is the single thing missing under MacOS X, a full-featured, snappy word processor like Word 98 was under OS 9.2.2.
I agree that there has yet to be a word processor released for OS X that includes the features of programs released for previous versions of the Mac OS. The fact that it's taken Apple this long to release its own word processor possibly indicates some of the challenges inherent with creating such a program with Cocoa. While there may be more features with Carbon-based programs, the text rendering issues make choosing them a serious compromise. From what I can tell, Pages is Apple's response to Microsoft Publisher, taking it out of the trailer park. :)

I'll go back far further than Word 98 in my own nostalgia for word processing programs. In the late 80's-early 90's, the price for high-end word processing programs was pretty steep (I seem to remember price tags around $300). Then again, these programs included excellent printed manuals, toll-free help (which was hideously abused by users refusing to read the manuals), and few maintenance releases and upgrades. At the same time, I also seem to remember a wide array of features and a fairly high level of quality. WordPerfect used to pay users $10 if they could actually find a reproduceable bug. Yes, there were bugs and workarounds that sometimes took longer to fix, buy my overall impression was that most software shipped fairly clean.

Microsoft is often credited (if that's the word) with popularizing the concept of "end-user debugging" - that is, releasing software without the previous level of testing prior to publishing, and relying more on maintenance fixes once the software was released. They also didn't do much to lower the price, although lots of other publishers did.

Would I pay a couple hundred bucks for a word processor these days? If it was more exhaustively tested than most products are at the current time, and if releases included particularly well-implemented features, you bet. I rely on a word processor more than any other single program to get my work done. I have a feeling that most users these days may not agree with me, but I certainly wouldn't mind paying a high-end price for a high-end program.

Then again, I'm not a programmer or publisher, so I only understand these things from the consumer's point of view. But I'm not sure that the way the software field has evolved has been a benefit for both publishers and customers.

gke
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Joined: 2004-11-14 05:55:16
Location: Russia

Post by gke »

Joao,

These are pretty good comments you make there. I have just gone through elaborate testing to find a replacement for the bibliographic database software I was using under 9.2.2 in combination with Word 98, and it is the same sad story all over; apparently 15 years of constant digital revolution are not able to turn out well-functioning applications for tasks which have basically remained unchanged since the early 1990s. I will not go into further details here, but in the end I found a wonderfully made application produced by a small publisher which is a rare example of well-tested, practically bug-free, versatile software. Selling at 99 dollars per licence it is by quite some margin more expensive than similar products in other fields, like eg. NWX, but you get quality for what you pay and they regularly release new versions with significantly enhanced features. Now, if Nisus would decide to make NWX twice or even thrice as expensive, but would turn out a fully featured well-functioning application over a reasonable time-span rather than at the snail's pace at which development currently proceeds, I would be the last to protest.

joao
Posts: 55
Joined: 2003-04-25 04:42:14

Post by joao »

gke -

I think I understand some of your frustration.

At the same time one of my points (not terribly well made), is that I sometimes wonder if customers have become unrealistically accustomed to expecting fast upgrades and revisions, and are then upset when the new version doesn't deliver as they want. My guess is software publishers feel a competitive need to show continual development, and as a result feel pressured to rush things out the door.

A long while back, major upgrades literally took years. If a feature didn't make it into a release, customers had to realize that it might be years before they saw it. This may explain some of the "feature bloat" that became a prevalent criticism about programs. If you're only going to release every couple of years, then the release needs to include a lot of features.

Then again, it became clear that there's a lot of revenue to be made from upgrades, and this may also have done something to accelerate the upgrade cycle in the industry as a whole, with a new standard of post-release debugging become an accepted norm.

I guess at this point I don't know who's winning in the software development game, but I have a feeling that both users and publishers (with the possible exceptions of those with gigantic market shares) feel that they may be getting the short end of the stick, when in fact it may be both groups at the same time.

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