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What You Get

The application disk, good built in help, great getting started video tutorials and lots of professionally designed templates.

System Requirements

  • A Macintosh computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5 or PowerPC G4 (500MHz or faster) processor
  • 512MB of RAM (1G recommended)
  • 32MB of video memory
  • Mac OS X version 10.4.10 or later
  • QuickTime 7.2 or later
  • iLife í08 recommended
  • 1GB of available disk space
  • CD drive required for installation

Pages (iWork '08)

By Monte Ferguson

From the beginning Apple has shipped a word processing program. From MacWrite to the present these programs have showcased Apple technologies. It also showcased Appleís philosophy towards design. Pages continues that legacy with aplomb.

Pages is an unusual program as word processorís go. It is both a page layout program and a word processor. Traditional word processors are good at text but are not so great at layout. Though the task can be done the results are often NOT What You See Is What You Get. Besides, in order to fit in those plus other esoteric features into the application, you usually ended up with a bloated app.

Pages is a clean slate. Apple started fresh from the ground up with this program. It shows. The interface is clean and straightforward. There are no multiple rows of buttons and palettes. When you start the program up youíre presented with a large selection of professionally composed templates. (You do have an option to choose blank if you wish.)

New Features
The new contextual Format Bar allows you to quickly format text, change tables or add effects to images. Then there are those included templates. They let you create professional results quickly and easily.

Page Layout
You can place images and text anywhere on the page. It acts as free-form canvas. Rotate and move objects, apply effects to images right from within Pages. You can create link text boxes, like high end page layout programs, to allow you maximum flexibility in your layouts.

Change Tracking
This a feature that previously was only found in Microsoft Word. It allows multiple people to work on a document. You can share a document with others. Edits to the document are marked in author-specific colors, with change descriptions in the sidebar. Page thumbnails hilight changed areas, making it easy to focus on areas needing attention. You can accept or reject changes all at once or on a case by case basis.

New Apple-Designed Templates
There are over 140 templates that come with Pages. There approximately 80 word processing templates and 60 page layout templates. Even if you one of them doesnít fit your exact needs, it can be a good starting point. The templates come with place holder text and pictures. Just drag your images in and drop them into place. The included media browser makes it easy to bring in your own photos from iPhoto or Aperture. To replace text just hilight it and begin typing.

Useful Writing Tools
Pages comes with additional writing tools that are just a click away. If you want to check on a wordís spelling and itís definition just Control-click, or right click on it. You can also search for the word on your computer, Google, or Wikipedia. A built in Proofreader can be invoked to give you writing help as you type.

Other Features
There are a bunch of features that come with Pages. They come in handy for day in and day out tasks. Theyíre just not as flashy.

Graphics
Pages comes with built in image manipulation tools. They wonít replace Photoshop, but they take care of a number of imaging chores. You can make image adjustments, add frames or masks, as well as remove backgrounds from within Pages.

Complete Layout Control
Youíre in control of your page layout. You can precisely position text and graphics using the built-in rulers and alignment guides.

Control text wrapping
Turn on Wrap to control how text flows around photos. Use the format bar to†set text to wrap to the left or right, around, or above and below images.

Tables
You can add a table by just clicking on the Table button at the top of your Pages document. You can format numbers in table cells as currency or dates. You can enter simple calculations, using cell references. You can also apply functions such as sums and averages.

Charts
Charts are as easy to add as tables. Just click on the Chart button at the top of the Pages document. You can create 2D or 3D pie, line, bar, column, area and scatter charts. You can customize charts by adding a realistic texture, controlling the lighting, or rotating them.

Pages automatically formats lists on the fly and generates tables of contents on demand. You can insert headers and footers and add footnotes. Pages works with Address Book allowing you to easily create personalized documents such as business cards, invoices, and faxes.

Compatibility
You can easily import Microsoft Office 2007 (Office Open XML) or earlier Word files. Pages imports not only the text, but also the styles, tables, inline and floating objects, charts, footnotes, endnotes, bookmarks, hyperlinks, lists, sections, change tracking, and other elements of your original Word document.

Pages í08 also opens AppleWorks word processing documents, as well as files saved in Rich Text Format (RTF). {It also can import a wide assortment of audio (AAC, AIFF, and MP3), image (EPS, JPEG, PNG, PDF, PSD), video (MOV), and other media types.} When itís time to share your Pages documents you can export them as PDF, Word (.doc) format, RTF, or plain text.

Proís
The included video tutorials are excellent. They get you up to speed on major features. They also give you an overview as to how the program works. Compatibility with the work place, MS Word, as well as home and education, ŇppleWorks works very well. I have yet to run into a document in either format that Pages canít open. The marketing for Pages touts a feature called Usability Enhancements. This must be marketingese for it no longer feels like youíre waiting for the program to catch up. Pages í08 is much more responsive than earlier versions. The improved word processing functions make this a much more usable program. I love the change tracking features.

Cons
Iím not too keen on the separate modes,I.E. layout vs word processing. You canít meld the two modes. When you pick a template youíre in one mode or the other. Itís annoying but for most folks they wonít notice. I wish that it also opened AppleWorks draw documents. That was the freeform layout mode for AppleWorks. Itís a shame Apple doesnít offer any options to transition those documents to a currently shipping, let alone supported, Apple product. Iím also disappointed that Apple doesnít include the iWorks suite for free with all new Macs. At least ship Pages with all new Macs. The lack of a capable word processor included in the box wonít sit well with Windows switchers used to having all of the basic necessities bundled with their computer.

Conclusion
In the past I wasnít overly enthusiastic about Pages. It had some good features, but it was a page layout program first, word processor second. It was sluggish when working on text.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Pages í08 is noticeably peppier than previous versions. It also had gained many enhancements to the word processing side of the program. I had been looking for an AppleWorks replacement. So I gave Pages a try for 30 days. Iíve been so pleased with the experiment that Pages is now my word processor of choice. It strikes the correct balance of features and power. Itís also a bargain when you consider the cost of the iWork suite.

Posted: Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008


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