By Monte FergusonAnother year and another update. Apple has been consistent in providing updates for
itís suite of business applications. Yet Apple is not a company that tosses out an
update without giving us a reason to upgrade. There are definitely reasons to
consider upgrading to the new version of Pages.
This year you would have to look closely to spot the changes. Many of them are not
as obvious as they have been in years past. This years update is not as
transformative as Pages í08 was. Itís aim appears to address perceived weaknesses in
the programs feature set.
There are a number of welcome enhancements to the existing features. Yet there are
also some added features that will be that will be familiar to folks who have worked
with MS Word. It might be an early signal that Apple is ready to compete with
Microsoft in the enterprise software market.
A new Full Screen View has been added to the program for those who find
that they need to keep distractions to a minimum. This is more than just hitting the
maximize window button in the title bar. When you enter Full Screen View all you see
is the document you are working on and a dark background. Even the formatting bar
disappears. When you need a tool you can always invoke them. You can also move back
and forth through a document by using the arrow keys on the keyboard. It provides a
simplified view of your document which helps you focus on the words and
A new Outline Mode is another welcome writers tool that debuts in Pages í09. You can
quickly enter topics and information. Itís easy to modify your outlines by expanding
and collapsing topics, or move topics up and down by dragging. Movies and images can
be included in your outlines, as either thumbnails or at actual size.
gains Mail Merge functionality. You can use data stored in Address Book or Numbers.
This lets you create professional correspondence without having to manually enter
all of the data. To take advantage of this you need to use a template, or a document
with merge fields specified. Then choose a table in a Numbers spreadsheet, or an
Address Book card. Any column in a Numbers can be used with a merge field. Itís a
definite labor saver that will be welcome in the business world.
Pages í09 finally
addresses one of my pet peeves. It finally adds dynamic integration with other apps
in the iWork suite. It does this with a dynamic linking feature. It works like
this. Now you can create a spreadsheet in Numbers. Later link to it in Pages. When
you update the spreadsheet the changes are automatically updated in Pages as well.
Long time Mac users will realize that this sounds practically identical to an old
Apple feature from the 90ís called Publish and Subscribe. Which it is. Iím delighted
to see this feature make a reappearance. The lack of dynamic linking between
components of the suite was my main gripe with previous iterations of iWork.
But Wait Thereís More
An Enhanced Template Chooser, much like the one found in the iLIfe
suite, helps you to quickly sort through all of those built in templates. If offers
high resolution resizable previews that greatly aid in picking just the right
template. Pages í09 features 40 new professionally designed templates. This bumps
the total number of included templates to 180.
Pages gains the ability to integrate
with a couple of venerable third party programs: MathType 6 and EndNote X2.
MathType lets you insert perfectly formatted equations into your documents. EndNote
X2 makes it easy to create instant bibliographies.
Now For Something Completely Different
Sharing your Pages documents has always been
pretty straightforward. You could always save them out as a Word or PDF file. But
now there is a new way to share your files. It also provides a limited amount of
collaboration. Apple announced this feature as a new service, currently in beta,
You have to publish a document to iWork.com to take advantage of the service. Which
is as easy as clicking a button in Formatting bar. Once you have published the file
you can invite people, via email, to view, comment or download the file. It works
with both Mac and PC users.
When the recipients of your invitation arrive at the site they are presented with an
excellent copy of the original document. It appears just as you viewed it in Pages.
Invited visitors can add comments, which look like sticky notes and have an ongoing
chat type running conversation in the side bar. If they prefer to have a copy of
the file they can download it directly from the iWork.com web site. While the file
was being uploaded iWork created copies in Word and PDF format, as well as a native
Right now the service is free, it is in beta, to anyone who has purchased iWork í09.
Apple has said that at some point they do plan to charge something for the service.
How much is yet to be determined.
The improved features solidify an already good program. The integration with
MathType and EndNote narrows the list of exclusive MS Word features. It also
positions Pages as a more viable, and less expensive, alternative to MS Word. Yet
the program does not suffer from feature bloat. The iWork.com is an interesting
additional feature. Itís rather early to tell, but it looks promising.
My biggest grumble, lack of live linked data between apps in the suite, is no
longer an issue. I really found no glaring faults with the program itself. I think
iWork.com shows some initial promise but needs further refinement. Itís works well,
as far as it goes, but it doesnít allow true collaboration. Say some kind of check
in check out type of system so multiple people can work on a document. It would be
nice if it supported other files as well, for example jpegs or photoshop files.
Pages has moved forward yet again. Itís hard to get excited about word
processing apps in general. Much of the focus of this years release is tightening
and improving upon existing features. Not exactly something that excites many
prospective buyers. This years release does not have much in the way of big
features. It is more of an evolutionary update. The overall effect of the various
improvements is that the program feels more complete and polished. It does sport
some new features that can apply to a range of Pages users and give the new version
added value. I would heartily recommend the update. The combination of features, and
low price point, make it worth the money to upgrade.
Posted: Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009