iWork '08

I am currently working on testing some of the new features in iWork ’08. I typically use the Word Processing features of any given application or application suite more than any of the other functions, so let me go ahead and explain about some of the things I thought were wrong in previous versions of iWork.
The main problem with iWork, as I’ve had in the past is its insistence upon styles, and the difficulty I had in controlling them to my benefit. Also, it is very difficult to write an MLA format paper with it. What I’m discovering here though, is that it’s much easier to do these things now in iWork ’08, which includes a fairly standard toolbar. Another thing I always disliked about iWork was the awful file format, which seems as though it’s here to stay, but iWork will at least be able to open and save Word Documents, and I can export or save-as whenever I need to migrate a document to another computer. It does concern me that .doc is not a selection for default file format, but it shouldn’t be difficult to just “save as” whenever I need to move a document around to another machine. Especially to my mobile computer, which will be running Mac OS 9 with Office 98, most likely. (battery life issues: the machine is perfectly capable of Mac OS X 10.4, and therefore Pages ’08, but I can get about 1.5x the battery life if I run Mac OS 9.)
Spreadsheets in various forms are the other thing I use more often than presentations. I typically use them for lists, checklists, and little database-like things such as my list of RW media, which I update every time I re-burn one. Numbers then, is what I’ve been waiting for. It allows great flexibility in how I set up my spreadsheets, and what can be done with them. For example, it allows pull-down selections for pre-determined values, and it’s got sliders, steppers and a few other interesting things. If I actually did spreadsheets with numerical data, there is other enhancements and features I’d be able to use, like the ability to have more than one table on any given page, or the ability to combine tables and charts on the same page. I can imagine this being pretty good, especially for tables charts and whatnot created as part of a report that’s destined for a printer.
I’ve yet to look at any more of the integration between the iWork apps, nor have I looked at some of the other features like change-tracking or commenting in Pages, but I really think that this will be a reasonable replacement for my traditional productivity app, Microsoft Office. The main problem I’m having with even thinking about Office is the fact that it won’t be available until next January. By then, I’ll have learned iWork and grown to love it.

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