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New iWork ’09

January 25, 2009
By Dave Hecei, dhecei@post-journal.com

As part of the 2009 MacWorld Expo keynote, Apple unveiled the new iWork '09, their productivity suite that includes Pages '09 - a word processor/page layout program, Numbers '09 - a spreadsheet program, and Keynote '09 - a multimedia enhanced presentation program. Along with the release of iWork '09, Apple also announced iWork.com, an online component that gives iWork '09 users the ability to share and collaborate with others on the Internet.

After starting Pages '09, you are greeted with a new template chooser. This new chooser is similar to viewing Events in iPhoto '08 and '09. As you swipe the mouse across a template it will show you a sample of all the pages associated with that template. Speaking of templates, there are 40 new ones added to the 140 templates from Pages '08.

There are some other welcome additions and improvements in Pages '09. One nice addition is outlining. Outlines are useful and allow writers to organize their work. In Pages '09, the outline is now synced with the Pages document, meaning if you make a change in the outline it will make the corresponding change in the full document. A major improvement has been made in the Mail Merge function. Instead of relying only on the Apple Address Book, Pages '09 can now merge with a Numbers '09 spreadsheet. This allows for much more than just names and addresses to be used in a form letter.

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For those who want to use Pages '09 as a word processor, there is a new 'full screen' mode. When you enter this mode, Pages '09 will mask out everything but the page you are working on, you only see a white page on a black screen. The idea here is to remove anything distracting on the screen and allow you to concentrate on your writing. You still have access to all the Pages '09 menus, just move the mouse up to the very top of the screen and they will reappear.

Numbers '09, Apple's spreadsheet program first introduced in iWork '08, has had a few improvements. Just like Pages, Numbers has professionally designed templates for you to use. Apple has added nine new templates to the mix. One big improvement is with the formula creation tool. The tool now makes using variables much easier. Along with this 'fix' there are now over 250 functions to choose from.

No one would disagree with the fact that Mac's are great at creating great looking graphics. Numbers '09 is no exception. Numbers '09 can take your data and create all kinds of great looking charts and graphs. New in '09 is the ability to mix different types of charts. An example would be to have a bar chart and overlay it with a line graph. These charts can then be easily embedded into other iWork '09 documents. If you make any changes to the data, these embedded documents can be updated with just a click of a button. Too bad you have to click; maybe this will become a more automated feature in the next version of iWork.

Onto my favorite iWork App, there is the new Keynote '09. Keynote is the oldest of all the iWork apps. It actually started out as a stand-alone program. The first version of iWork was just Keynote and Pages. Keynote is a presentation, what some call a slide show, application. Up until Keynote, most presentations were done in Microsoft PowerPoint. I don't think there is anyone in the corporate world that has not seen a Power Point slide show. While Power Point is a great and useful tool, Keynote does the same thing and does it better. Text, images, and the added animation and effects just look better in Keynote.

Keynote '09 now has the same new template chooser as the other iWork apps. When working on a slide, iWorks gives you more automatic alignment tools. These have been beefed up allowing you to easily align multiple objects on a slide. Along with this is the ability to see beginning and ending positions of any element that has a motion path. All these new features should help cut production time on more elaborate presentations.

One of the features that sets Keynote apart from others is slide transitions. There are many different types of 2-D and 3-D style transitions to choose from and '09 adds several more. While you can get carried away with these transitions, just as some novice video editors find out. Used in the right way, these transitions add to the presentation and can even be used to simulate an animation that can't be done any other way.

To help speed up your work, Keynote '09 now does more automatic tweening (tweening is where you tell the computer the starting and ending positions of a moving object and it creates all the necessary frames 'in between'). Apple is calling this 'Magic Move'. Magic Move will automatically generate a smooth transition if you move an object from one part of the slide to another part on another slide. It also works when you change the size of an object or even the shape (a morphing effect). This allows you to morph something like text into a logo,

Other improvements have been made in making tables and charts. New data types have been added to charts along with new 3-D textures and animations. Tables now have some new cell formats. These include durations, units of time, and number systems.

Apple also announced a trial of iWork.com, an online server dedicated to iWork '09 users. When you create a document in any of the iWork '09 apps, you will see an iWork.com button in the in the command bar at the top of the window. Clicking on this button allows you to send an email invite to anyone you want to share the document with. The document can even be uploaded in formats other than the native iWork '09 standards. You can save a numbers file in XLS format, or a Pages file as a PDF. This makes it easier to collaborate with others that don't have iWork '09, or even a Mac. At the moment, these documents can only be seen. They cannot be edited on online. Hopefully Apple will work on this a bit more and add the ability to edit online documents.

iWork '09 is suitable for home, home office, students, or even small businesses. While I think Keynote '09 is worth $79 on its own, for that price you also get Pages '09 and Numbers '09. A $99 family pack is also available, which allows it to be installed on up to five computers. To get the most out of all the graphics and animations built into iWork '09 you should have one of the newer Intel based Macs. iWork '09 will run on any Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (500MHz or faster) processor; 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended); Approximately 1.2GB of available disk space; 32MB of video memory; Mac OS X v10.4.11 or Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later; QuickTime 7.5.5 or later; DVD drive is required for installation.

 
 

 

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