Apple has a lot to boast about in iWork '09, the latest version of its productivity application suite and still the only one written from the ground up for OS X. Keynote, still the most dazzling presentation program on any platform, now offers spectacular slide transitions. The uniquely innovative Numbers spreadsheet (the sole such app to support multiple tables on a single page) continues to one-up Microsoft Excel in many ways. And, this time around, the table-organizing feature works. The Pages word processor adds to its already powerful graphics glitz and makes a start at supporting features for long documents by adding easy-to-use outlining. Apple has also put a toe into the online-document world by launching iWork.com, a sparsely featured sharing and viewing service that lets iWork users share documents with users on any platform, including Windows and Linux. The result is a $79 (direct) suite that gives home and student users a huge bang for a small number of bucks—and it feels far more at home on the Mac platform than Microsoft's pricier, professional-oriented Office for the Mac.
If you're a Mac user, can you trash your copy of Microsoft Office for the Mac? If you're a Windows user desperate to switch to OS X, is iWork '09 the tool you want for getting serious office work done on the Mac? The answer in both cases is: It depends. If you're a home or high-school-level user, you'll find it more than up to the challenge. But business and professional Office users will still want to stick with Microsoft's venerable suite. Those who write long documents, for example, or use database functions in worksheets, will find iWork '09 both tantalizingly close to displacing Office and frustratingly distant from that goal. As usual, Apple has put tremendous effort into features that look terrific and make work seem less like drudgery. But for hard-core users who need the raw power that only Office can provide, well…Office is still the only suite that provides it.
Pages is both a word processor and what used to be called a desktop publishing program—software that let you create graphics-rich leaflets, posters, and greeting cards. Pages' strength is creating pages that look terrific. It's clearly designed for the more casual user, the kind of casual student or home-based business user who might use it to type letters; create menus, greeting cards, and announcements; or send out those long end-of-year reports on the family that no one else wants to read. And for that user, it's a great product. But it's better suited to creating individual pages than long documents. If you really want to, you could use it to write a full-scale senior thesis, or a scientific paper, or a multi-chapter book, but you'll probably grit your teeth much of the time you're doing it.
You choose between two different editing modes when you create a document in Pages: word processing or page layout. The first creates a conventional document with a stream of text flowing down the page. Page layout treats each page as a canvas on which you create text and graphics boxes.
I started the app in word processing mode and chose the Personal Photo layout. Pages created a letter that had my name and a sample picture as the letterhead with some boilerplate text beneath it. To replace the text, I simply clicked in the boilerplate area and started typing. The template looked terrific, but I quickly tired of replacing sample text each time I wrote anything at all. After a short time, I started over with a blank page, as you normally do when working in a word processor. (story Link)