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IWork, yes, no, or other software
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Christopera
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Jul 11, 2007, 08:02 PM
 
I am about to purchase a Mac Book for school.

Should i get any of these softwares?

I do a good bit of photo and video editing, lots of writing papers, and also a good bit of web development.

P.S. Sorry for posting in the trouble shooting sections, I'm unsure how I arrived in here.
     
TheoCryst
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Jul 12, 2007, 02:01 PM
 
First off, your photo and video editing needs are covered by iLife, which is included for free in the purchase of your MacBook.

For writing papers (and other generic schoolwork), you have three options. The first, and most expensive, is Microsoft Office 2004. I can't recommend that you purchase this, as the 2008 version is expected to be released in a matter of months (possibly in October). The new version will run considerably faster on your MacBook, and will support Microsoft's new OOXML file formats.

iWork contains a useful word processor and one of the best presentation programs available for a much lower price, but lacks a spreadsheet application in its current incarnation. If you need Excel (or its equivalent), I'd stay away from this for now.

My recommendation? Download the free NeoOffice, which is based off the popular OpenOffice.org suite. It has everything you should need for school (high school or college), it blends very well with the Mac environment, and the price is right. Plus, it's very compatible with Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files.

Any ramblings are entirely my own, and do not represent those of my employers, coworkers, friends, or species
     
D'Espice
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Jul 13, 2007, 02:43 AM
 
Basically it boils down to this: If you need Word compatibility you need Microsoft Office. Period. Nothing is more compatible to Office than Office, I'd stay away from third party apps in this case - nothing but trouble.
If you don't need to be compatible with the Office-world then there's a bunch of great apps you can get. Personally, I don't consider Pages to be a full-featured word processor since it lacks certain features a modern word processor should have. But there are several alternatives, some free, some cheap, and some rather expensive. I use Word since I really like it and know how to use it (I can see the Mac zealots turning in their graves), but my non-Word favorite for academic writing would certainly be Mellel. NeoOffice/J is ok I guess, haven't had any real experience with it yet (it was way too slow for my taste), OpenOffice.org/X11 feels like getting violated (and not in a good way), and then there's Nisus Writer Pro, brand-new and it's supposed to be pretty good, etc. There's a couple more but with Word, NeoOffice/J, Mellel and Nisus Writer Pro we have the most important ones covered.
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JKT
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Jul 13, 2007, 05:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by D'Espice View Post
Basically it boils down to this: If you need Word compatibility you need Microsoft Office. Period. Nothing is more compatible to Office than Office, I'd stay away from third party apps in this case - nothing but trouble.
If you need 100% compatibility, you don't even get that with MS Office. The only way to get 100% compatibility is to use the exact same version as the person you receive the file from (and also to have the exact same fonts installed), otherwise you are looking at 99% compatibility at best.

FWIW, it is just NeoOffice and not NeoOffice/J (it hasn't been called that for about 2 years now).
     
Eug
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Jul 13, 2007, 10:16 AM
 
iWork - forget it. Don't waste your time with it as your primary office suite. Pages is rather useless for school-type stuff. Keynote is very nice, but it is basically incompatible with everything else. (Yes there are import and and export functions for PowerPoint, but it's a pain.) I actually use Keynote quite a bit, but 1 app doesn't make an office suite. And of course, iWork has no spreadsheet. iWork is due to be updated shortly anyway (likely within six months).

Get MS Office. You should be able to get in the very least an educational discount, but if you're lucky, your school might have volume licencing/pricing for it. For example, it is less than US$90 for MS Office at my institution.

P.S. The few times I've tried those free open source office replacements, I concluded they just aren't good enough when compared to MS Office. (I haven't checked again in 2007 though I must admit.) However, it may be justifiable to go with one of the free ones until Office 2008 comes out (which will be within 6 months). But if you can good pricing on Office 2008, buy it as soon as it is available. That said, Office 2004 runs just fine on my MacBook. It ain't blistering fast, but it's fast enough, and faster than Office 2004 on a G4 iBook.
( Last edited by Eug; Jul 13, 2007 at 10:27 AM. )
     
Mrjinglesusa
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Jul 13, 2007, 10:24 AM
 
Another vote for MS Office, but don't waste your money on 2004. Wait a few months and get 2008. Why get a 4 year old version now when you can get the most recent one in a few months?

iWork is great for presentations and newsletters, correspondence, flyers, etc. but is not full-featured enough for writing complex papers. As others have said, there is no spreadsheet but I would venture to guess the next version will have a spreadsheet program.
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D'Espice
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Jul 13, 2007, 11:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
If you need 100% compatibility, you don't even get that with MS Office. The only way to get 100% compatibility is to use the exact same version as the person you receive the file from (and also to have the exact same fonts installed), otherwise you are looking at 99% compatibility at best.

FWIW, it is just NeoOffice and not NeoOffice/J (it hasn't been called that for about 2 years now).
Never said that Office was 100% compatible to itself - I said that it's as compatible as it gets, there ain't nothing more compatible to MS Office than MS Office itself
That said, didn't know about the NeoOffice thing, thanks. No big difference tho since it's still written in Java and it's still depressingly slow, especially on older PPCs.

Can't wait for Office 2008 - now that apparantly they have rewritten it from scratch and finally got rid of legacy code Office might finally improve significantly in terms of performance on both PPC and x86 architectures... let's keep our fingers crossed and hope they didn't screw up big time again. Especially when compared to Windows, all word processing on Macs is horribly slow
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Shades of Gray
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Jul 13, 2007, 02:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by D'Espice View Post
Especially when compared to Windows, all word processing on Macs is horribly slow
I guess I don't get this. Word 2004 is not as fast as other word processors on the Mac (I'm using eMac 1.25 GHz system with 512 MB RAM). I use Word 2004 as well as Mellel, Nisus Writer Pro, Papyrus, and Ragtime, on documents up to 250 pages for a book, and Word is the slowest. At my day job I use Word 2003 (Win XP on 1.75 GHz laptop) and it is not really any faster than what I experience at home.


But to each his own...
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peeb
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Jul 13, 2007, 02:59 PM
 
Pages kicks ass for layout, its styles system is much better than Word. The only reason to have office is for file sharing with others.
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 13, 2007, 03:21 PM
 
Have a look at Nisus Writer Pro, I'll get my dad a licence for Xmas.

Concerning compatibility, as people have mentioned, Word isn't 100 % compatible amongst itself. However, it depends on what kind of compatibility you want: if you just want to be able to send documents to other people, you can use pdfs as well (and probably should if you don't want them to be able to alter your files easily). If you are on the receiving end and your main concern is to copy and paste, then you should be fine with any of them. (Most people use a tiny fraction of Word's feature set anyway.)
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Jul 13, 2007 at 03:31 PM. )
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peeb
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Jul 13, 2007, 04:42 PM
 
Indeed. I have actually started to use text-edit for a lot of things, my pet peeve is people who send word files that contain only plain text.
     
Eug
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Jul 13, 2007, 09:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
Pages kicks ass for layout, its styles system is much better than Word. The only reason to have office is for file sharing with others.
Right. 98% of the rest of the world uses Word, which is why good Word compatibility is basically mandatory, especially in an educational setting.

PDF is still not very practical, since there are still a lot of machines out there that don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed. You don't need it for OS X, but you need it for Windows.
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 13, 2007, 10:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
PDF is still not very practical, since there are still a lot of machines out there that don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed. You don't need it for OS X, but you need it for Windows.
I disagree, having a pdf reader is mandator, especially in education: basically all forms are pdfs (tax forms, ordering forms, whatever), many professors (also outside of natural sciences) also use pdf to secure their slides via passwords (so that only students of that particular class have access to those notes/slides). Adobe Reader really is installed on pretty much every computer.
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Eug
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Jul 13, 2007, 10:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I disagree, having a pdf reader is mandator, especially in education: basically all forms are pdfs (tax forms, ordering forms, whatever), many professors (also outside of natural sciences) also use pdf to secure their slides via passwords (so that only students of that particular class have access to those notes/slides). Adobe Reader really is installed on pretty much every computer.
I work in an academic environment. Acrobat is definitely not ubiquitous (even though I think it should be). However, I agree PDF is more common in academic environments than elsewhere.

The problem is the elsewhere. I can't send PDFs to just anyone and expect them to be able to open it. However, I can send DOC files to just about anyone, and they'll be fine with it.

ie. In my circle of acquaintances, Word is much more prevalent than Acrobat Reader, even though the latter is free.

I guess the better thing to say is that ideally one should have both Word and Acrobat Reader, and having Pages and Acrobat Reader just isn't good enough.
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 13, 2007, 11:15 PM
 
On a professional level I can expect other people to have Adobe Reader installed (as I said, all taxforms and many invoices are pdfs these days). Just for professional reasons, I don't want many people to have my word document, I want the file I sent them to be `read-only'.
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besson3c
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Jul 13, 2007, 11:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
iWork - forget it. Don't waste your time with it as your primary office suite. Pages is rather useless for school-type stuff. Keynote is very nice, but it is basically incompatible with everything else. (Yes there are import and and export functions for PowerPoint, but it's a pain.) I actually use Keynote quite a bit, but 1 app doesn't make an office suite. And of course, iWork has no spreadsheet. iWork is due to be updated shortly anyway (likely within six months).

Get MS Office. You should be able to get in the very least an educational discount, but if you're lucky, your school might have volume licencing/pricing for it. For example, it is less than US$90 for MS Office at my institution.

P.S. The few times I've tried those free open source office replacements, I concluded they just aren't good enough when compared to MS Office. (I haven't checked again in 2007 though I must admit.) However, it may be justifiable to go with one of the free ones until Office 2008 comes out (which will be within 6 months). But if you can good pricing on Office 2008, buy it as soon as it is available. That said, Office 2004 runs just fine on my MacBook. It ain't blistering fast, but it's fast enough, and faster than Office 2004 on a G4 iBook.

You should check out NeoOffice again, because it is now based on OpenOffice 2.0, a major upgrade.
     
besson3c
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Jul 13, 2007, 11:57 PM
 
I don't understand why people recommend MS Office for basic use. What does it have that is so vital?

As far as compatibility goes, have you had major problems converting between Pages, Textedit, Neo/OpenOffice, and MS Office?
     
Eug
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Jul 14, 2007, 12:05 AM
 
oops
( Last edited by Eug; Jul 14, 2007 at 12:17 AM. )
     
Eug
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Jul 14, 2007, 12:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I don't understand why people recommend MS Office for basic use. What does it have that is so vital?
Word of course.

And Excel.

And PowerPoint.

As far as compatibility goes, have you had major problems converting between Pages, Textedit, Neo/OpenOffice, and MS Office?
Yes.

The best compatibility for Word is of course Word. Sure, different versions of Word don't provide 100% compatibility, but not surprisingly Word is still the best to understand Word.


Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
On a professional level I can expect other people to have Adobe Reader installed (as I said, all taxforms and many invoices are pdfs these days). Just for professional reasons, I don't want many people to have my word document, I want the file I sent them to be `read-only'.
I agree. However, for some documents for non-professionals, read-only may not be necessary. For those people, I'd rather just send them a Word file than walk them through installing a PDF reader.

Furthermore, you may actually want the recipient to be able to edit the file.
     
zro
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Jul 14, 2007, 12:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
Pages kicks ass for layout, its styles system is much better than Word. The only reason to have office is for file sharing with others.
Obviously you've never used a real layout app. Pages is ass for layout. As is Word.
     
Eug
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Jul 14, 2007, 12:46 AM
 
OK. I installed and played around a bit in NeoOffice 2.1.

I'm not a big fan of the layout. Part of it seems not so intuitive, but some of it is just personal preference, so I'll reserve judgement on that.

Word and PowerPoint compatibility may have improved over previous versions. In previous versions after opening a few PPT or DOC files I'd see noticeable formatting issues. I didn't see that on the first bunch of PPT and DOC files I tried in NeoOffice. Formatting wasn't 100% perfect, but I wasn't expecting perfection.

OTOH, it seems NeoOffice doesn't like some templates. Some of the files previously created with such templates again had some formatting issues, but this time more severe. They weren't actually that severe, but were enough to screw things up too much IMO.

Unfortunately, the very first Excel file I tried also had screwed up formatting. Numbers were not lined up in the cells as they should have been, and the font sizing differences were more pronounced on some stuff than I was expecting. That kind of surprised me, as I would have thought Excel would have been the easiest to get formatting correct. Perhaps they don't put as much effort into the formatting side of Excel, I dunno.

So, my advice stands. MS Office still is the #1 choice, particularly if you can get institutional pricing on it. However, if you can deal with some formatting issues, then it may make sense to use NeoOffice for the time being until Office 2008 comes out.

However, if your needs for office type apps are light, and you don't exchange files with others much, then NeoOffice may be fine.

P.S. What is Neolight? I couldn't initially delete NeoOffice cuz it said Neolight was still in use, even though I couldn't find it in Activity Monitor. Also, is the only extra stuff in the Preferences directory? I couldn't find any more references to NeoOffice anywhere else.
( Last edited by Eug; Jul 14, 2007 at 12:56 AM. )
     
JKT
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Jul 14, 2007, 12:49 PM
 
NeoLight is the NeoOffice/OpenOffice.org Spotlight plug-in (so that you can search in ODF documents using Spotlight). It was probably still indexing when you tried to delete NeoOffice.

FWIW, Eug welcome to being the problem rather than being the solution. I'm getting heartily sick of hearing people say that you must use Word because everyone else uses Word. This situation is never going to change if people keep up with this attitude. If your document which wasn't created in Word isn't opening properly in Word, it is Microsoft's fault not yours.

FWIW, Sun have released a plug-in for Windows Office that allows ODF documents to be opened:

OpenOffice.org

Sun ODF Plug in 1.0 for Microsoft Office Available Now as a Free Download
Microsoft Office users can now import and export to Open Document Format (ODF).

The Sun ODF Plug in for Microsoft Office gives users of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint the ability to read, edit and save to the ISO-standard Open Document Format. The ODF Plug in is available as a free download from the Sun Download Center (SDLC). Download the ODF Plug in.

The Plug in is easy to setup and use, the conversion happens transparently and the additional memory footprint is minimal. Microsoft Office users now can have seamless two-way conversion of Microsoft Office documents to and from Open Document. The ODF Plug in runs on Microsoft Windows and is available in English. More language support will be available in later releases.
If people are unable to open your ODF documents get them to install the plug-in or OpenOffice.org. If they don't want to do either, then screw them. Their problem, not yours.
     
dylanw
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Jul 14, 2007, 01:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
iWork - forget it. Don't waste your time with it as your primary office suite. Pages is rather useless for school-type stuff.
I'd be curious to hear what features Pages is lacking that you think are deal breakers? I'm writing my thesis with it, and it's doing just fine, thank you very much.
     
besson3c
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Jul 14, 2007, 01:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by dylanw View Post
I'd be curious to hear what features Pages is lacking that you think are deal breakers? I'm writing my thesis with it, and it's doing just fine, thank you very much.
Well, I know some people swear by Word's support for citations, track changes, form creation, etc.
     
JKT
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Jul 14, 2007, 04:01 PM
 
Doesn't Pages 2 support track changes? I thought it did or is it only commenting?

FWIW, OpenOffice.org/NeoOffice support track changes/commenting that is compatible with Word. However, the commenting feature is not as useful as Word's (which, as someone whose job involves using it every day, is also not very good either, and is buggy to boot... also, the way it works is different in Mac Office 2004 which makes it even worse to use).

Edit: I should say that OpenOffice.org/NeoOffice has built-in reference management and supports form creation.
     
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Jul 14, 2007, 05:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
NeoLight is the NeoOffice/OpenOffice.org Spotlight plug-in (so that you can search in ODF documents using Spotlight). It was probably still indexing when you tried to delete NeoOffice.

FWIW, Eug welcome to being the problem rather than being the solution. I'm getting heartily sick of hearing people say that you must use Word because everyone else uses Word. This situation is never going to change if people keep up with this attitude. If your document which wasn't created in Word isn't opening properly in Word, it is Microsoft's fault not yours.
I don't give a about who's fault it is. I just want to get stuff done.
     
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Jul 14, 2007, 06:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
If people are unable to open your ODF documents get them to install the plug-in or OpenOffice.org. If they don't want to do either, then screw them. Their problem, not yours.
That attitude is great, unless you work for a living.
     
besson3c
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Jul 14, 2007, 06:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
That attitude is great, unless you work for a living.

Only to a certain extent. It is up to the technological savvy to steer the less savvy. Think about all of the people that have been converted away from IE to Firefox... The thing is, you have to offer them incentive to do this, and show them that their effort will be worth their while.

The greatest incentive to moving to OpenOffice is not having to pay for Office, but this is obviously not going to work so well if the person/organization in question already has a copy of Office.

This sort of change will probably happen from the top down, where some companies start to phase out MS Office. I don't see any reason why when this will happen is only a question of time.
     
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Jul 15, 2007, 12:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
Doesn't Pages 2 support track changes? I thought it did or is it only commenting?

FWIW, OpenOffice.org/NeoOffice support track changes/commenting that is compatible with Word. However, the commenting feature is not as useful as Word's (which, as someone whose job involves using it every day, is also not very good either, and is buggy to boot... also, the way it works is different in Mac Office 2004 which makes it even worse to use).

Edit: I should say that OpenOffice.org/NeoOffice has built-in reference management and supports form creation.
Pages does have some sort of commenting feature, but no track changes and I think it's comments aren't even compatible with Words. (I only use Word for track changes, and in fact prefer Office X over 2004 for this).

Pages becomes very slow if you have any tables or images in it, and frankly, I think the interface (although pretty) is terrible. For a non-frequent user it requires many exploratory clicks to find things in its palette.

For school work it depends on what you will be writing. If the subject is something that only requires text then there is really no need to use something like Word or Pages. Just use a lightweight text editor (hell even Textedit). OS X provides spellchecking for free and other nice stuff. I've recently found the free Bean: Bean: An OS X Word Processor which is very nice and provides easy access to basic formatting stuff. I only used Word at uni because I had to use footnotes. I think Nisus might support footnotes now. I'd certainly try looking at Nisus or Mellel.
     
JKT
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Jul 15, 2007, 05:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
That attitude is great, unless you work for a living.
It's the attitude we all need if this situation is ever going to change. Alas, it never will because there are just too many lemmings running IT departments in the world, busy chasing each other off the cliff.

FWIW, there is zero reason for someone going to school to be required to spend nearly £100/$200 (that is the price here with the Educational discount) on MS Office 2004 when it is completely unnecessary - OpenOffice.org/NeoOffice and Keynote work well enough, even if they are not 100% compatible with MS Office.
( Last edited by JKT; Jul 15, 2007 at 12:19 PM. )
     
Eug
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Jul 15, 2007, 01:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
FWIW, there is zero reason for someone going to school to be required to spend nearly £100/$200 (that is the price here with the Educational discount) on MS Office 2004 when it is completely unnecessary - OpenOffice.org/NeoOffice and Keynote work well enough, even if they are not 100% compatible with MS Office.
It's that kind of logic that never makes sense to me. Sure, if you're really that short on cash, then sure, stick with NeoOffice. However, if you can afford an iPod, you can definitely afford MS Office's educational pricing.

Like I said, the very first Excel file I tried to open with NeoOffice 2.1 had formatting problems. Why should I waste my time with it, if I can have MS Office for 100 bucks?

Also, as someone who uses iWork (or at least Keynote) quite a bit, I never recommend it as the primary office suite to my fellow Mac users. I recommend it in addition to Office, but if you're short on cash, stick with Office alone. And indeed, that's what most of my colleagues have done, and they're not short on cash either.
     
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Jul 15, 2007, 01:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Like I said, the very first Excel file I tried to open with NeoOffice 2.1 had formatting problems. Why should I waste my time with it, if I can have MS Office for 100 bucks?
To be honest, Word seems like a waste of time for so many things. As soon as the document gets longer, any version of Word I've used got flaky. It took me six hours to print a friend's diploma thesis, we tried with two printers and three different computers. It was a pain and a good reason to avoid Word.
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besson3c
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Jul 15, 2007, 01:43 PM
 
Yeah, I haven't used MS Office for a whole lot of things, but my overall impression has been that it is mediocre at best.
     
OreoCookie
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Jul 15, 2007, 01:47 PM
 
For letters, it's alright. But for papers or even a thesis, it's a nightmare.
The UI design is so bad that most people don't use Styles (which is fun when you spend two hours just applying styles so you can fine-tune the design).

Last time with my best friend's thesis (about 150 pages), I was seriously considering to download OpenOffice and try again.
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Eug
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Jul 15, 2007, 01:58 PM
 
I haven't had problems with stuff up to about 100 pages. I don't deal with stuff longer than that.

Anyways, while it's true that MS Office may be mediocre at a lot of things, NeoOffice seems to fail to meet even that standard in some aspects.

I really, really wanted to like iWork, and I do like Keynote, but as it stands right now, Pages is pretty much useless in the workplace and school for anyone who needs to exchange formatted documents, and of course there is no spreadsheet (yet). And furthermore, its educational price isn't even very good for what you get.

NeoOffice has the right price, but you get even more headaches than MS Office.

But in the end, it's all up to you as to how you want to spend your money. I've told everyone how I've approached the situation, and what I tell my colleagues. Those colleagues seem relatively happy with my advice. The fact that I'm not leading the revolution in office suite adoption doesn't bother me in the least.

P.S. This kind of reminds me of the arguments of why I should Safari for everything. I do use Safari quite a bit, but quite frankly, for many websites I will only use Firefox, and indeed, on Vista I actually use Internet Explorer. There are simply too many headaches with using Safari exclusively.
     
Mithras
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Jul 15, 2007, 02:47 PM
 
For academic work, especially individual rather than intensely collaborative work, I'd strongly consider one of the true 'writing-oriented' apps, like CopyWrite, Scrivener, Ulysses, Avenir, etc.
     
midwinter
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Jul 15, 2007, 03:17 PM
 
Another vote for Nisus Writer Pro.
     
chrisford
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Jul 15, 2007, 04:31 PM
 
I understand the desire to move away from Office (I have to use (Mac) Word and Powerpoint day-in, day-out at work, and I loathe it) but it would be a huge difficulty to try and use any other application.

In my industry, Word is the absolute default application and if I'm sending a client a document I want to be certain that it will open painlessly. It's simply not an option to tell them to install an additional plug-in (for a number of reasons; it would be presumptuous and - thanks to many IT infrastructures - often impossible).

But, my God, I hate Word on a Mac. I often work on Word docs on a shared drive. If my Mac loses the network connection for any reason, Word will respond by informing me of this, informing me that it can't access the file *that is open and in front of my eyes* before closing the document window, giving me no chance to save it somewhere else.

This results in large amounts of lost work and me cursing violently for 15 minutes. I now only work on files on my local drive which buggers up any versioning controls we might choose to operate.
     
rubaiyat
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Jul 16, 2007, 12:29 AM
 
TextEdit or iText Express its super sibling are both free and beat the pants off Word.

They maintain simplicity whilst having virtually every feature you really would want.

Including opening and saving Word documents.

My observation of Microsoft Office users is they rarely know how to use it and if they have worked out the "features" they just use them to produce awful screwed up work that I have to undo to get my job done.

AppleWorks still does an excellent job if you need to delve into spreadsheets or simple databases.
I look forward to a future where the present will be in the past.
     
monkeybrain
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Jul 16, 2007, 03:09 AM
 
I think you only need to use Word if you are going to use tables (they're bad, but still better than the ones in Pages). The tables tool built into text services (Textedit, iText, Bean etc.) is really buggy. I'd be interested if they've improved it at all in Leopard.
     
JKT
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Jul 16, 2007, 03:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by chrisford View Post
In my industry, Word is the absolute default application and if I'm sending a client a document I want to be certain that it will open less painfully.
Corrected - painless is just not a word that can be associated with Word.
As I said above, you can't guarantee that your document will look the same in another person's Word. It just isn't possible. 95% of the time it probably will because most people don't venture beyond using Times New Roman, rich text formatting, the default styles along with a few tables and pictures, but if you do, then good luck being absolutely sure your clients see what you created as you created it 100% of the time. Especially if you are a Mac user sending files to Windows users or vice versa, and especially so if you dare to use some of the lovely fonts on your Mac that aren't available on Windows... then there's the headache that inclusion of symbols in your text brings with it... or the "Quicktime is required" error that you get for images...
     
GuillaumeB
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Jul 16, 2007, 05:43 AM
 
As a recent mac switcher I bought Office Student/teacher 04 edition for $149. I don't care much for the 2008 upgrade. It will certainly not be any faster or integrate features that I - and 90% of other users - would actually use. Besides considering what Microsoft used to do with any upgrades - bigger, slower, more memory demanding - it will certainly not make my life easier.
In all honesty, i advise you to get MS Office student edition right now (I understand you are a student). Compared to the basic edition it's way cheaper. You get Word, Excel, Powerpoint and even Entourage (the Outlook for Mac) - They also include MSN Messenger. I can't tell you how many people wish Windows XP was still available when they realized that Vista would take 15 GB on their hard drive and demand at least 2 GB of memory.
There is absolutely no reason that the office 2008 upgrade will not follow this trend.

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headbirth
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Jul 16, 2007, 09:54 AM
 
     
Eug
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Jul 16, 2007, 10:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
Corrected - painless is just not a word that can be associated with Word.
As I said above, you can't guarantee that your document will look the same in another person's Word. It just isn't possible. 95% of the time it probably will because most people don't venture beyond using Times New Roman, rich text formatting, the default styles along with a few tables and pictures, but if you do, then good luck being absolutely sure your clients see what you created as you created it 100% of the time. Especially if you are a Mac user sending files to Windows users or vice versa, and especially so if you dare to use some of the lovely fonts on your Mac that aren't available on Windows... then there's the headache that inclusion of symbols in your text brings with it... or the "Quicktime is required" error that you get for images...
You keep saying this about MS Office not being 100% compatible with other versions of MS Office.

That is true. However, the compatibility of other apps is significantly lower, which is the important point.
     
cho
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Jul 16, 2007, 12:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by TheoCryst View Post
First off, your photo and video editing needs are covered by iLife, which is included for free in the purchase of your MacBook.

For writing papers (and other generic schoolwork), you have three options. The first, and most expensive, is Microsoft Office 2004. I can't recommend that you purchase this, as the 2008 version is expected to be released in a matter of months (possibly in October). The new version will run considerably faster on your MacBook, and will support Microsoft's new OOXML file formats....
Well, if your school has a campus agreement with Microsoft, you might be able to get the whole MS office package for about $80 which is a good deal.
     
shifuimam
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Jul 16, 2007, 01:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by Christopera View Post
I do a good bit of photo and video editing, lots of writing papers, and also a good bit of web development.
For photo editing, iPhoto is not going to cut it. You need something that gives you more control and doesn't mess around with your file structures and create lots of extra files for each image. PhotoShop is the industry leader in editing images. You might be able to get it for $100 or so through your school. Gimp, which is an open-source PhotoShop alternative, is very powerful but difficult to learn, and it's still pretty unstable. I use PhotoShop for hardcore editing, and Seashore for quick edits and converting file types.

For video editing, it depends on what you mean. If you're just taking home videos from a dv-camcorder and cutting them, iMovie will work fine (although I much prefer Windows Movie Maker, personally). If you're trying to start developing professional capabilities for your future career, you're going to have to get something like Final Cut Pro.

If by "school" you mean college/university, you definitely will be sending stuff to your teacher electronically. Use Word. It will, as others have said, provide the most compatibility. Depending on your school, you can get it for free or at a very low cost. I wouldn't waste the money on iWork. AbiWord is an excellent open-source document editor that provides decent Word compatibility and uses much less hard drive space than NeoOffice. If you insist on not using Word, play it safe and send your homework to your teachers as PDFs.

For web development work, you can't beat the free TextWrangler. It's great for working with HTML, XML, CSS, and all the major programming languages. If you don't know how to create sites using an actual text editor (e.g. you've only used DreamWeaver or a similar application), learn!

Originally Posted by cho View Post
Well, if your school has a campus agreement with Microsoft, you might be able to get the whole MS office package for about $80 which is a good deal.
Or for free. IU has a contract with Microsoft that allows them to give Office 2007 and Mac Office 2004 to students at zero charge.
     
shinykaro
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Jul 16, 2007, 02:26 PM
 
I can't believe people are pushing Office so hard. True, Pages is probably not robust enough to handle a complex text document such as a thesis, but Office is overkill. For juggling lots of information, notes, and citations, I'd say go with Scrivener. Don't know much about Nisus, but Office is definitely not the answer unless you use and rely on table data - like in Excel. Because the first post doesn't indicate a need for Excel, I think it's safe to assume it's not an important consideration.
     
JKT
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Jul 16, 2007, 04:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
You keep saying this about MS Office not being 100% compatible with other versions of MS Office.

That is true. However, the compatibility of other apps is significantly lower, which is the important point.
Well, if people keep recommending Word and/or saying that they have to use it for compatibility reasons as though this will give you 100% compatibility, I'll keep telling them that they are deluding themselves. My day-to-day experience tells me otherwise.

Significantly lower depends on what you are doing. If it is just a text document with images and styling applied, then an OpenOffice.org or Pages created .doc file is just as compatible with Word as a .doc created using any other version of Word - the only limitations are going to be the same as they are in Word... font substitution issues and problems with symbols/quicktime error messages. In other words, you wouldn't even know that they had been created in something other than Word. Tables are one of OpenOffice.org's weaker points at present and compatibility starts breaking down there, though by how much will depend on how many pages a table spreads to and just how much formatting has been applied - simple, styled tables are no problem; longer, heavily formatted ones will give you issues. The situation is much worse with equations as they are very incompatible between OpenOffice.org and Word, which limits its usefulness for a scientific background.

Powerpoint between Mac and Windows is just a joke full stop - there are nearly always font and formatting issues that have to be corrected. NeoOffice/OpenOffice.org is probably worse, but given that you have to mess around with Office created .ppt files anyway, is it really that much more work for a Keynote or OpenOffice.org created .ppt file?

Excel - the only app in Office that is actually worth getting. OpenOffice.org's Achilles heal if you need to share Excel files.
     
JKT
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Jul 16, 2007, 04:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by shinykaro View Post
I can't believe people are pushing Office so hard. True, Pages is probably not robust enough to handle a complex text document such as a thesis, but Office is overkill.
Speaking from bitter personal experience I can guarantee that you would be taking a big risk to think that Word is robust enough to prepare a thesis, never mind Pages.
     
Eug
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Jul 16, 2007, 09:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
Well, if people keep recommending Word and/or saying that they have to use it for compatibility reasons as though this will give you 100% compatibility, I'll keep telling them that they are deluding themselves. My day-to-day experience tells me otherwise.

Significantly lower depends on what you are doing. If it is just a text document with images and styling applied, then an OpenOffice.org or Pages created .doc file is just as compatible with Word as a .doc created using any other version of Word - the only limitations are going to be the same as they are in Word... font substitution issues and problems with symbols/quicktime error messages. In other words, you wouldn't even know that they had been created in something other than Word. Tables are one of OpenOffice.org's weaker points at present and compatibility starts breaking down there, though by how much will depend on how many pages a table spreads to and just how much formatting has been applied - simple, styled tables are no problem; longer, heavily formatted ones will give you issues. The situation is much worse with equations as they are very incompatible between OpenOffice.org and Word, which limits its usefulness for a scientific background.
Yup, and this is very important.

Powerpoint between Mac and Windows is just a joke full stop - there are nearly always font and formatting issues that have to be corrected. NeoOffice/OpenOffice.org is probably worse, but given that you have to mess around with Office created .ppt files anyway, is it really that much more work for a Keynote or OpenOffice.org created .ppt file?
Yes. I speak from experience, at least with Keynote.

Excel - the only app in Office that is actually worth getting. OpenOffice.org's Achilles heal if you need to share Excel files.
Yup, Excel is very important too.

The choice seems pretty clear.

OTOH, if your school/institution doesn't offer a good price for Office, then the choice is harder, depending on your needs though of course.
     
 
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