Miscellaneous Ramblings

Miscellaneous Ramblings Review

Discover the Power of iWork with The Missing Manual

Charles Moore - 2007.08.06 - Tip Jar

iWork '05: The Missing Manual

A packet of books for review I received from Pogue Press/O'Reilly a couple of weeks ago included iWork '05: The Missing Manual, which, as the title indicates, is not exactly hot off the presses. Apple updated its iWork document and presentation creation software suite, introduced in January 2005, to iWork '06 last year.

The '05 volume is the most recent Missing Manual covering this program, and the changes to the '06 version were not radical. Presumably the author and Pogue Press/O'Reilly determined that a new edition of the book was not necessary yet, given the modest scope of differences included in the '06 update.

New in iWork '06

iWork '06 included some enhanced features in Pages 2 and Keynote 3 that enable the creation of more sophisticated documents and presentations. Tables with spreadsheet-like calculations can now be inserted into any document or presentation, giving users the ability to add, multiply, or average numbers in rows or columns. Users can also create three-dimensional charts featuring realistic wood grain, metal, and marble textures and fully control the viewing angle. iPhoto-like advanced image editing tools help to perfect photos directly within documents and presentations. Freeform shapes and curves, including Bezier curves and shapes with perfectly smooth edges, are easy to create and use to mask images. iWork '06 also adds the ability to include reviewer's comments in slides and documents without affecting the layout.

Pages 2 supports mail merge with Mac OS X Address Book, making it easier to personalize documents with predefined fields within templates and quickly drag and drop individual contacts into documents. It also includes two dozen new templates for projects like newsletters, flyers, posters, school reports, scrapbooks, brochures, business proposals, and invoices, plus new thumbnail and search views that make it easier to work with large documents and quickly find words or phrases within a document.

Keynote 3 includes new cinematic transitions, including vertical or horizontal blinds, revolving door, swoosh, and more. It offers even more Apple-designed themes, including four specifically designed to take advantage of high definition displays. A new Light Table view mode makes it easy to view an entire presentation at a glance and reorganize slides using drag and drop, while flexible build animations provide more control of bullet lists, tables, and charts including unique timing and sequence of individual bullets, rows, columns, or series.

iWork '05 The Missing ManualHowever, for the most part readers of iWork '05 The Missing Manual should find it quite relevant to the '06 version.

iWork consists of the Pages word processor and the Keynote 2 presentation application inherited from the iLife suite.

A more introductory work than most Missing Manuals volumes, due to the early version status of the subject, this book, authored by Jim Elferdink, owner of Macs for the Masses, a Macintosh consulting service in Northern California, and co-author of AppleWorks 6: The Missing Manual, is intended to inform readers about the iWork program's capabilities, advantages over similar programs, and its limitations, as well as providing instruction and reference information on using the software.

When he announced iWork at Macworld Expo '05, Steve Jobs indicated that it is intended to replace Apple's time-honored AppleWorks application suite, but the new program is positioned upmarket from AppleWorks and aimed more at advanced amateur and professional Mac users, who want to create slick and stylish documents and cinema-quality digital presentations that say precisely what they want them to say. That said, there is no reason for beginners to pass it up if they have a need for this sort of program.

If you have purchased a new Mac recently or a retail copy of OS X 10.4 "Tiger", you already have a trial copy of iWork that will provide you with unrestricted access to the program for 30 days before you must decide whether to purchase a license or not. If you decide not, the trial becomes an iWork player after 30 days, so you will still have access to any documents you created with the program - a nice touch.

The book's introduction contains a more thorough and detailed overview of what iWord is than might otherwise have been the case with more familiar software. The body of the book is structured in two main parts, respectively covering the two application modules, followed by four appendices and an index. The book's design follows the familiar Missing Manuals formula, which means an attractive page layout with lots of white space and plenty of screen shot illustrations.

Elferdink maintains the conversational prose style that Missing Manuals series creator David Pogue is noted for, which makes this book an easy read.

Part One, Pages, has seven chapters.

In Chapter 1, Creating a Basic Document, we learn the ropes of Pages' template motif, which includes 40 preformatted documents of varying types (you can, of course, also start with a blank page if you want to). Templates can be modified or created from scratch as well. There are tutorial sections on creating document windows, changing your page view, basic editing, and so forth.

Chapter 2, Formatting Your Document, covers the bases of character formatting, effective use of fonts (including a Power Users Clinic on ligatures), a list of typewriter-throwback formatting bad habits that haven't quite been eliminated, alignment and justification, line-spacing, background colors, layout and section formatting, spell checking, and much more.

Chapter 3 moves along to Advanced Word Processing, using find and replace, creating and using styles, lists and outlines, creating column formatting, working with headers and footers, and adding a table of contents.

In Chapter 4, we are Moving Beyond Text: Laying Out Pages. Besides being a powerful and capable word processor, Pages is also a page layout program - sort of a junior version of InDesign or QuarkXPress. While print professionals are not likely to abandon those industry standard applications for Pages, the Apple application can certainly be used to produce a professional looking brochure, newsletter, or magazine/e-zine. This chapter contains concise but thorough tutorial material on basic page layout techniques using Pages templates as your starting point. If you are interested in learning how to do this sort of thing, this chapter alone could be worth the price of the book.

Chapter 5, is on Building Charts and Tables. Pages incorporates some powerful table and chart creation features, the use of which is explained in this chapter.

Sharing Pages Documents is the topic of Chapter 6 - printing, faxing, importing and exporting.

In my description of Chapter 1, I noted that you can create your own Pages templates. Chapter 7, Streamline Your Projects - Creating Templates, is all about how to do that, from scratch as well as modifying existing templates.

Part Two: Keynote 2, has five chapters.

Chapter 8, Planning and Creating Great Presentations, is a general overview of the purpose and use of presentation software, of which Microsoft PowerPoint is the industry standard. The reader is briefed on the essentials of creating an effective presentation and reminded that no matter how cool the tools presentation software puts at your disposal are, the content - not the medium - should be the star of show. There is also a section on presentation hardware: laptop computers, projectors, and remote controls.

Chapter 9 addresses the specifics of Building a Basic Presentation using Keynote themes and user interface controls, working with slides and the outline view.

Chapter 10 covers Laying Out Your Slides in greater depth and detail: working with objects, adding and formatting text elements, inserting photos and other graphics, tables and charts, changing slide backgrounds, adding movies and sound, adding Web views, working with hyperlinks, recording narration, and adding movement and transitions.

Sharing Your Presentations is Chapter 11's topic, viewing and printing, presenting keynote slideshows, creating self-playing and hyperlinks-only slideshows, printing slides and handouts, exporting to other formats (i.e.: PowerPoint or QuickTime), and exporting to PDF or image files.

Chapter 12 is about Customizing Keynote, modifying themes or creating your own from scratch, importing and modifying master slides, and so forth.

Part 3, Appendices, contains four.

  1. Appendix A, Pages Menu by Menu, provides a reference overview of each element of Pages' menus.
  2. Appendix B: Keynote 2, Menu by Menu does likewise for that module.
  3. Appendix C is a tutorial on installing and upgrading iWork.
  4. Appendix D he is iWork on the Web - a list of Web references and resources for getting more information on using iWork. This appendix also includes a Power Users Clinic on Mac troubleshooting basics.

There is also a 13-page Index.

One criticism is that for a book about a software suite for creating slick and swish documents and presentations, the all-grayscale illustrations are a bit drab, but the lack of color helps keep the cover price down.

There is a ton of useful information in this book, and anyone who is serious about working with iWork should have a copy. While Apple does include printed manuals for Pages and Keynote 2 in the shrink-wrapped retail iWork box, they're pretty light on depth and detail and not really up to the job of helping you get the best of this program.

iWork 05: The Missing Manual is written to address readers of all technical levels, with the primary discussions directed to advanced beginners and intermediate users, with Up To Speed and Power Users Clinic sidebars expanding the scope in either direction for basic beginners and experienced Mac veterans respectively.

"iWork follows the path blazed by the iLife programs - and generations of kindergarten classes: it's important to work, play, and share with others, says Jim Elferdink, adding that "step by step instructions for using every Pages and Keynote 2 feature, including those you may not have even quite understood - let alone mastered - such as styles, hyperlinks, animations, charts, and so on."

With a list price of $24.95, the book is not expensive, and it also includes 45 days of free trial access to the O'Reilly Network's online Safari Bookshelf, where you can search thousands of top tech books, download whole chapters, cut and paste code samples, and find answers fast.

iWork '05: The Missing Manual
Jim Elferdink
First Edition: September 2005
ISBN: 0-596-10037-X
406 pages
$24.95 US, $34.95 CA, £17.50 UK

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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