Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Keynote.app for OS X (iWork)

I've made a stepwise transition to Apple's iWork suite for OS X. Apple's App Store made it easy; module prices are low and I could evaluate each iWork app separately. The license allows me to install on any number of 10.6+ machines on my account. Keynote.app, for example, cost $6/machine.

I started with Numbers.app nine months ago. My needs are not great, but so far I've been pleased. Of all the apps it comes closes to its Office counterpart. Since Excel has always been Microsoft's great software achievement this is strong praise. The main competitor to Numbers.app, however, is not Microsoft. It's Google's Spreadsheet. With offline support for Google Spreadsheet Mac users have two good alternatives to Office. I'm not sure which I'll go with.

This week I switched from Nisus Writer Pro to Pages. That's a surprisingly big jump. I'd forgotten that Pages is more of an desktop publishing app than a word processor. I'm not sure how well it will work for the family. I'll post more on Pages over time.

This post though, is about Keynote.app. I'll update it in bullet form as I use it to present a lecture this week. Below are my initial impressions.

  • There's a lot of UI continuity and functional continuity with PowerPoint. My initial impression is that the base functionality is a simplified subset of PowerPoint.
  • On my machines performance is much better than Office 2008 PPT (the latter was unusable). I suspect PPT's code base is a mess on any platform.
  • Importing a relatively simple PPT took a fair bit of cleanup. Slide component alignment varied. Diagram overlays scattered.
  • Exporting to PPT worked much better than import (mercifully).
  • Applying themes to single slides or presentations is much better than PPT (big plus).
  • Bug: I was unable to italicize text on an imported PPT. Seems Keynote assigned the text an exotic font that lacked italics or bold. It's a bug because the UI implied I could italicize, there's no error when you try, and the substitution is odd. The fix was to 'View Masters', consolidate masters, and change the Master Slide font.
  • Themes made a mess of an imported PPT. I'm disappointed in the Themes -- they're often tacky. Almost Microsoft tacky.
  • Consolidating Master is well done. View Masters, if you delete one you're asked to choose another to apply. Really helped clean up an ugly PPT file.
  • The default fonts in text boxes for my imported PPT had an odd font. I had to use the Format>Advanced>Define Text for All Masters to fix it.
  • Bug: Unpredictably, when creating a new row, I get a very odd bullet point. It looks like a Satanic glyph.
  • Bug: Keynote/Lion can run into issues with window positioning and external displays. There are also weird behaviors with save/versioning. These look like a mixture of Lion and Keynote bugs.
  • The default font for presenter notes is ridiculously small. There's no UI way to change it but you can hack the theme. If you make the font large, however, you can't read it in the fixed and narrow speakers notes display -- and long notes are mess when printing handouts. I hope this is fixed in the next release; it needs real work.

Update 10/20: Exporting as PPT -> "An unknown error occurred". Right. Not the only keynote bug, but certainly a bad one. Apple doesn't do very many industrial quality apps, and this isn't one of them (yet).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think Keynote is one of Apple's best programs. I'd like to switch to Pages, but MSWord is so widely used in business. Maybe iCloud will cause me to use itbhome at least with iWorks.