Office/iWorks/Office Compatible comparisons

Discussion in 'iPad General Discussions' started by wayneborean, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. wayneborean

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    iPF Novice

    Jul 7, 2011
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    A while back there was some discussion about Office for the iPad (way before it was available). Since then Microsoft has made parts of Office available, and there is Apple's iWorks suite, and several other Office applications. For the purpose of this thread I'm ignoring viewers, what I want to talk about is exactly what to people use to create documents on the iPad?

    I write a lot of short stories, and I use Pages myself. It works well with Pages on my Mac, and also LibreOffice - I've found that Pages has some issues when producing .DOC and .DOCX files, which is what a lot of editors prefer, so I use LibreOffice for that, but Pages for all of my writing. It comes down to a matter of taste - I find that working in Pages is easier, and faster than writing in LibreOffice. I don't use Microsoft Office because it messed me up one too many times, and I value my productivity (but that was over ten years ago, so I have no idea what the current version of Office is like).

    I don't touch spreadsheets or presentations, don't need to, so I can't comment on Apple's spreadsheet and presentation software for the iPad.

    So what do you use, and why?
  2. twerppoet

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    iPad Legend

    Jan 8, 2011
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    These days I feel most text is better off created and stored as plain text (.txt). When you commit a story or article to a specific format like iWorks or Office, you risk it becoming difficult, or impossible, to access years down the road; while plain text is likely to be accessible for as long as computers exist. The format is just that vanilla and, most importantly, not owned by anyone.

    The only time I use a full word processor is when I'm ready to produce the final result, with formatting. Even then, I'm only using a full word processor when the formatting goes beyond the basics of headers, bold, italics, etc. Excluding experiments, the only thing I've used Pages for in the last couple of years has been to make lost pet and garage sale flyers. It's the layout tools I'm interested in, not the text creation.

    If I want simple formatting I use an RTF (Rich Text Format) app, or if I'm thinking longevity I'll write it using Markdown.

    Markdown is a way of specifying simple formatting in a plain text document. Simpler than HTML, it includes thing like putting asterisk around words you want to be italicized, and pound signs in front of headers. Because it's all plain text the document remains readable. When you want to see the formatting WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) you can convert it using a Markdown capable editor, or run it through a script.

    The Markdown editor I use is Byword. The best book I'v seen that describes Markdown and how it is used is Markdown, by David Sparks & Eddie Smith. Neither is necessary. The whole point is that any text editor can be used, and the formatting is simple to learn. There are dozens of sites that will give you the basics in a page or two.

    In my opinion the hay day of word processors is over. Unless you are writing something that needs the raw power and tools of something like Office Word, you're using too much tool for the job, and tying it to a proprietary format that may cause problems down the road.

    Even if you do need the tools, in most cases it would seem better to write the body of your work in something simpler, and less distracting; then import the text into the appropriate tool for the final tweaking and output.

    Now, the disclaimer. I'm not a professional writer. I just have opinions about software and how to get things done. In most cases it formed by reading about people who are writers, thinking about it a bit, and agreeing with the parts that make sense to me. But, if you are a writer, then the most important thing is what works for you. Which is also what most writers say when talking about how they do their thing.
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