Opening manuscript in Pages '09 (sigh...)

Ju
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Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:45 pm Post

I wanted to love it - but alas, when I open my MS, all the formatting is gone. No page numbers, no header, nothing than Scrivener works well with when compiled as saved as a .doc file.

I even tried compiling the MS as an rtf file, then opening in Pages '09. Nope. Same problem.

How can Apple say we can fully exchange documents with Word users if Pages won't even show headers and correct formatting?

Anyone else have this issue?

Alas, I must still use Office for Mac 2008 and all its bloatware.

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KB
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Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:04 pm Post

Scrivener's .doc files are really disguised RTF files (which Word accepts - Nisus does this, too; or at least it used to, I'm not sure with their new exporters). If you saved a Word document with headers etc, Pages would open it fine. If you opened a .doc file saved from Scrivener in Word, Word would open it fine; you could then save it and Pages would open it fine.

The big - very big - problem with Pages is that it has very limited support for RTF. The only formats it fully supports are .pages, .doc and .docx. In other words, it is only good if you want to exchange files with Word users or use Pages on its own. The limited RTF support kills Pages for me. Not just because of Scrivener's need for RTF support, but also because RTF is one of the most popular formats out there. It is very common across the Windows world, because Microsoft make it easy to create RTF documents on Windows as a non-proprietary format. I personally think that any rich text word processor or layout program worth its salt has to have good support for RTF. It allows for interaction with so many more programs, as RTF is an easy format for third-part programmers to support. DOC is difficult, because it's binary; and the DOCX and PAGES formats, whilst touted as being XML formats, are hideous. Both are zipped up bundles of files containing multiple XML documents that link back and forth between one another with a billion different attributes and namespaces.

So, I'm sighing with you. If Pages supported RTF it would fit in with a lot more workflows. Oh well. Do take the time to leave Apple feedback asking for better RTF support on their Pages feedback page, though:

http://www.apple.com/feedback/pages.html

But I wouldn't hold out much hope. Pages '09 is now the third major revision of Pages, and it still doesn't fully support what is possibly the major non-proprietary rich text format, so I'm guessing they aren't that interested in it - it would take them very little development time if they wanted to add it.

All the best,
Keith

Ju
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Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:08 pm Post

Hmm. I've done something weird then - I've compiled from Scriv in both .rtf and again as a .doc file. While Pages opens the file, the pretty title pages is skewed and all the header information (page number, title, etc) is missing.

Or is this what you mean about Pages and rtf files?

dr
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Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:40 pm Post

I think once you leave Scriv for a word processor, it's best not to try and pass files back to Scriv. You must have added your header in an external editor, right? I compiled a long draft as a DOC file and Pages accepted it with no issues. THEN I added header, title page, and all other pretties. That's the basic workflow: outline and draft in Scriv, then word-process elsewhere.

bo
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 9:22 am Post

I echo what Druid says. It's not great to export then reimport, in my experience anyway. I now do ALL editing in Scrivener and simply export a Word file for sending off to the publisher. Since mine does no electronic editing this doesn't matter to me. If they did e-editing I would deal with the returned file solely in Word or Pages (if the latter worked - it does seem to import Word comments OK).

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KB
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 9:53 am Post

Just Write - yes, that is what I meant about Pages and RTF files. It won't read the header or footer and certain other information from RTF files, so they get dropped. That is what you are seeing.

Actually, I should amend what I wrote in my previous post to agree with Druid and bodsham in that for some projects, Pages is fine. If you are writing a novel, story, article or similar, then you can just export from Scrivener as RTF, DOC or DOCX and open the file in Pages. (A note on .doc and .docx export, though: the Apple exporter messes up line spacing, it seems, so RTF is by far the best format still.) Then you can add your header and footer and other final formatting for submission - all the prettying-up stuff for which word processors are designed and Scrivener is not).

However, if you are writing something that requires footnotes, forget it - because Pages will not read RTF footnotes. It will also drop any images. My main point here is less the formatting such as headers and footers - it doesn't really matter if they get dropped - and more the fact that Pages does not import comments, footnotes or images from RTF files - all of these things get stripped when importing an RTF file into Pages - despite the fact that the RTF format itself has supported these features for at least ten years.

All the best,
Keith

Ju
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:33 pm Post

Keith, yes, that's what I thought you meant. I went back and tried a few things out between Word, Scriv, Pages, and from PC to Mac. You are so right - Pages has difficulty with various rtf files - and not just from Scriv! A couple of times, Pages moved a line from page two of a resume to page one, and one another file Pages dropped a horizontal line.

Pages did fare pretty well with one-one Word to Pages from PC to Mac tests. I used tables and art work, etc. Even sending them back to the PC and Word came out okay. PDF weren't a problem either - just RTF files.

Very strange, don't you think? RTF files are a standard and about every business uses them from time to time. I won't be giving up Word any time soon, unfortunately. I just wonder what people who don't use MS at all are doing when they come across a downloaded web doc that is really an RTF file. Case in point, a critique mb I frequent often has a crit attached as a Word doc and Pages drops all the track changes and comments. Word opens it just fine. No worries for me - like I said - I'm still using Word (sigh). But I can't see how anyone can survive in the real world with just Pages for the time being.

Maybe next rev Apple will figure that out. Thanks, everyone. It was a fun experiment.

P.S. I did get Pages to open an exported Scriv file. I forced Word to overwrite the file as a .doc file. The header was there, as were the tables. Only the page numbering was messed up which wasn't a big deal. Like I said, I'm sticking with Word for the Scriv stuff. Now, when it comes to anything else, I really like Pages. Easy, fun, pretty.

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xiamenese
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:56 pm Post

Just Write wrote:But I can't see how anyone can survive in the real world with just Pages for the time being.

I guess it has to be OpenOffice/NeoOffice to the rescue. I prefer OpenOffice to work with ... less jarring appearance, but NeoOffice handles Chinese better. So the MBP has NeoOffice and the MBA has OpenOffice. They use the same preference and other background files, so running both on one machine leads to chaos!

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Jaysen
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:12 pm Post

xiamenese wrote:
Just Write wrote:But I can't see how anyone can survive in the real world with just Pages for the time being.

I guess it has to be OpenOffice/NeoOffice to the rescue.

I have ONLY Pages on my Mac. The difference is that I am only opening or exporting simple Word docs.

I think this crux of this comes down to the basic direction Apple seems to be going with much of their offerings. If I may be so bold to suggest it, I think Apple is saying
We are building solutions for the simpler, every day user. Power users already have options. They should use those.

This Word/Pages functionality debate it a prime example.

If you look at the Apple market these days it is NOT the same as it was 5 years ago when iPod was still considered a "neat new gadget". Apple is clearly making a bold "simplify" statement and striping what many endusers don't care about out of their offerings. How may iPod toting kids need (or even understand why they need) RTF import/export?

That said I am not justifying the lack of advanced features. I am simply coming to a point of understanding that Apple seems to be saying "if you need advanced features use on of those other tools".

Then again I could be wrong. Now that I think about it for a second or two I probably am. Who knows…
Jaysen

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Ju
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:49 pm Post

Oh, to simplify things. <dreams pleasantly for a moment>

I agree, but I'd hoped for that one itty bitty thing - that Pages would be able to read rtf files and therefore, save me from MS forever...

Alas...

Okay, without Keith whacking me on the head, maybe there is a chance that Apple will release code or whatever, so that Keith can incorporate export to Pages - or a full-blown .doc file. That still wouldn't help the whole downloading a .doc file from a trusted website that has track changes though.

*double sigh*

su
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:58 pm Post

xiamenese wrote:So the MBP has NeoOffice and the MBA has OpenOffice. They use the same preference and other background files, so running both on one machine leads to chaos!


I have installed both and I haven't faced any chaos yet. What might be coming up?
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KB
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:52 pm Post

Jaysen - to me, it's not so much Pages' lack of advanced features. Pages has everything - and more - than I would ever need in a word processor. But the killer is that unless you are exchanging files with Word users, then a lot of the features it supports - images, footnotes and comments being the main ones, none of which is really an "advanced" feature for a word processor - are useless, because they get lost in RTF import and export. If Pages improved the RTF support, I could drop Word altogether, and I'd be a happy man.

As for some way of importing/exporting Pages files in the future... Well, for 2.0 I have found a hack to allow for the import of Pages files under certain circumstances. It only works on Leopard, only for Pages '08 and '09 files, and only for Pages files with "Save Preview in Document" turned off. But it's pretty ugly - it basically just imports what you see in the QuickLook window in Finder. I don't think a real importer/exporter will be coming any time soon, unless Apple provide one with their text engine as they do for other formats. I can't see it, though - they never provided one for AppleWorks, and they haven't improved the .doc importer/exporter since Tiger.

All the best,
Keith

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KB
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:01 pm Post

In addition:

Pages - I think I mentioned this above - nominally uses an XML format. (I say "nominally", simply because it actually uses many XML files and other files bundled together inside an archive.) So technically it should be possible to write an importer or exporter for the format without vast amounts of work using the Cocoa XML readers and writers, which are very good (well, it would take a lot of work, but wouldn't be impossible.) I have recently written an exporter for the .epub format and another XML-based format, and the documentation available for these formats meant that the work wasn't so much difficult or painful as just time-consuming. However, Apple don't publish the XML schemas that iWork uses; or at least, they haven't since the very first release of iWork and Pages 1.0. Here is all that is available:

http://developer.apple.com/documentatio ... ementID_62

Note, in particular, these sections:

This document does not describe the complete XML schema for either Pages 1.x or Keynote 2.x. The complete XML schema for both applications is not available and will not be made public. Nor is this document, by any stretch of the imagination, intended as a comprehensive tutorial on how to customize or extend third-party applications that rely on the schemas of each iWork application.


(Italics mine.)

Important: This document only covers the file formats for Keynote 2.x and Pages 1.x. Future versions of those products may use a different file format than the ones described here. Developers should understand that Apple cannot guarantee that the file formats described herein will be supported in those future versions of the iWork applications as they are currently supported. Changes to these file formats ought to be expected.


What madman would try to write an importer/exporter based on the format as it was three years ago which is incompletely documented and has now changed?

Grr.

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Jaysen
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:11 pm Post

KB: My point is that what you and I consider basic, such as RTF, the current Apple market considers advanced. If we take ourselves out of what we currently do, and consider what "common Joe Public" uses his Mac for, then doc/docx import is a basic required functionality as well as rich formating. On the other hand, Joey P. doesn't even know what RTF is let alone why he might use it.

I agree with you completely that Apple is giving us the bird on this front. But after considering this a bit, I am begging to wonder if their rationale isn't what I postulate above. And if it is, they are basically saying "if you want more than this go buy Word or Nessus, or Mellel or …".

I guess I am playing the devil's advocate here.

Although it does make sense from a market perspective.
Jaysen

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KB
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Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:39 pm Post

I guess I disagree with you there, though. I would think that Joe Public is more likely to be familiar with RTF than DOCX. Especially in the Windows world, the RTF format has long been a standard way of exchanging files. (Most readme files for applications on both Windows and Mac are provided as RTF, for instance.)