Just today I fetched the trial version of Apple's iWork '08, after ordering it on-line. At 468.9 MB, the download is quite substantial.
First of all, the iWork '08 trial installation does not affect my (purchased) iWork '06. That's a good start, this will allow you to try it out with the possibility to rollback to iWork '06 easily.
Pages and Numbers don't really interest me, but Keynote is to me a fundamental tool for creating stunning presentations (to re-use Steve Job's marketing terminology) and even for creating website designs.
Below are my first findings. Bear with me, I've just tested it for an hour or so. Missing another feature? Drop a comment.
So what's new in Keynote '08?
- An alpha filter wizard, which works kind-of OK. It works well when there are clear edges between the image and the background. This may increase my productivity slightly, though, since I will have to go out to GIMP (my image editor program) less often.
- More transition- and text-effects, of which only a few, like blur will be useful to me, since I need to be careful with the eye-candy to keep my presentations looking professional.
- Actions that allow you to move, rotate, enlarge and otherwise manipulate your objects in an animation. This is to me the most compelling feature of Keynote '08. It will allow me to build more advanced presentations, with professional animations that will once again make PowerPoint-users wonder what software is used, cause it's definitely not theirs.
- Export to Flash seems to have improved, more features are now supported than in Keynote '06.
- Reflections on any objects, not just on images. Why not also allow it on text and on groups of objects?
- Proper scaling, so that two adjecent objects, that have no space in between do not suddenly show a line when the presentation is shown at a higher than standard resolution.
- More image formats to export to. Preview already supports a lot more, so why restrict Keynote to just TIFF, JPEG and PNG?
- Export sheet transitions to Flash, this was not supported in Keynote '06 either.
- Bugfix for polygons in Flash export. Some free form objects (polygons) look distorted when exported to Flash. This is a long-outstanding bug.
- Rich Web 2.0 export, like the new iPhoto supports with the web gallery feature. The Flash export feature is nice, but looks ancient compared to the new iPhoto '08 possibilities. For example, it doesn't scale at all; and the same applies to the HTML-export.
- Bugfix for color distortion in PDF export. When you have a simple transparent PNG in your Keynote presentation, you may find that when you export to PDF, the colors have changed quite a bit. This was a problem in Keynote '06 already, and persists in Keynote '08.
My conclusion: Keynote '08 offers a relatively small number of features. But although there are just a few, these make Keynote even more powerful than it was, while keeping usability at an outstanding level.
Perhaps some bugs were squashed, but not the ones I reported. Close interaction with customers is definitely an area where Apple can (and should) make improvements.
Updated (August 13): Here's some more feedback:
- good: the Office 2007 file formats are supported;
- bad: the OpenDocument file formats are not supported;
- bad: Keynote '08 seems quite a bit slower at saving big presentations than Keynote '06.
- good: zooming is faster than in iWork '06;
- bad: reflections of overlapping images do not overlap, they blend;
- bad: properties cannot be set on grouped objects, even if the properties apply to all contained objects;
- bad: image clipping cannot be triggered with a key press (for rotation this is possible by using the Cmd-key on a corner handle);
- bad: when setting a radius (e.g. for a shadow) by using the mouse-controlled widget, it typically skips the most logical settings (45, 90, 135, 180, etc. degrees);
- very bad: when adjusting an image, the preview is not exactly the same as the end result - this is a regression since iWork '06.