Switch Week : Export your iWorks documents.

Feb 22

You might not know it, but one of the greatest ways to sell an application is not only by making it a very good application, but also by using an enclosed file format. Its funny, but the majority of decisions in small businesses of whether to migrate to a newer version of office, is fuelled by the argument that “other people use office an its needs to be compatible”. That way a commonly present, closed file format used by a certain number of users ..ensures long time sales of your product.

iWork

With Pages Numbers and Keynote, Apple chose their own file formats to use. That also creates kind of a “legacy” problem. Part of that problem is that you need to be able to open / share your documents with other iWork suite users and part of that is that you need the iWorks suite to be able to open your own documents. Being able to break free from that locked in loop gives you the flexibility not only to exchange documents with others who do NOT have the iWorks suite, but also to make sure you can open those documents on your other computers that aren’t macs.

How to do it.
iWorks documents don’t ‘slide’ very well across operating systems. iWorks suite is capable of opening .doc .xls .ppt .rtf and .txt formats from other programs like the Microsoft Office suite and Openoffice (beware : Open document format is NOT supported). The other way around is a lot harder : No applications outside the iWorks suite are capable of opening and editing Apples closed iWork suite file formats.

What is the workaround.

Luckily there are the EXPORT options that allow you to ‘export’ your iWorks spreadsheet, document or presentation to a more open file format so you can open them up with non-iWorks applications.
supported formats – suggested formats

Pages documents can be exported to.

  • PDF
  • DOC
  • RTF
  • TXT (not all versions of iWorks support this)

Depending on the file format you export to you will loose more functionalities and layout options. The PDF export gives you a document with all the layout but without the ability to edit, the other file formats have less and less of the .pages layout and markup options in favor of being able to edit the text.

Numbers spreadsheets can be exported to : 

  • PDF
  • XLS
  • CSV

The same is true here, the farther you go down the list the less functionalities you can export. PDF gives you a read only document, XLS gives you the ability to open and edit the document in applications like Excel, Google Drive and Open Office. You might still have your graphs and pie charts but they won’t look as nice. With CSV you export your spreadsheet to a flat file with all your data separated by comma’s.

Keynote presentations can be exported to : 

  • PDF
  • PPT
  • Quicktime
  • HTML (not all versions of Keynote support this)
  • Images

With Keynote you can export your presentation to static images, or a pdf document or to a Quicktime movie giving your viewers the total presentation experience. Only when you export to .ppt will you be able to edit your presentation slides. When you do the latter you will loose some of the mark-up or effects of your presentation.

You win some you loose some.
With an “export” you go down to the lowest common denominator of functionalities between the different applications. Whatever .pages can do with a document that Word cannot .. Will be lost. Most of the times your documents will still be editable but they need “touching up” after the exports. Other times you might find that certain transitions or effects that are unique to the iWorks suite are completely gone or do not work.

Be open in the choice of your applications.
So if you don’t want to go live in proprietary-file format-purgatory we suggest using “open” applications as much as possible. Openoffice and Google Docs are largely geared towards cross platform availability AND the ability to be compatible with many other ‘office like’ applications. If you have to share your documents with others, be polite and use “open” file formats like .pdf .doc .odf and even .rtf .html or .txt. This way you assure that the other party can read (and if needed, edit) your document without having to run to the store to buy iWorks (and quite possibly a new Mac). Using open filestandards shows “digital maturity” and ensures that you can still open that essay that you wrote on your old mac .. on your brand new Chromebook, Windows Tablet or Linux PC.

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