With yesterday's update of the iWork suite for OS X, Apple reintroduced several AppleScript functionalities that had been removed in October, and brought new scripting features to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote as well.
Ben Waldie published an overview of the changes at Macworld, noting that the AppleScript improvements aren't only focused on additions: Apple is now using a consistent AppleScript dictionary that should allow scripts to be easily reused across all iWork apps.
What’s especially interesting is that these suites are consistent from app to app. In other words, since all the apps have certain features in common, the same exact AppleScript terminology is used to script those features. This is huge: It means that if you write a script that builds a table or chart in Numbers, you can change the app name in your code to Keynote and your script should “just work” in Keynote. Want to add an image, replace some text, change the volume of every movie in a document? The code you write is the same for any of these tasks, regardless of which app you’re targeting.
When Apple relaunched iWork last year, they stressed how the apps had been rebuilt with full 64-bit support and a new unified file format. The return of AppleScript in iWork seems to highlight – as Waldie notes – a collaboration between different teams at Apple to improve consistency between apps, data exchange, and scripting features.
It took six months, but AppleScript appears to be alive and well at Apple. It may not be a priority anymore, and there's no denying that Apple put power users through a rough transition last year, but the new scripting capabilities of the iWork apps are fairly impressive and it sounds like there's still room for improvement.
New website launched today by Otto the Automator after the release of iWork updates that improved AppleScript support considerably:
The whole point of using a productivity suite is to be, well… productive. And the more time you invest in performing repetitive or complex processes, the less productive and creative you become. The reimagined iWork is designed to eliminate the drudgery, with elements, tools, and media libraries, shared by every application in the suite. And now there’s one more thing they have in common: automation with AppleScript.
The site already has a detailed explanation of the updated AppleScript dictionaries (Pages sections, for instance) for iWork, as well as scripts. Here's one to transform data from Numbers in a vertical bar chart on a new slide in Keynote; this one will create and email encrypted PDF files generated from a Pages template.
Apple seems to have listened to the power user community and there's lots of AppleScript goodness in the new iWork for OS X. I'm looking forward to knowing more about new features that were added to the dictionaries, and not just the ones that have been brought back.
Check out the iWork Automation website here.
In a series of updates rolled out today across iCloud.com, the App Store, and the Mac App Store, Apple updated its iWork suite of apps with design changes in the document editor, new templates, improved Retina display support, and several individual enhancements to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
On iCloud.com, the three web apps (which were last updated in January) have all received improved Retina display support and the possibility of opening documents directly from links in iCloud Mail. The document editor's design has been refreshed, and documents shared from iCloud.com can now be set to a view-only mode that won't allow recipients to edit them; previously, shared documents could always be edited by multiple users with access to a document's link.
Apple brought specific changes to each web app as well, such as improved popup menu support in Numbers and new templates, better text wrap, and the possibility to edit charts in imported documents in Pages. Read more
In an update released earlier today, Apple brought various design changes and feature additions to iWork for iCloud, the company's suite of iWork applications for web browsers available at iCloud.com. Today's update (the first since November 2013) focuses on collaboration, editing, Accessibility improvements, and bug fixes.
All of Apple's three web apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) have been refreshed with an iOS 7-inspired design that Apple first introduced to iCloud.com last year. The new design, however, has only been applied to the apps' document libraries for now, as the document editors retain the service's old user interface. From the main screen, it's now possible to view a list of shared documents you have access to by clicking on the clock icon in the top toolbar, which will display a "Shared with Me" popover, listing shared documents. The three apps have also received support for sharing documents protected with passwords, a feature that will be added to iWork's OS X and iOS counterparts as well.
The same new features were also added in terms of editing: keyboard shortcuts for object manipulation and support for floating tables (with formatting) are now available on iCloud.com, alongside other app-specific changes such as endnote editing in imported documents for Pages, or text flowing to adjacent cells in Numbers.
Apple first introduced iWork for iCloud as beta in October 2013, when the company also unveiled the next generation of iWork apps for OS X -- both of which were met with widespread criticism. Following the launch of the new iWork suite, Apple confirmed that it was listening to its users and promised to bring back old features to the Mac apps while rolling out updates to its iWork for iCloud public beta.
You can read the changelog of today's iWork for iCloud update below. Read more
Michael D. Shear compares Apple's Pages to Microsoft Word at The New York Times. Before you begin yawning and close the tab, let me say that I liked the angle Shear used – instead of pointing out the advanced features that Apple removed (what I have also done), he considers Pages for normal people who don't care about AppleScript and are typically fine with the basic formatting tools.
This bit about iCloud struck me as relevant:
The new version of Pages introduces an all-new sharing option, powered by the company’s iCloud service, that works remarkably well. Type in a person’s email address, click send, and that person receives a link to your document. When the link is clicked, the document opens in a web browser that looks like a fully functioning Pages application. (My mom didn’t even notice the difference.) The recipient doesn’t have to have Pages installed or have an iCloud account. It even makes Mac-PC sharing easy. The new version runs just fine in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari on a Windows PC.
This is a solid point (emphasis mine). People like Shear's mom and my folks don't know the differences between “native” and “web” apps. Pages is Pages. Will they notice it's Pages in the browser with a URL? Probably, but I guess a good percentage of people will just call it “Pages” or “the shared Pages”.
Here's to hoping Apple will iterate on the web product quickly – the ease of sharing a document is indisputable, but it needs to be reliable and better integrated with every version of “Pages”.
MacRumors' Jordan Golson:
On the Mac, Keynote gained the same new transitions as on iOS, while Numbers and Pages received new toolbar customization options and other bug fixes.
These first updates come 15 days after Apple promised they would restore old iWork features, and they are part of "some of the features" Apple said are coming back in the next 6 months.
Apple responds to iWork criticism:
The new iWork applications—Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—were released for Mac on October 22nd. These applications were rewritten from the ground up to be fully 64-bit and to support a unified file format between OS X and iOS 7 versions, as well as iWork for iCloud beta.
These apps feature an all-new design with an intelligent format panel and many new features such as easy ways to share documents, Apple-designed styles for objects, interactive charts, new templates, and new animations in Keynote.
In rewriting these applications, some features from iWork ’09 were not available for the initial release. We plan to reintroduce some of these features in the next few releases and will continue to add brand new features on an ongoing basis.
I'm glad I didn't believe Apple was a company that didn't care about advanced users anymore (as the narrative goes in some corners of the Internet these days). I still think that Apple should avoid this kind of software launches (no criticism is better than criticism, after all), but I'll take promised features over nothing. If Apple can't afford to ship more complete rewrites on day one (and it's not like Apple didn't think this would happen), being communicative about future changes is obviously better than silence (and we have plenty of precedents).
AppleScript “improvements” have been announced for Numbers and Keynote, but not for Pages (who's going to tell Pierre Igot?). Seems like a curious omission.
But this whole issue unveils a more fundamental problem: by neglecting AppleScript support in iWork apps, Apple underserves customers who would otherwise use their products - not just big companies with IT departments, but freelance workers who want to save time, small and medium-sized businesses that benefit from workflow automation tools, and others. AppleScript may be techy, but it's pretty democratic - anyone who wants to use it should be able to use it.
I don't buy the idea that, because they are a “rewrite”, the new iWork apps can't have AppleScript. As Peter says, an automation tool that freelancers and small businesses relied upon is gone, and Apple isn't providing an alternative. Unless you keep the old iWork apps installed.
Perhaps today's most interesting announcements weren't new iPads or Macs, but Apple's range of software. It's been a while since the iWork suite of apps have received updates on the desktop, and iLife apps such as iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand looked outdated as soon as iOS 7 arrived on iOS devices in September. You're probably wonder what the skinny is around all the new apps and whether you qualify to get those apps for free. This won't be an exhaustive overview, but ask and you shall receive.