iWork – first look

First impressions of Apple’s entry into the world of web-based office applications & collaboration – joining the still-ropey Google Docs/Apps and the vapourware Microsoft Live – it’s slick but limited for collaboration.

You can share docs online and get comments from others, but you can’t work as a group on a doc. Only Google Apps is any good at that, as you’re always working with the single online version of a doc, but the price is severely limited functionality.

Merging the power of desktop apps and the collaboration control of online apps will need some very clever thinking – things like checking docs out to edit them on the desktop, working off virtual network drives, etc will require a lot from the users. Maybe a Google Docs browser plug-in that straddles the desktop/online divide?


  • you get 1GB of online file storage, to which you can upload new or updated copies of office documents created on your desktop; the desktop and online files are separate, which is easy to understand
  • uploading a doc is done when you share it with someone by emailing them a link to it
  • your colleagues need a (free) apple account
  • the online docs are not editable, but you can add notes; this avoids problems with version control etc
  • to edit a document that’s been shared with you online, you download it as an iWork or MS Office document
  • MS Office docs use the old 2003 format, not the 2007 one? Why on earth…? You also lose the comments, at least from Keynote/online presentations
  • there’s no obvious way to upload the edited version of a doc you downloaded (unless you were the original sharer of it)

We’ll be providing IT support for iWork at Conosco soon…