Numbers, Revisited

OK, here’s my second opinion on iWork ’08. It’s incredibly good, just frustratingly imperfect.

As I think I mentioned, I have two “killer documents” that I try to work with in every word processor and spreadsheet that comes along. The document is a complete set of role-playing rules, featuring complex table styles and cross-references.

Pages comes so close to handling this well I can taste it, but not quite there yet. Still, the only program to ever handle this document gracefully has been Adobe Framemaker (formerly just Framemaker). It’s kind of hard to complain that a simple word processor aimed at folks writing family newsletters to send out at Christmas can’t handle a long, hideously complex document effortlessly.

Second, Numbers is annoyingly missing some features such as multiple heading rows and vertical or angled column headings that would just be thrilling, but I’ve managed to use it to implement a working character sheet (as in fully automated) in about two hours, and rewrite my entire magic system (including 300 or so mix-and-match spells) in a couple of afternoons. Not too shabby.

I might note that Word and Excel are equally flawed in their handling of both documents, harder to use, and quite a bit pricier. Oh and slower and not yet Universal Binary.