MacDirectory Magazine

Spring-Summer 2008 (#37)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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148 MacDirectory CLOSER LOOK OFFICE 2008 > THINKING OUTSIDE THE CUBICLE Microsoft's Office 2008 is one of the last major application suites to make the move to the Intel platform. It seems like half of the Office users would have been content with a Universal Binary port of Office 2004 and the rest were afraid that the new release would suffer from the same of interface upheaval as Office 2007 for Windows. Quite remarkably, Microsoft's Mac Business Unit, the notably independent-minded group responsible for the Office Suite, delivered a set of applications with a familiar yet clean interface, some ingenious and actually useful new features and, of course, a few bugs and annoyances not untypical of an early release. Even though the installer does a good job of transferring settings and style sheets, your custom template may need some tweaking to get them to work with Office's new Open XML-based file formats. That brings up challenge for Office users, regardless of the platform. We're now living in a world of two significantly different file formats for common Office docs and a slew of new, advanced features that simply don't translate to older versions. You'll need to pay attention to 2008's compatibility-checker to exchange files with users of previous versions. Elements of Style Office 2008's biggest changes apply suite- wide and represent a real improvement in the look, feel and continuity of the programs. In general, the Office interface is a good deal simpler and cleaner than most previous versions. For example, the Preferences panel now has the look and feel of OS X's System Preferences and is very easy to navigate. One of the slickest new features available throughout the suite is the toolbox. This takes the outboard formatting panel of previous versions to some incredible new places. A row of tabs at the top of the toolbar selects the mode of the palette (formatting, reference tools, scrapbooks, objects, etc.). The palette flips over in a Widget-like move and lets you set defaults and options for the selected mode. To put it mildly, working with graphical objects has never been easy in Office. Office 2008 has done a complete about- face and graphics have become one of the suite's strongest suits. SmartArt Graphics offers a sizable set of easily customized objects designed to illustrate information, processes and organization. The objects get their smarts from the ease with which they are edited. Add, remove, promote, demote to your heart's content. The Elements Gallery is another feature available in nearly all the Office programs. Even though it bears a resemblance to Office 2007's oft-maligned Ribbon, the Mac implementation proves to be exceptionally useful and thankfully unobtrusive. On the Mac, it's a GUI tool to add and revise elements like cover pages, charts, WordArt and the like and is hidden when unused. The Right Word One of the best features of Word 2008 is that it has much the same look and feel of earlier versions. You can sit down and start being productive pretty much from the start. What is possibly the most significant new feature is the Publishing Layout View, essentially Microsoft Publisher ported to the Mac as a component of Word. This mode adds the ability to set up master pages, picture placeholders and flow text from column to column or page to page. It may lack some of the elegance of Apple's Pages, but is a relatively painless way to coexist in a primarily Windows shop. Another addition that will make students extraordinarily happy is the addition of a WORDS AND IMAGES BY RIC GETTER

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