I’m lucky enough to be able to play with those three applications on my Mac. Pages and OpenOffice are both native application for Mac while Microsoft Word is a Windows application that I have to run under Parallels Desktop. It’s been two years since the first time I used them and I think it’s the time to say that cross platform compatibility is my biggest issue. It doesn’t matter what application you use to create the document, if you want your receivers to get the same feels, looks, and even effects you have to make sure that they use the same application. Or, the other way around.
The hardest part of all is to make sure that numbering format, indentation, and graph and data format is all same within those three applications. Somehow, there will always be formatting loss if you export them i.e. Pages and OpenOffice) to doc format (I’m afraid that most of my clients and customers are using Word, so let’s assume that doc is a standard format on this matter).
Personally I prefer Pages for its user friendly interface and easy usage that let you focus on the work to complete. But there is no use of a complete work when at the end you realize that your client can’t get the report as you want it to be. Again, that’s the main problem. And you absolutely can’t tell your clients that they use a “different” application. That won’t work.
In an effort to overcome this problem, I always (at least for the last one year) use minimum formatting option. A plain text with standard format is always welcome in every application in every platform. That means standard fonts, standard numbering (though it still has big issue on Word and OpenOffice), justified alignment, and manual heading. For graph and data insertion, I always use picture instead of graph or data itself. In this case, those abundant features are useless. And it’s not just in Pages. The abundant features lie within OpenOffice is also useless.
Having this applied for almost a year, I’m beginning to think what use of those other highly-sophisticated-features lies within each application. How many of you really use other than simple standard feature to complete your work? Why can’t they focus on compatibility and inter-operability to mitigate this effect?
I believe that this is going to be a major issue for the following years, especially when online collaboration replaces the way we work. Compatibility is my highest consideration point. Google, which I consider as competitor in office productivity application with their Google Docs, has an advantages on this matter. However, Indonesia won’t be ready for full online collaboration. Offline is still an option for Indonesia user. So I think Google should also consider this compatibility point, especially during conversion to another format.