If you read the masthead (and you’d be surprised how many people don’t) you’ll see that I’m pretty pro-Apple. I actually like to think I’m more “pro-good consumer electronics”, most of which are produced by Apple. Apple also has a number of excellent software offerings. One that had made an impact on me early in its life cycle was Keynote, the software that allegedly grew from the tools Jobs himself used in Apple Keynote presentations. To give you an idea of how highly I value Keynote, it’s the only app in Apple’s iWork Suite that I will insist on using without compromise. Because Microsoft basically ruined the last 25 years of productivity software in the business world, its corporate zombies still insist that Word and Excel are the standard in the workplace and so I find myself having to default to those programs most of the time. But Keynote just stomps the balls off of PowerPoint so hard that I refuse to use such a vastly inferior product at all. If I’m doing a presentation for you, your options are a Keynote file or a PDF export.
Among the many, many things that Apple announced yesterday, they also introduced new versions of both its iLife and iWork suites. The latter has not received a major update since iWork 09. And with this update to iWork come the words I thought I’d never type.
I think Apple blew it with Keynote 6.
I know, I know. When I read stories of “pros” having to move from Final Cut Pro 7 to FCP X, I was among those of you who laughed at their guttural cries of anguish. “Stick to 7 or suck it up,” I said, probably aloud. And this may be what this is. But I’ll state my case and – well – I’ll either stick to Keynote 5 or suck it up.
Why You’d Want to Use Keynote 6
There’s an “Apple’s cloud services blow goats” joke in here somewhere, but that ground is already well-trampled. Suffice it to say that cattle penning a consumer into a software upgrade – even a free one – is very un-Apple if it breaks such a major piece of its compatibility with the prior version of the software. But because the software is from Apple, moving to the latest-and-greatest usually means you’re getting a better verion of what you have. Usually.
What the Fuck Did You Do With My Format Bar?
Users of iOS 7 will immediately recognize the similarities between Keynote 6 for Mac and Apple’s apps in iOS 7: a diminished use of gradients, shadows and a snappy primary color palette. Personally, the first thing I noticed was the absence of the Format Bar:
Thinking that maybe this was a setting in preferences I clicked back in 2010 or so, I went into settings and…nothing. Apple scrubbed the Format Bar. Maybe, I thought, I can get back some of those Format Bar settings by customizing the toolbar. I quick right-click on the toolbar provided no satisfaction: Apple removed the option to customize the toolbar.
I admit I was starting to get a little hot.
WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO WITH MY INSPECTOR?!
Apple has a pretty cool way of palletizing tools in iWork, and it’s actually a tool that persists through many Apple-made programs, which gives users a sense of familiarity across apps. It’s called the Inspector and its job is to offer a static set of tools that allow users to do everything from rotate a shape to edit a QuickTime event (yeah – I never used that one either). In Keynote, there are 10, all ending in “Inspector” if you mouse over them. From left to right they are: Document, Slide, Build, Text, Graphic, Metrics, Table, Chart, Hyperlink and QuickTime.
I’ll just get right to it: there is no Inspector in Keynote 6.
So what tool is powerful enough to replace not only the Format Bar, but the Inspector as well? Let me give you a hint: if you’ve used the latest version of Keynote on iOS, it will look familiar:
Yes, ladies and gentlemen: Apple nerfed its OS X version of Keynote to better-resemble its touchscreen cousin. The point at which I finally realized the detachable Inspector was gone for good was when I invoked the old “Opt-Cmd-I” and saw that it now hid/showed this new contextual sheet – the one that has replaced the venerable Inspector.
Now I was really hot.
Having had some time to think about what I really hate about the stripping of the Format Bar and the new iOS-style, contextual sheets in Keynote 6 replacing the Inspector, it boils to this: in Keynote 5, you knew where to click – always.
- The Format Bar was the contextual tool for basic tasks. It would adapt depending on what you were doing: click on a text box, you could modify font, style, point, color, justification, spacing, etc.; click on an object and you could control fill, opacity and stroke of the border. The key to modifying 80% of your content is held in that slender bar.
- The Inspector was the catch-all for any modification one needed. Under the Metrics Inspector, in addition to the tools in the Format Bar, you have your size, position and rotation functions. If you click a text box, rotation is grayed out, which was an action consistent across Inspector functions. If you couldn’t apply a function to a selection, it was grayed out, but it was always there – in the same place – all the time.
And if the “Contextual Inspector” was just disorienting depending on what you clicked, that’d be one thing. Some of the re-worked sheets are downright confusing. Check out what happens if you change the font in a text box – any text box:
Why is this changed marked in such a curious way, you might ask yourself? What you’re doing is potentially changing the style sheet for the document. If you click on “Update”, you’re actually updating the default style sheet. I don’t use style sheets much, but I’m sure many people do. If we were to poll users, I’m confident the stylesheetists would be in the vast minority of all users. Sticking a prompt to change the default font of the style sheet – when all I want is a goddamned text box – is fucking irritating. And don’t get me started on the 2 instances of the same word, “Style”, in the Contextual Inspector. It has both its own header tag and it’s a sub-heading under the “Text” header tag. Jesus Christ, Apple.