Praise for Keynote

Recently, I had a need to present some slides at a conference. I immediately began coming up with reasons why I couldn't take my Dell from work, and had to take my MacBook.

I certainly didn't want to take two computers, but my work assigned Dell is a steaming pile. The battery falls out if you hold it at the wrong angle. It has no integrated Wi-Fi and the PC Card adapter rarely works. The power supply is gigantic, heavy, and about 10 feet beyond what I typically need. It has no Bluetooth. The whole experience of using it is crap. Can you tell I didn't want to take it?

While working on my presentations, I worked a bit from home. I found that Keynote has fantastic support for PowerPoint files. Everything just worked. The bullets were right. The transistions were right. Saving back out to PowerPoint was perfect. It was a joy. The problem was, my 30 day trial was running out at a pace that would leave me without Keynote on the day I needed to present, or so I thought. iWork is not software that I have a frequent need for. I use Office daily at work, but I don't use Macs at work (usually), so I have little need for iWork.

Knowing that Keynote was set to expire, I tried OpenOffice and the NeoOffice variant. You know, I love what they are doing, and I really want it to continue, but Impress, the presentation tool, didn't work that well with the PowerPoint presentation. First, it runs sloooooww. You can see it in the slide transitions (which I hate, but were highly suggested by the folks running the conference). Second, it randomly changed bullets to different shapes throughout my presentation and I couldn't for the life of me get them to change. I was not happy. I was going to have to leave my MacBook at home.

A few days before the trip, Keynote expired. Wait, what's this. Rather than the mess that an Office trial leaves behind, I find that Keynote is telling me it will still work, it just won't save or print.

Yeah, right! I think. Surely it will disable presentation mode, or stick trial in the output, or just quit after 20 minutes or something. I decided to practice my presentation in Keynote and see where it would shut off, but it never did. It just worked. Everything worked, except for saving and printing, just like it told me. Even the magnificent presenter mode still worked.

Life was good. I could take my MacBook. My presentations were ready to rock, so I wasn't real worried about the no-save limitation. I figured if worse came to worse, I could edit in NeoOffice, screwed up bullets and all, and still present with Keynote.

Luckily I didn't need to do that. The presentations went great, and part of the success goes to Keynote. The presenter mode is amazing. I love having a ticking clock of my time. I love seeing the next slide. It makes for slick segues. It makes you a better presenter.

So why didn't I just buy iWork? Well, spending $79 on software that I'd probably only use for work gives me pause. Getting work to pay for software that would only be used on my personal equipment is also a tough sell. That said, I think Keynote, and Apple, treated me pretty well here. They could have just shut down after the iWork trial was up, but they didn't. They allowed me to get value from their software. They allowed reasonable evaluation terms. I think that deserves some payback. I will buy iWork, but I'm going to wait until the '07 release, just to get a little more for my buck.

Keynote, thank you.

Finally, a related story. During my presentation, one of the folks from the audience commented that he noticed I was using "an Apple" and wanted to be sure that I'd provide the slides "in a format the rest of us can use". I politely informed him that I was, in fact, showing a PowerPoint presentation, so there would be no worries about reading the presentation. Apple's marketing department has some work to do. These were highly skilled techinical professionals, and many of them didn't know that the days of Mac<->PC compatibility wars began fading long ago. I imagine I would have blown the guy's mind had I been presenting from an XP partition thanks to Boot Camp.


Jason said...

Somebody switched to the new blogger...very nice.

My experiences with OpenOffice have always been exactly as you describe. I have pretty much given up on them.

It sounds like Apple has the definition of trialware down. It is meant to actually try out the software as much as possible to convince you to buy it.

It's truly amazing, but from experience still very expected, that there are so many people that think OS choice is still vitally important. It's all just software people, especially you software developers. At least he wasn't referring to the whole company as "Mac", as I saw in many of the recent Apple discussions after their announcements.

Ben said...

Sounds pretty cool that you can actually use it. I downloaded Adobe Elements for trial this past summer. Adobe can learn quite a bit from Apple. Once the trial ran out, it became nothing more than a non functioning memory hog that started everytime I booted up my PC. Oh, and the project I worked on for my brothers wedding. I had no ability to open the work unless I proceeded to buy the program. Needless to say I broke down, but really, I would have like some freedom as you discussed. Remember the days of Winzip? "You are on Day 394 of your 30 day trial". And it would still work. Maybe Apple is starting up an old trend again?