AppleWorks Lives! Help Desk #4

When I first started writing this column in July I said we weren’t going to strictly do a help letters column. I say we, of course, because without your letters there is no help. This one’s going to be more of a commentary, partly because the letters are a bit thin this month (need help? click here!) and partly because an idea popped in my head. Something that’s been bugging me for a while.

AppleWorks 6 has been my main productivity application ever since I switched from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X. I also have Microsoft Office 2004, but it doesn’t have a database and FileMaker Pro is too expensive, and overkill, for an individual. The only reason I have Office 2004 is because “everybody” has it. I get documents emailed to me from the city (I’m on the Planning Commission) in Word format, and from the schools. People always ask for everything in Word format. I only use it when I have to. It can’t replace AppleWorks, and something needs to.

AppleWorks has been my primary productivity application since version 1.0, originally named ClarisWorks, was released in late 1991. At the time I was using MacWrite II for word processing, SuperPaint for drawing and painting, a little known, weak spreadsheet called CellMate, and no database. I couldn’t afford the more expensive software like Microsoft Word & Adobe Illustrator. When I saw everything that ClarisWorks could do for the price of MacWrite II I jumped. Finally I had a decent spreadsheet that did more than I needed. I could do a database if I wanted to. A draw module almost as good as MacDraw II. All this and the word processor was nearly as powerful as MacWrite II. It also included a communications terminal, but I was already using ZTerm.

The tight integration was unheard of at the time, but is now taken for granted by AppleWorks users. Not only could you have a spreadsheet document, but you could put a spreadsheet frame in a word processing or draw document. Or a draw frame in a spreadsheet, and so on. Using text frames in a drawing document provided PageMaker-like functions. Anyone who still uses AppleWorks 6 knows what I’m talking about. 15 years after its debut as ClarisWorks, no other Mac OS X application is as versatile as AppleWorks 6.

On January 7, 2003, Apple introduced the Keynote 1.0 presentation package, 3 years to the day after AppleWorks 6. This was the first step, although no one knew it at the time, in a long and slow process to replace AppleWorks. Pages 1.0 was introduced as the word processing part of iWork ’05 (along with Keynote 2.0) two years later on January 11, 2005. Apple billed iWork as the eventual successor to, but not immediate replacement for, AppleWorks 6. This was the official beginning of the end for AppleWorks, but there are still missing pieces.

What I depend on AppleWorks for the most now is a spreadsheet for my major finances, and a database that keeps track of all my software. iWork currently has no database capabilities and no real spreadsheet functions, although iWork ’06 did add the ability to turn tables into limited mini spreadsheets. I don’t do as much word processing as I used to, and I don’t do much page layout either so Pages hasn’t appealed to me yet. Email has replaced most of what I used to use word processing for. iWork also doesn’t have draw or paint applications. The drawing tools in Pages make up for some of that, and there are inexpensive graphics applications such as GraphicConverter and ColorIt! that are far superior to the weak AppleWorks paint module.

For iWork to replace AppleWorks, it is imperative that Apple create database and spreadsheet components or a database/spreadsheet combo. These applications must be able to open their existing AppleWorks counterparts just as Keynote and Pages can. This is especially important for databases, which have design layout capabilities like FileMaker Pro. AppleWorks 6 word processing documents can be exported out in other formats or opened by Pages. Presentations can’t be exported but can be opened by Keynote. Spreadsheet, draw, and paint documents can be exported. Databases can only be exported as ASCII text, which loses the layout and all the graphical elements such as buttons, menus, and the multimedia field (which I use).

No application I am aware of can open an AppleWorks 6 database other than AppleWorks 6, and no other inexpensive database application has the layout capabilities of AppleWorks 6 and the availability of a graphics/audio/video field. No rumors exist about an iWork database application but a spreadsheet, referred to as Numbers or Charts, has been talked about for over a year. Hopefully there is a secret database application as well for iWork ’07, or maybe the spreadsheet will have a layout mode & can also be used as a database.

AppleWorks needs to be replaced. Microsoft Office, unless you can get it for the education pricing, is too expensive for average users and has no database. Office is meant for businesses and iWork needs to develop for the lower end of the market. The final iBook G4s and iMac G5s included AppleWorks 6 on the bundled installation discs, but it was not pre-installed as it had been. The transition to Intel based Macs saw AppleWorks 6 disappear from the install discs. AppleWorks 6 is still available for sale (Apple hasn’t discontinued it yet) and runs fine on Intel based Macs, even though it hasn’t been updated in nearly 3 years. Having gone so long without an update, it’s a little disconcerting there is still no clear replacement from Apple or anyone else. Hopefully iWork ’07 will change all that.

Moving iPhoto

My wife’s iMac is two years old, and the hard disk is completely full. Lots of photos in iPhoto. She bought an external hard drive, 160GB, to hold all the overflow, but when she copies the photo folders intact to the external, all the info gets lost in iPhoto. There seems to be no way for iPhoto to be redirected to the same folders/files on the external hard drive. All the albums she’s made have lost their content photos, crops and all.

How can we move our pictures to the external hard drive without losing the albums and other info?. The built-in help is no help here, nor does this issue seem to be mentioned in any of the Apple forums. Most of her internal hard drive is taken up by these photos, and she seems to be stuck with that configuration. Any ideas?

Roger in California

Hi Roger,

I keep my iPhoto library on a FireWire hard disk so my work & home Macs can use just one together. This will work as long as she hasn’t deleted anything, just copied. It’s very simple to do:
1. Copy the iPhoto Library (/Users/yourname/Pictures/iPhoto Library) to anywhere on another volume.
2. Delete the original, or move it to the desktop to be a little safer.
3. Launch iPhoto. Since iPhoto can’t find the original, it will throw up a dialog asking you to find it or create a new one. Click the Choose Library… button & show iPhoto the new location.

4. If you did not delete the original in step 2, do do once you are sure iPhoto is working ok with the moved library to free up space on your startup disk.

This can also be done with iTunes and Virtual PC (move the disk image file, then put an alias to it back into the Virtual PC List folder), and probably other programs as well.


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