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iWork 13 — A Huge Regression

Posted on October 22, 2013
Filed Under Applescript, iWork, Reviews | 7 Comments

So after waiting all day all the iWork Mavericks updates showed up in the MAS. With great trepidation I waited for them to download. Would all the problems users had been sending to Apple the past 4 years finally be fixed? The announcement today of a total rewrite might mean that Numbers finally had some speed and could take at least some of the workload we’d had to use Excel for. For many people being able to get rid of Excel would be welcome. Yet a rewrite might also mean a few fixes more oriented towards the iOS versions rather than how many pros and small businesses use iWork. I know I have a huge number of scripts — often with complicated hacks to get around the limits in Pages and Number’s incomplete Applescript Dictionaries.

Here’s the bad news. They won’t work now. Effectively Applescript support is gone. Numbers doesn’t even have a dictionary. And Pages has had nearly everything removed.

Here’s Pages original dictionary.

Pages 6 Applescript Dictionary

Here it is now.

 Pages 7 Applescript Dictionary

I could go on about how almost none of the problems I’ve been griping about for four years in Numbers have been fixed. But what’s the point. Apple has spoken. It wants the OSX iWork to basically be the same as the iOS version and designed purely for casual use. By making it free they kill the market for any competitors other than Office. So if you run a small office, even if you hate MS-Office, there’s really no alternative anymore.

The bigger question is what this means about Applescript. But I think that’s clear. Despite a session at WWDC which raised my hopes, clearly Apple’s completely abandoned it. There’s no scripting for so many of their apps and so little evangelism that it’s hardly surprising so few 3rd party apps now support it.

What I suspect Apple doesn’t realize is how much small business and small shops workflow depends upon Applescript. Casual use is fine. But a lot of people do more. It wouldn’t be so bad were there an alternative. This isn’t just like Apple not upgrading the MacPro. This is like Apple not upgrading the MacPro for four years, then announcing that the MacMini is the new MacPro. And discontinuing FCPX, Aperture, and it’s other pro apps and telling you to use iPhoto and iMovie.

Can you tell I’m depressed?


  • Hagure

    This is rather chilling. Damning even.

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  • Honix

    OK, I’m confused. The post that appears immediately after this one on the MacStories website is all about how Apple Script has been improved. Are we living in two different worlds?

    • Dennis Parrott

      it is possible for something to be “improved”, adding features, making features more robust, etc. while removing other features (as appears to have been done with respect to iWork). Apple seems to be dumbing everything down to the level of the ipad…

  • Esa Juhani Ruoho

    have you reported this to ? I too would like Apple to push AppleScript way more, and would expect that all Apple products would have a rudimentary-to-gigantic AppleScript dictionary of functions (or however they’re called). Logic Pro X should have tons, same with iPhoto.

  • Erich Neuwirth

    I mostly agree, but LibreOffice and NeoOffice are viable alternatives for MSOffice

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