Armen Chakmakjian

Buzzword (beta) vs for Pages…

In Random on March 28, 2009 at 3:29 am

So on first case study for finance I had the team try out (beta).  On the second case study, we used buzzword to collaborate.  I think things went much better since we were all able to edit the same doc.  Apple has made a fundamental mistake in their approach.  I’m sure it has something to do with getting whatever features they could out there as quickly as possible…and being Apple, trying to make it a coherent experience within the Apple universe.  The problem was that as the nexus of the sharing (and the only one with a mac) none of the other guys could edit the doc…all they could do was annotate the current version.   Then I’d fix things and post an updated version.  This proved to be a time consuming process.  In its defense,’s visual experience was somewhat better than buzzword…it makes for a great reader and annotation tool for the iwork applications.

Buzzword (also beta) proved to be a better experience for us as a team with respect to productivity.  I posted an initial set of thoughts in the case study and then each of the team members were able to edit the doc.  Although we weren’t able to simultaneously edit the same doc, it was pretty obvious when someone was editting and you were stuck viewing.  That also extended to annotating.  That’s one place where the iwork suite seemed to work as expected: we could always all annotate at the same time.

Buzzword’s UI was not completely intuitive.  I had my screen at full 16×9.  I wanted to add bullets and I went to the menus not seeing any available symbols.  This confused me for a second, because there was nothing there.  Then I noticed that over way way on the right, there were a bunch of symbols in a bar.  As I clicked them, actions under a particular symbol slid across the screen to rest themselves above my doc.  As I am willing to click on everything eventually I figured this out.  If my wife’s mother, who is somewhat computer-literate, was shown this she wouldn’t remember it to find it the next time. You can only take “learned” behavior in the user experience to a certain extent.  And although the symbols bar look cool, most people wouldn’t know what they meant.  This is particularly true of the stats bar at the bottom.  After about the 4th time I used it, I figured out that there was a history mechanism down there.  the symbol is a clock…huh? I hit it and it says “History”.  I keep thinking about less curious people seeing a clock and thinking “Time?”

Pasting from excel and word was a bit curious too.  It didn’t do exactly what we expected.  we couldn’t paste in a picture, we had to export it to jpg and import it into buzzword.  Excel tables only got put in as html like tables.  but it worked.

The export feature was quite good and the word docx that it generated needed only 1 slight modification to add a page break.

All in all though, for a project like this,  it did the job and quite smoothly for the team.  We’ll probably continue to use it.


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