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If you are unfortunate, you may get this packaged with your computer instead of decent software.
It is generally pretty useless.

Strongly disagree.
It is, inarguably, less flexible and powerful than a 'proper' office suite - but it is more than sufficient to write a letter to your gran, or type up a resume, or store recipes on.
What does it not do that a home user actually needs?  Lack of mail merge and macro support only impact business users.  Works lets you splat a pie chart into the middle of your text.  Most people will never even use that much functionality.
I would call works crap, but easily good enough.  --Vitenka
PeterTaylor would agree that for people of a certain bent (who needs a WYSIWYG? editor when they know HTML?) office suites in general are pretty useless (except for spreadsheets, although I rarely need one of them). But that's getting rather OT.
'Who needs a WYSIWYG editor when they know HTML?' How about anyone who wants to control what their documents actually look like, and doesn't trust any software to get it right automatically so will do it themselves?
I'd have to agree here.  Most things html is wonderful for.  Many things, such as letters, it is sufficient for.  But for anything half complex (such as a CV) it is more effort than it is worth.  Having said that, most reports and fact sheets and scripts and things that word processors are mostly used for html is more than able enough - and often simpler to use.  For publishing, of course, you want something with a lot finer control - but that's someone elses job.  HTML also royally sucketh if you want to embed charts or equations or diagrams - you have to embed static pictures.  In that case an integrated editor is definitely a win.  --Vitenka
Anyone else ever use LocoScript?? It was an office suite for the Amstrad PCW; in its time, it was one of the most popular office suites there was. It wasn't WYSIWYG, and the markup used for text formatting was scarily HTML-like. - MoonShadow
Hadn't thought of it like that before.  You didn't have to nest "tags" properly, IIRC.  LocoScript? was good though. -- Senji
(PeterTaylor) Yes, LaTeX? also has its uses.
That, though, as I understand it, is different from HTML in that it's a typesetting language, so does allow you to specify exactly the appearance of your document. Which you would then check before producing the final version (just like you'd always print off a copy of something done using Works to check it, because nothing is ever quite what-you-see-is-what-you-get).
Then how is that different to typing HTML and checking it in the browser you will be using to print the final result to make sure that you're getting the effect you want? You can specify exactly the appearance of your document in HTML - you just can't easily make it compatible with all browsers at the same time. But if all you want is to typeset a page for printing, HTML is a perfectly adequate typesetting language. - MoonShadow
Mainly, I'd say HTML just isn't convenient for doing that.  While it does work, even something as simple as adding double line spacing, or drop down capitals, or indenting the first line of each paragraph - or, horrors, running multiple columns to a page...  those things are possible in HTML, but not easy.  Far better to use an editor (and file format) that caters to it.  --Vitenka
I agree it's not convenient. But not impossible :) - MoonShadow
Just to throw in my two-pennyworth, I once, when word was still bulky as anything, and couldn't zip up embedded graphics to save its life, created a 60 page manual for a very complex machine containing over 50 half page images.  I used HTML on the grounds that 1)not everyone would have word, (wordperfect still being a contender back then) 2)no-one at this time had pdf, and 3)given that this was the days before CD-writers and readers were commonplace, it would be hard to transport the resulting 12MB file on floppies.  HTML meant I could get away with a grand total of 192 kilobytes, and the whole thing was set up with printer page breaks, aligned and centred tables and images and was  internally hyperlinked such that the user could get the data and information that they needed superquick. --Jumlian
The only bit I would query in that was the printability...  I was under the impression that specifying print options, such as page breaks and when not to break was a fairly new thing in HTML. --Kazuhiko
Indeed. In fact, that's precisely what I've been doing today - finding out how to specify page breaks in HTML.  Answer: Use StyleSheets?. :) --M-A
Came in with HTML 4.0 / CSS2, implemented badly in IE4 (only page-break-after: always works, not page-break-before: always).  Implemented better in IE5.  Seems fully functional in IE 5.5 +.  Netscape couldn't cope, but that was back when it was NN4, and it couldn't cope with a lot of CSS stuff.  You could ask the [flamingo] , if it has been revised, and although many techniques in my edition of the flamingo are now deprecated, they all appear to still work. --Jumlian , being probably OTT again.

Well, if you want to be deliberately objectionable, that's up to you. Meanwhile the sensible world will be over here.
I think I'll let PeterTaylor defend himself from here.. - Kettle
PeterTaylor isn't sure who Kettle is, but nor is he sure why people would want double columns (unless typesetting a newspaper, in which case use something suitable like Quark).
Kettle was MoonShadow according to RecentChanges.  You must be pot :)  Multiple columns are useful for all sorts of quick things.  Newsletters, announcement posters - that sort of stuff.  Glad you agree that a proper editor is useful.  Quark is nice, but serious overkill (both on the learning curve and the cost) for most uses.  --Vitenka
(PeterTaylor) My point was that most people don't need an office suite, not that there aren't applications for which precise typesetting is necessary.
Your general office suite is a word processor, a spreadsheet, a database, and maybe a drawing package, plus maybe a couple of other minor things. Everybody needs a word processor, a spreadsheet is handy, a drawing package can be useful if you don't want to shell out for a separate graphics package. So no you don't need them, you could just get a Word Processor and do without the rest, but they are usually pretty good value.
It is not the case that everyone needs a word processor.
Come on people. It's not worth getting het up about. For your average non-technical home user, /Works does everything they'll ever need. If you don't fall into that category, then your choice of how to go about things is dictated by your extra needs/wants/abilities/geekiness.  As you said, Peter, "For people of a certain bent ... office suites in general are pretty useless".  If we're going down that route, then for people of certain bent, computers are pretty useless.  That doesn't preclude them being very useful for people who aren't of that bent, though.
(PeterTaylor) For your average non-technical home user, write.exe does everything they'll ever need. 8-p
It doesn't have a spell checker. --Angoel
Or the ability to position text inside a box at an arbitary position on the page.  Which is something no one needs, but new users tend to want.  --Vitenka
Part of the problem with /Works is that it's not entirely compatible with /Office? - but for that, most office environments wouldn't want more than /Works. Ditto with OpenOffice. The trouble is your non-technical user will only ever find out when it's too late. To be honest, I don't see a need for database software for home users either - I personally can't think of many applications for one where a simple list with sorting and filtering would do. Word processor or spreadsheet packages are not essential, but then neither is a keyboard if you're going to think that way. They're definitely something you'd miss if you didn't have one. -- ColinT.
I haven't used a spreadsheet in anger for years.  What I really want is ViewSheet? for Linux :). -- Senji
Obviously I spend too much time calculating my debts :( -- ColinT
Agreed - I still can't see any useful distinction between a database and a spreadsheet, unless access is going to be automated (website backend, etc.)  The fact that almost nothing can read /Office? file format greater than version five is very annoying.  Especially since /Office? defaults to using the latest file formats, rather than the lowest version that supports all formatting that was actually used for a given document.  --Vitenka
Six, I think.  At least, I've been using Six as an interchange format for a couple of years now without problems. -- Senji
I worked for a company writing a database web thingy one summer. To make their product beter than any others, they added a number of features. One of them was compatibility with Excel - because hardly anyone uses Access for databasing, and most people use Excel - SunKitten
I have to disagree - there are some situations where a database is far better than a spreadsheet, all of them office related. Very frequently (at work) I end up joining two sets of information together in a one-to-many link, where I have more than 65535 rows :p That said, /Access is useless for it, and SAS? are now charging extortionate rates for using their software on 3rd party data :( -- ColinT
This is no doubt true, but the people the company was catering for were not, shall we say, particularly computer literate. They were providing an online FAQ service, and any company with the clue to use databases properly shouldn't need an online FAQ service from someone else - SunKitten
Really?  Nifty.  Lack of a decent graphical editor is one of the major things that has kept me away from a database backend.  I'll just cover myself here, though, and point out that there ARE reasons for using a real database (which the one that comes with works is not) - as ShinMegamiTensei/Screenshots was showing, there are some things that two dimensions is insufficient for.  Still, for keeping a list of which files are on which backup Cd (a slightly updated example of 'your mums recepies') a CardFile? is fine.  --Vitenka



CategoryOxymoron?, NotAParody; CategoryComputing; see also OpenOffice

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Last edited January 11, 2004 2:46 pm (viewing revision 34, which is the newest) (diff)
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