[OS X TeX] OT: Pages format definitions

Bruno Voisin bvoisin at mac.com
Wed Sep 14 03:57:23 CEST 2005

Le 13 sept. 05 à 18:40, Simon Spiegel a écrit :

> I realize that this very OT, but I'm sure some people here are  
> interested in this: Apple has published Pages XML schemas http:// 
> developer.apple.com/documentation/AppleApplications/Conceptual/ 
> iWork2-0_XML/index.html
> Anyone interested in writing a Pages <-> LaTeX converter? ;)

I've been using Pages for most of the last two months for writing a  
long document (~ 140 pages) with no maths at all, and was about to  
report about the experience after a short work trip from which I'm  
just returning.

In short my advise would be: Pages isn't ready yet for prime time.  
Maybe for a newsletter of a couple of pages it's OK, but not for a  
structured document. You can create a table of content, but not  
influence its formatting much. And, strangely enough for an XML-based  
document format, the table of content entries are only text, they are  
not hyperlinks to the corresponding sections of the document (as they  
would be in LaTeX with the hyperref package).

In this respect, Pages appears more like a page layout system, aimed  
at producing a printed document, than a word processing system aimed  
at producing an electronic content to be sent and viewed on  
computers, and to be navigated through.

Similarly, given the Pages document I was working on was meant to be  
sent to people working on non-Mac systems (essentially Debian Linux,  
and Windows), I had to convert it to PDF and then I got a couple of  
bad surprises:

- In the PDF document, the table of contents isn't accompanied by  
bookmarks (to be used in Reader's or Preview's bookmarks sidebar or  

- All the hyperlinks contained in the document (to either external  
web pages or other locations in the document) are lost in the  
conversion to PDF. The only remaining links are those for which the  
text of the hyperlink is the URL itself.

As a consequence, I had to use Adobe Acrobat (which eventually I was  
glad to have purchased and installed) to edit the final PDf file to:

- Create, one by one, bookmarks for each chapter section subsection  
etc. of the document.

- Make all the table of content entries hyperlinks to the  
corresponding bookmarks.

- Recreate manually, one by one, all the hyperlinks that had been  
lost when converting to PDF (to external web pages, or to bookmarks).  
For a 140 pages document, with 2 or 3 hyperlinks per page say.

All this, of course, on the *very* final PDF file, given if some  
modifications are made to the original Pages document, then the whole  
process has to be started all over again!

One good surprise though: given the amount of proprietary software  
involved (Pages + Acrobat), I didn't expect that the resulting PDF  
file could be visualized with no problem in xpdf (which I installed  
with DarwinPorts, to check the Linux recipient of the file would be  
able to use it). It turned out to be standard PDF 1.3 output, and to  
be smaller than the original PDF file exported from Pages.

Other worries:

- You can't have some sections of the document in portrait format,  
and others in landscape format, as in MS Word for example. Hence I  
had, again, to use Acrobat Pro to rotate pages manually.

- You can have landscape-size tables rotated 90° counterclockwise to  
fit on a portrait page, as you would get in LaTeX with the  
sidewaystable environment (from the rotating package IIRC). You need  
to include the table as a fixed object (= fixed on a page = not  
moving with the preceding text), then rotate it. However, when you  
click on the rotated table to edit it afterwards, the table is turned  
back to its original non-rotated orientation, so that its rightmost  
part protruding from the portrait page is hidden and can't be edited.  
Hence what I eventually had to do was create a separate, landscape- 
oriented Pages document especially for creating and polishing the  
landscape-size tables, and when they had reached their final state  
then I could paste and rotate them one by one in the main, portrait- 
oriented Pages document.

Another solution (than conversion to PDF) was to convert the final  
Pages output to MS Word or OpenOffice.org (or NeoOffice/J on the Mac)  
formats. In that way all the hyperlinks were preserved; however, much  
of the formatting (some paragraph spacing, some horizontal alignment  
and most of the table row sizes) was lost and had to be reworked  

Hence, in those circumstances when a WYSIWYG system is more  
appropriate than TeX (it's too late in the night now for me to try to  
explain why I wasn't using TeX in this case), I think that, for the  
moment, it's probably better to use NeoOffice or MS Office (or  
AppleWorks) rather than iWork, as much as I hate to have to admit it;  
and this, especially if your document contains some external or  
internal navigation, and is intended for other people, some of which  

Bruno Voisin--------------------- Info ---------------------
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