My grad program puts a lot of emphasis on groupwork. Our group projects usually involve emailing Word docs around. It's kind of annoying, since I use Pages, but I've gotten used to it. This past semester, though, I was in a group where everyone had Pages, and I was glad not to have to export everything to Word. Unfortunately, it's basically impossible to use Pages documents for collaborative editing of any sort.
That's because Pages documents aren't files, they're bundles. Bundles are a special type of directory that OS X knows to treat as a file. Unfortunately, as my group discovered, you can't email a directory! If you use Mac Mail, your Pages bundle will get automatically zipped, but those zipfiles get flagged as viruses by the UToronto mail server, and I wouldn't be surprised if that held true for other servers as well. Can't upload them to an FTP server, either. They're just completely unsendable, and when you try, you get no explanation telling you whhy. Apple's only suggestion is to zip the bundle
before you send it. Mysteriously, people seem content with this solution
even though, as bad solutions go, converting to Word is marginally easier.
This design decision is Microsoftian in its dumbness. Applications in OS X are bundles, which is fine because applications are not meant to be passed around casually. But documents -- especially work documents, as in "iWork" -- are meant to be opened by multiple people. OpenOffice documents are .tgz files, which have all the advantages of bundles with none of the drawbacks. Is that so hard? I can't think of any reason why this would be difficult from an implementation perspective.
The problem is compounded by the fact that Pages doesn't let me edit Word files directly. I have to import the Word file (as an untitled document), make my changes, and export it again. This turned our groupwork into a farcical dance of file conversion. I would write an assignment in Pages and export it to a .doc file so that I could email it to my group, who then had to import it into Pages to make changes, and export it again in order to email it back to me.
It's a damn shame, because apart from this problem, Pages '08 is a masterpiece. It's the best application Apple makes, as judged by its simplicity and ease of use relative to the complexity of the task it's designed to perform. I think this bundle issue will keep it from getting the adoption it should. Microsoft gets tons of traction from network effects -- if more people are using Word, you've got more incentive to use Word as well. But even if everyone in the world switched to Pages tomorrow, we'd still be tossing Word docs around.