Another Vote for Keynote

Daring Fireball notes Tim Bray's extreme satisfaction with Keynote. Normally I'd silently nod with approval, but I was coincidentally in the middle of preparing slides, thinking the exact same thing.

There's good software, and then there's software which is a joy to use. Keynote is in the latter group. Like so many great things, it's hard to put a finger on exactly what it is about Keynote that makes for such a pleasant experience, but maybe there are a few general themes:

Doesn't try to get too clever for its own good.
Realizes your true goal is to finish quickly.
Optimizes for the most likely case.
Simple without being sparse.
Stays out of your way.
Stunning results.

In many ways, the essence of the Mac software philosophy. If you want to know how to design a Mac productivity app, follow Keynote's lead.
Design Element
Another Vote for Keynote
Posted Nov 9, 2006 — 14 comments below


Gavin — Nov 09, 06 2361

Keynote rocks! An ever versatile workhorse.

kusmi — Nov 09, 06 2362

In contrast to Pages... it's slow, if you create larger documents and object alignment really drives me crazy: Even if you select "snap to edges", it will not really snap very accurate and if you zoom in, you see pixel offsets... aaarrrgghh :-)

Mike Abdullah — Nov 09, 06 2363

Keynote is great. I love the fact that a 40 (ish) program can easily create better designed presentations than Powerpoint + the money my company spent on a template.

My only gripes are:

* It's not very easy to create your own themes. It may just be that I haven't looked into the documentation for this deeply enough yet.

* You can't resize the damn photo frames! Most themes have their own photo frames, but unless your picture fits neatly within them, it's useless!

Zac White — Nov 09, 06 2364

Keynote is amazing. Every time I see a Powerpoint, I take note of how fugly it is. No matter what. I have yet to see a good looking Powerpoint. You can easily make fugly presentations in Keynote, but it isn't fugly by default. Also as an interesting side note, for the scientific poster session at WWDC, they gave us the poster templates in Keynote and I made my whole poster inside Keynote. So it doubles as a pagination program!

Scott Stevenson — Nov 09, 06 2365 Scotty the Leopard

In contrast to Pages... it's slow, if you create larger documents

I like Pages a lot, but I'm not a heavy word user so I have no idea how large documents go.

Crunkmaster — Nov 09, 06 2370

The great thing about Keynote is that you don't even have to try and you'll wind up with an amazing-looking project. And adding just a little effort can result in something truly breathtaking. The way the fonts and pictures look, the transitions, it's hard to explain but the bottom line is it is typical Apple. No hassles and a tremendous result.

Ever since it came out, I've avoided PowerPoint at all costs.

Mr eel — Nov 10, 06 2379

I've used Keynote for a few presentations and it really is lovely.

I did find working with transitions to be somewhat obtuse at times, but this is a minor complaint. By and large I found it easy and importantly enjoyable to use.

I even had some folks comment afterwards that it obviously wasn't a Powerpoint presentation. It looked to good for that!

nic mitham — Nov 10, 06 2380

Exporting to quicktime, with the cube transition. Enough said.

Josh — Nov 10, 06 2381

That needs to be followed with an AMEN

Marc Davies — Nov 10, 06 2382

P.S. to your prayer, support for Quicktime VR in Keynote would knock my dying Powerpoint Parrot completely off its perch.

Darth Bajar — Nov 10, 06 2383

I migrated from PowerPoint to Keynote in the beginning of this year and have used it ever since with a smile on my face. Im in advertising and Keynote is a valuable tool in sales pitches for that maximum impact. I still remember how I ripped my hair to get music or video to play smoothly and reliably on a ppt whereas in Keynote they integrate just as well as any other content.

Nathan Gray — Nov 13, 06 2398

Keynote is very nice, it's true. It makes it simple to get really pretty results, and the ability to just drag-n-drop pdf files into your presentation is priceless for scientists, who typically have to go through obscene contortions to get equations from LaTeX into PowerPoint without converting them to fugly rasterized messes.

One trick Keynote could learn from PPT is the way PPT automatically scales down the fonts on a slide if it starts getting crowded. I really missed that when working on my last presentation.

Scott Stevenson — Nov 13, 06 2399 Scotty the Leopard

One trick Keynote could learn from PPT is the way PPT automatically scales down the fonts on a slide if it starts getting crowded

Maybe I'd have to see what you're talking about in person, but I don't think I'd want this behavior. The Mac way tends to be "don't change something behind the user's back."

Oliver — Nov 14, 06 2408

I wouldn't say its doing anything behind a users back.. All it is is that if you have a text box then powerpoint can (it doesn't have to, it's only an option) make text smaller as you type to fit everything in. The alternative is that my text will end up stretching below the slide and i have to manually go and reduce the font size.

Well, to be honest good presentations shouldn't have so much text on them anyway.. but in my job we use powerpoint for everything, including project status reports. So sometimes our slides look more like word documents.. :-s

I wish i could use keynote.. heck, i wish i could use my mac at work! But alas, its a Dell, XP and ppt instead.


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