When I do talks for Sun events and where the material needs to be re-usable, I always use the NeoOffice version of OpenOffice.org, because then I can give people ODF (or PPT, or PDF, or just about anything else you can imagine). When I’m doing an outward-facing presentation and either I really really care about trying to move the needle with the audience, or I have my back to the wall time-wise, I use Keynote. It’s been a few busy travel-packed weeks, and I had speeches to make at JAX.de and the International PHP Conference, both audiences important, I thought, so they got Keynote presentations. Anyhow, my real purpose here is just to say that the Keynote authoring interface is just totally excellent, amazingly good; and I speak as a pretty expert user of both PowerPoint and OpenOffice.org. For my money, maybe the best app Apple ships.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Patrick Quinn-Graham (Nov 08 2006, at 22:33)

For all my presentation needs over the last 3 years I've used Keynote, which while only a handful of presentations, made the whole process that much better than PowerPoint. The plethora of output options (I suppose PDF is the most useful, the only one it's lacking I suppose is the equivalent ODF) have never left me wanting.

Of course as far as I know nothing but Keynote reads Keynote files...


From: Smokey Ardisson (Nov 08 2006, at 22:35)

Keynote is Steve Jobs's keynoting (is that a word?) application, after all ;)


From: Brendan (Nov 09 2006, at 00:42)


With respect to Keynote, and more generally slideshow presentation formats, what have your experiences been when it comes to making serious presentations? Is Ed Tufte too harsh when he slams the PowerPoint "cognitive style" [1]?

Best regards,


[1] http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2.html


From: Joshua Bryant (Nov 09 2006, at 00:53)

Just a note,

Keynote does a pretty great job at exporting to both PowerPoint (PPT) and PDF, so there might not be as much reason to use NeoOffice as you thought.

I use Keynote constantly in a corporate work environment and I've had almost no problems with sharing the exported ppt and pdf files.


From: Jean-Denis Muys (Nov 09 2006, at 02:17)

Well, this is nice, but you left me wondering...

I know Powerpoint a bit (not a heavy user though).

Could you elaborate? How is Keynote so good? I am mostly interested in the workflow of putting up a presentation, and perhaps slightly less in the graphic quality of the templates provided.

Links to other informed comparisons would be helpful too.




From: JB (Nov 09 2006, at 02:55)

I fully support Keynote's superiority over PowerPoint(ers)...

Does anyone know if Edward Tufte changes any of his thoughts on PowerPoint when Keynote is used?


From: Robert Sharl (Nov 09 2006, at 05:14)

As a lecturer and a fairly heavy Powerpoint user (3-4 presentations a week) I thought it would take me a while to transition to Keynote when Apple first released it. It arrived the next week, and as an experiment I imported that day's scheduled ppt and made some formatting adjustments. I ended up running the presentation with Keynote, and I have never used Powerpoint since. My old workflow entailed building the presentation outline in Word (yuk) and transferring over to Powerpoint. I've since moved to OmniOutliner for working on structure and exporting in .key format from there. As Keynote has developed my style has become more spare and 'Jobsian', eschewing slides of bulleted text for single bold words and images as triggers for a more personal delivery. Sometimes it's not what's required and I have to be more 'traditional' but Keynote really helps - it's so easy to make a chart or a table on the spot that works much better than bullets and helps me to rethink what I'm trying to say. I'm not sure it's the best app that Apple have ever shipped (Hypercard, anyone?), but it's close. Very close.


From: Matthew Routley (Nov 09 2006, at 05:35)

Tufte's views on Keynote are available here: http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0000zF&topic_id=1

Tufte's main issues with Powerpoint are the devotion to bulleted lists and data-poor graphics. Keynote still allows you to construct such a presentation.

However, Keynote is a very elegant and efficient tool for constructing good presentations. Just use a specialized graphics program rather than Keynote's built-in charting tools to construct informative graphics and minimize the amount of text in your slides.


From: Andy Satori (Nov 09 2006, at 05:59)

I agree that Keynote is excellent, but what I find interesting it that the other half of iWork gets little to no love. Pages is also excellent, and in many ways it's one of the best Word Processing / Lightweight DTP applications ever written. It is like the spiritual successor to Samna's AmiPro (before Lotus took it and broke most of what was great about it).

Personally, I use Pages almost exclusively for my WP needs, I just wish more people embraced it. IT really is that good.


From: Bryce (Nov 09 2006, at 06:41)

"Could you elaborate? How is Keynote so good? I am mostly interested in the workflow of putting up a presentation, and perhaps slightly less in the graphic quality of the templates provided."

Keynote really shines in the workflow department for me personally. It natively accepts vector artwork (which looks great on-screen, and scales beautifully.) So now I can copy from Illustrator and paste right into a preso.

With Powerpoint or NeoOffice, there's always an intermediate step of 'Save as a JPEG from Illustrator to import into the preso.' (And, of course, keep 3 COPIES of everything lying about: original vector source, jpeg copies and final preso. Ugh, a workflow nightmare.)


From: Patrick Mueller (Nov 09 2006, at 06:46)

+1 on KeyNote. I get presentations all day long from folk, in PPT, and KeyNote reads these just fine. I was even able to suck in a PPT 'theme' from work and save it as a KeyNote theme. Nice. Bonus, sending people PDFs instead of PPTs. It's not unusual to get comments like "how did you do that?"

In general, it seems to do a lot LESS than PPT, which is nothing but good, since I frequently need to do nothing more than create some pages with a title and a bulleted list.

One thing that is a bit funny is the style of themes available between PPT and KeyNote. Wildly different. KeyNote being way simpler; it doesn't do a great job with nested lists; but this is a good thing, because you really shouldn't be doing a lot of nested links. PPT seems to be aimed more at people doing what I would consider "white paper" type reports, whereas KeyNote is much more aimed at the presentation side.

If you need PPT functionality, OpenOffice seems to be a nice alternative, especially on the Mac where it runs natively on Intel, instead of via Rosetta for PPT. On the other hand, OpenOffice is an X app, and that brings it's only flavor of weirdness at times.


From: Chris T (Nov 09 2006, at 07:17)

Tufte's comments apply regardless of the software. If you have read them (and used your critical thinking skills), you know this already. See here:


<blockquote>The practical conclusions are clear. PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience.</blockquote>


From: Niklas Brunberg (Nov 09 2006, at 08:20)

The cognitive style of PowerPoint (and other presentation applications as well) is what they make the user/presenter think about their presentations. If it's easy to write down bullet lists in the App, well, after a time the user will be writing down bullet lists of everything since that App has that cognitive style to easily write down bullet lists.

Every application has a cognitive style, it's just the implementation of that style that differs. I can't really figure out what effect Keynote has though.

And yes, I agree that Keynote is close to perfect, even when exporting to PDF people are impressed by it.


From: argod (Nov 09 2006, at 21:18)

Isn't it ironic that a Sun executive praises an app that Sun owned via

Lighthouse which was called Concurrence. Steve Jobs even tried to

buy it from Sun but had to get it re-written.


From: Daniel (Nov 10 2006, at 09:23)

Steve Jobs used to use Lighthouse Concurrence in the 1990s when giving presentations for NeXT. Ironic isn't it that the current CEO of Sun was one of the authors of Concurrence? Why, oh why did Sun kill Concurrence?


From: Denmaru (Nov 11 2006, at 01:40)

I have used Keynote for a whole lot of presentations, and I have to say, I wouldn't want to use ANYTHING else. Everyone is sick of seeing the same old effects of Powerpoint. Nowadays, one can tell if it's a Powerpoint Presentation or not simply by looking at it, and that's where Keynotes fresh look kicks right in.


From: Les Posen (Nov 11 2006, at 08:11)

Tim et al,

I have blogged some time back about the ineffable qualities of Keynote and its odious comparison to Powerpoint. And Tim, you got a mention, here:


otherwise, to see my other posts on the subject, just Google <les posen keynote>



author · Dad
colophon · rights
picture of the day
November 08, 2006
· Technology (90 fragments)
· · Mac OS X (118 more)

By .

The opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.

I’m on Mastodon!