AppleWorks Migration


AppleWorks was a software program sold by Apple Computers from 1991 until 2004. It was “end lifed” in 2007 without a proper migration path in place which left the users with very limited options and virtually no help from the vender.

The topic of replacing a software program really doesn’t have much to do with sailing – except that most of our information was created and maintained using Appleworks. When Apple pulled the plug on AppleWorks they had only a partial migration path in place. Appleworks was given away free on new Macintosh computers at one time and also ported to run under the Windows operating system. Apple Computers left all these users high and dry. Below is what migration path there was by document type:

Document Type
word processing Pages (part of the iWork package
on Macintosh only)
spread sheets Numbers (part of the iWork
package on Macintosh only)
presentation Keynote (part of the iWork
package on Macintosh only)
database FileMaker
drawing none
paint none
terminal emulation none
there is no Apple supplied migration path for Windows users

We ended up buying the iWork ’08 package for Maringret and it handles the word processing and spread sheet functions (Pages and Numbers). There are some changes of course but all in all the change-over was not that rough. We should probably say at this point that AppleWorks Draw was not the best drawing package ever. In fact there were some features that could be annoying. But what it did have over everything else was ease of use and total integration with word processing an spreadsheet. So whether you needed to put a diagram in a text document or needed to put text into a diagram, whether you needed to put a spreadsheet into a diagram, AppleWorks could do all of this with a very intuitive interface. Obviously as part of splitting the functionality of AppleWorks over Pages, Numbers and Keynote Apple Computers was throwing away a large advantage.

Where we were faced with a problem was all the hundreds of drawings we had generated over 20 years of use. These drawings were for this website, for documentation, and for work details for wood, plastic, metal, electrical etc. Some of our drawings had been emailed to companies that had then fed them into laser cutters for generating some of our pieces. Admittedly some of the documents could be forgotten and some had essentially become static but the final group were documents that were either in use or potentially could be in the future. Additionally we needed a tool for creating new documents.

The remainder of this webpage will deal with finding a replacement for the AppleWorks Drawing functionality, specifically by using the EazyDraw drawing package.

A Replacement for AppleWorks Drawing

AppleWorks was initially released for what is now known as the Classic operating system (up to OS 9). When the Macintosh moved to the Mac OS X operating system (OS 10 or X onwards) Appleworks was converted to run under the new operating system. The last version of AppleWorks (version 6) was written to run on both the new and old operating systems. As long as the compatability feature (known as Rosetta) was maintained in Mac OS X then AppleWorks continued to run. With Mac OS X 10.7 in 2011 Apple Computers announced that it was no longer maintaining Rosetta. This meant that AppleWorks had finally reached the end of the line. We had been watching for alternatives for AppleWorks Draw since Apple Computers had dropped support for AppleWorks. Much to it’s credit AppleWorks continued to function in newer versions of OS X, some small features were absent such as features that had been added to the operating system after AppleWorks was terminated but the bulk of the functionality worked well.

Between 2011 and 2012 we kept our eyes open for potential replacements for AppleWorks Drawing, what we found is:

Package Read
AW Draw Files
Website Last Website Update Last Software Update Status or Cost Comment
DrawIt retired? seems to have
disappeared during 2011
EasyDraw 2011 120 USD only package
stating ability to read AppleWorks Draw files directly
Fly Sketch 2011 15 USD
iDraw 2011 25 USD
Intaglio 2011 89 USD will read
ClarisDraw files but not AppleWorks
Line Form 2011 retired?  seems to have disappeared during 2012
Wouldja Draw 2011 30 USD seems to have disappeared

Converting AppleWorks Draw Files

We had a lot of documents to convert and felt that we needed something that would read the AppleWorks Draw files directly. Only EazyDraw had this feature so we concentrated our evaluation on that package. The other packages listed above have varying levels of support for moving objects in from AppleWorks using Copy/Paste but not direct opening of the files.

A Drawing Tool for the Future

We didn’t want to have a second drawing programme for our new drawings but were prepared to do so if the package that could convert and maintain the AppleWorks Draw files was inappropriate for ongoing documentation. This was not the case with EazyDraw. After 20 years of using AppleWorks for all drawing applications it was certain that any replacement would be noticed and so it was with EazyDraw but on a functionality basis it is far richer than AppleWorks Draw (but to be fair to AppleWorks Draw it was written 20 years later).

We had neglected to investigate EazyDraw prior to our extensive refurbishment of Maringret – we didn’t get a chance to look at it until we were finished the work and facing the onslaught of OS X 10.7 when AppleWorks would cease working. What a shame! It has so many features that AppleWorks didn’t and that would have been very beneficial to our work, such as:

  • automatically dimensioned drawings where the dimensions are updated when the object is altered
  • proper diagraming with ability for lines to either jump over each other or explicitly join each other
  • massive template libraries of symbols for applications such as electrical
  • “rubber band” connectors where lines betwen to objects remain in place when either of the objects is relocated on the drawing

There is a lot more that EazyDraw does (the manual is 390 pages long) but the points above would have saved as a lot of time and allowed us to produce much better diagrams. We were pleased that EazyDraw was able to handle our drawing requirements and that we had finally found a successor to AppleWorks Draw.

We should mention that as of 2012 and version 4 EazyDraw has dropped the ability to read AppleWorks Draw format files and instead supplies a version they call “Retro” that can still read the file formats. We have no idea how long “Retro” will remain part of their offerings.

Although the user license for a purchased software package details endless legal conditions, it is best to view it as buying the software package as a “time limited offer” as it seems that once revenues dry up the producer will often just abandon the software. A number of the programs listed above have “disappeared” off the internet.

Pages, Numbers and Eazy Draw all fulfill our requirements and are as good or better as AppleWorks with the exception of the application integration lost with the demise of AppleWorks.

It’s now been 10 years and Pages, Numbers and EazyDraw still meet our requirements. EazyDraw has proved so powerful that we seem to only use a fraction of it’s capability.

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