CREATING BANNERS, POSTERS AND CARDS
by TOM HUDSON
Remember making homemade cards with poster paints, glue and crayons? Remember the mess? Now sit down at your ST with some of these useful and fun printer utilities and let your imagination go! An ST and dot-matrix printer are all you need to produce professional-looking copy.
The ST has been blessed with a number of utilities to help you to prepare text and graphics for printing. Presented here is an overview of software packages that let you put your words on paper- creating banners, posters, cards and calendars. All of the software works with 512K ST systems (either color or monochrome), and all of the packages are a lot of fun!
Label Master Elite
Label Master Elite (LME) is for anyone who needs to create mailing or disk labels. it operates in either the high-res monochrome or medium-res color mode, necessary because of the large dialogs used in the program. An since it's GEM-based, it's easy for any T user to operate.
At the core of LME is a simple file structure, split into "First name," "Last name," "Address," "City," "State" and "Zip." A record may be designated "Personal" or "Business" - you enter personal addresses with first and last names separate, and when printed they're combined on one line, giving a three-line label. Business addresses use the "last name" entry as an attention or other information line, printing a four-line label. The name and address information lines may be up to 30 characters each, and the zip code line may be 10 characters. Canadian addresses may present a problem, since the state line is only two characters and there's no space for a country entry.
Each label may have an accompanying graphic design chosen from over a hundred pictures on the LME disk. LME also includes a complete graphic design editor built into the main program. You can save your new designs to disk for future use.
For quick, one-shot labels, LME has a facility for printing up to 999 copies of a label, and the latest version of the program allows mailing list merges.
The program can read a disk and generates file lists automatically-up to 57 names per label. The package comes with a strip of ten 3.5-inch disk labels, and Migraph sells these labels in packages of 100 or 500.
The LME manual states that the program may be used with most 9- or 24-pin printers, and the program works fine with my Epson-compatible NEC P6 24-pin printer. However, the program is designed to work only with Epson-compatible printers, although you may imbed control-character sequences in the label information to get special effects on the text if you like. The graphic designs may present problems with other printers.
Your Personal Poet
Here's a unique product for the home market. Your Personal Poet generates personalized greeting cards based on parameters you enter. For example, let's say you want to send your friend Dave a "Get Well" card. Enter Dave's name, your name, Dave's primary and secondary character traits, the type of card, where Dave lives, the date and a P.S. line. You can also specify Dave's sex (though you may know it, the computer doesn't!), and a custom title for the poem.
Your Personal Poet is menu-driven through the keyboard. You choose a "Light and Limerickal" or "Sentimental and Serious" verse for the poem, depending on your mood. Once you enter all the options, you can review your selections and change them, if necessary; then the computer generates two poems. The poems are randomly generated based on your input, and can be amazingly appropriate.
By using random poetry generation techniques, Your Personal Poet can create over 25 million different poems. It's a lot of fun -the first poem I generated was an ode to a character from a funny short story and it was amazingly on-target. Here's an excerpt:
Reflecting on you I did smile
I'll speak of you now for awhile
You're weird all around
For oddness renowned
It's Freddy of Springfield's fine style
Once you generate your poem, you can print it out on your Epson-compatible printer in an attractive custom font. You can also save the text to disk for use by other text editors or desktop publishing programs.
The package comes complete with 5-by-7-inch continuous forms for your printer The paper has a self-stick backing, and you can insert the final, printed poem inside one of the greeting cards that are provided. Envelopes for the completed greeting cards are included.
An add-on product, Greeting Card Form Paper; is available for Your Personal Poet. This is a "refill" pack that includes 20 self-stick greeting card papers.
Certificate Maker and Certificate Library
Similar in concept to Your Personal Poet, Certificate Maker has a different target audience. With Certificate Maker you can make over 200 personalized certificates: awards, licenses, achievement certificates and so on.
Using the GEM-based interface, you mix and match title, illustration, border, body text, date line and signature. Choose one of two sizes: 81/2-by-11-inch (horizontal and vertical orientation) and 81/2-by-5 1/2-inch. The parameters for the certificates may be saved to disk for later use.
You can select the type of certificate from the 220 basic forms on the disk, ranging from blank forms to "Clock Watching Award" to "Certificate of Reading Proficiency." Then you can enter specific information (borders, body text) and choose from the various fonts available.
Printing the certificate is the final step. The finished product is quite nice-looking, and three dozen round, self-adhesive "seals," some which are made with gold metallic foil, are included to add that final touch. The artwork used on the certificates is very professional and, in many cases, amusing This is a great package to make up mock awards for co-workers at the office, teachers who want to recognize exceptionally hard-working students or anyone who wants to brighten someone's day.
As if 220 certificate forms weren't enough, Springboard also offers an add-on library of 105 more certificate forms, with 24 more borders and six dozen new self-stick seals. Wow!
Judging from user group publications I've seen, Unison World's PrintMaster Plus is one of the more popular graphics-generation packages around, and a natural for the ST.
The program allows you to create a number of different graphic projects, such as posters, banners, stationery greeting cards and calendars, and has a built-in graphics editor letting you create your own graphics. The biggest drawback of the program is the fact that it has been "ported" from other computer systems to the ST and has a strange user interface, rather than GEM. The primary problem is the way the mouse is used to position an invisible cursor on the screen, which highlights selections. Since there's no visible cursor; it's difficult to know where you'll be pointing next. This was a constant annoyance during testing, but as an option you can use the keyboard. With sufficient use you can become accustomed to it.
All elements are selected from on-screen menus, and choices are numerous. For example, there are eleven different borders, ten various fonts, special effects and 122 graphic images in up to three sizes each. If you're creating a poster, you can preview it on-screen and correct it, if necessary, before printing it.
Other options include: greeting cards, which are printed on one sheet of paper and folded into a card that has a design and message on the front and opens to reveal another design on the inside; calendars, both in a monthly and weekly layout; stationery which prints graphics and text along the top and bottom edge of the paper; and large banners for 'Welcome Home" signs or party banners.
The PrintMaster Plus program operated very well in testing, and the only negative aspect is its nonstandard user interface. A little more work would have made the program much more familiar to ST users. PrintMaster Plus supports a wide array of printers, not just Epson compatibles.
Unison World has several add-on products for the PrintMaster Plus system: Fonts & Borders and the PrintMaster Art Gallery I and II. The Fonts & Borders package provides the PrintMaster user with twenty more fonts and twenty more graphic borders; the Art Gallery I and II packages offer 140 new graphic images. The images in both packages are grouped into convenient libraries and may be selected easily from PrintMaster Plus.
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Tom Hudson is the author of DEGAS Elite and CAD-3D for the ST. Tom lives in Shawnee; Kansas.
Label Master Elite, Migraph Inc., 720 S. 33 3rd St.. Federal Way,
WA 98003, (206) 838-4677, $44.95.
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Your Personal Poet ($9.95), Greeting Card Form Paper ($4.95), Door
Openers, Inc., 775 East Greg St., Sparks, NV 89431, (702) 359-8200.
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Certificate Maker (S39.95), Certificate Library Volume 1 ($29.95),
Springboard Software, Inc., 7808 Creekridge CircIe, Minneapolis, MN 55435,
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PrintMaster Plus ($39.95), Fonts & Borders ($34.95), PrintMaster
Art Gallery I and 11 ($29.95 each), Unison World, 2150 Shattuck Ave.,
Suite 902, Berkeley CA 94704, (415) 848-6666.
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