Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 132 / AUGUST 1991 / PAGE 114

Aldus Pagemaker. (desktop publishing software) (evaluation)
by Tony Roberts

The PC version of Aldus PageMaker 4.0 carries desktop publishing to another rung on the evolutionary ladder. Enhancements allow experienced desktop publishers to perform more complicated work with less trouble and less experienced users to complete jobs with less frustration, making PageMaker a significant achievement.

The upgrade to this popular page layout program follows the improvements made to the Macintosh version several months ago. In summary, the new PageMaker adds Story Editor, a text-only window that functions like a word processor; Table Editor, a utility that eliminates much of the agony of creating and formatting tables; long document management; improved handling of graphics; and more complete style and typographic control. In addition, a version of Adobe Type Manager is bundled with PageMaker 4.0, providing scalable font technology to those owning non-PostScript printers.

Users of previous versions of PageMaker will have little difficulty migrating to version 4.0. There are so many new options and commands, though, that some of the keyboard shortcuts had to change; fortunately, the changes are logical and easy to pick up.

Story Editor, a most welcome feature of PageMaker 4.0, permits editing and text entry in a clean, easy-to-read window, as well as a spelling checker and search and replace. Story Editor treats each text element in your publication as a separately story. When checking spelling or performing searches, you can limit your work to the current story, or you can expand it to encompass the entire document.

While the search-and-replace function can find Smith and change it to Smyth as you might expect, it's much more powerful than that. In addition to locating and changing text based on content, the program can make changes based on text atttributes. For xample, you could search for any occurrence of 10-point underlined Courier type and change it to 12-point Helvetica italic. You also can search for text formatted in a particular style and change it to another style.

In addition, PageMaker 4.0 provides special control characters that allow you to search for such crucial elements as carriage returns, tabs, page number markers, nonbreaking spaces, index references, and inline graphics. There's also a wildcard character, permitting you to search for Sm?th and come up with both Smith and Smyth.

For years, the common wisdom about desktop publishing packages has been to use PageMaker for short, design-intensive documents and Ventura Publisher for longer publications. With PageMaker 4.0, the task of putting together a publication that spans several hundred pages becomes less daunting. While it won't do everything Ventura Publisher will, the gap between the two has narrowed. For your longer documents, PageMaker offers convenient automatic features, such as page numbering and creation of indexes and tables of contents. The Book command creates an ordered list of all the files that should be included in the publication. PageMaker then uses that list to number pages throughout the publication, create indexes, and generate tables of contents.

The new PageMaker has also beefed up its graphics-handling capabilities. Although the graphics creation tools remain the same, what you can do with them has changed. PageMaker 4.0 now allows the placement of an inline graphic, or a graphic element that's treated like a text character. The graphic travels along if the text moves during the course of document editing.

Imported graphics handling has been updated as well, with PageMaker keeping track of the links with external files. Through its new Link command, PageMaker can alert you if an external graphic has been modified since it was placed in the publication. If you desire, PageMaker automatically updates any graphics that have changed so you won't have to worry about reimporting graphic elements every time changes are made.

The program also provides an option to change the way graphics are displayed. Choose Normal resolution for regular work, High Resolution for a detailed look at your artwork, or a "grayed out" display that significantly improves screen redraw rates. Finally, PageMaker 4.0 imports and displays color images, including 24-bit TIFF and EPS images.

PageMaker 4.0 augments an already impressive array of typographic controls, refining some features and adding several others.

The creationand management of styles is much improved. A "next style" feature has been added. By using this feature, you can specify that Body Text always follow Subhead. When entering new material, you select Subhead and type the appropriate text. When you press Enter, the next style, Body text, is automatically engaged, and you can proceed to enter the text without stopping to select a new style.

New options include control of widows and orphans, and a command, Keep, which indicates your desire to keep one text style with a minimum number of lines of the following style. For example, to prevent a subhead from appearing by itself at the bottom of a page, you can specify that you wish to keep the subhead with the next three lines of the following style. PageMaker will then move the subhead to the following page to keep it with the text it introduces.

PageMaker 4.0 now enables you to copy styles from one publication to another--a convenience when working with shorter publications and a necessity when compiling longer documents.

PageMaker's type-handling features have grown more elaborate. Type sizes, ranging from 4 to 650 points, can be specified in increments of 1/10th point. Leading can be adjusted in 1/10-point increments. Character kerning options have been enhanced. Text rotation allows type to be rotated 90, 180, or 270 degrees, and the Set Width feature allows type to be compressed down to 5 percent or stretched up to 250 percent of its original width. This allows you to simulate condensed or expanded versions of your standard typefaces.

PageMaker 4.0's printing options have also undergone extensive revision. Even/Odd page printing is now permitted, and duplexing, or double-sided printing, is available for printers that support that option. The thumbnail feature for PostScript printers now allows you to specify how many thumbnail page images to print per page. When working with spot-color overlays, you can specify which color pages to print, and you can have PageMaker print knockouts--blank spaces on the bottom layer where colors overlap.

With Table Editor, a separate program provided with PageMaker to simplify the creation of tables and charts, you can easily create rows and columns of information perfectly lined up and properly formatted. Table Editor even imports information from spreadsheets and databases.

In Table Editor, you control type fonts and sizes and the rules between columns and rows. Once you complete and save your table, place it into your PageMaker document as you would any outside graphic element.

Along with all the major innovations described above, PageMaker 4.0 includes perhaps hundreds of minor conveniences that make working with the program faster and more pleasurable. For example, when switching from a fit-in-window view to a 100-percent view, PageMaker moves you directly to the element you've selected. Furthermore, a quick exit from deeply nested dialog boxes saves time and mouse clicks. The menus have been rearranged to accommodate some of the new features, but in most cases Aldus has provided shorter paths to the most commonly selected options, such as font and type sizes

Aldus provides a major documentation package with PageMaker 4.0, but it isn't the easiest material to work with. Thankfully, the reference manual is cross-referenced. If you turn to page 212 to read about page setup, you're told to see also Insert pages...190, Layout grid...12, New...205, Remove pages...247, and Setting up your pages...3. Eventually you can uncover the information you need.

In addition to the reference manual, there's a Getting Started book, which provides step-by-step tutorials for beginners; a Templates Guide, which shows how to use the supplied templates for calendars, catalogs, brochures, newsletters, and so on; a Table Editor Guide, which documents the Table Editor; and an Introduction to PageMaker.

Don't overlook the README files on disk; they contain useful information. Among the tidbits found there is information about the time/date stamp utility. which allows you to place a time/date stamp on your documents to help you avoid the "version confusion" that invariably arises after you've printed a document seven or eight times.

A significant upgrade, PageMaker 4.0 meets most professional desktop publishing needs.