PageMaker 5.0. (desktop publishing software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Phillip Morgan, Denny Atkin
At the high end of the desktop-publishing market, Aldus and Quark play a perpetual game of one-upmanship. Quark extended the battle beyond the Macintosh platform with its recent Windows version of XPress, but the new PageMaker 5.0 for Windows and the Macintosh promises to secure Aldus's place as king of the desktop publishing hill.
Of course, PageMaker 5.0 sports all the features that made the previous releases of the program successful, such as easy interchange of documents between the PC and Mac, the pasteboard interface (which allows you to drop document elements off the side of a page for safekeeping while you shuffle them around), the speedy Story Editor for altering or adding text, the handy Table Editor program, and professional output to personal printers and typesetters alike.
Version 5.0 adds a raft of new features that overcome previous limitations and directly compete with those in archrival XPress. One of the most useful and long-awaited improvements is the ability to open multiple documents limited only by available memory) and drag and drop elements from one to another. Text and graphics rotation and skewing are other major enhancements, allowing for much more flexible and creative layouts. You can rotate text and graphics in 0.01-degree increments and directly edit rotated text. And you no longer have to purchase an add-on program to do process-color separations--that's now a standard feature.
Most of the bugs in earlier versions have been eliminated. Gone is the annoying glitch in PageMaker 4.0 for Windows that would truncate your font list if it extended to the bottom of the screen. The Font menu now uses submenus to display your entire list. PageMaker also used to hate 32,768-color video modes, but no longer; we were able to use it with a 32,768-color driver on a Dell 466/M with no problems.
Manipulating text and graphic elements on the page is much easier and faster with PageMaker's new floating control palette. This narrow little panel is tool-sensitive, so whenever you change tools, the most-often-used functions are only a mouse clock away. When you select the text tool, the control palette lets you switch between paragraph and character modes to give you complete text control without your having to access the Type menu. Interruptible screen redraws also boost productivity; you no longer have to wait for the entire screen to redraw before you take another action.
Version 5.0 is shipped with more than 20 Aldus Additions: macros and independent software components used for making drop caps, bulleting or numbering lists, creating shortcut printer style sets, listing styles used in your document, balancing columns, and more. Many of these Additions were written with PageMaker's new script language. Third-party additions are already available, and you can create your own using the script language. The script-language manual isn't included, but it's available free to registered users.
Aldus provides more than 65 filters for importing data; PageMaker now supports Photo CD and Ventura Publisher files, and you can import Windows Metafiles and PICT images directly into either the Windows or Macintosh platform. You have the option of converting images from one format to the other when you transfer documents across platforms, or you can leave them unconverted if you plan to transfer the document back to its original platform. Unfortunately, the popular JPEG 24-bit format isn't supported, but we were able to import JPEG images using PageMaker's OLE support and a third-party program.
PageMaker has new features and enhancements for nearly every aspect of page layout. Three leading methods, baseline shift, and precise control of kerning from within the control palette greatly simplify typesetting. You can now scan directly into a PageMaker document using a TWAIN-standard scanning device. Panose font mapping simplifies bringing documents from systems with different typefaces, and six color libraries (including PANTONE) make color matching a snap; you can even create custom color libraries. There are many other improvements, including automatic true typographer's quotation marks, support for printing nonconsecutive groups of pages, and new printing code that no longer requires custom drivers.
There's a lot more that's new than we have room to describe here. Suffice it to say that Aldus has taken a good program and made it great, and that current users will find PageMaker 5.0 to be well worth the $150 upgrade price. Documentation is complete, and the program includes free technical support for 90 days after the first call. Whether you're putting out a laser-printed company newsletter or a color-separated national magazine, you'll find PageMaker 5.0 is up to the task.