Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 158 / NOVEMBER 1993 / PAGE S1

The time is right for desktop publishing. (Compute's Getting Started With: Desktop Publishing)
by David English

Today's desktop publishing programs are more powerful and easier to use than ever before. They are a far cry from the first PageMaker 1.0, which I tried on the Macintosh in 1985. That early software had a nasty habit of locking up in the middle of a simple cut-and-paste operation. Despite the pitfalls of early desktop publishing, I loved the ability to move text and graphics on the page. In fact, I liked it so much, I began using a desktop publishing program for all my correspondence.

My first experience with PageMaker on the PC was in 1987. I was thrilled to see the familiar interface on the PC, but the PC version ran so slowly under Windows 1.0 that it was hardly worth it. With few typefaces and graphics utilities available on the PC side, I stuck with the Mac, even though I had moved much of my other work over to the PC.

Today, just about every desktop publishing tool that's available for the Mac is also available for the PC. PageMaker 5.0 has nearly all the features on my wish list--full rotation of text and graphics, multiple documents open at a time, color separations, precision placement of text and graphics, and an information bar that gives you vital data at a glance.

PageMaker's new Additions feature lets you install third-party add-on programs to the pull-down menus. The program ships with a rich selection of add-ons, including ones that help you automate drop caps and rear-range your pages with thumbnail views. PageMaker 5.0 is easier to use than previous versions, even with its many new features.

In the late 1980s, entry-level desktop publishing programs were so difficult to use that people would spend hours designing a simple newsletter or brochure. Today, Microsoft Publisher 2.0's PageWizards can design your newsletter or brochure for you--all you do is choose the appropriate options. For example, to design a brochure, you might choose: modern style, side-fold, picture on the front, and mailed, and Publisher takes care of the rest. Publisher 2.0 ships with 17 PageWizard design assistants, 35 professionally designed templates, 20 TrueType fonts, 100 border designs, and 125 clip art images. It's a great way to get started with desktop publishing.

We've seen similar improvements in printer technology over the same period of time. In 1985, a 300-dpi laser printer cost $4,000--$5,000. Now that same quality printer costs as little as $500. By the time you read this, Hewlett-Packard will be selling its 4P laser printer with a resolution of 600 dpi (four times the resolution of a 300-dpi printer) at a street price of just $800.

Finally, three years ago, high-quality typefaces generally cost $100 or more. Today, you can buy font packs with the same quality typefaces for as little as $1 each.

If it sounds as though I'm trying to do a sales job on you--it's true, I am. There's never been a better time to make the move into desktop publishing, so take a little time out to read the rest of the articles in this section and give desktop publishing a second look.