Corel Ventura 4.2. (desktop publishing software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Rick Broida
Corel Ventura 4.2 is the first release of that desktop publishing program since Corel acquired the stagnating Ventura Publisher software last year. The updated package includes not only a new version of the program but also hundreds of megabytes of the kinds of goodies we've come to expect with Corel products.
Because this is an interim update (consisting mostly of bug fixes), Corel Ventura breaks no new desktop publishing ground. Still, it's a worthy choice when you're publishing long documents like books and magazines. Those not convinced to choose Ventura over the more expensive PageMaker or QuarkXPress simply because of the program's improvements may instead be lured by Corel's impressive bundle of extras.
These include many of the same riches that made CorelDRAW! such a hit. The $199 CD-ROM version contains more than 600 fonts in both Adobe Type 1 and TrueType formats; over 10,000 pieces of EPS clip art; and a CD-ROM sampler with 100 photos culled from Corel's Photo CD collection. Those items alone make for a tempting package; the bonus is Ventura.
Of all Ventura's merits, three stand out. First is Ventura Scan, which easily acquires images from any scanner and brings them directly into a document. Next, Ventura Separator performs prepress color corrections and separations for both spot and process colors--an important capability for professional publishing. Finally, Corel has incorporated support for Adobe Acrobat (a set of applications designed to simplify document exchange and output) and includes Acrobat Reader and Adobe Type Manager 2.6. A document modified using Acrobat may be viewed on any platform, regardless of its native operating system, and printed on any printer. Note, however, that while Corel Ventura includes direct support for Acrobat features such as bookmarks, links, and tags, and it includes Acrobat Reader, it doesn't include the Acrobat Distiller program necessary for actually creating portable document files.
If you're formatting information from database software, you'll appreciate the included Database Publisher, which extracts information from existing database files and converts them for use in Ventura. Finally, a design gallery features 75 style sheets and templates to help you get started in page layout.
There's really only one major flaw with this package: Ventura is still tougher to learn and use than its competitors, despite Corel's inclusion of good training and reference materials. Current Ventura Publisher users should definitely spring for the upgrade, which features an abundance of add-ons and some useful software updates. Others may want to sit tight, as CorelDRAW! 5.0 is due in May, and it will incorporate Ventura as part of the application suite.