The New Features of Pagemaker 4.2
Author: John Lee, Mouse Droppings
Date: December, 1992
Keywords: page layout software program application review
Text: Ease of Use PageMaker continues to be the easiest to use high end page layout program. The new version adds to the list of features found in previous versions, while not unduly complicating the user interface. Paragraph Styles PageMaker's paragraph styles have evolved over the years and now offer adjustable rules, kerning, expanded or condensed text adjustable by percent, and colors. You can reverse text against a colored or greyscale background object. You still can't assign a shade or color directly to the background of a text block as you can with Word 5.0, but that's not an overwhelmingly limiting factor. As in the past, the styles used in PageMaker and Word work fairly seamlessly together. There are some areas where they don't overlap as stated above, but overall these two programs provide the best integration between any word proc-essor and page layout program. Table Editor One area that Word and PageMaker don't match up is the translation of tables. PageMaker converts Word Tables to tab delimited text. To compensate for this deficiency, PageMaker comes with a stand alone program called, appropriately enough, Table Editor. Table Editor is a basic table creation and editing program that should fit most needs. My experience with it is that while it works, it is flawed. The major flaw I found is that the program is not WYSIWYG in its zoomed views. It cost me an hour of troubleshooting to figure out why my formatting changes wouldn't work on a table I did in 7 point text. Now that I know what the problem is, I can do work-arounds, but for many hapless desktop publishers, I see much frustration. Hopefully, the next iteration of PageMaker will address this problem. Another minor problem that has been reported to me, but I haven't been able to confirm personally, is that when Table Editor documents are output to image setters, hairlines don't print correctly. New Features Additions are the biggest news in PageMaker 4.2. In the spiraling features race between Quark Express and PageMaker, PageMaker has done a good job of implementing an external functions interface that comes close to Quark's Extensions. While there are few Additions available currently, many are scheduled for release, both by Aldus and by third party developers, in the coming months. PageMaker 4.2 ships with six
Additions: *Balance Columns equalizes columns, but does not provide true vertical justification. *Make Booklet allows you to print out correctly collated two-up booklets. *Display Pub info provides information about fonts and other items in a publication, although the CheckList program that is bundled with 4.2 does a better job. *Drop Cap automatically creates drop caps through some elaborate reformatting of text. *Sort Pages lets you rearrange the order of pages in a publication. The final Addition is a scripting language that gives full control over PageMaker's user interface. This last Addition comes at a price. The manual that tells you how to generate and write scripts does not come with PageMaker. You must pay an additional fee to acquire it. Boo! Hiss! Other new features include a Control Palette to precisely place and adjust graphics on the page. Multiple paste is a feature I really like. This allows you to quickly and precisely duplicate items on the page. It really simplifies the process of making forms, for instance. System 7 is supported including Balloon Help, 32 bit addressing, and Publish and Subscribe. Option-double clicking automatically launches a program that originally created a document inported into PageMaker. Cool! PageMaker now comes bundled with Pre-Print, Aldus's stand-alone color separation program. While it is not as seamless as Quark Express's internal separation features, it does the job. Wish List The current verson of PageMaker can't use the scrapbook in System 7 to convert or group objects as PICT's as you could do in the past. The good news is that there is a shareware program called PM4 Scrapbook that provides this capability. Of course, it would be preferable if PageMaker allowed you to group objects internally. Other features found in Quark Express are still not available in PageMaker. These include color separation, incremental text and graphic rotation, and gradient fills. I'd also like to see more graphic tools available. Conclusions PageMaker is a robust, stable, high end page layout program. It has fallen behind Quark Express in some areas, but if you want an easy learning curve, well implemented, bug free features, and don't need the additional features Express offers, or are willing to wait for Aldus's implementation, then I strongly recommend PageMaker. I use it as my primary page layout program and am very satisfied.
Copyright © december, 1992 by John Lee, Mouse Droppings