Price: £2,650 plus VAT
German developer CGS Publishing Technology International will be an unfamiliar name to many designers, as this is its first Mac product. It’s been around since 1986, producing and continually developing a high-end, high-productivity, layout program for publishers and printers. Originally called Digi-Design for VAX computers, it was moved to DEC Alphas, given colour-handling features, and renamed ORIS (Open Reproduction Industry Standard) in 1990, then ported to Windows NT 4 in 1997. In 2000, it was further extended with a new text editor, PDF import abilities, and a lower price, and renamed ORIS Page. The Windows NT4/2000 version has sold well into pre-press and printing companies, plus some large German magazine and catalogue publishers. The brand new port to the Mac OS should broaden its appeal to design and publishing studios that need to create or edit large numbers of features, display ads, or catalogue pages for print. It runs on both OS X 10.1 and OS 8.6 onward, while the Windows version works best with NT 4/2000, but will run on 98 or XP. Note that there’s a USB security dongle. Full-function but time-limited demos of Page can be downloaded from the CGS Web site (the Mac OS version is 20.8 MB). Tools of the trade The standard version of ORIS Page includes a full set of layout, retouching, drawing and print-control tools, plus top-quality colour-separation controls. It’s important to realize that it will only work on one ‘page’ at a time (which can be a double-page spread). You can open multiple pages, but each is a separate file in its own window, and you can’t flow text between them. Output formats include Flat PDF or Flat PS for efficient output through a RIP, or as PostScript, EPS, DCS, JPEG, or TIFF. It can also output PDFs via Adobe Acrobat Distiller. CGS offers specialist pre-press production options that increase the price considerably – examples are OPI image substitution, and Scitex CT/LW file support, which cost £2,650 excluding VAT each. A built-in PostScript 3 interpreter imports PostScript, EPS, and PDF files from other applications and converts their contents into separate objects in the ORIS internal format. This is also useful for ‘pre-flight’ checks and correction of files sent from outside customers. These can then be re-exported in a ‘clean,’ printable PostScript format. This is one of Page’s main appeals to pre-press companies, as they can solve problems without having to ask customers to make alterations in the original applications. For designers, Page can create complex layouts from scratch. Alternatively a basic DTP layout can be exported from QuarkXPress or InDesign as EPS, PDF or PostScript, then opened and refined in Page, which can correct colours and add soft-edged cutouts, drop shadows, transparency effects and trapping, as well as completely new layout objects such as images, blends, or text. The image-editing tools can access Photoshop plug-in effects filters. Live text entry is possible, as is editing of text in imported pages, though line endings may not re-flow. There are no word-processor import filters, so you have to cut and paste from other applications, and there’s no spelling checker. Text can flow between columns in the page, but the inability to flow between pages is a nuisance for multi-page work. Layers and image-handling All objects, alterations, and effects are assigned to separate layers within ORIS Page, so it’s easy to set up multiple versions within the same page and to switch layers on or off as required. The layers even control functions such as colour profile corrections and unsharp masking without altering the underlying data, so you could use the same file for different printing processes and enlargement factors. Image-handling functions include professional pre-press colour-editing capabilities. Selective colour changes are easy – gradations and selective colour modifications can be applied to the whole image, or just masked areas, or they can be loaded into the brush tool and painted on locally. Editing/correction masks are generated for the currently selected layer, and affect all the pixels underneath. But, because the original objects are preserved in the database, you can reverse or edit these changes at any time. Even brushing directly onto the page is possible. Correction layers can be moved on the page and changed in their geometry and soft edges at any time. Any object can be given transparency, soft edges, and/or a drop shadow – all controlled and editable by slider bars. QuarkXPress trapping is preserved when importing composite colour files. ORIS Page includes manual trapping tools for any elements, or can work with the automatic In-Rip Trapping (IRT) of PostScript 3 pre-press Rips. Automatic trapping on export is available as a £3,000 extra, but few users will need it. CGS has done a good job in porting to Mac OS X (apart from some installation niggles with access privileges). It has adopted the Aqua look, but the general user interface isn’t particularly intuitive if you’re used to Adobe or Quark packages. Page has all the same functions and more, but the tool concepts are different, and their menus are presented as multi-line floating palettes – so you have to spend the time to learn them. Fortunately, there are comprehensive manuals, and a decent set of tutorial files. In 2000, ORIS Page’s ability to mix complex layout tasks in the same program was well ahead of anything QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign could manage at the time. This year’s InDesign 2.0 has stolen some of Page’s thunder – it too can create complex shapes and drop shadows as well as sophisticated transparency effects, all of which can be removed or altered. InDesign 2.0 can apply Photoshop cutout masks, but unlike Page, it has no built-in brush and retouching tools. Neither can it edit PDFs, though it can convert and import QuarkXPress pages. If you’re used to thinking in terms of XPress and InDesign, the price of ORIS Page is a bit of a shock. But price isn’t the real point: ORIS Page offers single-point versatility and high productivity to users whose time is money.