Price When Reviewed: £405 plus VAT
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This was a bit of a surprise. PageMaker 6.5 Plus was supposedly the grand finale in 1999, after which Adobe hinted that the hoary old code would be replaced by a sort of InDesign Lite. This hasn’t happened, so Adobe has updated PageMaker to cope with changes in operating systems and file formats since 1999. Windows 98, ME, NT and 2000 are supported, as are Mac OS 8.6 and above (including OS X Classic mode).
PageMaker was the first desktop publisher in 1984, and millions of copies have been sold. Although Adobe now pitches it as a ‘business publishing’ tool to distance it from InDesign, a good number of pro designers and small printshops still use PageMaker. They like its features and don’t want to spend time and money on buying and learning QuarkXPress or InDesign.
It’s a full-featured multi-page layout program with indexing and table-of-content creators. Typographic controls are better than Quark’s, though not as good as InDesign’s. Built-in colour management can separate RGB-CMYK colours. HTML Web pages can be exported, with automatic layout adjustment for landscape formats. Several hundred design templates are included, plus 4,700 graphics in Illustrator and JPEG formats, 150 Type 1 fonts, and 300 high-res photographs.
There aren’t any new creativity tools: PageMaker 7 is all about file formats and making it easier to work with other workflows. The latest Adobe file formats can be imported. Native Photoshop 5/6 can now be placed directly. Illustrator file placement now supports Illustrator 9, though transparency won’t work – you have to convert to EPS to print this. PDF 1.2, 1.3 and the new 1.4 files can now be placed directly in PageMaker pages, as if they were EPSs. The special Photoshop 6 and Illustrator 9 PDFs (again without transparency) can also be placed. EPS files created with PostScript 3 code can be placed, which allows embedded in-RIP trapping instructions to be preserved.
PDF output is improved. A copy of Acrobat
Distiller 5 is included, and you can access and modify its settings from the PageMaker Export menu. PDF text can now be tagged for output, so lines automatically reflow on a small screen – in particular for the Acrobat eBook reader for Palm OS handhelds.
A conversion utility is provided for QuarkXPress 3.3 and 4.x documents (Mac or Windows) and Microsoft Publisher 97/98/2000 files (Windows only). I never have much success with XPress conversions. Word 2000/2001 files can now be imported, and .rtf and .txt support is better.
The new data merge feature is useful for variable-print work or for controlling brand identities on business cards. Text and image from databases or spreadsheets can be imported and merged into PageMaker templates, with options to print all records, or just a range.
If you’re an existing user, the £59 upgrade price is worth it to update the file and operating system compatibilities, and the data merge is an attractive bonus. New users should consider the alternatives first: XPress and InDesign are the professional design standards. Microsoft’s £65 Windows-only Publisher 2002 is a bit toytown, but its wizard approach suits people with no design abilities. Macromedia FreeHand 10, which does multi-page layouts and has decent typography tools, is worth considering at around £290.