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The original desktop publishing package for IBM PC, Ventura lost ground over the years to strong competition from the likes of PageMaker, QuarkXPress, and now InDesign. Despite Corel’s takeover of the product a few years ago, the ailing giant continued to lose market share, but a new version, four years in production, looks set to reverse this. Ventura 10 consolidates all of its strengths for professional publishing and adds XML import and PDF export. Ventura 10 is still a beast of an application, weighing in at 250MB for a full install. It’s also still a challenge to master. Although Corel has added icons on the menu bars, presumably in an attempt to add a more intuitive feel to the interface, the result is just more clutter. Having to distinguish from lots of slightly different icons makes the program seem even more complex. That said, version 10 extends the options for customizing your interface and commands to suit the task in hand. Ventura’s handy Navigator is still here, letting you easily switch between multiple publications, drag-&-drop elements, and view and create indexes, tables of content and page tags. Tag team addition Tags – Ventura’s answer to the stylesheets and master pages of other DTP packages – have been extend to include tables. You can specify every aspect of a table’s design including fill and outline properties in a tag – making it a snip to create multiple tables that share the same formatting. Ventura’s graphics support is more encompassing with over 40 import filters and over 30 export filters. Once embedded in Ventura, a bitmap’s orientation, size, resolution, colour mode can be changed and you can apply one of the new special effects such as blur or distortion. Several welcome improvements have been made to Ventura’s output capabilities. An integrated preflight option means that potential errors can be quickly spotted and corrected, In-RIP trapping parameters can be specified when outputting to PostScript 3 devices, and a new Prepare for Service Bureau command collects all fonts and linked files. More importantly, the application can now export to PDF. Ventura’s previous option for commerical print output was its EPS format, which often caused problems for service bureaus. Ventura doesn’t ouput in the latest Acrobat 5 format, but the Publish to PDF command raises its game and will please users who don’t already have Distiller for this purpose. Corel is headlining XML support as the main new feature of this version, along with the new XML Mapping Editor, which lets users translate DTD (Document Type Definition) rules into Ventura tags. Once the mapping is set up in the editor, a style-free XML file is automatically converted to a fully-formatted document in Ventura – a boon for users in large organizations that need to repurpose a wide variety of content. The only drawback is that Ventura only supports XML import – you can’t edit the XML file or export as XML. Users that need this capability will need to invest in an XML authoring application such as Corel XMetaL. The new additions to version 10 are all welcome but it’s still Ventura’s existing strengths that impressive the most – its long-document handling, sophisticated typographics, formatting and layout control and customization.