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Old 06-18-2023, 09:41 PM   #1
woody649
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Default What do you use?

I'm pretty certain I'm the rookie on this site. My recent debacles with Microsoft Publisher and Affinity Publisher have led me to wonder if maybe I just have the wrong concept for what DTP is all about.


After failing miserably at using Affinity Publisher to do the final formatting on a book, I took another crack at Microsoft Publisher. I watched a LOT of video "tutorials" on Microsoft Publisher, and it seems nobody uses it for anything more serious than brochures and business cards. I just don't get it. Decades ago, without even knowing what I was doing, I produced a full-length book, complete with illustrations, using the now sadly defunct Timeworks Publish-It! DTP software. Microsoft Publisher and Affinity Publisher cost orders of magnitude more than Publish-It!, and they just don't do the job.


InDesign and Quark are both out of my price range. Publish-It! worked a lot like Quark, but without the professional color management capability. I think I am going to risk the money on buying that Greenstreet Publisher 4.6 just to see if it is a worthy successor to Publish-It!. But I am curious. This place is a DTP-dedicated forum and from what I gather, pretty much everyone here other than me is a professional.


Is there anything other than InDesign or Quark that's suitable for doing book-length projects? I'm doing pretty well just using Word to format book interiors and LibreOffice Writer for the covers, but I would like to up may game a bit if I can find an affordable way to do it.


Does anyone here use Scribus? I have downloaded it, but everything I read suggests that it has a steep learning curve.
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Old 06-19-2023, 07:58 AM   #2
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I was curious to see if Ventura Publisher's still being sold. It's not, but if older copies are available, it might run on current Windows. Franca, who appears here from time to time, might know.

But along the way, I came across this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corel_Ventura

Down toward the bottom of the page, there's a list of LOTS of other DTP apps. Might be worth checking some of them out as well.

Ventura was (is?) a real powerhouse for long documents like books.

   
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Old 06-20-2023, 08:53 PM   #3
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I used Ventura Publisher and WordPerfect. I liked Ventura Publisher a lot, but it was too buggy. I don't have my copy anymore.

For what it's worth, I think Adobe still makes their long document software called Framemaker. I never tested it. And I don't think I ever met a Framemaker user. So why do I even mention it? Well, it is software that is made for long documents.

   
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Old 06-20-2023, 09:03 PM   #4
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The experts all recommend Adobe InDesign for books. But (a) it's VERY expensive, and (b) Adobe has now gone over completely to the subscription model for software. Even if they still make FrameMaker, I doubt I could afford it.


The budget program I used back in MS-DOS days has often been described as a Ventura work-alike. I never used Ventura, so I can't comment. From my limited exposure to Quark Xpress, I thought Publish-It! was pretty much a Quark work-alike.


I have discovered two good tutorial series for Scribus on YouTube, so I'll be watching those over the next week or two to see if I can get myself up to speed on that. It generally gets top reviews, and supposedly equals InDesign for capabilities. But ... GIMP supposedly rivals PhotoShop, and I was never able to figure out how to do anything in GIMP.
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Old 06-21-2023, 07:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woody649 View Post
The experts all recommend Adobe InDesign for books. But (a) it's VERY expensive, and (b) Adobe has now gone over completely to the subscription model for software.
Is this an issue on principle or based on cost concerns?

If the latter, the cost for a shortish project could actually turn out reasonable.

Quote:
I have discovered two good tutorial series for Scribus on YouTube, so I'll be watching those over the next week or two to see if I can get myself up to speed on that. It generally gets top reviews, and supposedly equals InDesign for capabilities. But ... GIMP supposedly rivals PhotoShop, and I was never able to figure out how to do anything in GIMP.
I haven't used either of these heavily, but from the little I have seen, Scribus has a much more usable interface. I suspect that even someone who had a hard time with GIMP might be OK with Scribus.
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Old 06-21-2023, 07:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayza View Post
Is this an issue on principle or based on cost concerns?

Both.
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Old 06-21-2023, 06:21 AM   #7
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>> I liked Ventura Publisher a lot, but it was too buggy.

Some of the versions were rock-solid, some were bugfarms. It had some really useful features, especially if you dug into the file format a bit (easy to do because it was ... I forget the acronym, but the thingie HTML was derived from ... IAC, all plain text). I was able to semi-automate the production of a 600+ page manual with graphics converted from Freelance and inserted as EPS figures (when FL didn't even DO EPS). Took several types of magic, some software and batch files that I wrote myself, and was so complicated that I still can't remember exactly how it worked. Pretty cool though.

CorelDRAW was that way too; you always wanted to buy/update to every OTHER version and if you got on the wrong end of the cycle, may Baud have mercy on your soul. Kind of the same with MS Office, but it affects a lot more blighted souls because sometimes entire multinational corporations get in at the wrong time and then stay there by skipping every other upgrade.

Office 2002, aka XP: s**tshow. Office 2003: a rock. Office 2007: Duck! Office 2010: Gibraltar. Office 2013: into the toilet again and stayed there until the third service pack.

Of course, that's all changed since O365, where every new batch of updates is like some weird game show where the Wheel of Fortune might bring you some really neat new features or it might deposit lumps of nasty on your computer.

   
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Old 06-21-2023, 07:26 PM   #8
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Publisher was never intended for long documents. But for short stuff, it's surprisingly powerful. It's not what you need, but stuff like brochures are actually "serious" stuff (or can be).
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Old 06-21-2023, 07:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Publisher was never intended for long documents. But for short stuff, it's surprisingly powerful. It's not what you need, but stuff like brochures are actually "serious" stuff (or can be).
It's obvious that Publisher was never intended for long documents. (Assuming you're speaking of Microsoft Publisher, not Ventura Publisher or Affinity Publisher. And Ive pretty much decided that Affinity Publisher is useless for longer projects, as well.) And, given that, it certainly isn't what I need.


The question is, WHY? I understand that for a diner the menu is important. I understand that for some businesses the annual report is important. What I question is that Publisher only comes in either Microsoft 365 (the subscription plan) and Microsoft Office Professional. Before the advent of Microsoft 365, Publisher was only available of the professional version of Office, not in Microsoft Office Home and Business.


But Office Professional also includes Access. Most small businesses don't need Access, don't know how to use Access, and may not even know what Access is. And I suspect that the majority of mid-size and large companies and corporations that put out things like annual reports, catalogs, and sales materials probably don't have the regular office staff do it with Office. They either have an in-house graphics department (if they're big enough) that almost certainly uses InDesign, or they farm out the design of their printed materials to a commercial graphic artists -- who almost certainly uses InDesign.


I just don't understand why Microsoft doesn't recognize the potential of using Publisher for longer documents? If they did, and if they'd just provide a few templates for such projects, Publisher might not be routinely dismissed by reviewers as a red-headed step child that doesn't get any love from its parents.
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Old 06-21-2023, 10:04 PM   #10
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Microsoft desktop applications have always been about routine home and office. They have never been about "best of breed." They seemed to know how to make something good enough to sell a lot, without being the most powerful.

   
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