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Old 09-19-2007, 06:57 AM   #1
RJ Emery
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Default Alternatives to MS Publisher

What commercially available DTP programs exist that would be as good if not better than MS Publisher?

   
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Old 09-19-2007, 09:06 AM   #2
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What commercially available DTP programs exist that would be as good if not better than MS Publisher?
What sort of material do you intend to produce? How will it be printed — on your desktop printer, or by a commercial ink-on-paper printer? Will you need to exchange files with others?

So far as I know there is no DTP program that is weaker or less capable than MS Publisher.

The high-end software — used to produce newspapers, magazines, and books — is extremely capable, and expensive. It may be more than you need. This category includes Adobe InDesign and PageMaker (now virtually obsolete) as well as QuarkXPress. These are expensive and you may not need all their power.

Other packages that might work:

Serif PagePlus is a popular step up from MS Publisher. It has ardent fans, a few of which visit here at least occasionally.

Ventura Publisher (now called Corel Ventura 10) has always been a favorite with users, and it is very capable, once competitive with PageMaker. Then it went through changes of ownership and lost steam. But I still know people who swear by it.

PageStream 5.0 started out on Atari, then came out with a Mac version, and today is also available for Windows and Linux. It is a very capable program, at a fairly small price.

The open source program Scribus is gaining interest, and we have a couple of users here on the forum.

There are a few others, but that list should get you started. If you answer those questions I posed at the beginning of this message, we may be able to give you more focused advice.

   
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Old 09-19-2007, 10:04 AM   #3
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Other packages that might work:
Have you ever compared the type appearance between these programs -- I mean like letter spacing. Are there significant differences??

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PageStream 5.0 ...is a very capable program, at a fairly small price.
Did you ever compare the basic program to the professional to note the advantages??

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Old 09-19-2007, 10:26 AM   #4
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Have you ever compared the type appearance between these programs -- I mean like letter spacing. Are there significant differences??
If you use a well-spaced font and avoid justification, all should do. It is when you need to finesse the spacing that the strength of the high-end packages shows up.

I know PageMaker, InDesign, and XPress fairly well. I have reviewed PageStream, once, probably a decade ago. I thought it was pretty good at the time, even compared to the better-known programs, but there was no professional version and it was a long time ago.

PagePlus and Ventura do not run on Macs, so while I have certainly seen output from them (particularly Ventura), I have little idea of how easy it was to set good type.

I keep meaning to check out Scribus, but haven’t had the time. Howard White and a few others here use it, and would be better people to ask about typographic quality.

Or maybe we could get people to make controlled specimen paragraphs in all these programs so we could get printable PDFs for comparison purposes. No special settings, just flush left/rag right and justified samples using the programs’ default settings.

   
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Old 09-19-2007, 02:33 PM   #5
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I
Or maybe we could get people to make controlled specimen paragraphs in all these programs so we could get printable PDFs for comparison purposes.
You mean PDFs made by the programs themselves -- thus retaining their WP type quality??? Or PDFs made by another program, like Adobe Acrobat or Scan Soft?? I thought if I convert a file to PDF in AA, that software controls type quality, converting it to its specifications. Or would AA or SS just retain the type quality as produced by the WP program -- thus, producing one level of quality in, say, MS Word, and another in InDesign??

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Old 09-19-2007, 02:55 PM   #6
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George,

I am always interested in learning new things.

What is ScanSoft and how does it relate to this thread or what Kathleen proposed?

   
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Old 09-19-2007, 06:39 PM   #7
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What is ScanSoft and how does it relate to this thread or what Kathleen proposed?
RJ,

I'm not a real desktop publisher, but I get by nicely for my own purposes, which is a lot of desktop publishing. There are different ways to make PDFs, and lately I've been using this program made by Scan Soft. It doesn't cost much, and it's easy to use, and it makes nice documents -- far as I can tell.

One thing that really irritates me about Adobe products is, that I can never buy them (legally) for just a fraction of their retail cost. I don't get it -- I buy absolutely all my other software that way. Sometimes if I pay market rates for things, I end up getting real confused. I'm not sure why, but part of it is like things I experienced as a child.

KT suggested we make a sample paragraph in different DTP programs to compare type quality using a PDF format. So that's how my questions arose in the thread.

Don't worry, it all makes sense after awhile. Trust me, it does.

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Old 09-21-2007, 06:53 AM   #8
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RJ,

...

One thing that really irritates me about Adobe products is, that I can never buy them (legally) for just a fraction of their retail cost.

...
George
I bought Adobe Acrobat 5.0 on ebay for a very reasonable price, but I share your annoyance at the high prices of Adobe Acrobat and other Adobe programs. There are numerous lower priced alternatives to Acrobat, perhaps in part because of the Adobe high price. For professional use in going to commercial printers, Adobe Acrobat in the current version is essential, otherwise, especially for web use, some of the alternatives are reasonable choices.

One other issue with Acrobat is that it produces a PDF a lot larger than some of the alternatives or even my old 5.0 version. This was important in the era of a lot of dial-up users, but now that is a fading breed, and of less concern to me than years ago when I was publishing a newsletter for my civic association.
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:58 AM   #9
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You mean PDFs made by the programs themselves -- thus retaining their WP type quality??? Or PDFs made by another program, like Adobe Acrobat or Scan Soft?? I thought if I convert a file to PDF in AA, that software controls type quality, converting it to its specifications. Or would AA or SS just retain the type quality as produced by the WP program -- thus, producing one level of quality in, say, MS Word, and another in InDesign??
Steve R or someone else here will know more about the technical qualities of the various PDF-creation tools.

For a test of type spacing, I think everyone would have to use Acrobat. That way we could hope for a neutral distillation (or at least consistency).

   
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:33 AM   #10
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For a test of type spacing, I think everyone would have to use Acrobat. That way we could hope for a neutral distillation (or at least consistency).
Not everyone has Acrobat, but everyone can get PDF995 free of charge. The work can then be printed to the PDF995 printer for a true side-by-side comparison.

FWIW, I have found PDF995 to be very accurate when reproducing work as a PDF file.

   
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