* Prices may differ from that shown
After having started to use Adobe PageMaker 6.5 in early 2000, I awaited the new version of PageMaker (Version 7.0) which was released early this year. With the exception of Quark XPress, PageMaker *was* the DTP tool to use, blowing away the lacklustre Microsoft Publisher and being out and out focussed as Adobe?s top-end flagship for DTP. When I wrote an opinion on PageMaker 6.5 last October that was the state of play... However, the times they are a changin? - with PageMaker 7.0 being really touted as their SOHO, Educational and Non Professionals choice, with the templates provided being remarkably similar to the sort of offering put together with the latest version of MS Publisher (apart from no proprietary HTML creator ? phew!), although there is an option to export as HTML which I have not bothered looking at ? but would presume it might be in line with GoLive?s HTML. PageMaker 7 has now been superseded by InDesign and FrameMaker for the more professional needs, although of course there is a lot of interactivity between any one of the three products and other items in the Adobe product palette ? all three supporting Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat software, with the other products supporting other packages too. PageMaker 7 is available for the MacOS 8.6, 9.1 and OS X as well as Win98, NT4, Win 2k or ME. And is as I have already said, intended for the high entry-level/mid-range market, clearly Adobe?s attempt to corner some of the market away from users of MS Publisher. But the fact of the matter is that whilst Adobe PageMaker is a lot superior to MS Publisher, it is also a lot more expensive (Publisher 2002 retails at £85 + VAT (£99.57) against £379 + VAT (£445.32) for PageMaker 7) and no home user will really consider spending four times as much for their modest needs, although the package has clearly got a lot more support for it in print houses than MS Publisher. Another indictment of the fact that MS Publisher is seen as competi
tion is the fact that a file conversion package to convert MS Publisher to PageMaker 7 files is shipped with the software. There is a also Adobe Table 3.0 (unchanged from the previous version of PageMaker and a whopping 4,700 stock illustrations, 300 hi-res photographs, and more than 150 Adobe Type 1 Fonts which must be worth more than the package alone. Of course if you want the fonts, you could just buy the upgrade for £65 + VAT and get your hands on 150 or so fonts in the process? Previously I had found that I spent a lot of time converting graphics for use within PageMaker as the previous version only allowed the import of TIFFs into PageMaker. Now though that is a thing of the past, and you can even keep the layers intact in your graphics if necessary. PM7 also supports PDF creation tools, allowing you to created tagged PDF files, which allows true multiplatform support for documents with the necessary reflowing being done to support the new PDF viewers for Palm and Visor, for viewing on the web or in print. The item that is proving to be the biggest help to me is the new data merge facility, which allows you to merge the content (e.g. a letter) with data (i.e. a mailing list) so you can effectively do mailshots, which I had previously found to be not worth the bother when MS Word could handle them pretty well, rather than having to endure a very cumbersome process in PageMaker 6.5 InDesign has effectively taken over the mantle of the rival to QuarkXpress, relegating PageMaker 7 to the Publisher level. Clearly it outperforms against Publisher, although they should not really be considered in the same league as one another. Unfortunately, the support of other filetypes is not that good, with there being no support for importing Publisher 2002 files, and no patch has appeared to date. There is backward compatibly with files created in PgaeMaker 7 being able to also be saved at PageMaker 6.5 format (not all print shops have updated yet b
y any stretch of the imagination) This doesn?t detract from the fact that essentially PageMaker does do everything I need it to and produces the results I want that I know that MS Publisher would not be able to achieve. If you have a copy of PageMaker 6.0 or later, then the upgrade is a snip at the price, particularly given the number of goodies that come with it, but otherwise the pricetag is beyond the realms of most home users and Publisher will probably suffice for your needs in any case. Overall the package is solid and works well although it doesn?t address the market demands as well as big sisters/brothers InDesign and FrameMaker or Quark XPress. If you want something more powerful than MS Publisher then this could be the think for you if you are not a professional layout designer, otherwise you are better off choosing either InDesign or FrameMaker, depending of course on how far your wallet will stretch.