Aldus PageMaker 5.x

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On: 2023-10-17 00:12:57
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  • AldusPM-5.0 

What is Aldus PageMaker 5.x?

After several years of seeing its market share eroded by QuarkXPress, Aldus finally saw the typesetting on the wall and launched a major effort to reverse the trend. PageMaker 5.0 provides those features, great and small, with which QuarkXPress zealots used to taunt PageMaker loyalists. PageMaker 5.0 not only matches QuarkXPress’s best features, it also improves on many of them.

Best of all, Aldus retained the ease-of-use advantages that PageMaker has had from the start. The result is a program that belongs on any DTP professional’s shortlist, and it may even win some converts from the Quark camp.

Better Late Than Never

Many of PageMaker 5.0’s new features fall into the “finally!” category. You can now open more than one document at a time — earlier versions’ one-at-a-time limitation was archaic and inconvenient. Like QuarkXPress, PageMaker 5.0 lets you drag text or graphic elements from one open document window to another — no cutting and pasting needed to reuse last month’s masthead in your newsletter. You can now quickly arrange multiple open windows to avoid screen clutter.

PageMaker now has a library palette so you can store and recall often-used elements. As in QuarkXPress, you can assign keywords to elements in the library. PageMaker 5.0 also lets you add descriptive information for library entries, including author name and creation date. Libraries can also store linked text blocks, such as those in a multicolumn news story — QuarkXPress libraries can’t. And if you use the Aldus Fetch multimedia database, you can import text and graphics from Fetch databases into PageMaker libraries.

Aldus’s past attitude to creating special effects seemed to be, “Let ’em use FreeHand and then import the effects.” Many graphics professionals turned to QuarkXPress instead. To counter this trend, Aldus has added numerous text and graphics effects to PageMaker.

Look carefully and you’ll see that a rotation tool replaces the Toolbox’s rounded-rectangle tool. Previously PageMaker could rotate text in 90-degree increments only, and couldn’t rotate graphics at all. In PageMaker 5.0, you can rotate elements in increments as small as .01 degree — either by using the mouse or by typing values in the new Control palette.

The Control palette debuted in version 4.2, but 5.0’s is far more powerful. Among other things, it now gives you more control over text- and paragraph-formatting — you’ll spend less time using the Type menu for changing fonts and styles and adjusting kerning and tracking.

You also get access to more text and graphics attributes than are in QuarkXPress’s measurements palette. Quark’s palette doesn’t let you summon or create paragraph style sheets — PageMaker’s does. But PageMaker’s Control palette doesn’t let you change the width and style of boxes and lines; Quark’s does.

PageMaker’s Control palette offers several new features for skewing and flipping text or graphics. Skewing creates an element with diagonal rather than vertical edges. Flipping lets you reflect text or graphics (as though the element were reflected in a mirror) or turn it upside down.

Lots of Additions

I’m among the minority of electronic publishers who believe that PageMaker’s typographic output has long been superior to QuarkXPress’s — not because of more type-finessing features, but for some rather esoteric reasons. PageMaker uses a hyphenation dictionary, for instance, while QuarkXPress relies on rules that English grammar loves to break. PageMaker’s justification scheme more closely follows the rules of traditional typography, which say that interword spacing should be adjusted before intercharacter spacing. And PageMaker has for years provided true typographic tracking; QuarkXPress’s Tracking command provides range kerning, which lets you adjust intercharacter spacing over a range of text. Now, fine-tuned tracking tables provide better results. And a new included addition (Aldus-speak for an add-in utility) enables you to edit the program’s existing tracks or create new ones.

PageMaker 5.0 includes Agfa’s KernEdit utility, which lets you edit and create your own kerning data. QuarkXPress lets you do that, too, but the resulting kerning tables can be used only with QuarkXPress. KernEdit’s kerning tables also work with programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Aldus FreeHand. This provides consistent kerning across programs — a hallmark of fine typeography.

Yet another new addition. Expert Kerning, kerns a selected range of text by inserting manual kerning codes based on the kerning data built into a font. Although there’s no substitute for hand kerning, especially for large headlines, the addition works remarkably well.

Along with the kerning-related additions, PageMaker 5.0 includes new additions that let you create booklets, save and recall printer settings, automatically insert bullets or numbers at the beginnings of paragraphs, and scan images directly into PageMaker publications.

More third-party developers now offer additions, too, although the selection is small compared with that of Quark XTensions. More important, the Aldus Additions technology has some limitations that can cause confusion. All additions appear in one place — the Additions submenu of the Utilities menu. Quark puts extensions in the most appropriate menu.

Another problem with the Additions mechanism is that an addition is always available, even when it wouldn’t make sense to choose it. (You can, for instance, choose the Drop Caps addition when a graphic is selected.) This contradicts Apple’s guidelines, and it means an annoying error message each time you choose an addition under the wrong circumstances.

Coloring and Printing

PageMaker 5.0 provides several new features for working with spot color as well as color images. The program supports a larger number of color-specification systems than its predecessor. Several variants of the Pantone library are now included, as are libraries for Focoltone, Trumatch, Dainippon, and Toyo. You can also create custom color libraries — a feature QuarkXPress doesn’t provide.

PageMaker can now create process-color separations at printing time. Aldus PrePrint, the color-sep utility shipped with PageMaker 4.2, is no longer included, although it’s still available and is necessary for advanced prepress tasks such as adjusting dot gain and fine-tuning continuous-tone color images.

PageMaker 5.0 finally does away with Aldus Prep, the system file previously used for printing to PostScript printers. The new PageMaker includes LaserWriter 8.0, the new Level 2-aware PostScript printer driver created by Apple and Adobe. Besides enabling background printing (a long-overdue feature), the new driver allow's PageMaker to retain its “magicstretch” graphics-resizing feature. Magic stretch makes it easy to resize bitmapped graphics, such as scanned images, so that they print without distortion.

Although PageMaker requires the new driver, it doesn’t take advantage of one of its biggest conveniences — the ability to control printer features such as resolution enhancement from the Print dialog box. Aldus claims there wasn’t time to support this aspect of the driver — hard to believe, given the driver’s multiyear gestation period. Aldus may add this support if enough customers bark.

Bridging the Mac-Windows Gap

Aldus has more experience creating dual-platform programs than any other company, including Microsoft: PageMaker has been available for Macs and DOS PCs since 1987. With version 5.0, Aldus has provided identical features and file formats (Windows PageMaker 4.0 lacked some of the features of Mac PageMaker 4.2). The Mac and Window's versions of PageMaker 5.0 can swap publications, even offering to convert fonts not present on one platform. Both versions also automatically convert platform-specific graphics formats such as the Mac’s PICT format and Window's metafile format (equivalent to PICT).

PageMaker 5.0 is the first non-Microsoft program to support Microsoft’s object linking and embedding (OLE) data-exchange system. Like the Mac’s publish-and-subscribe system, OLE lets you establish hot links between programs: change an Excel spreadsheet that’s linked to a publication, and the publication changes accordingly. PageMaker 5.0 even maintains links when a publication moves from the Mac to Windows, or vice versa.

Clear Out Your Hard Disk

PageMaker 5.0 has put on weight. It uses between 6MB and 15MB of hard disk space (depending on the options you install) and requires at least 5MB of RAM (8MB is more reasonable). QuarkXPress 3.2 isn’t nearly as portly.

But PageMaker 5.0 trails QuarkXPress in some areas. It still lacks a Group command for treating multiple objects as a single one. (A pseudo-grouping addition is included, but it’s an awkward solution.) PageMaker is also less suited to automating the production process; changing a layout from, say, four columns to three still requires manual labor.

In all, however, PageMaker 5.0 is a superb upgrade. If you own a previous version, drop this magazine now and order the upgrade. When it arrives, note two points before converting your PageMaker 4.2 publications. First, PageMaker 5.0’s tweaked kerning tracks are likely to cause tracked text to reflow. (You can use PageMaker 4.2’s tracks by following the instructions in one of 5.0’s Read Me files.) Second, Aldus had at press time begun receiving complaints about links to some encapsulated PostScript files not being retained during conversion. The workaround: use the Links dialog box to relink the affected EPS file, or reimport the file using the Place command.

If you use QuarkXPress, should you switch? If you’ve built a production environment around QuarkXPress and you aren’t fed up with Quark’s mixed track record for customer support, probably not. But if you’ve been using Quark because it has always provided more features but you find the program a bit unwieldy, consider making the switch.

If you’re just starting to take the electronic-publishing plunge and don’t anticipate needing the highly specialized extensions that have been developed for QuarkXPress, consider PageMaker first. It has always been the most approachable publishing program. Now it’s among the most powerful, too.

Heid, Jim. (November 1993). Aldus PageMaker 5.0. Macworld. (pgs. 48-49).

Download Aldus PageMaker 5.x for Mac

(9.55 MiB / 10.01 MB)
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Macworld PageMaker 5.0 Bible (PDF) / compressed w/ Stuffit
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Simple addition that allows a user to type in a specific magnification percentage for viewing a PageMaker 5.0 or 4.2 page or object. / compressed w/ Stuffit
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Motorola 68K

System Requirements

From Mac OS 6.0

Compatibility notes

Minimum System Requirements:

  • 68020 CPU
  • 5MB RAM
  • System Software 6.0.7
  • 40MB Hard Drive

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