Serif PagePlus X2 £99

10th Apr 2007 | 03:31

Serif PagePlus X2

A respectable piece of software for anyone interested

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

A versatile yet easy to use DTP offering that will suit beginners and enthusiasts

From its birth 20 years ago as a Pagemaker lookalike, Serif 's PagePlus has gone on to be a major player in the home and small-business DTP market, selling rather more copies than its progenitor.

Version X2, known to those who respect traditional numbering systems as 12, takes an already well-featured application and adds functions such as HTML email publications, PDF slideshows, a media bar for storing images, and live calendars that don't have to be updated every year.

It's also fully Vista-compatible, meaning that you can search your documents like you would for any other text document, and the Vista icons show a live preview of the document in question. It's not much, but it's a nice touch. PagePlus can produce pages for paper or screen, publish them in PDF or HTML formats, and print to any Windows printer.

It can handle multi-page documents and supports multiple master pages, enabling you to create masters for different sections of a newsletter. The program can handle professional colour regimes, supporting Pantone colour-matching, as well as CMYK, RGB and HSL. Sophisticated photo colour manipulation is also incorporated, so you may not need to move to a photo editor for straightforward adjustments.

Over the years Serif has refined the way PagePlus works and it now has an interface that will be very familiar to people using Adobe or Corel products. With a toolbar down the left-hand side of the screen and slide-away palettes in a panel down the right, you can choose to have all your regular tools showing or to work with a clean, uncluttered screen.

On either side and below the editing screen there are three extra arrow buttons. These control the studio tabs, how-to panel and media bar. The studio tabs can be left in a palette or pulled out individually or in groups; you can have floating tabs for colour or transparency a la Adobe, or have them all docked away, like Corel.

The media bar is a kind of clipboard for photos. By default, a temporary album is created for each new document, then dispensed with when the program is closed. To keep the album, you can save it to disk and it becomes available to any document you may create.

Evolutionary steps

The media bar works in addition to the PagePlus gallery, already available from earlier versions. These can be used to store graphic and text clips, and move them from one document to another. There's still no attempt to share galleries between PagePlus and Serif 's vector application DrawPlus.

The new fonts tab, which slides out from the left toolbar, is an easy way to view installed fonts, showing each in its own style. It takes some finding, though - it would be more logical to include it in the studio bar, along with the character and colour tabs.

Serif is clearly taken with the PDF format. In version 8 of PagePlus, it introduced direct PDF creation, in version 11 it added PDF forms and now in X2 it takes things further with PDF slideshows. This function is like a mini Powerpoint; pages can be turned into 'slides' and you can set transitions and even incorporate sounds and videos into them.

It's a bit gimmicky at the moment, but could develop into a useful extension of the application. Something similar goes for HTML emails. Most people will be aware of fancy email ads that arrive in their mailboxes - not exactly spam, but definitely on the sell. You can now make your own, in a similar way to designing a website but with only one page. You can preview your email at any time in the web browser of your choice.

As usual, Serif provides a whole bundle of extras on its Resources CD. The design quality of the templates and samples is of a high standard throughout and has a consistent style. There are lots of complete project guides, such as creating and printing CD sleeves and labels. These are provided as PDFs, and are good examples in themselves of well designed documents.

There's nothing in PagePlus X2 that's truly revolutionary. It continues a steady evolution, adding in new features that its large customer base will appreciate. The media bar and live calendars will be particularly valued, but PDF slideshows and email publications should also have their devotees. PagePlus X2's Vista capabilities are largely peripheral, but it's good to know the software is fully compatible with the new OS.

SoftwareComputingSerif
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