Back to DTP

When I first started using Macs, back in 1984, one of the big selling points was desktop publishing. The resulting explosion in amateur publishing produced some pretty awful results, but the net impact was a huge increase in the quality of computer-generated output, which went from being almost unreadably awful to quite pleasant to read. I produced a bunch of things in the 80s, including various newsletters and even a book of satirical songs, using long-dead packages like ReadySetGo and Deluxe Music Construction Set[1].

But once the real professionals started using packages like Quark and Pagemaker, the competition got a bit too hard, and I stopped worrying about page layout. Now however, I’ve started having some real fun with Apple’s iWork package, consisting of Keynote, a presentation package, and Pages, a page layout program. They produce really nice output, but are still easy and fun to use.

I’ve been working on the annual report for the Risk and Sustainable Management Group which is the little team I’ve set up to run my ARC Federation Fellowship and Discovery projects. If I can get the PDF file down to a manageable size, I’ll post the report here when it’s done. In the meantime, feel free to check out what we’ve been up to here and here.

fn1. Having picked the minority platform, I showed a fairly unerring instinct for minority software packages. I still use NisusWriter rather than the ubiquitous and awful MS Word for most of my word processing, and Bookends rather than Endnote for bibliographic stuff. Both well worth a look if you’re a Mac user unhappy with the usual offerings.

10 thoughts on “Back to DTP

  1. I envy your being able to choose your own wordprocessing software. I edit rather than produce my own stuff, so although I work on a Mac at home I’m invariably sent Word files and have had to buy Office for Mac (or whatever it’s called). Word really is a dreadful piece of software. I’ve heard good reports of Pages, however.

  2. Shows up fine in Safari, but I’ll redo the page. I got it set up for me in Frontpage, which came out nicely for IE, but is hard to edit and update. I’ve decided vanilla HTML is the way to go for now.

  3. dk, as far as quantitative stuff goes, I mostly do modelling for which I use Excel and others on the team use GAMS (a PC program).

  4. MS word? used it since V 6.6 and Nisus seems good. I bought a copy today, (nasty capilalist I am).

    How many here have not?

  5. What’s wrong with MS Word?

    Its pagesetting is awful; its style management system is infuriating, its handling of pictures/figures is dreadful.

    I would much rather work in the much-maligned and somewhat-quirky Pagemaker for almost everything except equations, which I don’t use much anyway.

    I’m happy with Excel, which adequately does almost everything I need from it (admittedly pretty simple stuff), so it’s not really a Microsoft issue–given what it should be able to do, MS Word is genuinely terrible.

  6. For equations, there’s no really satisfactory alternative to LaTeX. I run versions of Scientific Word (no relation to MS Word) in two different emulations, Mac Classic mode and Virtual PC. If anyone knows of a decent OS X front end, I’d be most grateful. I’ve been pointed to TeXShop in the past, but it doesn’t seem to be what I want.

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