Desktop Publishing ain’t what it used to be

One thing I do wonder though, with all the advances that have been done to Word over the years is it really incapable of desktop publishing? I know previous versions had multiple problems handling long documents and the Master Document process was buggy as hell. Do those problems still persist? Is Word still incapable of pulling together multiple files, creating headers and footers and then exporting the whole thing out as a well formatted PDF file? I suppose when it comes to documents that have lots of images, cross references and charts things go all to hell. That’s not something I’m really attempting so is Word all I really need?

Going down this path of desktop publishing has led me all over the place. Funny thing is, desktop publishing doesn’t mean the same thing now as it did several years ago. Before, publishing meant you were going to an expensive printer and had to have exacting color matching and postscript files. Everything had to be ready for that exact printer or the whole deal was shot to hell. Now printing can mean to the web, to a PDF, as an image or as an email. And because of that a slew of new apps have appeared to get the job done. Sure, InDesign and QuarkExpress are still the exclusive domain of professionals but there are lots of other apps depending on what you want to do. It seems there are as many software tools available as ways to publish. And I’m in no mood to shell out $600 just to combine some documents together.

I was checking out several sites and found plenty of low-cost and even free alternatives to the Adobe offerings. They may not be commercial printing ready, but then again neither am I. I’m not entirely sure they’re ready to put together a long document such as a book but I’m pretty keen to check them out and see where desktop publishing has come in the last few years.

In my short stint of looking at these DTP apps Microsoft Word is still considering a no-no. In fact, several apps don’t even offer filters for Word documents. You have to either copy and paste the text or import it as regular text. In one way that is very frustrating, but on the other hand considering the amount of crap that Microsoft puts in save file I can see why companies don’t want to write importers. It’s probably more of a hassle than its worth and the text looks like crap anyway.

Word, it does so much, but there is still no love.

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