Now that the home entertainment market has moved towards streaming video services and Blu-ray content, there has never been a better time to convert DVD collections to digital.
Microsoft Office Publisher 07
- User-friendly interface, time-efficient applications, huge library of templates, PDF support
- PDF support requires download, light on advanced features, "it's not Adobe InDesign"
Microsoft Publisher 07 is an affordable 'all-in-one' publishing application ideal for home-run businesses. While it fails to match the professional sheen of its market leading rivals, there are more than enough features here to fulfil a variety of purposes.
Price$ 285.00 (AUD)
For as long as anyone can remember, Microsoft has been churning out bi-yearly updates of its Publisher application, alongside the more famous programs in its Office suite. While some of these 'upgrades' have been a tad trite and incremental, this latest version truly does offer some significant improvements. These include automatic conversion of documents (e.g. -- from newsletter to Web page), an increased number of professional templates, a new Content Library and Design Checker tool, a revamped user-friendly interface and, for the first time ever, PDF output options. While it won't win over fans of its top-end competitors, it remains an affordable 'branching off' point for beginners and small businesses.
As its name implies, Microsoft Publisher 07 is a desktop publishing application which allows you to professionally design and layout pages, whether they be for the Web, print publications, or both. It caters to all aspects of publishing, allowing you to create everything from business cards to brochures and posters. Traditionally aimed at entry-level users, it attempts to simplify much of the process at the expense of high-end functionality. (In other words, while beginners will be able to tackle the application with considerable success, advanced users may be hamstrung by the limited tools on offer.) Thankfully, Publisher 07 attempts to loosen some of these restrictions, though it is still significantly underpowered when compared to the likes of Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress.
If you're new to Microsoft Publisher, this latest addition does an admirable job of holding your hand, presenting you with an intuitive and clutter-free front end. It is surprisingly easy to create unique looking documents by simply playing around with the assorted templates on offer, which naturally can be tweaked and customised to your heart's content. Images can be inserted directly from a scanner or digital camera, with recolouring and cropping options built into the application. The inclusion of a new Tasks icon to the toolbar is also helpful for beginners, offering detailed assistance for a variety of tasks. Simply put, if your business is in need of a recognisable identity -- but lacks the budget to hire a professional designer -- Publisher 07 supplies enough tools to let you take a stab yourself.
One handy new addition to Publisher 07 is the Content Library, which allows you to store and reuse your items across multiple publications. This is a great time-saver, giving you instant access to frequently used text and graphics with all your customisations in place. Naturally, it also allows you to keep a professional consistency between different types of media; with your Web pages, letterheads and marketing materials all sharing identical templates.
Another neat feature in Publisher 2007 is the improved Design Checker; a wizard application that scans your finished publication for overlooked flaws or anomalies. Unlike previous versions of this application, it can automatically fix any mistakes it discovers for you (as opposed to just alerting you to their existence). Again, this helps you to invest your time more efficiently, though perfectionists can still elect to remove the errors themselves.
A major criticism levelled at previous Publisher releases has been the lack of PDF output; instead sticking to a little-used and under-supported file format of its own. Publisher 2007 is the first version to support the PDF format... and yet, it doesn't. For some reason, users are forced to download this PDF feature from the Microsoft Web site; as it does not appear in the boxed product (we're assuming this has something to do with Adobe legal wrangling). While this is a slight hassle, on the plus side, the download is free of charge. In any event, this significantly expands the usability of the product; allowing you to share your print publications online with a minimum of fuss.
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