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Last June (see Vol. 6, No. 10), we began a series of articles reviewing some of the interesting software products developed as add-on modules to help customize standard page composition programs. The focus of that article was on Xtensions for Quark Xpress, although we also mentioned the budding market for Additions for Aldus PageMaker and Annexes for DesignStudio.
For Xpress, that article covered some Xtensions of general utility (Xtension Manager, Default Settings, Navigator XT, LayerManager and ViewIt), some for design and layout (Electronic Border Tape, ColorChange, Missing Link and NudgeIt), some for text and graphics (Dashes, Spellbound, Kerning Palette, Text Tools, Picture Tools, Overset and QXEdit) and some for production and output (ColorManager, FileManager, Magpie, Printer's Spreads and Xdata).
Additions. In this issue, we start with four Additions for PageMaker mostly oriented toward adding small convenience features.
* Zephyr Palettes, from Zephyr Design, sets up floating palettes that display the font, size, leading, styling, tracking and zoom factor.
* Import That and Rotate This, both from Equilibrium, convert non-Mac graphic files to Macintosh formats and rotate images, respectively.
* PMproKit, from Edco Services, actually contains five Additions, one each for kerning, positioning text or picture objects, modifying the set width of type, setting up multicolumn pages, and moving and rotating a block of text in conjunction with an existing line.
Xtensions. For Xpress, we cover some text composition Xtensions plus some convenience items:
* The Gatherer, from Managing Editor Software, enables the operator to "drag out" a container when placing a text or graphic. It also facilitates gathering up the various elements that are to appear in a publication, including those from multiple directories, for ready access, and keeps track of which ones have been used.
* ProTabsXT, from Software Xtensions, provides facilities for creating tables within Xpress. It is aimed more at traditional typesetters than at desktop publishers.
* Shortline Eliminator, from KyTek, helps to get rid of the short words or partial words at the ends of paragraphs that don't look aesthetically pleasing.
* CursorPos, also from KyTek, brings a floating palette to the screen to indicate the current x/y position of the cursor.
* Agency Fit, from Monotype, provides a suitcase file that holds screen fonts and kerning tables, a tracking table, and an Xtension that lets Xpress apply these values to selected parts of the text. To be continued. This collection of programs represents a new batch we received since publication of the first installment. We will continue looking at this type of product as long as they appear to be interesting. Any developers who would like to contact us about reviewing their Xtensions, Additions or Annexes are invited to do so.
There probably aren't many features of PageMaker that Xpress users really envy. But there is one that we've always liked: the ability to "drag out" the container when placing a text or graphic. That's because this operation sets the object's size and position even as it completes the file opening operation, in one smooth and logical sequence. In Xpress, you have to create a container and then fill it by a separate command. At least, you used to. The Gatherer now adds that feature to Xpress, along with a couple of others.
Actually, we doubt that Managing Editor Software had PageMaker in mind when it wrote the Gatherer. More likely, it was trying to streamline the production flow for periodicals. In a typical newspaper or magazine, the text and images for an issue will be in a few designated folders that signify they are ready to be placed on the page. (Work in progress will be in other folders, each folder serving as someone's in-basket.) Each magazine, issue or edition will have its own group of folders that accumulate material during the publication cycle.
But the files for an issue are probably not all in one folder. Rather, the display ads are in one place, the class ads in another; the feature stories are in one folder while the columns are in another; and so on.
Gather them up. The Gatherer lets you identify the files you are going to use to build the page. It complies a list of files--a runsheet--which may be drawn from many folders anywhere on the network and may be any file type that Xpress can read. You will later use the list of files to lay out the page. The only restriction is that picture files must be in a separate list from text files. That is because Xpress requires text and pictures to be placed in different container types.
The files don't have to be present in the directory at the time you build the list. (Good thing, too. Inevitably some won't arrive until the last minute.) Rather, in the gatherings phase you are merely identifying folders whose …