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REVIEW: Pagemaker


Alfred J. Lata
Dept. of Chemistry, 201 0 Malott Hall, University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045

Note: This article was scanned using OCR from the Winter 1989 CCCE Newsletter. Please contact us if you identify any OCR errors.
I've had several requests to review Pagemaker, which is the program used to put this newsletter together. Since PM is the only publishing program I use I can only repeat opinions I've heard that PM is a bit easier to use, does better graphics, but has fewer of the bells and whistles a professional would need.
I've only used PM for this newsletter. Previous issues have been done on an IMB-60 , with a normal sized monitor. This issue is being done on a Mac llx with a 20" saeen. Wow, what a difference! Up to now we have been able to read only IBM diskettes, so doing the newsletter on an IBM made sense.
Let me give you a picture of hOY'¥' I put the newletter together. First I select the submissions to be published. I read and make any changes on hard copy submitted. You can do this in PM but a wordprocessor works better if you are making major changes. Then I try to read the article into PM. If PM can't read the file, it allows me to make several other attempts using different protocols. If this doesn't work I have a few utilities that are tried on the file. If it's still not readable some of our staff who are usually pretty good at this give it a try. Last resort is to have the material retyped using compatible software and hardware. (This always works.)
My experience is that about half the material submitted is unreadable. I'm finding that if I can read the diskette on the IBM I can read it directly with the Mac. The reasons the files aren't readable is because they are submitted from unsupported wordprocessors or often damaged diskettes (US Postal Service?). I have not been impressed with the IBM's ability to read ASCII but the Mac does fine (both reading from files using PM).
Once you've read your files into PM your ready to set up a publication. The menus available are just about the same on both machines and both use mice heavily. You either open a new or old publication. You can use either the mouse and menus or hold a command key down and type the appropriate letter. For most heavily used commands you can use the mouse or keyboard.
If your publication is going to have the same format it is worthwhile setting the parameters on the master sheets. This will allow all succeeding pages that are opened to have the same parameters. You can set the number of columns, type, font and many other parameters you probably don't need to use.
Although I had used many programs on an IBM before PM I found the interface different enough to be confusing. On the Mac, 8 of the 11 commands under file are ones I use in all other Mac programs . The only one of the 3 new ones that I use is 'Place', which places a given article into the publication. Since I use a Mac everyday this makes it easy to just bring PM up and work for while. This is because most of the commands are ones I use constantly in other programs, they are standard on the Mac. Although the order in which you enter files into PM doesn't affect the order in the publication, 'Placing 'files does.
It is not really hard to add or delete articles, but some strange and unwanted things can happen, especially on a small monitor. To be able to show two pages at a time PM uses "greeking" which shows the position of text but not letters or words. You can really fool yourself if what you think you are 'Placing' and actually are 'Placing', are different files. You can flip up to a print size you can read but then you only see a small part of one page. It takes so long to do this that I often thought I had made a mistake and started pressing other buttons. This in turn would cause all kinds of problems. Not much fun.
On the large screen you can read the print with 2 pages up at one time. The Mac is very fast, and a pleasure to use. Of course an IBM compatible with a 80486 chip and a large screen would make life a lot easier. But the interface would still be different from other programs you use on the IBM and would require extra time to learn ...
As you 'Place' articles you can flow the text around spaces you leave for graphics. You can also flow all the articles together to make one document or keep them separate. If all the articles are going to have the same format and you're expecting to make changes, having one big document is an advantage.
If you have one document you get essentially the same effects as using a wordprocessor. Make a deletion or insertion and everything reformats itself. lfthey are separate artides then changes in one can cause it to overun a later article. Trying to hand format a half dozen articles is not fun ,is prone to lots of errors, and is very time consuming.
Once you have 'Placed' all your material you can select any amount and change parameters to your hearts content. Very easy to try changes out and see what document looks like.
Although you can certainly use PM as a wordprocessor. for anything over a few paragraphs I would use a regular word processor and 'Place' the finished document in PM.
If it sounds interesting you'll probably find it worthwhile to get some help as you start. An experienced colleague or a continuing ed course makes it a lot more pleasant to learn.


01/15/89 to 01/19/89