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  1. #21

    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    OK. I finally got to work today. I only have one quickie job I need to do before I go home (and the week's paperwork). I am semi-retired as goes layout work. I still do between 100 and 120 jobs a year, a few are large documents that range from software manuals to books. A few catalog a year that aren't overly large (one is, it's a class syllabus) and smallish catalog supplements. The rest of the jobs are a mix of ads, some web assets, price lists, etc.

    Today it's a simple price list. It'll run somewhere above 10 pages, less than 20 I suspect looking at the Excel file. The tab-delimited data is like this:

    Baking 8 Arrowroot Powder 1-lb 2.55 2.30 2.17
    Baking 192 Bacon Bits Imitation 1-lb 4.10 3.69 3.49

    Each new entry begins with the category for the item. The category can only appear once in a section header at the beginning of its category. This simple job will be done in QXP. It will not be in a table. It will all be done with paragraph and character styles. But, I will cheat. I will use a plug-in to bring in the tab-delimited file and that plug-in will apply the paragraph and character styles to the text. It will add the currency symbol. QXP will flow the text through the publication. Prior to the latest version of QXP, I would use the plug-in to also add the running headers, but with QXP 2015 that is no longer a necessary component.

    I will first paste in the same text as above. I will create the styles and apply them to this sample text, then delete those two lines. I will then write the processing script for the plug-in. Then do the import. If I need to, I'll edit the script and reimport. I'll then drop in the company logo and info onto the master pages. Next? Export to PDF and email the PDF to my contact. It will be reviewed, a change or two perhaps, then I'm free the remainder of the day to do my paperwork.

    Why iterate all this work-flow? To demonstrate what some of my work in my world entails. It (often) involves add-ins, (almost always) scripting, the creation and manipulation of text styles, master pages, text that may come to me as a Word file, or Excel, or XML or any other format. Graphic assets come in as PSDs, PSBs, EPS, AI, TIFFs, or any other number of formats all in a variety of color models that I need to maintain through the publication's creation and output. This requires controlled color management from the beginning to the output.

    Back to the price list. I have spent way more time writing this than it will take to write the script to use on this (it's pretty simple). As regards doing something like this in XDP (or CorelDraw or PagePlus) is this: I believe I am fairly proficient in XDP. It reckon it would take me over three times as long to format this text than the entire job as outlined above will take me. Maybe more than that amount of time. Though I don't do many jobs in a year anymore, when one adds up the time savings in using a more efficient application that would equate to less dollars for me and my family in a year. Go back X number of years when I had a 5 person design shop, the loss of revenue in a year's period would be staggering.

    Best regards, Mike

  2. #22

    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    My feedback

    • Basic text handling (the list you have)
    • The behaviour of undo after typing lots of text. It's not like Word; instead it undoes one letter at a time which makes it fairly impractical when undoing a few sentences.
    • I presume DTP isn't the same as word processing, so there's lots of Word features that aren't in there which are nice.
    • Repeat on all pages does as it says, but sometimes, you only want repeating in certain sections rather than document wide. So being able to define document sections which apply to certain pages.
    • Nested layers thus in the P&L gallery to group pages in their sections
    • Sometimes, when you have a lot of linked text, text manipulation can get slow (although I'm not sure this is still an issue).

  3. #23

    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    I'm done, with the exception of getting approval.

    With this simple job, color management wasn't a requirement but at least I could see the actual color used on-screen. Once again, using the CMYK mix I used for the rules behind the categories don't appear the same in XDP. Now, that color would hold to the PDF from XDP, I just wouldn't be able to actually see it properly in XDP. So:

    (1) Color Management. It's a must. This color management must be both at the application level and the document in use. I did an ad earlier this year that appeared in most UK newspapers that used the various newspaper's required output profile. I did have to make two versions of the ad due to color shifts with the intention they would appear the same/similar in each publication once printed. Doing this in XDP would have required more faith and trial and error. Something one cannot afford on a quick $200 job.

    (2) Scripting. Whether I am doing something in ID or QXP, I rely heavily on scripting for automating long document tasks. With ID, I can always rely on its JavaScript support to do things that I need a plug-in for in QXP due to me using a PC and QXP currently only supporting AppleScript (which is being changed for JavaScript support as well).

    (3) While I can do repeating elements in XDP, they are no substitute for Master Pages.

    (4) Easily created, maintained and use of text styles. XDP's implementation of text styles is simply not efficient. All properties related to the styles needs to be accessed and editable in what would be termed a Gallery in Xara products.

    (5) Running headers/footers.

    The above is just for a simple document like the one I just did (it was 12 pages, btw).

    The two-page flier I did last week for an automotive supply chain had a mix of gray-scale and color logos in a variety of formats (AI, EPS, PDF, PSD and TIFF). I would have to have converted the AI and EPS files using Illustrator to bring them into XDP. The PSDs I would have needed to open and export out to a flat-format due to how they open in XDP. The TIFFs imported fine into XDP (just checked). The assets are roughly 50 megs for this two-pager.

    However, the gray-scale images would have been converted to RGB in XDP and while for this job being printed in full-color, that aspect would not have mattered. What would have mattered is the density of the pixels. I would have need to adjust them in XDP or an image editor to lower the density from the conversion. As these were using profiles for 20% dot gain, and because XDP cannot use those profiles, the ink would have been too saturated in a non color-managed work-flow. Color management was already mentioned...

    So I can add:

    (1) Updated import (and export) filters are an absolute must for any modern layout application.

    (2) Gray-scale support.

    From two jobs, roughly a week apart, the above 7 things are what I expect/need to see in a professional layout application. As I think through past work, I can surely add a bunch more if desired.

    Mike

  4. #24

    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    Well the definition of 'DTP' in this topic was 'like PagePlus'. And by that definition we should be close (better in some ways).

    So I doubt PagePlus is any more capable of handling 600 pages than we are. Can it do scripting? Scripting is a 'nice to have' for most people I expect (being a rather technical process). I doubt that would be high up most people's list. And that's the challenge for us, that most people's wish lists are different.

    AI and EPS files should come through OK. Modern AI files are really just PDF and our PDF import is very good. Our import / export filters should be up to most jobs (we are aware of the requirement to import PSDs flattened, rather than layered as they are now, or at least have the option.) So if there are cases where you know they do not work - tell us. (We're also aware of the greyscale limitation.)

    But other points taken on board.

    Regarding Text Styles - I think our Style system is as powerful as anyone's, so is it just a usability thing wanting to see the full Style definition in an editable 'properties panel? (We chose to do it 'on the page' instead of in a separate settings panel.) So to see all the Style values just place the caret in the style and the InfoBar (which is, in effect, our properties panel) shows you all the settings at a glance. To change any Style value just change it in the document and select 'update style'. That's a pretty easy and straightforward and I have difficulty understanding what benefits presenting this another way would have? We could lay that our vertically in a panel, but that would simple take a lot more space.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #25

    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xhris View Post
    Nested layers thus in the P&L gallery to group pages in their sections
    Can you clarify what you mean by this Chris? I can understand nested layers, as one thing. But how does that relate to grouping pages into sections?

    Impression had Chapter support for long documents, whereby you could swap out non-current chapters for performance and manageability reasons (it's not very useful having one scrolling document 600 pages long or 600 thumbnails in a column). So this was a hierarchical way to manage book length documents.

  6. #26

    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Moir View Post
    Well the definition of 'DTP' in this topic was 'like PagePlus'. And by that definition we should be close (better in some ways).
    Fair enough. I was actually asking about the types of work versus an application.
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Moir View Post
    So I doubt PagePlus is any more capable of handling 600 pages than we are.
    I have done 400+ page books in PP, both for print and eBook output. works fine, but that's about the largest. Not graphic-intensive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Moir View Post
    Can it do scripting? Scripting is a 'nice to have' for most people I expect (being a rather technical process).
    Not currently.
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Moir View Post
    I doubt that would be high up most people's list. And that's the challenge for us, that most people's wish lists are different.
    Serif "suffers" in some respect with the same affliction that other smaller software companies do--client-base driving features to some degree, limited resources and lack of vision for what their products could be (much less how to get there). If Serif's client-base had a greater degree of professionals that used PP for production, scripting would already be in-place. It's on version 18 (X8). Still no running headers/footers, though a recent statement indicates this and some other professional features will make their appearance in X9.
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Moir View Post
    AI and EPS files should come through OK. Modern AI files are really just PDF and our PDF import is very good. Our import / export filters should be up to most jobs (we are aware of the requirement to import PSDs flattened, rather than layered as they are now, or at least have the option.) So if there are cases where you know they do not work - tell us. (We're also aware of the greyscale limitation.)
    As you know, PDF is a final presentational form. Not everything that can be expressed in a PDF can be opened for editing, not even by the originating application. AI, for example, cannot interpret its own PDFs fully. But it doesn't need to as there is the private data fork it will open assuming it has been saved in the PDF.

    I get many AI files that simply have not been saved with PDF data. I can guarantee XDP cannot open most any of them unless they have been saved in a now-ancient AI format. In other words, I care about opening/importing the AI data, the newer EPS files I get without using another piece of software.
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Moir View Post
    Regarding Text Styles - I think our Style system is as powerful as anyone's, so is it just a usability thing wanting to see the full Style definition in an editable 'properties panel?
    Yes, in part. Also would be a useful dialog with all text properties present. As you have some version of ID, and perhaps PP, open a style for editing its properties. They are vastly more comprehensive that what can be achieved in XDP. In that regard, no XDP's text styles are not as "powerful as anyone's." Not even close in nearly any regard.

    Nor are text frames in XDP as useful. Nor styles for other objects. For instance, how will Xara handle tables in the future if it desires to be a "DTP" solution? Tables are next to worthless currently but are a staple in many types of documents. And as I have mentioned in the past, tables are one of those things that have applicability for your web customers as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Moir View Post
    (We chose to do it 'on the page' instead of in a separate settings panel.) So to see all the Style values just place the caret in the style and the InfoBar (which is, in effect, our properties panel) shows you all the settings at a glance. To change any Style value just change it in the document and select 'update style'. That's a pretty easy and straightforward and I have difficulty understanding what benefits presenting this another way would have? We could lay that our vertically in a panel, but that would simple take a lot more space.
    Yes, currently there is a properties panel arrangement. That is useful in everything I use for layout. I also prefer to have it remain on-screen ala ID and QXP versus the "subject" of this thread, PP. I absolutely dislike the context aware swapping in and out of a properties bar happening as I select various types of items.

    For text styles, I believe for the creation of styles, a property bar arrangement is not as efficient as a dialog as per PP, ID, QXP, etc. Further, once created, modifying styles when more than a single property is involved is easier done in a dialog. And, I would prefer a "live" preview on-page of the changes I am making ala ID.

    So why a dialog driven means as per ID/QXP/PP, or in a "Gallery" arrangement as per CD? As Xara extends what it can do as regard text properties, there simply will not be room on a property bar for some/many of the properties than can be manipulated. Once Xara adds rules above/below, OT Features, tab control, alignment/spacing, bullets and numbering, breaks, language, initial word, drop caps, etc, Xara will have to rethink how this is presented to the user. I would recommend starting now.

    Below is a screen shot of a smallish catalog I did in PP a couple years ago. It makes use of tables extensively for the options of each item. A page will have as few as 2 images, as many as 30. While not a large catalog in terms of page count and asset size, there are nearly 380 images. Laying this out in XDP would be a heavy chore.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So:

    (1) Tables. I could care less about math functions myself. My tables are presentational. But there will be others who would like to use such a table feature.

    (2) Table styles. All the tables above use table styles. No different than text styles, really. Provides consistency.

    (3) Ability to attach a table to Excel data for future updating.

    Mike

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Liverpool, N.Y.
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    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    I'd love to see a different model for Xara's offerings under Magix, because you're going to get the same sort of disagreement (as civilized as this one is!) when you try to address Web Designer's foibles, and so on.

    Charles, you mentioned a long time ago that Xara is envisioned as an "everything under one roof" design application, not solely a vector drawing program, and by definition, I think this is why Xara is seen as walking a slippery slope. Rather than seeing Designer Pro as "a vector drawing program, but also so much more!", it's being seen as "It's not quite a DTP program, it's not quite a paint program...", and it's because some users are depending on the program as a complete solution in one area of visual communications.

    You either sell it as a vector drawing program plus... or you re-strategize and let each module grow into its own thing, instead of packing all the other modules' new features under one roof. You probably don't have the engineer power to do this, but at least you wouldn't be in the situation of explaining away its perceived shortcomings.

    Adobe doesn't enjoy this problem with its suite because each program grew up on its own, and then a synergy was created wherever there was the possibility of product cross-over with features.


    -g

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Sunshine Coast BC, Canada. In a beautiful part of BC's temperate rainforest
    Posts
    9,864

    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    Maybe the solution would be a module set up similar to the way On1 photo suite works there is the browse module that is the starting point and all the different modules come with browse. The modules can all be purchased separately or all together as the suite. The browse module is what ties them together. If Xara products could work this way you could have a kind of browse module and DTP, Illustration, Photo editing, Web design and 3D modules. There could still be an every thing under one roof for those that want it (the full suite) or users could just buy the modules they want and they would work together

    My current Xara software: Designer Pro 365 12.6

    Good Morning Sunshine.ca | Good Morning Sunshine Online(a weekly humorous publication created with XDP and exported as a web document) | Angelize Online resource shop | My Video Tutorials | My DropBox |
    Autocorrect: It can be your worst enema.

  9. #29

    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Moir View Post
    Can you clarify what you mean by this Chris? I can understand nested layers, as one thing. But how does that relate to grouping pages into sections?

    Impression had Chapter support for long documents, whereby you could swap out non-current chapters for performance and manageability reasons (it's not very useful having one scrolling document 600 pages long or 600 thumbnails in a column). So this was a hierarchical way to manage book length documents.
    To be honest, I'd not thought this through thoroughly. Perhaps I was thinking of something like OneNote where you can slide page titles in the navpane left and right to associate together (had to blur in image below for NDA reasons). Or maybe Word's navigation pane. Some way of visually seeing which pages are in what section in a document, or where section boundaries lie, presumably using the P&L gallery.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Liverpool, N.Y.
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    Default Re: Will Xara Ever Create a DTP Program (like PagePlus)?

    Quote Originally Posted by angelize View Post
    Maybe the solution would be a module set up similar to the way On1 photo suite works there is the browse module that is the starting point and all the different modules come with browse.
    That could be a terrific business model for Xara/Magix if the code was written in a way that could be modular.

    -g

 

 

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