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-- by Neil Randall
Corel may go down in history as computing's greatest healer. The company revived a disjointed WordPerfect suite about to lose the last of its nine lives, and now it's dragged another DOS holdover, Ventura Publisher, back from a similar near-death experience.
Previously, we said that if Ventura lived up to its promise-develop once, then publish to as many formats as you like-the suite would become a real contender in the electronic publishing market. Happily, it has. Ventura's definitely the program to beat now, replacing Adobe's PageMaker 6.5 on our Recommended List.
Like all Corel products, Ventura 7 has a kitchen-sink mentality. In this case, you get Corel's WordPerfect 7, Photo-Paint 6, DataBase Publisher, CD Creator 2 (so you can put your new publications on CD-ROM), Script Editor (to automate your processes), Versions (to keep archives of the publications as you create them) a multimedia manager, Incontext (SGML editor) the Barista Java package and more.
The downside is that this office gallery ain't tiny. The minimum hard disk requirement for Ventura 7 is 65MB, but the typical installation is 150MB. A full custom installation takes up almost 300MB. You can choose a CD-ROM setup to save space, but that slows things down.
It makes me long for the days when WordPerfect 5.0 generated huge controversy for requiring three measly megabytes.
Ventura's long-overdue master-page feature lets you establish style guidelines and options, such as bleeds and spreads, across multipart documents. Rich property bars give you strong control over frames, tables and text elements. Ventura frames can have irregular shapes, continue text fills from previous frames and rotate inside text.
The Database Publisher lets you drag data into your Ventura publication from databases and spreadsheets, maintaining links, and you can even create and massage databases with the included editor. Ventura's tables have become spreadsheet-like, giving you precise control over tables' cell and border colors.
Paragraph tags now sup-port backgrounds, and kerning and tracking have been enhanced to include document-wide and even cross-document application.
You get multiple drop cap characters, and you can flow text around irregularly shaped frames and create graphically rich artistic text.
Ventura 7's Navigator offers a view of large documents, similar to that of Windows Explorer, making it easy to locate an item within a document and call it up for editing.
Ventura stores its publications in a VP format by default, but you can save them as Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), Adobe Acrobat PDF or Novell Envoy files.
Ventura supports HTML 2.0 formats and, while you'll probably still need to do some fine-tuning to the resulting Web pages, it saves a great deal of time. Corel's Barista technology turns single or multipart documents into Java applets, although it works best with less complex files.
QuarkXPress still has an edge in the microfine layout arena, and some will still prefer FrameMaker's long document features (although Ventura's come close). But if you're interested in a full DTP package, it's time to try Ventura 7.
Copyright (c) 1997 CMP Media Inc.