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Serif PagePlus X2 - Doesn't Make the Grade

written by: Laura Rooke•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 2/24/2009
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Serif PagePlus X2 arrived in a nice-looking CD case with a small 150-page user guide. The professional software packaging seemed like a good omen. However, I had a frustrating few hours getting PagePlus X2 installed and functioning and its non-intuitive user interface only made matters worse.

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    Introduction

    Serif PagePlus X2  arrived in a handsome CD case.  If I could base a review solely on a product's packaging, PagePlus X2 would have have fared well. However, when it came to actually trying to use Serif PagePlus X2, things went from not so good to just plain bad.


    It all started out so well. On the welcome screen, PagePlus X2 allows you to choose a design template, start from scratch with a blank page, open an existing document that you have previously designed, or view a tutorial.

    [Startup Page.jpg]

    PagePlus X2 offers a good selection of design templates with some very attractive designs. However, I was disappointed by the lack of selection for special stationery. I also found it slightly difficult to find exactly what stationery was available. As you’ll see in the remainder of this review, what is appealing in PagePlus X2 doesn't outweigh what is annoying.

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    Price to Value

    Rating AverageWhat's Not: 
    Serif PagePlus X2 costs $125 and Microsoft Publisher 2007 costs $105. PagePlus X2 offers many of the same features and has a good array of templates but doesn’t offer as many choices of stationery. Personally, I would never choose PagePlus over Microsoft Publisher 2007 even if it was a quarter of the price.
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    Installation & Setup

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 

    PagePlus X2 comes with two CDs. One is the "Program CD" and the other  is the "Resource CD." I installed the Product CD. It gives you the option of choosing a subset of the features, or installing the full product. It shows you how much room each feature will need on your hard drive. You also get the option to use either US or UK/European page sizes and an assortment of languages.

    [Default Dictionary Language.jpg]

    It took about 20 minutes to install all the features. The Resource CD installs extra templates and a user guide including tutorials. This install also took about 15 to 20 minutes.



    What's Not: 

    I first tried creating some postcards. These come four to a page. I tried to print them to make sure that they would print as I saw them on the screen. When I selected print, however, nothing happened. I had just bought a new laptop with Vista 64 bit and was slightly worried that this was a problem. I had had problems "losing" the wireless printer before. I tried printing from other programsand they all printed fine. When I tried to print from PagePlus X2, I could tell that it wasn’t even attempting to print. At this point things got worse. To make sure that it wasn’t a Vista problem, I went to install PagePlus X2 on my XP machine. Within a minute of the install starting, I got an error message stating:

    "Exit and Restart Pending –file rename operations detected – error code 2755."

    It told me to restart the PC. I did this, but still got the same error. I searched for this error online and found a PagePlus FAQ page that acknowledged this error. It said:

    "We are aware of this issue and it’s easily fixed. We would suggest that you contact our Technical Support."

    Well it’s not easily fixed when it is a Saturday, and technical support is not available until Monday. However, I also found in this same document the problem regarding PagePlus X2 not printing. It talked about duplicate printers causing this problem. So I abandoned trying to install it on my XP machine and went back to my Vista machine. I don’t have duplicate printers, but I deleted the two default printers that are set up by the system and now PagePlus X2 printed.

    On Monday morning, at about 7AM PST, I received an email from Serif support with the fix to install the program on my XP machine. This fix was a registry tweak. I don’t know why this couldn’t have been included in the acknowledgement of the problem.


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    Product Features

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 

    There is a very good selection of design templates with some very attractive designs. There is a large selection of fonts and it was handy that as you hovered over the selection, the effect was reflected in your text.

    [Font Change.jpg]

    If a publication involved multiple pages, all the pages would be shown in the right hand margin. This was a great feature. You could also choose to work with all pages on the screen at the same time, by selecting multipage view.

    [Multipage View.jpg]

    You can insert a photo and choose various shaped photo frames. You first select your frame, and then you are prompted to put a photo into that frame, and position it as you want. This is a very useful tool and easy to use.

    [Photo Frame.jpg]

    PagePlus X2 has all the features you might want. It has an array of templates to choose from. Some of these templates are extremely eye-catching. You can create a .pdf file and a .pdf slideshow. You can also create web pages. It has the tools needed for mail merges, but this was very difficult to find your way through. You can also use this product to create web pages.



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    User Interface

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    PagePlus X2 made it easy to work with multiple pages. I liked the multiple page view which put all pages on the screen and allowed you to edit them all at the same time.

    What's Not: 
    PagePlus X2 was not easy to use. Maybe it’s because I’m a heavy Microsoft Office user, but I found it difficult to discover how to do things.
     
    For instance, something as simple as creating a text box, outlining it with a color, and filling it with a different color was difficult. Even selecting the color was not that easy; you are presented with a large bar of color from which you pick your approximate color and then you adjust the RGB sliders to perfect the shade. I had to read and reread the user guide to try and figure out exactly what I was supposed to do.

    [Coloring.jpg]

    Then the mail merge was almost impossible to navigate your way through. I looked in the user guide which gave a brief description and then went back to the on screen help. The on screen help did get me through it eventually. What was particularly annoying, was that when I clicked back on the screen to follow the help, the help window went away rather than staying on top.

    I thought after a while of using PagePlus X2 that maybe I'm just not that intelligent, but then I regained my confidence and remembered that I have found my way though many products without this same level of frustration.
  • slide 6 of 10

    Help & Support

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    There is plenty of help available and you need it. I don’t think PagePlus X2 is an easy product to use. The user guide which came with the product is good to read through but you also need to use the on-screen help along with the tutorials. The mail merge is extremely difficult to use, and even with help, it was very frustrating trying to do this.

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    Images

    Custom Page Setup screenshotDefault Dictionary Language screenshotFont Change screenshotMultipage View screenshotPhotoFrame screenshotStartup Page screenshot
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    Suggested Features

    I think the interface needs to be radically changed.There has to be many more on screen prompts to navigate you through the array of features. These prompts need to me much more informative.
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    Conclusion

    I will not be using Serif PagePlus X2 or recommending it to any friends. I didn’t find it at all user-friendly. It was annoying that I had to delete printers from my system on my Vista machine before it would  print and even more annoying to have to do a registry edit on my XP machine before it would install. When I used Microsoft Publisher 2007 for the first time, I quickly designed and printed a selection of stationery that I use routinely, such as mailing labels and postcards. When I tried to do the same thing with PagePlus X2, it took me much longer. I'm sure that there is a lot you can do with this product, but it is frustrating trying to work out how to do it all.
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    Related Products

    Microsoft Publisher 2007