Serif relies greatly on that PDF-formatted, 256-page User Manual to level out the learning curve somewhat although there really is no getting around the sheer complexity of any page layout and design program. The signal achievement of PagePlus, however, lies in affording SOHO businessmen and even accomplished design professionals multiple functionality: creating impressive reports, newsletters, posters, collaterals, business cards, web pages, PDF files and email.
One concedes that all-in-one functionality just never matches all the sophisticated features of discrete software. This is a pipedream that has been trotted out repeatedly and led to not much beyond dashed hopes in the two decades since end-user computing became a reality. Nonetheless, it is also true that ordinary office workers employ less than 50% of functionality in programs that are upgraded with much fanfare so often. So a specialist whose whole day is filled making the company look good in all popular forms of printed, electronic and Web-based communication may no longer need to alt-tab constantly to Word, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, Outlook, Paint, Corel Draw and the like but stay quite content within the confines of PagePlus.
One great advantage of PagePlus X2 is guided startup and ease of use once you have gotten over the tutorials. Depending on level of expertise, users have two options.
A. Users who are not artistically inclined can opt for a ready-made template based on the end-result or type of publication desired. From newsletters to column-type magazine articles, business cards, seasonal greeting cards, PDF’s, CD labels, catalogues and ticket booklets, there is a wide variety of designs available.
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B. More creative users with a bit of design talent may forego the templates and simply start from scratch. There is virtually no limit to what imagination and PagePlus X2 combined can produce.
Adventurous novices can also do a project from the ground up with handholding from the tutorials or the Design Lab. Going this route brings up PDF files that orient the user on making scrapbooks, newsletters and a variety of publications on their own. These shorten the learning curve considerably, giving would-be publishers polished, professional-looking results even in the absence of Fine Arts or Computer Science training. The tutorials even reveal shortcuts to achieving certain effects that one would have thought required many painstaking steps. All in all, the tack in tutorial is demonstrating the simplest way to make a publication not only presentable but, as Serif is wont to say, “stunning".
Going on to the base functionality of the program, Serif pulled off a neat hat trick in making PagePlus a standalone composition, design and layout program. Users can actually draft, format, spell- and grammar-check body text within the program rather than prepare material first in Word or Wordperfect. Similarly, one can take advantage of the drawing and diagramming features, do special effects and 3D graphics and touch up photographs in the image editor. On the latter, the power of PagePlus is evident in the fact that features are more comprehensive than those on some dedicated picture editors.