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Ventura Bundle Has All You Need

RICHARD O'REILLY <i> is director of computer analysis for The Times</i>

Ventura Publisher, the oldest name in desktop publishing for IBM-compatible computers, is available in a new Windows version and, at least through June, in a bargain-priced bundle.

This is all the software you need to professionally publish anything from a one-page advertising flyer to a 1,000-page technical manual crammed with illustrations. When you see the high quality Ventura provides, you won’t be satisfied with reports from even the best word processing programs.

Ventura Publisher’s PowerTools package, with a suggested retail price of $995, includes Ventura Publisher 4.1 ($795), Ventura Database Publisher 4.0 ($295), Ventura AdPro 1.1 ($695) and Ventura PicturePro 1.1 ($795). All four are by Ventura Software Inc., a Xerox Co. unit in San Diego. (Telephone is (800) 822-8221.)

To run the Ventura programs, a fast 386 or 486 PC with at least eight megabytes of RAM is recommended, along with a large hard disk. (The program files alone take up 28 megabytes.) You’ll also want a high-quality Postscript-equipped printer and a high-resolution color scanner.

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Unlike previous versions, Ventura Publisher 4.1 is fully Windows-compliant and easy to use.

You can create simple text files in a word processing program and do all of the formatting in Ventura Publisher. It ignores any special spacing or text attributes such as boldface or underlining done in the word processor.

But all of Ventura’s styles and tags are added to the original file, so you don’t have a problem with differing versions of the same file when revisions are needed.

Using “width tables” for each font, Ventura Publisher creates easy-to-read columns of precisely spaced type with a minimum of hyphenated words at the ends of lines. It also automatically converts typewriter-style quotation marks to typeset quotes.

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The program controls the appearance of a publication with style sheets consisting of a series of “tags,” each of which defines the look of an element, such as a headline, subtitle or first paragraph of an article.

It’s easy to add tags for common formats to text files as they’re being created because they are just descriptive names, such as “title” or “subtitle.” Then the files are automatically formatted when they are placed on a Ventura Publisher page.

Images can be scanned directly onto a Ventura Publisher page. Some image enhancement and cropping is possible, but if you want to make more extensive changes, use PicturePro 1.1. It allows virtually any kind of image manipulation a graphics artist could want.

Ventura Publisher can print print-shop color separations for both full-color pages and pages with spot color, incorporating one or more solid colors.

Software installation isn’t as easy as it should be, but experienced PC users can handle it.

One bug in Ventura Publisher 4.1 is its failure to ask what kind of scanner you have. It automatically installs itself for one you may not have. That causes error messages when you start the program, and prevents the use of the scanner you do have.

Ventura will send you a revision, version 4.11, but not until you register the program--and call to complain.

Ventura Database Publisher 4.0 and Ventura AdPro 1.1 are specialized programs that can be quite handy.

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Database Publisher allows you to query your standard database or spreadsheet files to generate data reports of publishable quality. It acts as a link between the data files and Ventura Publisher, where the tables would actually be positioned on pages. (It can also format tables for Aldus PageMaker, WordPerfect, Word for Windows and AmiPro.)

The process can be automated because the program creates a recipe-like file from which it can use the same criteria to extract data from the same data files every time it is run, such as a report on accounts receivable more than 30 days old.

Ventura AdPro is another powerful tool that can save a business money. It is used to design display advertisements, flyers and brochures. Consequently, it gives very precise control over type: sizes to a hundredth of a point, spacing to a thousandth of an “em” space and rotation to a thousandth of a degree.

It requires Adobe Type Manager, which is not included, but you may already have it bundled with other Windows software.

Powerful drawing tools are also included, and graphics images from virtually any other program can be placed on the page. There is a graphics tool box with commonly used ad features such as coupons, boxes and starbursts. Color separations can be made, and up to 32 color layers can be placed on a page.

Particularly handy is the ability to re-size an entire ad in one step so that one ad design can be used in publications with varying size pages.


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