PageMaker might have been king of the desktop publishing programs in the early days of home computing, but its reputation has suffered recently.
First, QuarkXpress has become the industry leader for serious desktop publishing. Second, many small-business and home users have been able to meet their desktop publishing needs with Microsoft Publisher, which costs about $100.
Nevertheless, Adobe (www. adobe.com) has released PageMaker 7.0 ($500), the sequel to 6.5 Plus, with new features in a familiar package.
The new version saves documents in both 7.0 and 6.5 formats, a process that allows users to share files. The enhanced PDF saving function also outputs pages for viewing on cell phones, personal digital assistants and computers.
Adobe has added a Data Merge Function for importing images and text spreadsheets or databases, then moving the information around for placement.
PageMaker 7.0's learning curve remains as sharp as its predecessor's. By comparison, Microsoft Publisher 2002 makes fliers and newsletters easy to produce.
If PageMaker were $250 less, it might be worth the price for its targeted audience of small office/home office users.
But at $500, it's too expensive for that audience, and it makes more sense for people interested in a high-end program to save their pennies and buy QuarkXpress ($870) or Adobe InDesign ($700), better programs that offer more precise layout tools that aren't much harder to learn.
PageMaker 7.0 requires a Pentium Processor running Windows 98 or later editions with 175 megabytes of hard drive space and 32 MB of RAM or a Mac running OS 8.6 or later with 100 MB of hard drive space and 16 MB of RAM.