Quark Killer?

Well, not quite yet PasteUp aims high but only partly delivers

by Tony Bove and Cheryl Rhodes

Remember way back in 1988, when NeXT de-clared its new computer to be the best platform for desktop publishing? It was a hard sell, considering that NeXT boasted a single publishing program FrameMaker a tool more appropriate for processing books than designing pages. There was no equivalent to Macintosh programs such as Aldus PageMaker and QuarkXPress.

Now it's 1993, and the arrival of PasteUp from RightBrain Software brings the promise of NeXT-STEP desktop publishing much closer to reality. While the program largely succeeds in combining some of the power of QuarkXPress (such as the ability to rotate text blocks and any other object) with the ease of use and flexibility of PageMaker, PasteUp does not offer the extensive typographic control of either program. Furthermore, the 1.1 version that we reviewed was sluggish and flawed by minor bugs. RightBrain promises to improve the program during the coming year. In the meantime, the program is certainly usable and offers a few significant advantages over its Mac cousins.

Bag of tricks
PasteUp can open multiple documents and display multiple views of a single document (at up to 1600-percent magnification). Once you're editing, almost everything is manipulation and drag and drop. Colors, paragraph styles (named collections of text attributes), and graphic styles (named collections of line and fill attributes) can be dragged from panels and dropped on objects.

PasteUp's tools are like a bag of tricks that can be applied to any object in any combination. Any ob-ject can be grouped, scaled, skewed, moved by a specified offset, rotated, or given a drop shadow. Objects can also be locked, so attributes and position aren't changed.

Working with page elements
PasteUp feels like QuarkXPress in its control over detail, but with PageMaker's freedom of movement the flexibility to drag elements as you wish. The Page Navigator panel displays thumbnail images of each page; icons let you add, delete, collapse, or expand pages; create new views; and print.

PasteUp has a Master Layer for placing objects repeatedly on every page. You can switch between this layer and layout pages, or show the Master Layer as a dimmed background while editing pages. It provides a Precision panel for altering the position, scale, and rotation angle of any object, as well as a Runaround panel to define how text wraps around graphic objects.

The program lets you drag and drop EPS graphics, TIFF images, faxes, and other files, and then treat them as objects. Dragging and drop-ping imports placed files by reference, without copying the file's contents into the PasteUp document. The Links panel lets you replace one imported file with another.

Another feature we like is the Align/Distribute function, which lets you align the edges, tops, bottoms, or centers of objects. You can distribute objects horizontally or vertically so that their centers or edges are equidistant.

You can copy and paste objects or just their attributes (color, location, line, fill, width, height, scale, rotation, and so on). You can use Copy Attribute with text blocks, copying fonts, character and paragraph specs, and text styles.

Working with text
PasteUp makes it easy to draw text columns and edit text. You can use the Text tool to type nonwrapping headlines that expand horizontally to fit the type or to create text blocks with wrapping text, which can be placed from a file. The editing functions work the same as with most NeXT word processors.

Columns can be set automatically in the Column Layout panel, with settings for space between columns, column height, and margins. Columns can be linked in the Master Layer or manually from page to page, but the automatic linking is awkward. You can create multiple auto-flow columns in the Master Layer, but they must be linked into one flow. In this regard, PasteUp is not as flexible as PageMaker or FrameMaker, which can flow text in multiple columns over multiple pages without the need to link them beforehand.

Tracking, leading, and word spacing can be set in either the Font panel or the Paragraph panel. Automatic kerning and hanging punctuation are provided for, along with control over the spacing before and after paragraphs.

The results
RightBrain saved finishing its text engine for last, and it shows. While the engine is powerful, it is slow and buggy. For example, PasteUp's Smart Quotes feature automatically replaces letters like "fi" with the appropriate ligature; unfortunately, in version 1.1, the ligature replacement is not reversed when the word is being edited. On runarounds, the text sometimes failed to rewrap after we moved a TIFF.

On the output side, PasteUp performs admirably with NeXT printers, and it can prepare color-separated pages. PasteUp supports Adobe Separator's compatibility guidelines for overprinting.

PasteUp's documentation is sparse it includes virtually no explanation of options and settings in panels and it lacks a serviceable in-dex. The package needs a few sample documents and templates.

In general, PasteUp performed adequately but not flawlessly. We can overlook its problems for now; for short documents needing dy-namic layout, PasteUp is far better than FrameMaker. It brings unique features to the table and takes advantage of the power of NeXT-STEP. RightBrain has aimed high, and even if they fall a little short, we're happy to have such a program finally appear.

Tony Bove and Cheryl Rhodes are contributing editors to NeXTWORLD.

PasteUp 1.1

3 Cubes

PasteUp has an innovative approach to page layout, combining the power of NeXTSTEP, the control of Quark, and the freedom of PageMaker. But the program is sluggish and suffers from a variety of minor bugs and annoyances.


Right Brain Software, 132 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301.

415/326-2974, 800/472-7246.