It has been a long time coming, but with its latest 2.1 release PasteUp finally lives up to its promise as the premier page-layout program for NEXTSTEP. Actually, with FrameMaker deciding against a port to Intel and Pages still not shipping, it is the only page-layout program available on the platform.
Now, with major improvements in performance and stability, a raft of new features, and a new publisher with a commitment to future updates, PasteUp 2.1 is fully ready for prime time. While it may not offer enough to draw publishing users to NEXTSTEP, it provides sufficient appeal to prevent defections away from the platform.
As of October 1, PasteUp became a product of Anderson Financial Systems (AFS), which acquired the program from Glenn Reid's RightBrain Software. Although Release 2.1 is entirely Reid's work, it sports a new price tag Ð $495 Ð and promises from AFS for an interim release by early 1994 and a 3.0 version that will include an API by next summer. (AFS has also announced that it will use PasteUp technology in a word processor it expects to release this year.)
As for 2.1, the most important improvements are in stability and performance. Everything you liked about 1.1 Ð the velvety smooth layout interface with drag-and-drop importing, the well-designed inspectors, the simple navigation Ð is intact. Most of the changes are under the hood.
In 1.1, NEXTSTEP users suffered from a program that crashed too regularly and had text blocks that sometimes seemed to wriggle out of grasp. The new version proved difficult to crash, though we still managed it once about ten hours into a marathon publishing session. For performance gains, Reid tuned PasteUp's text engine for zippier text editing, manipulation, and printing.
Among new features, PasteUp now sports a photo-cropping tool. A new clone option works like the clone feature in a high-end drawing package. You can save a panel's location and size as a preference between sessions (this sounds simple, but remember that cross-platform competitors Aldus PageMaker and QuarkXPress haven't yet shed their modal dialog boxes). Similarly, you can close panels with a single keystroke.
The new Generate Resource Lists command examines a document and makes a list of all the fonts and images used, saving it to a text file for easy communication with a service bureau.
PasteUp can now import multipage PostScript (.ps) files and bring them into separate PasteUp pages. Importing RTF files has also been improved. PasteUp now supports a markup language for importing tagged and formatted text; this addition is especially helpful in cases in which PasteUp receives text progammatically from some other application rather than manually from a user. For the first time, PasteUp provides a facility for templates, which we found easy to use. Text color is now supported as a paragraph-styles feature.
Through the use of this service, along with the markup language and templates facilities, PasteUp could easily become a database-publishing package. All it needs is the database object, DBMerge, that Steve Jobs demonstrated in his NeXTWORLD Expo keynote presentation in May 1993. AFS intends to offer DBMerge as a separate product in the near future.
Compared with the best layout programs on other platforms, PasteUp still lacks some important features. QuarkXPress 3.2 has built-in support for the EfiColor color-management system from Electronics For Imaging. With the release of Here's Color from Here, similar technology is now available for NEXTSTEP. We'd like to see it supported by, and even bundled with, PasteUp.
Quark also offers a workgroup publishing system that coordinates a team of publishing professionals as they work on a joint publication. PasteUp offers no support for workgroup publishing, a significant shortcoming on a platform noted for collaborative work.
Despite these defects, PasteUp 2.1 is a strong product and answers the major complaints of early PasteUp adopters. It is certainly our first choice for publishing tasks under NEXTSTEP. And it can only get better with the enhancements promised by AFS.
Rick Reynolds is a contributing editor for Publish and NeXTWORLD.
PasteUp combines the precision of Quark and the ease of PageMaker with lots of thoughtful touches courtesy of NEXTSTEP. Version 2.1 is ready for prime time, despite occasional idiosyncrasies.
$495; $249 academic; $25 upgrade from any prior version
Anderson Financial Systems, 909 Sumneytown Pike #207, Springhouse, PA 19477.
215/653-0911, 215/653-0711 fax; PasteUp@afs.com.