Serif PagePlus X5 – Could this be my answer?

This whole desktop publishing adventure has been depressing and frustrating. I have a simple project in mind and I figured in this software rich world it would be easy to find something to fit the bill. Alas, that isn’t the case. Everywhere I turn people are talking about InDesign and FrameMaker. Even the now defunct Corel Ventura is mentioned (they haven’t made a new version since 2002). But, as I keep saying I don’t have a spare $600 lying around. Even the upgrade is $200. I even found MadCap Flare which can do the job for a mere $900. Well sure, here’s a sack full of money for a program that costs more than my entire computer!

I tried Xara Designer Pro but it doesn’t even support Word files. I can understand not supporting the format but it’s not even an option for importing the text. Clearly that’s not gonna work. I even tried Microsoft Publisher. Strangely, it’s actually not that bad, but it has no clue about a table of contents nor does it allow you to open multiple documents together into a single file. I thought I was on to something there.

Corel Draw is so close. The editing is good but it doesn’t understand multiple files into a master document nor does it really handle long documents. It’s great for a smaller number of pages, brochures and posters but it’s not quite got the features I’m looking for.

Just as I was about to give up I think I may have found a solution. On the surface it looks like a low cost clone of Corel Draw. It also sports a lot of the templates like Publisher (I’m not sure if making any sort of comparison to Publisher is a good or a bad thing). But I think it has the makings to produce a long document. Serif PagePlus X5 allows you to create brochures and menus and banners and posters, but, it also allows you to create a book. It contains a feature called BookPlus which lets you combine multiple PagePlus files together, number them sequentially, add header and footer details as well as create a table of contents. And shockingly, it’s not $500. That seems to be the benchmark though. If it’s not $500 then it’s considered crap.

My goodness, is there really an affordable app that allows you to combine multiple files, add images, create links as well as export to PDF or HTML? Egad, where is Ron Popeil?! Does this software come with some sort of knife set too?

Actually PagePlus seems pretty competent. I’m using the trial version but so far it’s hitting all the marks. It opens Word files, adding images is a breeze. It supports hyperlinks, it offers headers and footers. There is even the Master Page layout option. I truly might be on to something here. Normally the software is $99 (I found a coupon for $20 off) which is pretty damn reasonable, but searching around I found it at Buy.com for $47.99. That is a fraction of the price of the other software. Hell, that’s a fraction of the cost of Office.

My hopes have been lifted. I have a few more things I’d like to try before I commit and I’d like to try and find some reviews – go go Amazon Search! But I think I found the program that has all the features I’m looking for. And this program actually makes sense to me. I don’t think I’ll need to spend 6 weeks and $500 in books to understand how it works. The well written help file has already answered several questions for me.

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