This ongoing war between Adobe and Apple over Flash on the iPhone has many Creative Suite customers a little worried. What would happen if Adobe decided not to publish Creative Suite 6 for Mac users?
Are there viable alternatives to Photoshop, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign and all the other Adobe lock-in apps? This week it’s a look at replacements for InDesign. It’s not a pretty sight.
The Key Is “Affordable” Alternatives
Make no mistake about Adobe’s intentions. They want money from Mac users. Lots of it. There might be a feud between Adobe and Apple, but the company knows Mac users pay up.
The question is, will Mac users pay the lock-in fees forever?
The key to this whole look beyond Adobe is the term affordable.
For example, this week I’m after an acceptable and affordable alternative to Adobe’s InDesign. I know what you’re about to say, “Hey, Miss Bambi, haven’t you ever heard of Quark?”
In deed, Quark is an aging, but capable and widely used competitor to Adobe’s InDesign. But is it affordable? It depends on your needs, of course, but I’m aiming for the low end of the spectrum—that area that fits most of us no longer willing to pay Adobe’s near annual CS Tax™.
Wherefore Art Thou, Pagemaker?
Let the truth be brutal but always the truth. For high end desktop publishing on the Mac, there are few choices. InDesign is one. Quark is another. Got a third?
For the rest of us who pine for the Pagemaker days of yesteryear, the choices for affordable Mac desktop publishing are indeed thin.
Pages – At the top of the affordability list is Apple’s own Pages, the little word processor that could, one of the three legs in Apple’s eminently affordable iWork suite.
Pages is really more of a document processor for the rest of us. It’s not anywhere near as powerful in features as Word or many other Mac word processors. Most of us don’t need that power, don’t want to learn how to use that power, but need a little flexibility in creating documents of all kinds—mixing in a little page layout here and there.
That’s what Pages delivers. Choose a template from the gallery. Letters. Invitations. Reports. Brochures. Flyers. Over 180 in the basic Pages package. Fundamental page layout tools abound, all in typical Apple easy-to-use functionality.
Focus? We don’t need no stinkin’ focus with Pages. It does a little of everything. If you want a dedicated page layout app, look on, dear Mac user. Look on.
SwiftPublisher – With the death of Pagemaker and the result skyrocketing price tags of both Quark and InDesign, what’s left for those of us who want to publish but have a real life budget?
BeLight Software’s SwiftPublisher means what it says. It’s quick to publish more than just basic documents. Start with 130 templates for almost everything that needs publishing or printing.
Booklets, books, newsletters, catalogs, brochures, flyers. Select a template and drag and drop images—even straight from iPhoto. Text columns can flow from one column to another, then from one page to another. Text can wrap around objects. Use the floating tools to switch between different elements.
There’s also a smattering of design tools and shapes so you can add colors, layers, shadows, fills, and objects. It’s all point and click.
The most important consideration for SwiftPublisher is that it’s like a 21st century Pagemaker Lite.
It’s not Quark or InDesign. It’s not even Pagemaker. If you’re a pro and need the heavy lifting provided by either, then you’re locked in to Adobe’s tax scheme. If not, you’ll appreciate the value.
For Mac users, the full on option to InDesign is QuarkXPress. At less than the full on professional level, the competition is thin. Pagemaker was put out to pasture about eight years ago. Somehow the open source Scribus still lives on, running on Mac, Windows, Linux, even OS/2 Warp 4.
PageLayoutDesigner is priced similarly to SwiftPublisher but hasn’t been upgraded in a few years. That’s not a good sign. MultiAd Creator has been around many years, but at nearly $500 sure doesn’t fit the affordable scenario, does it?
That makes SwiftPublisher an affordable bargain from an obviously talented Mac app developer who updates software regularly, adds features, and provides value. If you don’t use QuarkXPress or InDesign, what’s your desktop publisher app of choice?