~~~ From ST REPORT No 648 =====================
The Overlooked Alternative ========================== To the high cost of Mac and PC DTP: Atari ST or Mega hardware running Calamus or PageStream.
With contributions from: Nathan Potechin, Fred Murray, and Nevin Shalit.
"Atari? For desktop publishing? Give me a break! Do yourself a
favor, and go out and get a real computer!" Someone actually said those exact words to me not more than a month ago, and for those of us who have used the ST/Mega platform during the last five years -- for everyday tasks like word processing, spreadsheet and database calculations, telecommunic- ations, CAD and Desktop publishing (DTP) -- them's fightin' words!
Many people are not aware that Atari's ST and Mega computers have the
horsepower under the hood to handle top-notch DTP applications, and that these applications do exist. There are numerous reports of people running service bureaus who, after being impressed with the quality of a document, are astounded when they find out it was created on an Atari system.
The two top packages, ISD's Calamus and SoftLogik's PageStream, have
no problem holding their own in comparisons with the best packages for the Mac and PC. The cost-effectiveness of the Atari platform? Many Atari retailers will be happy to sell you a complete DTP system -- 4MB RAM, monitor, hard drive, either Calamus or PageStream, and 8PPM laser printer -- for substantially less than $4,000.00.
When the October 1990 issue of BYTE Magazine featured a comparison of
DTP packages for their lead article, they neglected to include Atari packages in their comparison. Well, if BYTE won't do it, we'll take care of it for them. This article is the result, and it outlines how Calamus and PageStream handle the tasks covered in BYTE. There is also a com- panion comparison table of Atari, Mac, and PC packages.
In order to make room for PageStream and Calamus in the tables, I used
only three of the seven packages from BYTE -- PageMaker 4.0 (Mac), Quark XPress 2.12 (Mac), and Ventura Publisher 3.0 (DOS). While it's clear that PageStream and Calamus do not have every feature in the list, keep in mind that the Mac and DOS packages also fall short by about the same degree. Also note that major upgrades to both Calamus and PageStream are in the pipeline, and should be available sometime within the next six months.
Installation and Hardware Requirements -------------------------------------- Both Calamus and PageStream require a minimum of 1MB of RAM to run,
and are happiest with 4MB. Calamus requires a monochrome monitor (Note: A Colour version of Calamus for the TT is in it's final stages *Ed), while PageStream uses either monochrome or color. Both packages also support the Moniterm Viking 19" monitor available for the Atari system.
Both packages are installed similarly -- copy the program files to the
hard disk, and edit the system paths so the program can find fonts, prin- ter drivers, documents, etc. Neither program is copy-protected in any way, nor do they require write-enabled master disks.
Preliminary Layout ------------------ Like most of the other page-layout packages, Calamus uses the frame
method for placing items on the page. PageStream, on the other hand, is similar to PageMaker, where both graphics and text "objects" such as headlines can be placed anywhere on the page. PageStream also uses frames called "columns" for the body text of a document. Once a column has been placed, it can be manipulated in a similar manner to other objects on the page.
PageStream and Calamus both use clipboards to store design elements.
PageStream has the normal cut/copy/paste clipboard for text and graphic elements, plus a special clipboard for cropping bit-image pictures before they are pasted into the document. Somewhat more convenient is the ap- proach used by Calamus, which has five different clipboards for frames, each of which is large enough to provide a preview of the clipboard's contents.
Master Pages ------------ PageStream uses the same method as PageMaker and Quark XPress, with
one right and one left master page available per document. Calamus' approach is more like Ventura Publisher. Any frame in the document can be grouped and treated as a header/footer for the document, and thus be repeated on every page of the document. The contents of headers and footers can be changed in the middle of the document, and the changes will only affect those pages after the change was made. Separate headers and footers can be defined for right- and left-hand pages. Once these header- /footer frames have been created, the page can be stored in a disk file, allowing a collection of "master pages" to be built.
Neither PageStream nor Calamus support on-screen thumbnail views,
although these can be printed to paper if desired.
Rulers and Guides ----------------- PageStream and Calamus both allow use of rulers and guidelines, and
multiple measuring systems. Elements can be snapped to guides, grids, or guides and grids at the same time.
Typography Capabilities ----------------------- The only limit on the number of fonts in either ST program is the
amount of memory in the machine. More memory allows more fonts to be loaded and used. Point-size increments are 0.1 point for Calamus, and 0.01 point for PageStream.
Leading, Tracking and Kerning ----------------------------- PageStream has defaults built in for leading and tracking. If the
default values don't work right, they can be changed, either for the entire document or selected blocks of text. Leading can either be fixed or variable, depending on the size of the letters in each line. Kerning is handled by editable kerning tables, as well as manual overrides.
Calamus also uses the default with override method for leading and
tracking, and also supports fixed or variable leading. Kerning in Calamus is a function of the font itself, and the only kerning control within Calamus is a manual override. Full control of kerning requires the com- panion Calamus Font Editor, which installs as a desk accessory and allows the user to modify the "outline" around each character, and thus change the kerning value. If the font designer has done their work well, this is seldom required. Leading and tracking values in both Calamus and PageStr- eam can be included as part of a style tag or macro, allowing as many levels of tracking as are deemed necessary
Style Sheets ------------ Ventura Publisher they're not, but each package does allow paragraph
tagging and the creation of the equivalent of style sheets. The current version of PageStream does not allow collections of tags to be loaded and saved from disk, but this promised for the next version, due out by the end of the year.
Calamus' "style sheets" are actually two separate items: page-layout
information, and tags created as macro lists that define any combination of typography, paragraph style, and text strings. Layout files and macro lists can be stored in disk files, and either one retrieved as needed.
Hyphenation & Justification --------------------------- H&J is one area where the current versions of Calamus and PageStream
do not measure up to the other packages. Neither Calamus nor PageStream allow alteration of the default H&J algorithms. PageStream does offer three justification options that allow some fine-tuning in the document.
Text Editing ------------ As with most DTP packages, Calamus and PageStream can't hold a candle
to specialized text editors and word processors for power and ease of use. They're not entirely helpless either. Both have approximately the same level of capability as the Macintosh products, with cut, copy, paste, search, and replace of both text and style attributes. Calamus adds a separate text editor similar to Pagemaker's Story Editor.
Graphics -------- Different hardware platforms tend to generate different file formats,
and the ST is no exception. Calamus and PageStream support a wide variety of formats for graphic importation that are generated by ST-specific graphics software. "Foreign" file formats are generally limited to GEM metafiles and .IMG bitmaps, although PageStream also imports PostScript and EPS images.
For internally-generated graphics, Calamus has the basics -- lines,
boxes, circles, and other pre-defined shapes -- with border and fill control. PageStream truly goes above and beyond most other packages, providing object-oriented drawing tools that may negate the need for a separate object-graphics program. Both packages allow grouping of elem- ents on a page.
As far as text flow around graphics, Calamus does not automatically
flow around irregular objects, but PageStream does.
Bells & Whistles ---------------- Drop caps are done manually in both packages. PageStream handles
"step and repeat" with a "duplicate" feature that defines the number of times an object is duplicated, as well as the x and y offsets.
Calamus supports rotation of selected text to any angle in tenths of a
degree. PageStream allows the rotation of ANY object (text column or graphic image) to any angle in whole degrees.
Long Documents and Books ------------------------ With its automatic footnote and index generation, Calamus is more
suited to handling long documents than PageStream. Calamus allows the text in a document to be exported with its style and formatting informa- tion embedded in the file, allowing relatively easy updates, and has the ability to name graphic frames, allowing them to remain empty until the final graphic image has been supplied, or reserving the space for a photo- graph.
Printing and Typesetting ------------------------ There's a big difference in Calamus' and PageStream's printing capabi-
lities: PageStream can output in PostScript, and supports 4-color separat- ions. Calamus does not, although both PostScript and color capabilities are on their way in the next upgrade.
For everyday 300DPI output, this is not an issue, but the need for
high resolution typesetting means that Calamus users will need to find a service bureau that has an ST with Calamus hooked up directly to an image- setter, bypassing the PostScript RIP. PageStream users can create a PostScript disk file and either modem or carry the file to the nearest PostScript service bureau.
Do They Measure Up? ------------------- Whether or not Calamus and PageStream will serve your needs as DTP
packages is something that only you can determine. The point of all this is that there is a third option in DTP hardware and software that can provide a competitive, cost-effective alternative to Mac and DOS solutions. Even if initial purchase cost is not an issue, find a local Atari dealer or user group and explore Calamus and PageStream before you make a final decision. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised at the abilities of these packages, and amazed at their cost!
Aldus Corp. ISD Marketing, Inc. (PageMaker 4.0) (Calamus 1.09N) 411 First Avenue South P.O. Box 3070 Seattle, WA 98104 Markham Industrial Park (206)622-5500 Markham, Ontario Canada L3R 6G4 (416)479-1880 Quark, Inc. SoftLogik Publishing Corp. (Quark XPress 2.12) (PageStream 1.82) 300 South Jackson Street P.O. Box 290071 Suite 100 St. Louis, MO 63219 Denver, CO 80209 (314)894-0431 (303)934-2211 Ventura Publishing Co. (Ventura Publisher 3.0) 15175 Innovation Dr. San Diego, CA 92128
ATARI DESKTOP PUBLISHING COMPARISON ===================================
Calamus Page Page Quark Ventura 1.09N Stream Maker XPress Publisher (Atari) 1.82 4.0 2.12 3.0 (Atari) (Mac) (Mac) (PC)
+ = yes - = no M = manual
Price $299 $199 $795 $795 $795 Font Editor $99
Configuration 1MB 1MB 1MB 2MB 640K RAM RAM RAM RAM RAM Mono Monitor DOS 2.1
Configurable ruler lines + + + + + Show cursor position on ruler + + + + + Report cursor coordinates + - - + - Guidelines + + + + - Grid overlay + + - - + Configurable grid + + - - + Master pages - + + + - Multiple master pages - - - - - Turn master page on/off - + + - - Pasteboard - - + - - Tool palette + + + + + Style catalog on screen + - + - + File catalog on screen - - - - +
Max. font size 999.9 1310 650 500 254 Smallest increment (points) 0.1 0.01 0.1 0.25 0.5 Kerning precision (ems) 0.1pt 0.1 0.01 0.1 0.01 Edit kerning tables - + - + - Tracking control (levels) M M 5 Unlim. 2 Edit tracking graphs - - - + - Leading increment (points) 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.001 0.01 Subscripts + + + + + Superscripts + + + + + Shift baseline 0.1pt 0.1pt + 0.01pt 0.01pt Column balancing - - - - + Vertical justification - - - - + Widow/orphan control M M + + +
Search & replace text + + + + - Search & replace fonts + + + - - Spelling checker - + + + - ASCII markup language - - - - - Automatic text flow + + + + +
50% + + + + + 200% + + + + + 400% + - + - - 800% - - - - - User specified + + - - - Edit facing pages - + + + + Thumbnails - - - - -
Scale + + + + - Tiling M + + + - Print crop marks - + + + + Spot color overlays + + + + + Print to PS/EPS file - PS + + +
Manually enter coordinates of frames/objects - + - + + Move objects incrementally with cursor keys - - - + - Numeric entry for tab stops - - + + + Align objects - M M - -
Two-way link to text file - - - + + Revision tracking - - - - - Change bars - - - - - Multiple files open - + - - -
Maximum pages 9999 254 999 100 Unlimited Max. page size 27.5x27.5 18x18 17x22 48x48 18x24 Double-sided + + + + - Mix portrait and landscape pages - - - - - Reorder pages + + - + -
Automatic index generation + - + - + Automatic TOC generation - - + - + Cross-references automatically updated + - - - + Index of figures - - - - +
Simultaneous users - - + - + Lock files - - + - + Read only - - + - + Lock elements + + - - -
Tabling - - + - +
Equation editing - - - - +
Microsoft Word - - + + + XyWrite - - + - + WordPerfect + + + + + MacWrite - - + + - Write Now - - + + - EPS - + + + + TIFF - - + + + PICT - - + + + Sun Raster - - + + + HPGL - - - - + WMF - - - - + PCX - - - - + GEM + + + - + MacDraw - - + + - MacPaint - - + + + RTF - - + - - DCA - - - - + DBF - - - - - SYLK - - - - -
Flow text around graphics + + + + + Run around irregular shape - + + + - Text repel + + - + + Anchor graphics to text - - + - + Anchor graphics to position on page + + + + + Suppress display of graphics + - + - + Automatically scale graphic to fit frame + + + - + Manually scale graphic + + + + + Cropping + + + + + Contrast control - - + + - Halftone screening + + + + + Custom screening + + + + + Customized screening angle - + + + + Dithering controls - - - + - Negative + + + + -
Rectangles + + + - + Circles + + + - + Polygons + + - - - Constrained lines + + + + + Other shapes + + - - - Free-form drawing - + - - -
Rotate text (Degree increments)0.1 1 90 - 90 Rotate graphics (Degree increments)- 1 - - - Flip graphics - - - - - Pour text into shapes - - M - - Shapes for graphical frames - - + + - Step and repeat - - + + - Repeat frame across pages + - - - + Gravity - - + - - Condense/expand text - + + - -
Spot colors + + + + + Process - + + + - Pantone - - + + -
Charting functions - - - - -