Not quite on a par with InDesign or QuarkXPress, Adobe PageMaker 7 is still a professional-level page layout application. Marketed as a small business/enterprise publishing solution, PageMaker shines just as bright as the similarly-targeted Microsoft Publisher in output but not in price or ease of use. However, lack of development (in favor of InDesign) means that you won't be seeing any future upgrades and enhancements to stay current with other desktop publishing software.
Overview of Adobe PageMaker
Once the darling of high-end work, Adobe PageMaker now targets business users. With features for non-designers, including templates and clip art, it still retains its pro-level attributes. Version 7 adds merge, PDF import/export, native Photoshop and Illustrator format support, and a converter for some QuarkXPress and Publisher files. Type controls and layout options make it a designer's tool. Improved Word support and data merge features increase its usefulness for small business users.
Not as inexpensive or easy-to-use as Microsoft Publisher and missing the newest "must-have" features of InDesign and QuarkXPress, PageMaker is somewhere in the middle - a capable program for general desktop publishing tasks for individuals and small to mid-size businesses requiring a product with widespread industry support and high-end capabilities. Despite its marketing focus, it is still a viable option for freelance desktop publishing.
A page layout created in Adobe PageMakerImage © J. Bear
PageMaker Upgrade History
In 1985 Aldus developed PageMaker for the Mac, the first "desktop publishing" application. The Windows version followed in 1987. Later acquired by Adobe, until the introduction of Adobe InDesign it reigned as the favorite high-end alternative to QuarkXPress. Adobe versions begin with 5 and 6 (earlier versions were Aldus). Versions 6.5 and 6.5 Plus differed in that the Plus marked the beginning of the marketing transition to a business application and included business-oriented templates and clip art not bundled with earlier versions.
Version 7 of PageMaker added additional features important to business use such as the PDF import/export and merge options. Differences between the PC and Mac versions became less pronounced with more recent upgrades. Adobe has now put all its attention on InDesign so any further upgrades to PageMaker are unlikely and support is sure to dwindle over time.
Alternatives to PageMaker
A document being prepared in Adobe PageMakerImage © J. Bear
Rating is based on previous experience of reviewer with earlier versions (5 through 6.5) and on third party reviews of version 7.