If you still think of PagePlus as a desktop publishing software program for non-designers, small businesses, people with small budgets, and home users you're partially right. But it is also a powerful alternative to pricier desktop publishing software options (like, you know, Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress) that belongs in the hands of more professional print designers.
The key new features promoted by Serif are the Logo Studio, Image Cutout Studio, HD Photo and EPS Support
, New Special Effects, Duplex Printing Wizard, and a revamped user interface. There are other less flashy enhancements as well. Although I was a bit skeptical about the Logo Studio and the Image Cutout Studio when first reading about PagePlus X3, I have to admit that they are fun, useful, and well done additions to the program.
Creating a logo in the Logo Studio© J. Howard Bear
While I still maintain that serious logo design work is best done in a dedicated graphics drawing program, there is a lot to like about the Logo Studio incorporated into PagePlus X3. You can create logos, other graphics, and decorative text elements without leaving PagePlus but without the distraction of other objects on the page. You can either open up Logo Studio to create a logo from scratch
or select some objects in your document
and pull them into the Logo Studio for further editing, fine-tuning, and filtering.
Larger view of Logo Studio screenshot.
Within Logo Studio you have access to a multitude of drawing tools, filter effects, and import options to help you create your logo or other graphic. Versatile text on a path, 3D, blur, and shadow effects, and transparency are just some of the options available in the Logo Studio.
You can save your creations to your own Design Gallery for use in other publications, export your work in a variety of graphics formats, or return to your main PagePlus document where you can view your creation on the page alongside other objects.
The Logo Studio works seamlessly within your document and can be used in conjunction with other PagePlus features including the Image Cutout Studio. The graphics tools built into PagePlus and the Logo Studio may be all some users ever need. For others, it's a convenient tool for trying out new ideas that you might later choose to refine using your full graphics arsenal.
Image Cutout Studio
Despite initial skepticism that the Cutout Studio could do background removals -- especially complex or cluttered backgrounds -- as well as those I do in Photo-Paint or Photoshop, the tool impressed me. Considering you only have a round brush to work with, the Cutout Studio is quite capable of handling some fairly complex backgrounds. In some cases, a dedicated graphics program with multiple masking tools may be more appropriate (or faster), but Cutout works surprisingly well on a number of different types of images.
I like how it puts multiple views (original with marching ants, tinted view, and transparent view) just a click away. The keep and discard brushes have both preset and custom sizes and between the views, brushes, zoom, and edge settings you can achieve some fairly precise masking even on images with somewhat fuzzy edges between the parts you want to keep and the unwanted background.
Larger view of Image Cutout Studio screenshot.
Manual Duplex Printing
Image Cutout Studio for background removal© J. Howard Bear
For a simple 2-sided print job, the Manual Duplex Printer Setup Wizard works well. It takes the guess work out of how to re-insert printed pages to get the reverse side printed. However, in my own testing the duplexing doesn't always work as neatly as expected. I found that on one of my desktop printers it was necessary to manually reverse the order of the individual sheets that came out of the print tray, despite the omission of that step in Manual Duplex Printing prompts. Not a huge problem once I figured it out, but I wasted a lot of paper initially.
When you first run the Manual Duplex Printer Wizard you are given the option at the end to have a guide sheet printed each time you do a manual duplex print job (recommended in the manual). The printed guide sheet is nice the first time or two, but the only way I could find to turn off the option to print the guide sheet is to go through the Manual Duplex Printer Setup again and select not to have a guide sheet each time.
When it works, it works well. Just be prepared to do a test run or two before committing to full quality printing on nice paper.
Keep reading to learn about more new features in PagePlus X3.
NEW: Write a review of any version of Serif PagePlus (as of 2010 it is at X4).