Ipublish is a desktop publishing program with pretensions to being a Web authoring tool. But it is unlike any product you?ve seen before in either category. Essentially, it aims to remove all the decision making from the design process, leaving the author with little more to do than drag text and graphics onto the page. However deficient you are in design skills, Ipublish can help you create documents to a high visual standard.
At its heart is a set of pre-packaged ?layouts? created by professional designers. To produce a new document, you simply pick the layout to match your design idea, then add text and pictures which you have created in other programs. As you do so, Ipublish takes care of the formatting and fitting, making any adjustments needed to maintain the integrity of the design.
Ipublish?s layouts are not like the static templates you see in other authoring programs. Instead, they act as containers for intelligent components. These serve distinct roles within the document, and their contents are always formatted to reflect the requirements of that role.
As an example, suppose you want to create a four-page advertising brochure. You might start by choosing a fairly conservative design, with a discreet heading at the top of each text block and a small picture at the foot of the page. If you later change to a more adventurous layout ? perhaps with a banner heading and a large central picture ? the program automatically reformats and resizes all the components to fit the new design.
To support this arrangement, there are four sets of ?schemes? ? for colours, fonts, paragraph settings and graphic effects. Like the layouts, these work at a macro level. So instead of formatting your text with specific fonts, you apply a standard font scheme that a designer has already created, using a combination of typefaces that are known to work together. In other words, you choose the overall effect rather than the details of the design.
This approach could cause difficulties if you have a house style that requires specific fonts. Ipublish does allow you to create custom schemes, but these are limited to two fonts per scheme, and two schemes per user. The same is true of colours. And for paragraph settings and graphic effects, no customisation is possible.
Once you have created your document, you have three options. If it is intended for output to paper, you can go ahead and print it. Alternatively, you can convert it to a set of Web pages, or to an on-screen presentation for viewing through a browser.
Because printed publications and on-screen documents are based on different design principles, the document is automatically reformatted when it is converted to a Web page or presentation. Typically, each section of text in the printed version will be turned into a separate Web page or slide, with the section headers becoming page titles. A home page will be created, and all links will be inserted automatically.
Although Ipublish is, for the most part, easy to use, it does have some flaws. We found getting started more difficult than it should have been, mainly because the illustrations in the manual don?t always match what?s on the screen. It?s also a pity that there is no way of viewing facing pages side by side. But these are minor weaknesses in what is otherwise a well-packaged and trouble-free product.
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Verdict: If you want to control every aspect of your document?s appearance, this is not for you. Professional designers will find it especially frustrating. But if you?re lacking in design skills and want to turn out good-looking documents or Web pages with the minimum of fuss, this unusual program could be just what you need.
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