Atari DTP - The Overlooked Alternative

~~~ 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

Page layout


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 - - - - +

Typography


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 + + +

Text editing


Search & replace text + + + + - Search & replace fonts + + + - - Spelling checker - + + + - ASCII markup language - - - - - Automatic text flow + + + + +

Views


50% + + + + + 200% + + + + + 400% + - + - - 800% - - - - - User specified + + - - - Edit facing pages - + + + + Thumbnails - - - - -

Printing


Scale + + + + - Tiling M + + + - Print crop marks - + + + + Spot color overlays + + + + + Print to PS/EPS file - PS + + +

Precise control


Manually enter coordinates of frames/objects - + - + + Move objects incrementally with cursor keys - - - + - Numeric entry for tab stops - - + + + Align objects - M M - -

Document control


Two-way link to text file - - - + + Revision tracking - - - - - Change bars - - - - - Multiple files open - + - - -

Document specifications


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 + + - + -

Long documents


Automatic index generation + - + - + Automatic TOC generation - - + - + Cross-references automatically updated + - - - + Index of figures - - - - +

Network support


Simultaneous users - - + - + Lock files - - + - + Read only - - + - + Lock elements + + - - -

Tabling - - + - +


Equation editing - - - - +


File Formats


Microsoft Word - - + + + XyWrite - - + - + WordPerfect + + + + + MacWrite - - + + - Write Now - - + + - EPS - + + + + TIFF - - + + + PICT - - + + + Sun Raster - - + + + HPGL - - - - + WMF - - - - + PCX - - - - + GEM + + + - + MacDraw - - + + - MacPaint - - + + + RTF - - + - - DCA - - - - + DBF - - - - - SYLK - - - - -

Graphics manipulation


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 + + + + -

Drawing


Rectangles + + + - + Circles + + + - + Polygons + + - - - Constrained lines + + + + + Other shapes + + - - - Free-form drawing - + - - -

Special effects


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 - + + - -

Color


Spot colors + + + + + Process - + + + - Pantone - - + + -

Charting functions - - - - -


~~~
Stephen Frye


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