Are we going to hell in a handbasket? (PageMaker, Quark, InDesign )

Subject: Are we going to hell in a handbasket? (PageMaker, Quark, InDesign )
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 09:15:47 -0500

Tracy Boyington produces <<...relatively long (over 100 pages) documents,
black and white, not particularly graphic-intensive. We have an in-house
print shop and art department. They use Macs. We write. We use Windows. We
(docs, art, printing) have all used Quark XPress for several years, and have
had lots of problems with cross-platform compatability (especially fonts).
Now that we send PDF files to the print shop instead of XPress files, we
were recently able to add PageMaker (both platforms) to the mix.>>

What specific font problems are you having? I assume it's the special
characters (anything that doesn't appear on your keyboard)? If you're
working not already working with PostScript-only fonts, and using exactly
the same fonts (from the same vendor) on each platform, you can bet on
problems. TrueType is much better than it used to be, but it poses so many
problems at service bureaus (particularly if your Mac people are using
similarly named PostScript fonts) that you should stick to PostScript if
you're producing PDF.

<<We are meeting next week to discuss replacing PageMaker and possibly
XPress with the new InDesign package. Again, one of our major issues is font
compatability... Anybody have experience with InDesign? Care to share kudos
or pitfalls?>>

We were looking into InDesign, but all the research we did says "stay away".
Our printer has talked to all the service bureaus in the city, and all of
their computer geeks have gone bald from tearing out their hair solving
InDesign problems. Wait at least a year, for at least one more release. On
the whole, Quark is probably the best bet in your situation; it's a great
tool, and you already know how to work with it. Much though I like
PageMaker, it won't solve any of the current problems (plus will add new
ones), and it's essentially been abandoned by Adobe, so forget about updates
in the foreseeable future, if ever.

<<Any expert opinions on the Mac vs Windows font issue? Are there secrets we
just don't know?>>

How about expert rants? It's inexcusable that software manufacturers won't
spend an hour of programming time to write an effective conversion routine
to map the high-bit ASCII between Mac and PC. Until they do, I'd recommend
looking into and purchasing their MacLink Plus translator
package for the Mac (or Conversions Plus for the PC, which less likely to be
what you need). These packages do an excellent job of translating formats
between the two platforms. Although some people recommend ditching the Macs
and going to an all-PC workflow, I consider this both unnecessary and very
disruptive to your graphics people. Yes, you can do the work just fine
nowadays on a PC, but why force your Mac users to switch?

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
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