Adobe PageMaker 6.5 was the latest of the major DTP programs to come out so it should really be the turn of the other major contenders, XPress and Ventura, to show their wares. That's going to be happening soon, but Adobe are clearly hoping to press home their advantage - or at least to minimize the potential threat - with a new upgrade, PageMaker 6.5. Thegeneral feeling about version 6.0 was that, although the developments in electronic publishing and new controls over page elements such as grouping, alignment and masking were all welcome, it was actually the kernel of the program - its interface and its core layout capability - that were most in need of an overhaul.On loading the program the new interface is immediately apparent and immediately familiar. Adobe have imported wholesale the look and feel of their flagship photo-editing program Photoshop. What this means is that the old PageMaker on-screen palettes are still there, but now there are even more of them, with the addition of the new Layers and Hyperlinks palettes.

And each has been enlarged, most noticeably by the addition of new icon commands for creating and deleting palette elements.Interfaces are inevitably something of a matter of taste, but this has to be a backward step. With all of the six main palettes, the toolbox and two plug-in palettes visible, unless you are working on a 20" screen, there is no room left for the page itself. Worse, to meet the new Adobe house style, the most commonly used palettes for styles and colours now eat up considerably more screen space without offering any more feedback or functionality than their previous incarnations. On the plus side, the palettes can be tabbed so that, for example, those for master pages and layers can be grouped together. Even better, when you are really irritated - and you will be - you can always hide all palettes with the new Tab keyboard shortcut for toggling their display.

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