Serif PagePlus X5 review
A range of impressive enhancements make for a solid upgrade to an already excellent budget package
Publishing software is dominated by three packages: Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress for high-end commercial print, and Microsoft Publisher for office-based design. However, there is a fourth option and, with a history stretching back 20 years, it's a mystery that Serif PagePlus isn't better known.
PagePlus is aimed primarily at the office user rather than the professional designer, so user-friendliness is key: the program is easy to get to grips with and always tries to help. A good example of this is X5's new hover-based approach to selection, where groups and objects glow as you hold your mouse over them, indicating exactly what will be selected if you click. A new Lasso Select tool and a selection handle to manage rotation also make it easier to carry out basic tasks.
The clearest sign of PagePlus' focus on usability is its wide range of themed templates for common jobs such as creating business cards, stationery, newsletters and so on. PagePlus X5 offers no fewer than 880 themed layouts as ready-to-use presets and, if you click on the More button, you can buy additional industry-specific designs from Serif's online Template Store.
The big danger of a template-based approach is that it undermines creativity. However, PagePlus makes customisation simple. Handling master pages is now more flexible, with the ability to apply multiple masters and detach master page objects on the current layout for independent editing. You can also mix landscape and portrait orientations in the same publication, and the new Colour Scheme Designer lets you quickly create your own themed colour palettes.
Text handling is key to the success of a publishing project, and here PagePlus X5 adds support for Word 2010 files, including pictures and layout. Typographic features are far richer than a word processor's thanks to the powerful composition engine, which offers optical margin alignment and justification. New in X5 is support for advanced OpenType font features such as swashes, ornaments and intelligent character pairs.
|Software subcategory||Office software|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|