My DTP History

I first dabbled in desktop publishing when I bought MicroDesign 2 for my Amstrad PCW. That was in the early 90s, and I was hooked. MicroDesign got my creative juices flowing though it was pretty basic even for that time, for it run on a machine that was intended primarily as a word processor and not to handle anything much more demanding. MicroDesign enabled me to create “proper” newsletters and posters for the first time and my love affair with desktop publishing began. Creating publications – from leaflets to newsletters and from greeting cards to booklets – became a passion. I became familiar with different fonts and taught myself the basics of good design layout. I became interested in other aspects of technology that was related to home publishing such as image scanning and the pros and cons of different printers. Desktop publishing developed into a rewarding but expensive hobby as I invested in special types of paper, scanners and printers that used costly ink cartridges.


When I worked full time at Caritas Manila in 1995, I had to learn Pagemaker 4, what was then the industry standard as far as DTP was concerned. It was very different from MicroDesign but it did not take me long to master it. I went on to try versions 5 and 6 and eventually I considered myself as a Pagemaker fan.


When I went back to the UK in 1997, I abandoned my Amstrad PCW and bought a “proper” PC. Pagemaker was too expensive for me and so I bought a well-reviewed DTP package from Serif called PagePlus 5 which was intended for home users. I was amazed to experience how powerful it was. It could do everything Pagemaker could, plus other things that Pagemaker could not! Considering PagePlus had cost me just £50 (compared to at least a couple of hundred pounds that I would have had to pay for Pagemaker), it was incredible that such a humble package could wield such power.

Quark Xpress 5

Quark Xpress 5 was the program I used when I worked at Newham Leisure Services in 2001. It had overtaken Pagemaker as the professional DTP application of choice. It took me next to no time learn the new leader. It was undoubtedly powerful, and well deserving of its position at the top, but I have to say that it lacked the charm and personality of my dear PagePlus which I still preferred to use at home.


Adobe’s InDesign came a couple of years later. I experimented with it out of curiousity but it did not offer me anything new. Quark Xpress continued to be the industry leader and so I pretty much ignored InDesign. But not for long. Because of its integration with the powerful and popular Adobe suite of programs, InDesign slowly took over and eventually stole Quark’s crown.

Throughout all this, I remained loyal to PagePlus even though my interest in DTP had started to wane, in favour of online publishing. Over the years I upgraded to each new version, until it was announced two years ago that PagePlus X9 was going to be the final version. Serif had decided to focus on their Affinity range of graphics programs for both Mac and PC instead. Affinity’s answer to Photoshop (Affinity Photo) and Illustrator (Affinity Designer) have received much success and rave reviews. I am very much looking forward to the PagePlus replacement, Affinity Publisher which is due to be released later this year.

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