Category : DeskTop Publishing in the 1990's
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On the Desktop
by Dan Zoll

Copyright (c) 1988, Capital PC User Group Inc.
This material may be republished only for internal use
by other not-for-profit user groups.

Published in the October 1988 issue of the Capital PC Monitor.

This Is Not About Monitors

"Write on anything you like for October," Monitor editor Walter
Knorr dryly remarked, "--but please, no more on large-screen

OK, Walter, I can take a hint. We don't want to beat the subject
to death now, do we. Having devoted three of my last eight
columns to monitors, I admit to a certain preoccupation with the

And why not? Of all the components in a desktop publishing
system, the monitor, I believe, is the largest presence. In a
sense, it's as crucial as the keyboard in a word processing
system. After all, you interact with it constantly as you lay out
your page WYSIWYG fashion. If it's your typical EGA/VGA monitor,
it's a source of constant irritation as you pan about in a
desperate attempt to get a handle on the page. A good large-
screen monitor can make all the difference in the world. The
trouble is, as I explained in July, it's not easy finding a good
large monitor today. The technology is just not there.

I hope you'll all bear with me for a few more paragraphs, while I
share an update. A couple months ago I advised against buying
IBM's 8514/A monitor/adapter pair until it was supported by
Microsoft Windows. Well, Microsoft has just released upgrades to
Windows 2.0 and Windows/386 that supposedly include a driver for
the 8514/A. This is good news for all those people who bought the
8514/A on the strength of its IBM logo, only to discover that no
program could take advantage of its high-resolution mode. It's
also a powerful inducement for computing under Windows.

According to some surveys of Windows users, most people use
Windows only to run selected applications. When they exit the
application, they exit Windows. They do not stay in the Windows
environment. That's not surprising, since until recently,
programs written to Windows were few and far between.

Now, however, we have a respectable range of good Windows
applications. Foremost for desktop publishers, of course, is
PageMaker, which in its latest incarnation is roughly on a par
with Ventura Publisher. There's also NBI's Legend, which combines
word processing, graphics, and page layout in one package; I'll
be evaluating Legend soon. Many DTPers will also want a copy of
Micrografx Designer, the most sophisticated object-oriented
illustration package for the PC, reminiscent of Adobe Illustrator
on the Macintosh. Compared with Designer, the bit-mapped PC
Paintbrush (also available for Windows) is as sophisticated as an
Etch-a-Sketch. The excellent Hewlett-Packard ScanJet scanner
ships with a slick Windows-based control program called Scanning
Gallery. ZSoft's Publisher's Typefoundry, another Windows
application, is the most powerful package around for editing bit-
mapped soft fonts and PostScript outline fonts. (My main
criticism of Typefoundry, aside from how difficult it is to use,
is that it cannot work with Adobe or Bitstream Fontware
Postscript outline fonts. I'm still wondering which Postscript
fonts it can work with.) For graphs, you'll find that Micrografx
Graph Plus can hold its own against the likes of Harvard Graphics
and Freelance Plus, or if your graphics needs are relatively
modest, you may be able to get by with Microsoft Excel, the state
of the art in spreadsheets. About all that's lacking in the
Windows environment is a decent word processor.

Windows applications are all the more enticing because you can
cut and paste between them. Scan an image into Scanning Gallery,
move it over to PC Paintbrush to touch it up, then paste the
result into PageMaker. One-stop shopping. Because of the
convenience of an integrated environment (that, in large part, is
what the Mac and OS/2 Presentation Manager are all about),
Windows deserves serious consideration as the current desktop
publishing environment of choice for the PC. I certainly intend
to give it a run for its money as soon as my Windows upgrade
arrives. And if you opt for Windows, I suggest you consider the

Granted, the 8514 monitor and 8514/A adapter together cost close
to $3,000, more than most other large monitors. Bear in mind,
though, that the 8514 is a color monitor, not black-and-white.
Even more important, it's virtually 100-percent compatible with
MDA, CGA, EGA, and VGA graphics standards; no other large monitor
can make that claim. And if the rumors are right and IBM builds
an 8514/A adapter into its next crop of PS/2s, the 8514's 1024-
by-768 resolution could well set the next graphics standard after

OK, Walter, no more on monitors, I promise.

Ventura Trivia

Registered Ventura Publisher users have no doubt already received
Ventura Patch 2. Aside from fixing a few obscure bugs, it doesn't
add much to Ventura in the way of functionality. One new wrinkle
is that Ventura can now be run under Windows 2.0--not as a true
Windows application, however, but as a standalone program,
meaning it won't run in a window and you can't cut and paste
between it and other Windows applications. In other words,
Ventura's new Windows connection is of little practical value.

It also appears to be buggy. A chapter of mine that loads fine
when I run Ventura from the DOS command line causes Ventura to
self destruct under Windows. While loading the chapter, Ventura
blurts out that a paragraph contains more than 8,000 bytes and
that memory has been "corrupted" as a result. Subsequent attempts
to work with the file produce erratic results culminating in a
fiery system crash. I'd call Xerox about the problem, but they
charge for support now and I haven't paid up. As a result, I'm
back to running Ventura from DOS.

In the PUBLISH conference on CPCUG's MIX bulletin board, where a
number of us exchange DTP-related information, a Ventura user
complained some time ago that vertical labels in a Freelance Plus
chart imported into Ventura as a metafile--that is, labels
rotated 90 degrees to print along the Y axis--failed to print out
on a LaserJet, even though they appeared on the display.
Horizontal labels on the chart printed fine. I was incredulous,
assuming that all elements in a Freelance chart were treated as
graphics. I recently had a chance to play with Freelance, and
sure enough, vertical labels don't print on a LaserJet. The
reason: Text in the chart is treated as text, not as graphics,
and the LaserJet cannot print portrait and landscape text on the
same page. Fortunately, PostScript printers don't suffer from
that limitation. Using my LaserJet with the JetScript
enhancement, I could print the chart with no problem.

Someone else recently asked me why columns of data that appeared
aligned in a word processor became unaligned when brought into
Ventura. The answer was simple: He was using one of Ventura's two
proportional typefaces (Swiss and Dutch) and separating columns
with spaces rather than tabs. That'll do it every time.

Typewriter-style faces like Courier, and the screen fonts used by
most word processors, are "monospaced," meaning that all their
characters are of the same width. With a monospaced font, you can
align columns by counting over so many keystrokes from the left,
padding entries with spaces where needed. Not so with
proportional fonts. The amount of space a character in a
proportional font takes up on a line varies in proportion to the
character's width. A narrow character like the letter i, for
example, occupies less space horizontally than the letter m. Thus
you cannot line up columns by character count. The only reliable
way to align columns when working with proportional fonts is to
separate columns with tabs, which Ventura defines as absolute
locations on a line relative to the left margin, irrespective of
the number of characters present on the line.

When you create a file with a word processor, it's a simple
matter to use tabs between columns instead of spaces.
Unfortunately, not all programs give you the option of separating
columns with tabs. Lotus 1-2-3, for example, inserts spaces not
tabs when it creates a PRN file. What to do?

Anyone who regularly imports 1-2-3 PRN files or dBASE files into
Ventura ought to invest in one of several add-on utility programs
now on the market. Actually, a whole add-on industry has sprung
up around Ventura Publisher, just as with Lotus 1-2-3. Dozens of
programs are now available that capitalize on Ventura's

The Ventura Industry

A thorough discussion of the many Ventura utility programs around
could easily fill several months of this column. Alas, it's
already been done. So far, I've seen features on Ventura
utilities in the May issue of PC World, the June Personal
Publishing, and the July Publish!

Among the best programs for spreadsheet data are Corel's Tabin
($99) and VP/Tabs, from the Laser Edge ($89). Both programs
convert spaces in PRN files to tabs and automatically tag
paragraphs. Although I haven't used either program myself, from
what I've read, Tabin is the more flexible.

Datatag, from Publishing Solutions ($129.95), and VP/Base, from
the Laser Edge ($89), were both designed to prepare database
files for Ventura. Datatag can be used with any database and can
prepare files for PageMaker too, while VP/Base specializes in
dBASE files and can be used only with Ventura. Datatag works by
assigning a user-defined tag to each field in a record. VP/Base
analyses a sample Ventura page you create and generates a dBASE
program that will format your data for import into Ventura.

Another type of Ventura add-on is useful to almost any Ventura
user: general utility packages. The two leading products in this
category are VPToolbox, from System Network Architects ($99), and
Corel's Ventura Utilities ($99). Both packages will print
detailed listings of style sheet attributes--font, alignment,
spacing, tab settings, and so on--and list all files associated
with a particular chapter or publication. Both also let you
easily copy or delete all files associated with a chapter,
including its width table and style sheet. I use Ventura
Utilities not only to back up important chapters, but also to
copy chapters to floppies that I can bring home to work on.

As a newsletter editor, I sometimes receive copy in ASCII or
WordPerfect format. I used to spend a great deal of time in
WordPerfect preparing the files for Ventura. ASCII files had hard
carriage returns at the end of each line, which had to be
stripped out. While I was at it, I'd convert double hyphens to
the Ventura code for an em dash (<-->), replace computer-style
upright quotation marks with real opening and closing quotes, and
remove extra spaces in the file, such as a second space used
after a period. Feeling ambitious one weekend, I wrote a program
to do the tedious work for me. Called CLEAN4VP, it is available
for downloading on the MIX in the archive file VPUTILS.ARC.

CLEAN4VP is designed to prepare a straight ASCII text file for
import into Ventura as a WordPerfect file. (Before processing a
WordPerfect file, you must first save it as a text file.)
CLEAN4VP changes all occurrences of two or more spaces to one
space, although it strips out all spaces at the start of a line,
in case the file has an indented left margin. Single hard
carriage returns become soft carriage returns, double hard
returns, such as those commonly used at the end of a paragraph,
become a single hard return. All control characters except
carriage returns, line feeds, and tabs are removed, and each
character's high-order bit is reset--for WordStar files. Not only
does CLEAN4VP convert dashes and quotation marks to the
appropriate Ventura codes, but it outputs a message if it finds
an uneven number of quotation marks; this catches people who
forget to close their quotes. Finally, it puts one space between
empty parentheses (sometimes used in program listings) to keep
them from appearing as an oval when printed; it doubles all
occurrences of less-than and greater-than symbols, which Ventura
will otherwise eat; and it doubles occurrences of the @ sign if
it is in column one, where Ventura would confuse it with the
start of a tag name. CLEAN4VP thus assumes that no Ventura
tagging has been done in the source file. The processed file is
saved as a new file with the same name as the source file but
with the extension C4V, so the source file is left unchanged.

Included with my program in the VPUTILS.ARC file is another
public-domain program written by James F. Ross called FIXVP,
which performs just the opposite service: It removes Ventura
codes from a file. This is useful when you want to share a file
you've worked on with someone who doesn't have a copy of Ventura.
Before running FIXVP, you need to prepare a data file named
CODEVALS containing the codes you want removed followed by the
characters you want substituted. Example:


The June Personal Publishing article, "Ventura Fixes," describes
two commercial programs that do pretty much the same thing as
CLEAN4VP and FIXVP, although they're useful only if your word
processor is WordPerfect: WP2VP and VP2WP. They're available for
$25 each ($45 for both) from: R. Abrams, 816 Rome, Los Angeles,
CA 90065.

While I'm on the subject of WordPerfect, this. As much as I
respect and depend on the computer weeklies, I'm often appalled
at the errors that get by their copy editors. One of the two
leading weeklies recently printed a letter to the editor blasting
WordPerfect Corp. for changing its file format in WP 5.0. As a
result, the writer claimed, WordPerfect files can no longer be
read by Ventura Publisher. Bunk. What the author and the editors
of the weekly had overlooked is the fact that WP 5.0 has a Text
In/Out key option for saving files in WP 4.2 format. Sure it
requires a couple extra keystrokes unless you define a macro, but
so what. I expect that Ventura will directly support WP 5.0
format in its next release, beta copies of which are in

Products discussed:

Corel Systems Corp.
1600 Carling Ave.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1Z 7M4
(613) 728-8200

The Laser Edge
360 17th Street, Suite 203
Oakland, CA 94612
(415) 835-1581

Publishing Solutions
205 E. 78th Street, Suite 17-T
New York, NY 10021
(212) 288-2470

System Network Architects
Box 3662
Princeton, NY 08543
(609) 683-1237

Dan Zoll can be reached evenings at (301) 963-2632 or in the
PUBLISH conference on the MIX, (301) 738-9060.