Swift Publisher - A Quick and easy way to create a publication

I am not sure if many of you have seen the blog where a lady asked this person, who worked as a graphic artist to make a poster for her Lost cat, and the designer, wanting not to do it or simply just irritate the lady came up with drafts that are just hilarious (of course at the expense of that lady). Now, this is a very common situation that we face in our day to day lives, we need to make a small poster or a flyer for the kids B'day party, for the neighbourhood whatever, fund collection for someone going away on maternity leave or for better prospectives.

What do you do? A brand new Mac has TextEdit, which can do a fair bit of Rich Text, but it is a better version of Notepad and/or Write. This allows for font changes and text editing, it is still in many ways limited. Then there is Microsoft Word (if you are one that needs to have a similar set of tools that you use at work 9to5) or if you are a Mac purist, Pages. The interesting point to note is that Pages and Word are not standard with the Mac and are a fair bit of money in licensing. It should also be noted that though we have put Word and Pages as a tool for creating flyer's, brochures, etc Microsoft has a product also called Publisher but available on the Windows platform only. So what do you do when you want to make a quick document? After all Macs were supposedly the machines that were best suited for all design and cool things like that.

In the early 90's I was with a magazine, where we used QuarkXpress for layout, while there were other tools, it was this that helped us keep the magazine going. Those were also the interesting time when we had to print the 4 colour separations and also make sure that the correct lpi was used for each colour. Gone are the days and Digital printing has made things far much easier than ever.

It is in this context that we have a look at Swift Publisher. It is an app for the Mac computers. It is also one of the easiest to use apps for designing cool flyers, catalogues, brochures, letterheads, certificates, posters, etc to name a few. It has a large template gallery included with the app, so when you start the app, it displays the template gallery, requesting which template to base the document on.

Upon selection of a template, the document opens up for editing. One good thing about Publisher is that it has a very clear or limited UI, it is laden with features but they are not piled onto the toolbars and windows , instead it is all compact and relevant. The idea is simple, you can use one of the primitives like the Box, the Curve and the Line along with Text and Vertical Text. Using the program is quite intuitive, and the text editing can be very easy.

For the first timer on Publisher, Publisher allows for creation of a digital document that can contain images and text. The tools available in Publisher work around the placement of these elements. There are some really cool features attached to images, you can add instant shadows and soften it to form a very natural shadow feel. The images can be made to wrap around. Other visual properties like stroke width, thickness, fill, etc can also be altered for some amazing effects. Though there are four options on the text displacement due to an image, there is not much control with that, having a wrap boundary editing functionality for images would be wonderful. Here's a screenshot of the how it is managed in Word.

The text on the other hand is as easy as placing a textbox on the screen and typing away on it. The cool thing here is that you can create a new textbox and link the overflow text to this text box. It is similar in many ways to QuarkExpress in these two examples provided. However in Quark one can fine tune by editing the wrap around on the image, and the text can be wrapped on both the sides of the image. Microsoft Word has that feature of wrapping text around the image even if it was not an image with the background transparent. A fill effect, gradient fills, etc can also help in creating some visual treats.

Text can have styles as in Word or Pages documents. Publisher links to ArtText, which is the equivalent of WordArt in MSWord, however it is an external separate application and requires it to be installed on the machine for it to work.

There are a few things that are of concern, like the font format did not synchronise with the selected font, something that is most essential, what if I need to just reduce font by a point or pixel? The Fontsize slider is most ineffective, however the T- and the T+ buttons work fine with that sort of fine tuning.

There are a couple of features that are nothing short of amazing, the images can have realistic shadows, specially since the blur, the distance, the angle and the colour can be specified. There are a few features that can leave a user high and dry, specially like the text size slider, or where undo does not work well with font style changes. Then on one hand, the created document can be exported into a variety of documents, including PDF, TIFF, EPS and JPEG format. This export is not just a simple export, it can in fact export a print ready document with bleed margins and cut marks, etc. on the other basic functionality like ArtText which is an external applications should not be prominently sitting on the main toolbar if it is optional.

In summary, Quark, PageMaker, InDesign, Word, Pages, MS Publisher etc are all software that can do most of this plus more in fact many of them are specifically made for pre-printing or processing type of functionality. They also come with a large price tag attached. Swift Publisher is priced at $29.99 and as a special is available on the App Store for $19.99. For that kind of price, The context of the functionality offered suddenly changes, plus this is the solution offered to every person with a Mac who would like to create some documents or compositions of images and text for printing. You do not need to spend big bucks for those other softwares. Again, how many times has anyone ever used all the features of Word? similarly, there is enough in Swift Publisher to keep an average Mac user busy with its offering, if you are a designer or a professional that swears by Adobe products or QuarkXpress, why would you be looking at this or for that matter any other product?

Overall we would recommend it to most home and small business users, but if you have $400+ as your budget on a tool or are looking at pro software, then look at Adobe products instead.

Software : Swift Publisher 3
Version : 3.0
Publisher : BeLight Software
Website : http://www.belightsoft.com/products/swiftpublisher/overview.php
Platform : Mac OS X (10.6.x or higher)
Demo : 30 days
Price : $29.99 (Special $19.99 on the Mac App Store)
Mac App Store : http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/swift-publisher-3/id504851000?mt=12

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