Ventura 10

  • Editors' rating
    7.0 Very good

Pros

  • Impressive tools for working with XML
  • useful pre-flight engine.

Cons

  • Less adept than QuarkXPress at handling graphics.

Ventura, Corel’s venerable desktop publishing (DTP) tool, has traditionally come a poor third after QuarkXPress and Adobe’s InDesign. Rather than attempt to replicate the features of its rivals, Corel has aimed this new version of Ventura at organisations interested in making XML their main format for content creation. With the acquisition of SoftQuad last year, Corel absorbed XMetaL 3.0, an XML authoring tool. This version of Ventura offers integration with XMetaL to enable you to build a workflow incorporating both content creation and publishing.

XML import and export features are the most important new additions to Ventura 10. However, there’s also a range of other general changes that make the product faster and improve productivity. Much of Ventura’s underlying code has been changed to offer slicker operation as well as reducing the risk of crashes. This new functionality comes with the drawback that it’s only compatible with Windows 2000 and Windows XP, so users of older operating systems won’t benefit from the changes.

Ventura’s interface is better suited to long document production rather than magazine layout, although it contains most of the features you’ll need for either type of publication. Content is displayed as a hierarchy of pages and styles in the product’s Navigator. Each publication is divided into chapters, below which you can view all of the composite elements of that section such as pages and graphics files. Styles are referred to as ‘tags’ and the product’s Navigator stores tags relating to character, paragraph, page, table and rules for line drawing. Table tags are a new addition to this version, enabling you to format multiple tables simultaneously by creating a single style tag. Like other Ventura tags, these can be stored as part of a publication’s style sheet and used in templates.

XML import facilities include the XML Mapper utility, which works alongside the main Ventura product. A Mapping Editor enables you to specify document formatting features which are then applied when an XML file is imported. Mapping files can be based on XML, DTD or XSD files.

Corel has also added a new PDF conversion tool to the product, which maintains formatting and text styles without the need for a separate tool such as Adobe’s Distiller. There’s also an impressive range of filters for importing graphic files and support for 31 different languages.

A new pre-flight engine now offers an improved range of warning messages, enabling you to check for errors relevant to the type of document you’re producing before finalising files. You can also extend the product’s functionality by building new modules in Visual Basic or C++, which will appeal to organisations looking to integrate Ventura alongside other applications.

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Corel has moved Ventura 10 aside from the InDesign-versus-QuarkXPress skirmish and aims to establish it as a strong tool for XML-based publishing. If this is your main interest, along with more traditional long document production, then Ventura 10 is well worth investigating. However, it still doesn’t compete with its rivals for more graphics-driven forms of DTP.

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