Swift Publisher: a Pages.app killer?

Lukum

Registered
As a 1.0 app, the brand new Swift Publisher (http://www.belightsoft.com/products/swiftpublisher/overview.php) certainly lacks a few editing features, like the ones we use in long complex documents. However it seems to be a strong competitor for Pages.app. I tested it, and I confirm the following description:
- About 60 professionally designed templates for different types of documents (flyers, newsletters, brochures, letterheads, cards, menus, etc).
- 23,000+ impressive images and 100+ masks.
- Flow text from column to column or wrapping text around the object in realtime.
- Adjustable layout guides are used for precise object placement.
- Support for multipage documents with the ability to rotate each page on a fly.
- Background and foreground layers help to create and edit advanced designs.
- Control transparency, tint images with colors, mask, crop, tile and rotate them.
- iPhoto integration.
- Export your documents to PDF, TIFF and JPEG.
- Import JPEG, PDF, EPS, GIF, PNG, TIFF images.

Hopefully, Swift Publisher will push Apple to develop Pages.app FASTER, or maybe kill it?

Oh yes: it's shareware, less than $40...
 

fryke

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
I'm not sure there's actually a _market_ for such software right now. Microsoft has covered the main market, and anything that tries to be different has to still cover the basics without alienating people who "just want to write". "Less than 40" probably means 39 USD, and I think that's a good price - but if you can live with what you have now, Pages 2 will probably be the thing to buy next (January 2006, I guess...).
 

RacerX

Old Rhapsody User
You know, usually a big selling point for applications like this one is that the company that makes the app actually uses the app.

:rolleyes:

Which begs the question: Why did they use MS Word to make their documentation?

Isn't that exactly the type of task the app is supposed to do? :confused:

It basically shows that they don't have any confidence in their own app.


... Sad.
 

MisterMe

Registered
It doesn't seem to be so much a matter of confidence as functionality. Swift Publisher seems to be an alternative to The Print Shop. Designing a poster is not the same thing as developing a user manual.
 

RacerX

Old Rhapsody User
Lukum said:
- About 60 professionally designed templates for different types of documents (flyers, newsletters, brochures, letterheads, cards, menus, etc).
- 23,000+ impressive images and 100+ masks.
- Flow text from column to column or wrapping text around the object in realtime.
- Adjustable layout guides are used for precise object placement.
- Support for multipage documents with the ability to rotate each page on a fly.
- Background and foreground layers help to create and edit advanced designs.
- Control transparency, tint images with colors, mask, crop, tile and rotate them.
- iPhoto integration.
- Export your documents to PDF, TIFF and JPEG.
- Import JPEG, PDF, EPS, GIF, PNG, TIFF images.
Well, I emphasized the features that would have been needed to put together the two page Quick Start Guide.

The thing is, I put together How Tos and the like all the time in Create (which is a combination page layout, illustration and web design app) using the same features (just more developed).

To give you an example of this philosophy, everything on my Rhapsody Resource Page (almost 120 pages) was created using only Rhapsody computers*. Why? Because I could... and to show that Rhapsody can be used productively.

The Quick Start Guide for this software may not seem like much, but using the software to make it would have shown faith in their application.

I know I wouldn't push a product that I didn't actually use.






* It should be noted that I didn't hold myself to the same standard with the NeXT section of my site. This is because my OPENSTEP system has far more limited space and it is supposed to be used as a school resource. I did some pages in OPENSTEP, but most were done in either Rhapsody or Mac OS X.

Just wanted to add that for full disclosure.
 

BeLight

Registered
Hi guys,
You brought up very good point that we should have used Swift Publisher when creating Quick Start Guide. But the problem at that time was not our lack of confidence in the program. Thing is when the document was created the program was not completely developed. I'm pretty sure that the app will easily handle task like that. Without a doubt next Quick Start Guide will be done with the program:)
 

whitesaint

cocoa love
There's nothing wrong wit that, rhapsody has most of the core technologies that made Mac OS X good in the first place, and is probably a better alternative to Windows IMO. It's missing a few things tho like up to date drivers for the thousands of devices out there. also doesnt rhapsody look like the classic OS 9 GUI? btw nice web site racerX
 

serpicolugnut

OS X Supreme Being
You've got a great 1.0 app there BeLight. Congrats on the release! I already own both Pages and MS Office, so I don't really have an opening for your app - yet. Find some killer feature that neither have and I'll be willing to fork over $40 without hesitating. A suggestion - leverage the other great products you have - Business Card Composes and Mail Factory to sell Swift Publisher. Maybe some sort of bundle discount?

On Swift Publisher... You've done an amazing job. It really is more of a layout app than a Word Processor, which is smart of you. The templates are top notch, and quite varied, which is nice. I really like the "Generate Random Image" feature. Some of the results were very cool.

I'm curious about one thing - why "Background" and "Foreground" instead of just giving the user the ability to put items on layers?
 

Lukum

Registered
fryke said:
I'm not sure there's actually a _market_ for such software right now. Microsoft has covered the main market, and anything that tries to be different has to still cover the basics without alienating people who "just want to write".
Indeed it's hard to know about the actual market. Swift Publisher was downloaded 240 times in 3 days from Versiontracker. Even if it doesn't say anything about how many will buy the soft out of that number, it suggests that at least some people look for such a product. Just forget about MS Word to do nice publishing, as it handles layout and images very poorly – not to speak about its interface. Also, the problem with Pages is that it can't handle medium/long scientific publishing, because e.g. it doesn't manage headers and footnotes/endnotes properly – these issues pushed me back to MS Word for my own publications. Swift Publisher doesn't pretend to do professional (scientific included) publishing, so in terms of market it meets most of the requirements that Pages meet, but for less money. By the way, if you only need to write without nice layout and images, then you can also use Mellel rather than MS Word.
fryke said:
"Less than 40" probably means 39 USD, and I think that's a good price - but if you can live with what you have now, Pages 2 will probably be the thing to buy next (January 2006, I guess...).
Here's another major problem with Apple: it took 2 years to have a 2.x Keynote on the market. Some important text editing features that are missing in Pages don't need to come with a 2.x version, even in 6 months. We needed them 2 months ago in a 1.1 version, and would need some others in another 2 months in a 1.2 version. Software development at Apple, considering the resources they have compared to companies like BeLight, is far TOO SLOW. I use Pages on a regular basis for flyers, information sheets, mail etc, and I really love the product. But if I were new to Mac and needed to buy some simple publishing software, I might go for Swift Publishing now, because Pages lacks real professional text editing features. Those who used FrameMaker know what I'm talking about.
 

BeLight

Registered
serpicolugnut said:
I'm curious about one thing - why "Background" and "Foreground" instead of just giving the user the ability to put items on layers?
Well, we used terms "Background" and "Foreground" to make it more clear for users. As the program aimed at common users who do not operate the term layer, rather than designers. Also, having 3,4,5... layers will make the program difficult to use, that is why we went for "Background" and "Foreground" to simplify the process. By the way, you will be surprised to hear that from our experience majority of our users have never used this feature.

serpicolugnut said:
A suggestion - leverage the other great products you have - Business Card Composes and Mail Factory to sell Swift Publisher. Maybe some sort of bundle discount?
P.S. We do have bundle discounts, you can find them on our buy page.
 

RacerX

Old Rhapsody User
BeLight said:
You brought up very good point that we should have used Swift Publisher when creating Quick Start Guide. But the problem at that time was not our lack of confidence in the program. Thing is when the document was created the program was not completely developed. I'm pretty sure that the app will easily handle task like that. Without a doubt next Quick Start Guide will be done with the program
Fair enough.

Well, we used terms "Background" and "Foreground" to make it more clear for users. As the program aimed at common users who do not operate the term layer, rather than designers. Also, having 3,4,5... layers will make the program difficult to use, that is why we went for "Background" and "Foreground" to simplify the process. By the way, you will be surprised to hear that from our experience majority of our users have never used this feature.
That is interesting to note.

For my budget minded clients I tend to recommend Create for higher end publishing tasks (Create has both page layers and master layers, see attached) and Pages for those with limited abilities. I'll keep Swift Publisher in mind for those who want to go beyond Pages but aren't quite ready for Create.

Honestly, before Pages was released I hadn't thought much about templates or how they would be useful. In sitting down with people new to design and trying to tutor them I've come to realize just how daunting being presented with a blank page is for some people.

In a page on my site, "Getting started doing page layout with Create 12", I try to cover the master layers feature in Create and how it is useful. For me that type of functionality is very helpful (and the fact that it works in the creation of web pages too is a big plus).
 

Attachments

Lukum

Registered
RacerX said:
For my budget minded clients I tend to recommend Create for higher end publishing tasks (Create has both page layers and master layers, see attached) and Pages for those with limited abilities. I'll keep Swift Publisher in mind for those who want to go beyond Pages but aren't quite ready for Create.
Quite honestly, and not to diminish Create, I think you can't really compare a web-publishing tool like Create, with paper-publishing tools like Pages or Swift Publisher. Create has very nice features, but it doesn't have more text editing features than Text Edit (text/paragraphs styling is really poor).
 

RacerX

Old Rhapsody User
Lukum said:
Quite honestly, and not to diminish Create, I think you can't really compare a web-publishing tool like Create, with paper-publishing tools like Pages or Swift Publisher. Create has very nice features, but it doesn't have more text editing features than Text Edit (text/paragraphs styling is really poor).
Well, when I think of Create, web publishing is third on my list of it's strengths (with illustration and page layout coming in first and second).

But maybe you can tell us what features you feel are missing. More to the point, what do you think is missing from TextEdit?

I come from a background of using PageMaker (started with 2.0) and QuarkXPress (started with 3.32). For one thing I never typed directly into either of those (and I don't into Create either... I've used TextEdit as my primary word processor for the last 5 years). Composition was always done some place else and brought into them for page arrangement.

And that is how a lot of professionals work. I provide support services for a few local magazines and know their work flows.

Right now I know some one who is working on editing stories for their next issue who is typing away in AppleWorks. But the magazine isn't made in AppleWorks, it is made in QuarkXPress.


From my point of view, Create has replaced (pretty much completely) my need for Illustrator and QuarkXPress (or InDesign) on my system. And even though it hasn't replaced GoLive, I've put more pages up on the web made in Create than I have in all the years I've been using GoLive (and PageMill before that).

But quite honestly, you are diminishing Create by trying to pigeon hole it as a web-publishing tool when it is far more.

And so we don't diminish exactly how important Create has been in the history of Mac OS X... lets look at a couple interesting mile stones...
  • TextArt (the app that would become Create) was the first (ever) third party app for NEXTSTEP
  • Create was the first third party app to run on Rhapsody and was used to demo Rhapsody for other developers at WWDC 97
  • Create was the first third party app ported to Mac OS X
 

serpicolugnut

OS X Supreme Being
After an evening playing with the demo of SwiftPublisher, I can honestly say it is a great app. In many areas of page layout, it is head and shoulders above Pages. Granted, Pages, while basically a layout app, has a strong Word Processing approach to it. Swift Publisher is just the opposite. It has some really nice features for a page layout application. The templates are beautiful. The included clipart/photo gallery is a huge timesaver. The drawing tools are quite nice too.

I am a bit disappointed it doesn't have any web export functionality, like Pages. I still can't understand why there isn't an intuitive, easy to use, WYSIWYG HTML editor for Mac OS X in the under $50 range. Something along the lines of what Adobe PageMill was. The first company to come up with this will make a ton of money.

As for Create, I gave it another whirl after my first trist with it (nearly 4 years ago). It's a very powerful app, but in many ways it still suffers from the same problems it did 4 years ago. It tries to be too many different tools, and as a result, I don't think it hits the mark on any of the areas - vector illustration, page layout, or web design. It's not very intuitive, and the interface needs some serious updating/modernizing. From the looks of Stone's website, Andrew could really benefit from hiring a design/UI person to compliment his excellent coding skills. He needs a Mike Matas to his Wil Shipley, if you will. Create was an app that I really really wanted to be able to use back in the early days, before the Macromedia/Adobe apps were ported to OS X. I'd still prefer to use the indie apps, but only when they get it right. Nostalgia aside, I stilll don't think Create has gotten it right.
 

Lukum

Registered
RacerX said:
But maybe you can tell us what features you feel are missing. More to the point, what do you think is missing from TextEdit?
There are several automated features, I'm not going to list them all here. If you work with scientific pre-defined styles you will see what's missing: e.g. tiered numbering combined with different paragraphs styles for each numbering level; inserting footnotes by document section... See APA or MLA styles for the rest. Under OS 9, FrameMaker used to be the reference for text styling. Pages.app is close to it, but it can't handle lists and paragraphs styles together.

RacerX said:
But quite honestly, you are diminishing Create by trying to pigeon hole it as a web-publishing tool when it is far more.
Well, if I quote Stone:

Designed for Web Publishing

• Generate multi-page web sites with a single click.
• Automatically generate table of contents and navigation bars
• Get WYSIWYG precision with nested, editable tables (Table Group)
• Work in "Table Preview" mode for exact placement
• Web Resources: embed important resources for web site
• Expert mode: add custom HTML anywhere
• Drag & drop URLs and hyperlinks
• Automatically antialias PDF files
• Make buttons and other neat effects instantly
• Embed movies, applets, webobjects into documents

Moreover, their "Text handling" section clearly shows its limits in text/paragraph styling (not in applying graphic effects to text).
 

RacerX

Old Rhapsody User
Lukum said:
If you work with scientific pre-defined styles you will see what's missing:
Well, if you are doing scientific writing (that is going to be submitted for publication) I would recommend a TeX based solution. My background is in mathematics and LaTeX is the format that is required for my writing.

Moreover, their "Text handling" section clearly shows its limits in text/paragraph styling (not in applying graphic effects to text).
I'll need a specific example of something that I couldn't do in Create.

Well, if I quote Stone:

Designed for Web Publishing
  • Generate multi-page web sites with a single click.
  • Automatically generate table of contents and navigation bars
  • Get WYSIWYG precision with nested, editable tables (Table Group)
  • Work in "Table Preview" mode for exact placement
  • Web Resources: embed important resources for web site
  • Expert mode: add custom HTML anywhere
  • Drag & drop URLs and hyperlinks
  • Automatically antialias PDF files
  • Make buttons and other neat effects instantly
  • Embed movies, applets, webobjects into documents
Which means what? Just because it can do something doesn't mean that it is the only thing it does. The web publishing features of Create were not introduced until version 3 as I recall.

Create's original strong point was leveraging Display Postscript for illustration tasks and page layout.

Like I said, you are doing Create a disservice by trying to pigeon hole into one area.

It is not designed to be perfect at areas that it covers, but it is supposed to cover many of the most needed aspects of those areas for a price that doesn't brake the bank.

But as you have started the listing of Create freatures, we should really complete the list... right? :D

Create Features

Graphics
Graphic tools include:
Line, Multi Line, Rectangle, Oval,
Rounded Rectangle, Bezier Spline, Arc, Freehand,
Polygon Star, Interface "Box", Rich Text.​
Other types of graphics include:
Text along a path, text in a shape, text around a shape, images, Scaleable Groups, Box "Button" Groups, Mask Groups, editable, nestable "Table" groups, Date markers, Page markers, "any HTML" Embedded Graphic for videos, sounds, "webobjects", SliceAndDice image tables, embedded File graphics. Extensible.​

Effects
Each graphic can contain a combination of the following effects:
  • Outline - set the width, color and visibility of the stroke of an object
  • Neon - Stone's unique Neon feature makes realistic 3D lines
  • Multiple - each object can be repeated any number of times at any offset
  • Skew - torque and twist objects
  • Blended Fills - fill objects with blended colors or lines: across, down, radially, hot point - as many colors as you want!
  • Pattern Fill - object patterns that you create with Pattern Editor
  • Reorder and combine fills and strokes
  • Group - Manage complexity by grouping objects. See also Levels below
  • Mask Group - Clip any number of objects to the object on top of them, e.g., fill Text with a picture of a sunset
  • Box Group - a grouping technique which puts an interface box around objects: Make instant web buttons! Remains editable
  • Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical
  • Scale - set the vertical and horizontal scaling separately or together.
  • Rotate - Using Stone's rotational slider, precisely rotate objects
  • Copy and Paste effects from one graphic to another
  • Color blends: transparent colors, CMYK, RGB, HSB, and Grayscales
  • Name - you can name graphics for ease of selection & editing HTML
  • Each graphic can link to a web address
  • Store the Effects for instant visual retrieval in the Effects Palette
  • Rose the graphic or matrix the graphic


Precise Design
  • Document layers: add graphics once to many pages
  • Zoom: Unlimited zoom and custom zooms are remembered. You can zoom in on an area with CONTROL-SHIFT drag.
  • Undo: as many levels of undo and redo as you like - 30 by default.
  • Object layering: Bring To Front, Bring Closer, Send to Back, Send Further, Lock and Unlock.
  • Grids: control grid spacing, color, visibility and "snap-to" independently.
  • Rulers: Work in points, picas, inches or centimeters.
  • Layers: Each page can be composed of independently nameable, hideable, lockable layers
  • Layout Guides for easy placement of objects.
  • Alignment: Align objects to top, bottom, middle, left, center and right.
  • Nudge: using arrow keys or Nudge inspector, move objects precise amounts.
  • Each page can have a background image for tracing or presentation.


Text Handling
  • Linked text blocks between pages and columns.
    ****
  • Paragraph Text has full support for Rich Text Format:
    multifont, multicolor, multi paragraph text.
    Sub and superscripting, ligatures, kerning and line spacing.
    Underline, italics, bold.
    Rulers, tabs and indents.​
  • Additionally - you can place text:
    Instantly place along rose, circle, upper or lower arc.
    Any path.
    Inside any shape.
    Outside any shape.​
  • Convert text to splines.
  • Spell Checker and checks spelling as you type
  • Search and replace


Multiple Pages
  • Add, Copy, Paste, Duplicate or Delete pages
  • "Play" (continuously loop through) pages
  • Automated pagination with Page Marker
  • View pages as thumbnails
    • Instantly go to a page
    • Zoom to any level
    • Pan to any position
    • Reorder pages


Images
  • Pages can have tiled background image
  • Set the transparency of any image for easy ghosting
  • Convert between image types with Image Well
  • Automated antialiasing of EPS and PDF images


Splines and Lines
  • Add and delete handles, combine, connect and separate splines and lines
  • Turn objects into splines. Tighten and loosen splines
  • Reverse path of splines and polylines


Automated Web Page Production
  • Preview the web tables that will be created while you work
  • Document can create a single web page or a group of interconnected pages.
  • Automatically builds graphical Table of Contents.
  • Creates easy to read HTML which can be edited by hand.
  • Optional navigation bars on top and/or bottom of web pages.
  • Set the color of the background, text and links with simple user interface.
  • Specify a background image URL.
  • Specify any image (local or net) for destination HTML (such as Animated GIFS)
  • Custom HTML:
    • Document titles can have a custom prefix, such as the site name,
    • add your own custom header and/or footer to each page.
    • Set the quality of the JPEG images created for export.
    • Automatic use of GIF if preferred or if transparent images are required.
    • Configure HTML Preferences per document and per page.
    • Drag & drop URL's from OmniWeb for instant links
    • Command-Click in any graphic to load the HTTP address or local page
    • Anchors: both destination and source anchors are supported.


Import/Export
  • Instantly drag out images via Create's unique "Image Well"
  • Import EPS/PDF, PS, JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PICT and native file formats
  • EPS/PDF files can be automatically antialiased
  • Export as PDF, PS, TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, Ascii, RTF, HTML, thumbnails, Art and Create
  • TIFF export: control bit depth and alpha.
  • JPEG: control compression
  • Native format is plain english, human-readable property list


Online Help, Sample Art and Custom Art:
  • Online Create Manual
  • Online Tutorial
  • Sample libraries of art, effects, images, patterns, blends and pages provided
  • Create your own libraries of objects for instant access through library panel
  • Save your Effects and drag and drop them on other graphics
  • Entire searchable manual in HTML available at www.stone.com
  • Suggestion Box to email Stone with your bug reports and suggestions
  • License the product directly from the Application


Expert Features
  • Autotrace: converts scanned images to editable graphics.
  • Preferences: customizations that control every aspect of Create. Configure Create just the way YOU want!
  • Complete control over HTML generation
  • Pages: You can create new documents from existing ones for stationary, forms, etc. Automatic access to your private and group libraries.
  • Plug-In Tools Add Dynamically Loaded Plug-Ins as they become available
    - Embed Graphic is an example of a Plug-In.​
  • Animator Module: The animator module allows you to create movies.
  • gifAnim: a sequence of GIFs for use in "GIFfun"(TM) by Stone.
  • tiffAnim: a sequence of TIFFs for use in various Movie.apps.
  • Animator now produces GIF movies which can be turned into animated GIFs automatically with "GIFfun" You can edit the animations parameters in GIFfun, and include these animations in your Create document.
  • More HTML & Web Page Production options:
    • Option to output current page only
    • Option to inhibit production of graphics
    • Source and destination anchors
    • Control-click a graphic to go to its URL or local address
    • Option to produce larger/smaller fontsizes
    • Clean HTML which works perfectly on IE and Netscape
    • Drag URLs from OmniWeb as new graphics with links
    • Drag URLs into rich text to add that link to the text
    • Float graphics in a self-centering table option
    • Bigger/smaller fonts switch
    • Open local image to be used in HTML production
  • Smart names: Graphics names are now more comprehensible
    - Graphics name appears in statusField to show selection​
  • Drag an image onto View Inspector's Image button to automatically load it as the tiled background image
  • And there are more features, but we've run out of room!

Of course there is the list of features added since version 10.0 was released (which you can find here) and then the Stone Design page links to my site for the Create 5.x online Manual (here) for features of earlier versions.


:rolleyes:

And just think... I don't even work for Stone Design! :eek:
 

Viro

Registered
Really, does this whole thread belong to the News section? It should really be moved to the opinions/reviews section since this is turning out to be more of an advertising campaign :D.
 

Porce

Registered
serpicolugnut said:
I am a bit disappointed it doesn't have any web export functionality, like Pages. I still can't understand why there isn't an intuitive, easy to use, WYSIWYG HTML editor for Mac OS X in the under $50 range. Something along the lines of what Adobe PageMill was. The first company to come up with this will make a ton of money.
NeoOfficeJ has an OK HTML editor.
 
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