© March 1997 Dori Smith

Apple, the Internet and DTP

"Apple is going to do for the Internet what they did for desktop publishing."

I've heard that statement a lot lately. It seems to be Apple's new slogan. Gil Amelio, Apple's CEO, stressed it at his Internet World keynote two weeks ago. It appeared in almost every press release covering the latest reorg. It led me to thinking, what exactly does this slogan mean?

I'm a web programmer. I've used nearly every net authoring tool made for the Mac, but I live in Frontier and BBEdit. I work with people who design web sites. I take their designs and turn them into HTML, GIF's, JPEG's, CGI's, databases, Java and Javascript--whatever's needed. At first glance, Apple's latest slogan sounds like good news. I can always use improved tools.

But I also write a short newsletter for my condo homeowner's association, so I know the true state of the Mac in the small office/home office desktop publishing arena. And the sorry truth is, there are no MacOS products in this category.

At last month's LAMG General Meeting, I watched the demo of Adobe PageMaker 6.5. It's a very impressive program. It's also complete overkill for my little 2 to 4 page newsletter. So afterward, I talked to the rep from Adobe about this issue.

He agreed that PageMaker was excessive for my needs, so we went through the remaining possibilities. He suggested Microsoft Word. I said that I wanted a desktop publishing program, not a word processing program. He suggested ClarisWorks' Draw module. I said that I wanted a desktop publishing program, not a drawing program. He suggested Microsoft Publisher. I said that it was pretty pathetic that an Adobe representative was recommending that a long-time Mac user switch to Windows just to write a two page newsletter.

What I want is a program with 10% of PageMaker's features, 10% of PageMaker's footprint, and 10% of PageMaker's cost. What I use is Adobe HomePublisher. This is a great little program, though it hasn't been updated in almost 4 years. Adobe hasn't touched it since they bought it from Aldus, and according to the Adobe rep, has no plans to do so in the future.

This is exactly the field where Apple first struck it rich. With a LaserWriter and a Mac, anyone could put out a newsletter instead of having to go to a printer (though the end results often looked like entries in the "How many fonts can you fit on one page?" contest). It's scary for me to realize how far the Mac has come since those days; now, if you're buying a computer to do a small newsletter, you're better off getting a Wintel machine... at least, according to Adobe.

Which is why I'm wondering about that statement "Apple is going to do for the Internet what they did for desktop publishing." Does it mean that they're only going to have high-end tools available eventually? Or does it mean that they don't realize that they don't have a presence in this field anymore? I'm not sure which of the two worries me more.

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