Serif's decision to call this Desktop Publishing Suite 2008 might be questionable. After all, each of the three main packages (Serif PagePlus 11.0, Serif DrawPlus 8.0 and ImpactPlus 5.0) have been released before. Indeed, even the most recent of them, Serif PagePlus 11.0 and DrawPlus, have already been succeeded by this year's X2 versions, so the ‘2008' tag is somewhat misleading. In other respects though, Serif Desktop Publishing Suite 2008 does exactly what it claims to, pulling together everything that you need to create a professional publication, be it for print or online. And since, individually, these titles have already garnered a slew of awards (a pair of PCA Gold Awards amongst them), Serif Desktop Publishing Suite 2008 amounts to an awful lot of power for a very modest asking price.

The core of Serif Desktop Publishing Suite 2008 is still Serif PagePlus 11.0, which, as the manual explains, ‘does it all' - providing you with the tools to create anything from a school newsletter to a website. In this version of the software, which was released in 2006 (Serif PagePlus X2 is the latest version), Serif attempted to up its game, setting its sights on professional DTP tools such as Adobe's InDesign CS3. While Serif PagePlus 11.0 may still fall some way short of threatening the high end, it continues to do what it has always does very well indeed - which is to provide relatively easy to use DTP software for the masses.

Serif Desktop Publishing Suite 2008's PagePlus 11.0 interface is as intuitive as is possible and there are plenty of features that will appeal to both designers and business people, such as pre-press quality PDF export, direct PDF editing and the ability to create interactive PDF forms. Accompanying Serif PagePlus 11.0 (and, indeed, Serif DrawPlus 8.0 and Serif ImpactPlus 5.0 as well) is a resource CD packed with pre-designed templates, so even a complete novice can create a presentable document.

The second part of Serif Desktop Publishing Suite 2008 is the drawing tool, Serif DrawPlus 8.0. Like Serif PagePlus 11.0, this is a year old and has since been succeeded by the X2 version. But that's not to say it isn't still a very good piece of software. Like Serif PagePlus 11.0, Serif DrawPlus 8.0 is very easy to use, with a well laid out, intuitive interface. You get a huge library of paint effects and a colour wheel that gives you full control over swatches. Serif also bundles a printed colour chart for both gloss and matt shades, so you can see how your masterpiece will look on the page as well as onscreen. Like Serif PagePlus 11.0, Serif DrawPlus 8.0 also offers the ability to import and edit PDF files, so you can work on PDFs created in other software programs, such as InDesign.

The final part of Serif Desktop Publishing Suite 2008 is 3D animation tool, Serif ImpactPlus 5.0. This is the oldest part of the triumvirate, dating back to 2004. It's a good match for Serif DrawPlus 8.0 and Serif PagePlus 11.0 as, once again, it targets less experience users providing them with a simple tool to create decent animations.

Serif Desktop Publishing Suite 2008: Specs

  • 500MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • Windows Vista/XP/2000/Me/98 SE
  • 64MB of RAM
  • 240MB of hard disk space
  • 800x600 colour monitor
  • 500MHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • Windows Vista/XP/2000/Me/98 SE
  • 64MB of RAM
  • 240MB of hard disk space
  • 800x600 colour monitor

OUR VERDICT

While professional designers and layout artists will stick with the big boys such as Adobe InDesign CS3, for everyone else Serif Desktop Publishing Suite 2008 is more than enough to get you creating slick looking publications on and off line. All the parts are easy to use and Serif Desktop Publishing Suite 2008 is excellent value for money.

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