A year ago, Steve Jobs was justifiably rubbishing the hype surrounding desk-top publishing, saying that within a couple of years it would be seen as nothing more than a routine extension of word processing, and a year later, the establishment seems to be coming around to his then-heretical view. The nature of desktop publishing software may be changing, industry analysts speaking at this week’s National Computer Graphics Assocation forum on desktop publishing acknowledged. Publishing packages are being challenged at the low end by more powerful word processing programs that incorporate more and more page-makeup features and, on the high-end, by a demand for more traditional publishing capabilities. The end result, said forum chairwoman Arlene Karsh, is that a second generation of desktop publishing programs may begin appearing, programs that tend to be more specialised in their applications. If you just want to publish a newsletter, Ms Karsh explained, you’ll buy a program that does just that, adding that not everyone needs 300 kerning pairs or 3,000 fonts. The next generation of publishing programs will be specific products for specific needs. Some of these programs will be specifically designed for structured documents like books, others will be for technical documents that have a lot of illustrations, while others may be for proposals and so on. Part of the problem users now face, she said, is that, to compete with each other, the over 100 manufacturers who now produce desktop publishing software tend to add feature after feature into relatively general-purpose programs. Most of these features are in the area of page makeup aesthetics that mean little to the vast majority of publishing package users. The forum, in San Francisco, also heard that full-page displays for desktop publishing and other specialised applications may become much more affordable in the near future, reports Microbytes Daily. Within the past few months, said Jim Cavuoto, publisher of Micro Publishing Report, the price of cathode ray tubes used in full-sized displays has dropped in the Far East by at least 50%. Even though the price of tubes is dropping dramatically, Cavuoto added, the savings have yet to be passed on to consumers.
More bits per pixel
Cavuoto defined the displays he was talking about as those putting up at least 1,000 by 1,000 pixels that allow display of full pages, or in some cases, double-facing full-pages of text and graphics, that currently sell for between $1,500 and $2,000. Tony Bove, editor of Desktop Publishing Insider Report, added that facing page displays are what we really need, claiming that such displays can improve productivity in publishing environments by at least 50%. Cavuoto went on to say that, instead of greater resolution, the next generation of high-definition displays will focus on providing more information per pixel. We really need grey levels or multiple bits per pixel, he explained, because, among other things, this offers smoothing techniques on fonts that isn’t currently available. While a 72 dots per inch screen is good enough for most full-page displays, but what I’d love to have are four, six or eight bits per pixel. Demand for displays with more information per pixel would lead to price cuts on current ones.