capsule review

Swift Publisher 1.0

At a Glance
  • BeLight Software Swift Publisher 1.0

    Macworld Rating

Swift Publisher 1.0.3 is an inexpensive, easy-to-use desktop publishing application that allows you to easily create a wide variety of documents—from newsletters and letterheads to posters and catalogs. It is an excellent program for beginners.

Getting started

To create new documents in Swift Publisher, you start with a blank page or one of the program’s well-designed templates (there are more than 90 in the boxed version and 60 in the download version). There’s an Assistant for creating new documents, but the feature seems misnamed. Unlike a typical application assistant—which would walk you step-by-step through the process of creating a new document—Swift Publisher’s assistant is little more than a file cabinet for templates.

After selecting your initial document type, Swift Publisher works like any standard page-layout program. You can create, resize, and rearrange text boxes, flow text between boxes, and insert and manipulate graphics—including images taken directly from an iPhoto library. Swift Publisher also allows you to apply masks to your images—that lets you put soft edges on your photos or frame them with starbursts or other shapes—and create text styles.

To help retain a consistent look from page to page, Swift Publisher uses a two-layer approach. At the bottom of the editing window, there are two tabs labeled Background and Foreground. In the background, you can place backgrounds, graphics, and images that you want to appear on every page. You then use the Foreground tab to add text to your document as well as place graphics that you want your text to flow around. This is a great way to handle the layout process.

Swift Publisher includes lots of templates and clip art, making it easy to create good-looking documents.
(Click image to open full screenshot)

The program ships with more than 20,000 print-quality images that you can use in your documents. But if the built-in collection doesn’t have the picture you’re looking for you can also use the program’s integrated search feature (which uses Google) to find your perfect graphic on the Web. Of course, since these images are coming from the Internet, some of them may be subject to copyright restrictions. The program displays a disclaimer for every Web-downloaded image you place in your document, but it does not show up on the printed page.

Program quirks

If you’re familiar with simple page-layout programs, you’ll find certain annoyances in Swift Publisher. First, wrapping text around any object on the page requires you to move the text behind the object. Most applications, including Microsoft Word, wrap text around a graphic no matter where it is on the page. BeLight says that its method of handling text wrap is more intuitive, but I disagree.

Another quirk involves the templates. While Apple’s Pages (   , April 2005 ), for example, lets you replace template images via simple drag and drop, Swift Publisher requires you to either delete template images before you replace them, or select one first, then click your desired replacement graphic from the Clip Art drawer to place it in the template. Also, when you add new document pages after selecting a template, they are blank instead of having the template backgrounds you already chose. Apple’s program, on the other hand is more intelligent in that it creates new pages that match the ones in your template. BeLight states that these features are meant to enhance the program’s usability, but I’m not sure that’s true. That said, they’re really just minor annoyances.

Macworld’s buying advice

Swift Publisher 1.0.3 is inexpensive, easy to use, and comes complete with a large collection of useful templates and clip art. While it lacks a certain amount of polish, Swift Publisher is nonetheless an excellent choice for your basic desktop publishing needs.

[ Jeffery Battersby is a frequent contributor to Macworld.]

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Lots of useful clip art
    • Easy to use
    • Wide variety of templates
    • Very affordable
    • Good layout tools

    Cons

    • Adds blank pages to your document instead of ones that match your template
    • Some features lack polish
    • Odd text-wrap implementation
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