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Print Shop Deluxe 10

The Little Program That Could Raises its Own Bar

by Jim Bray

For fifteen years, Broderbund's "The Print Shop" (about $49.95US) has been empowering home and home office users who need a quick, easy, and affordable way to do basic publishing chores.

It was a testament to Broderbund having gotten the program right the first time that, other than making technological upgrades like the jump from 16 to 32 bit Windows features and the addition of the requisite clip art libraries, "Print Shop" had hardly changed from its initial incarnation to the first 32 bit version (available as Print Shop Ensemble III).

We last reviewed Version 6, which was a virtually complete redesign that added a lot of power to the package. This "new tradition of excellence" has been carried on in the jump to Version 10, a 9 CD-ROM tour de force if I've ever seen one.

So the new version lets you do all the nifty stuff of versions past, like designing or adapting from a template your own greeting cards, signs, banners, calendars, etc. You can save your designs as HTML files, too, so you can throw 'em up onto the world wide web - which fits in nicely with the package's Web site creation module.

Quick start a project from here

The latter is definitely no "Dreamweaver" or "Hot Metal Pro," but they'll indeed let you create a basic web site without studying HTML.

You can also take advantage of some 8000 pre-designed layouts that add a lot of flexibility to your projects as well as adding from the 160,000 pieces of clip art (a lot of which is clip paintings" and "clip photos" rather than your run of the mill line drawing clip art, though there's lots of that,too).

I like beginning with a pre-designed project, and adapting it for my own use; it's a nice and easy way to get started, yet the finished product usually bears no resemblance to the template with which I started.

How much you deviate from the templates is limited by your own creativity. I generally write my own greeting cards, using Print Shop as the starting point - but if you want to you can choose from an abundance of sayings, quotes, or best wishes from the software's collection.

You can now make multi-page calendars and photo albums, borders, and even do some pretty good photo editing see below). And that isn't all. Though I don't really know why it would be included in what's basically a publishing program, Print Shop Deluxe 10 also includes "The Ultimate Mail Manager," which includes address book, mail merge function, and can be used to send out automatic mailings.

Great Clip Art, too!

A nice touch, I suppose, and an unexpected bonus - but I'm sure no one would have known if it hadn't been included.

Back of the graphics side of things, Print Shop 10 also lets you create logos and seals and import images from many different file formats, including jpg, wmf, tif, bmp, pcd, png and more.

Its photo editing capabilities will let you add drop shadows, transparent effects, and stuff like that. You can also create digital photo albums and share them over the Internet.

The package also includes Serif DrawPlus 3, a "dumbed down" CorelDraw/Adobe Illustrator type graphics creation program that's incredibly easy to use, yet surprisingly flexible. And "3D Greetings" is a cute app that lets you create animated cards you can send to your friends via e-mail.

Plus, the interface has been redesigned (there was nothing wrong with the old one, but I must admit the new one is even smoother) to feature cascading menus like you see on many Web sites. This makes navigating the plethora of choices much easier.

Photo Workshop

Now, Print Shop Deluxe isn't going to put Quark or PageMaker out of business - nor will it give CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator/PhotoShop a run for their money. It isn't meant to, though. Print Shop is designed to let the average computer user do the basics of all those heavyweight apps, and unlike its industrial strength competition you can use it right out of the box, with no special training.

In short, Print Shop Deluxe 10 is a graphic design, layout, photo editing and cataloguing, Web creation tool and more - all with a no brainer interface and enough built in stuff that the average person can be up and running on it with virtually no learning curve.

Professionals may sneer at this Print Shop, but they're doing it a disservice - and it isn't meant for them anyway.

If you're someone who wants something quick, easy, and incredibly flexible, that unleashes your creativity without sending you back to school, check out this product!


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May 13, 2006