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ATPM 4.09
September 1998

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Review: The Print Shop Publishing Suite

by Edward Goss, egoss@atpm.com

rotten

[ps2 graphic] Product Information
Published by: Broderbund Software
Web: http://www.broderbund.com
Street Price: $50

System Requirements
PowerMacintosh
7 MB free RAM
45 MB hard disk space available 256 Colors (or more, but see Review) at 640 by 480
2x CD-ROM (or faster)

Rarely have I been as disappointed in a computer software product as I am with Broderbund’s “new” Print Shop Publishing Suite. The original Print Shop’s problems with the Mac are legendary, but I’ve somehow been able to keep a copy of The Print Shop Deluxe Ensemble running on my wife’s Mac (she happens to like it, and uses it a lot!) through 3 different Mac models and various system upgrades. Each upgrade brought a new challenge—from crashing at virtually every start-up, to not printing. But, by disabling Virtual Memory, keeping non-Apple extensions to a minimum, and using no other programs when it’s running, we’ve managed to keep it going.

When I saw the advertisement for the Print Shop Publishing Suite, I thought that maybe this time Broderbund would finally get it right. However, Broderbund does not provide any way for their customers to contact them at all, except through a long distance phone call. No e-mail to sales@broderbund.com, no on-line help except an antiquated FAQ, and certainly no “1-800" number should you want to ask about a product (or, maybe even order it!). So I took a chance and ordered it. Then the disappointment began.

[ps3 graphic]

The Print Shop Deluxe opening screen where you choose your “project”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Print Shop Deluxe and Print Shop Deluxe Companion that make up The Print Shop Deluxe Ensemble, they are two programs used to create, or compose: greeting cards, signs, banners, postcards, calendars, posters, business cards, certificates and envelopes. They are actually fun to use; and come with a very large, high quality clip art library, to which you can add other libraries as you wish.

Although they are two distinct programs, they each have the same controls, and are simple to learn. After choosing a project type, you are led through a series of screens to apply backgrounds, styles, text blocks and graphics. My wife has composed some stunning cards and certificates with them, and we both use them for making business cards.

The problem is, although The Print Shop Deluxe has been updated (to version 1.1.2, and causes no problems at all), The Print Shop Deluxe Companion is still at version 1.0, not having been updated since 1994! It does this strange “flashing thing” to the Desktop when launched (I think it’s somehow adjusting monitor resolution down to 256 colors, although I’m not sure. It “flashes” back when you quit it, and everything seems OK.), and absolutely will not tolerate another program running along with it. The “New” Print Shop Publishing Suite contains the aforementioned Print Shop Deluxe, Print Shop Deluxe Companion, as well as the new product—The Print Shop Press Writer.

I suppose it’s all my fault. I assumed that the new program would integrate the Print Shop Deluxe and Print Shop Deluxe Companion with the new Print Shop Press Writer so that you could create all the previous items, plus The Press Writer’s new capabilities to create: “newsletters, brochures, resumes, booklets and flyers.” At least that is what the ads seemed to promise, and what I apparently incorrectly assumed a “Suite” was.

When I received the package; however, I was appalled to find that they were still two (actually, three!) completely different programs that did not have a common interface, had to be installed separately, and didn’t even share the same graphics or font libraries! Worse, The Print Shop Deluxe and Print Shop Deluxe Companion were the exact same versions that I had purchased three years ago! I had repurchased two programs—one of which was very troublesome—without any warning. Even the accompanying manuals were identical! Shame on Broderbund! Shame on me for expecting better.

Oh well, I thought, I might as well install the new Press Writer program to see what that was like. After the program crashed the first four times I tried it, I checked it out with Conflict Catcher and discovered it is not compatible with the shareware “multi-clipboard” program CopyPaste (an indispensable too, which I use successfully with all of my other applications http://www.scriptsoftware.com.)

[ps4 graphic]

After disabling CopyPaste, Press Writer functioned normally. Pictured above is the opening screen, where you choose your “project.” Also shown are the Text Toolbar (across the top), and the Graphics Toolbar (down the side). After choosing a project type, you are led through a series of screens where you choose a layout, style, graphics and text. It’s really quite simple after you have run through it once.

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When you get used to the program, you can bypass all the opening screens by choosing the “Custom” option. This allows you to go directly to an empty screen, onto which you can add graphics and text. The Print Shop Deluxe and Companion offer similar ways of creating documents, but the interfaces are completely different from Press Writer, providing two learning curves for the price of one!—An inexcusable omission by Broderbund. There should be one common interface from which you might choose any of the projects from the menu. I’d prefer the Press Writer interface over Print Shop Deluxe or Companion’s, for it is much easier and more intuitive.

Unlike Print Shop Deluxe and Companion, which have multiple small graphics libraries to choose from, Press Writer contains only three graphics libraries: Square Graphics, Column Graphics, and Row Graphics. This means that each time you add a Square Graphic, you must wait for all of them (over 700!) to load. Also, the scrolling window to choose them in is very small, only displaying nine at a time. There is a search capability built into the graphics display, where you can type in keywords to help find the type of graphic you are looking for. I found this process quite time-consuming, and often reverted to the provided Graphics Reference Book to view graphics and find their names, so I might find them in the scrolling window.

[ps6 graphic]

Accessing the libraries of graphics that come with Print Shop Deluxe and Companion is impossible in Press Writer because they are not recognized by their own creator! I did manage to discover that by adding DOS suffixes to the names of the libraries in Print Shop Deluxe and Companion, I could make Press Writer recognize them. For example, the “Animals” graphics library will correctly show up in Press Writer’s graphics browser if you change the name to “Animals.PSG” where “.PSG” stands for “Press Writer Square Graphics.” You can also rename the other Print Shop graphics libraries as required to “PRG” for “Row Graphics” and “PCG” for “Column Graphics.” They are still recognized with their new names by the older programs, so why didn’t Broderbund do this? An unbelievable oversight. All the graphics in the three programs should have been combined into one library and been accessible by any of the programs.

Text capabilities in Press Writer include over 100 fonts, different paragraph styles, the ability to link or unlink column text, create drop caps and a library of over 1000 quotations you can search through to spice up any document you create. All the text tools will be familiar with anyone who has used any of the popular word processors and offer all the text capabilities you will probably ever need. The Print Shop Deluxe and Companion each come with their own large font libraries, many of which overlap each other’s, and Press Writer’s supplied fonts—in case you don’t have enough fonts! Once again, Broderbund goofed. Only one font library should have been installed, eliminating duplication, and possible font-related problems down the road.

As I write the capabilities of each of these programs, it seems as though I’m describing a winner application that would do everything I might ever need in the way of desktop publishing. Unfortunately, taken together they are one of the larger clunkers I ever used. Taken by themselves, and disregarding Companion’s fussiness, each of these three programs is worth some attention. If you need to create any of the projects they are capable of, you might find them usable. However, taken as a “Suite” of programs, as they are advertised, someone really didn’t do their homework; or, were just out to make a quick buck from the Macintosh crowd. I do not have the PC version of this program available for review, but why do I have the feeling that they probably work fine on the PC side? Or, could PC users be so gullible to accept this as a complete “Suite?” I doubt it. The box proudly proclaims “Over 13 Million Products Sold!” so someone must be happy with Broderbund’s products. They can’t all be Myst and Riven owners!

On a final note, and the sooner I am done with this the better, for it is not fun to trash a program that has such potential. The box proudly proclaims: “90-Day Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee!” When I called Broderbund to inquire how to go about this (I’m paying for the call, remember), the nice young lady on the phone seemed oblivious to Broderbund’s return policy, offering only to transfer me to “Tech Support.” It was unlikely that they could undo all of this program’s faults over the phone (I can picture it—’Jack, there’s a guy on the line who needs a code rewrite of three 2+ MB programs—pronto!’), so I hung up. I had to call again, and inform the nice young lady that I wanted to know how to return the program. More confusion. Finally, I was given the name “Elizabeth Wilson” to return the package “In care of.”

Until Broderbund gets their act together, I must award The Print Shop Publishing Suite only the fourth “Rotten” rating in ATPM’s history. Meanwhile, I have ordered the PrintMaster Publishing Suite from Mindscape. I will let you know how that works in a future review.

[apple graphic] Copyright ©1998 Edward Goss egoss@atpm.com. Reviewing in ATPM is open to anyone. If you’re interested, write to us at reviews@atpm.com.

Reader Comments (26)

Deborah · April 4, 2002 - 16:05 EST #1
I bought the Print Shop Publishing Suite and have had nothing but problems. I start designing my projects and either the program just shuts off and/or a window will pop up and tell me something like the program has caused ... I can't remember the wording. I do remember it also saying the program will now close. I have tried reinstalling it several times. It does not fix the problem. I don't have any problems with any other programs on my computer, so I'm sure that it's the Print Shop program. Why am I having so much trouble with it? I don't want to have to buy another program, and I shouldn't have to. I did, and still do, trust this product and that the company backs what they sell. I'll be waiting for assistance.

Deborah H.
Shay Barsabe · September 19, 2002 - 19:49 EST #2
Yep. The church secretary bought it (probably because she has it on her PC at home). On the Mac, it won't start. To begin, it was crashing with Type 3 error. Now its progressed to Type 12 error and no other application can print (they are all crashing, now).

Piece of garbage from Bumblebun, for sure. Next time, I'm going to send the church secretary off to read reviews before she spends the money.
Cyndy Phillips · October 18, 2002 - 15:13 EST #3
I am looking for Broderbund Press Writer. If you have one, please e-mail me and tell me how I can buy it. Thank you.
Mary · July 20, 2003 - 20:19 EST #4
Thank you for your review. While I do not own a Mac, I have installed this stupid program 2 times in 2 days and uninstalled it 2 times in as many. I always get a system 5 error stating that I have 5 people accessing it at once and that my access has been denied. I am very new to the computer world and am just getting my feet wet. My boss gave me the program so I could use it for the ads that we need for our business. I really needed something that I could access easily and this one isn't it. Man, oh man, does this suck!
anonymous · January 15, 2004 - 11:16 EST #5
Help...I get all set up to do a project..type and all and then cannot type what i want to print in the format on the screen..sure this is operator error..suggestions would help..
George Burton · April 15, 2005 - 13:08 EST #6
I have just bought a Mini Mac and I am having trouble opening thePrint Shop. How do I open it?
ATPM Staff · April 15, 2005 - 14:11 EST #7
George - even though Print Shop is a Classic application, you should still be able to run the program in OS X's Classic Environment. You'll have to be more specific. What, exactly, are you doing to try opening the application and what, exactly, happens?
Sylvia Katler · January 7, 2006 - 18:57 EST #8
Is it possible to bring a Print Shop Deluxe card saved on MAC OS 9 into Print Shop for MAC OS X? When I indicate I want to open a card, all the OS 9 cards show up in bold print as though I should be able to open them in the Print Shop OS X, but when I click on an OS 9 card, the OS X Print Shop crashes without opening the card, without harming the program.
I have a lot of cards I use often for an ogranization and would like to transfer them to the newer version.
Shari Grooms · February 3, 2006 - 13:02 EST #9
I have an older version of Press Writer. I can not seem to get it to run on my emac OS X. Is there anything I can do?
ATPM Staff · February 3, 2006 - 21:41 EST #10
Shari - you can start by describing what happens (or doesn't happen) when you launch the application. Does Classic Environment start up when you try to launch it?
eifion jones · September 10, 2006 - 07:08 EST #11
I find broderbund softare garbage as well,I
seem to get problems getting them to print what I see on the monitor it's never right,
Broderbund should ask Nova Development for advice their card software is a cracker,Broderbund is barred from now on.
Eric Postman · January 5, 2007 - 08:49 EST #12
When you create a file in Print Shop Press Writer, can it be saved in a different file format (RTF)? A colleague is creating newsletters for me to post on our web site, and I cannot open her files.
ATPM Staff · January 5, 2007 - 12:41 EST #13
Eric - I'm not sure that the author of this review is around any longer, and anyone else may not be familiar with the application. There's also the consideration that this review is about nine years old, as well as the fact that Print Shop was notorious for only having native formats—the same reason I don't care much for Microsoft Publisher.

The best advice I have is to try to reach someone at whatever's left of Broderbund Software. The link's at the top of this page.
Kristen Crowdus · July 25, 2007 - 22:06 EST #14
I have a version of Print Shop Deluxe older version I did register this under my name in hopes of updates have not gotten any. Am I able to update what I have for free or maybe shareware area without it costing me anything? I know this is more than likely not where to post this but this is the best site I have found to maybe tell me more.
Thanks,
Kristen
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · July 26, 2007 - 00:02 EST #15
Kristen - you're right, we don't really have help for your issue. You'll have to take this up with the software distributor.
taisia mills · October 20, 2007 - 06:58 EST #16
Is there a new version of PressWriter for Mac os X? The new macbooks won't recognize my prior work, nor will it install my presswriter program.
Joanie DeVore · December 16, 2007 - 18:20 EST #17
I can't seem to get to the "use the entire inside of the card" choice for half-fold greeting cards. See User Guide page 137. It just stays with the "half inside area" default for the templates I have tried, even if I try to change it the first time up. I might get my $60 worth out of the program if I can solve this problem, but I wish I had read your review before spending the money.
Louis Scuffil · January 14, 2008 - 10:25 EST #18
I have a problem with printshop. There idea of tech support is to have none. Customer service is limited to taking orders and tracking issues on orders. Broderbund is got to be up there as the worst software company out there. My problem is that somehow all my php files and firefox files have been converted to Broderbund quick prints types. I do not know how to convert them back to the original files. At the time I had print shop installed but not running. I have since uninstalled print shop and i will be trashing this piece of junk. (I will not even sell it on ebay).
Nancy King · January 15, 2008 - 11:08 EST #19
How do I make the quick prints to poster types. All files saved as quick prints fail to open. Years of work gone.
Nazira Moosa · May 30, 2008 - 10:56 EST #20
I would like to know where to get the Print Shop Delux of some where around 1998's version. I love that but I do not know where to get one it was a yellow colour cd it came with my printer even though i have the Print Master Gold I still like the P.S.D PLEASE I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE IT IF YOU COULD LOCATE ONE FOR ME.
THANK YOU
ATPM Staff · May 30, 2008 - 11:30 EST #21
Nazira - probably your most likely source is to keep looking on eBay.
J D D · August 26, 2008 - 23:10 EST #22
Eric (#12) - No, Presswriter will not save in any other format, including RTF. Best bet is to use a PDF writer and publish in PDF format on your website (PDF writers act as printer drivers that take your PostScript output and create a PDF [Adobe Acrobat Reader] document from it.)
Marcelle · November 18, 2008 - 17:52 EST #23
I wanted to copy menus from an old computer (.PSP) to laptop. Bought Presswriter software, installed it, copied menus to laptop. Now when I open them the text is missing. Dialog box says "all text in this story cannot be viewed, connect the text box or resize it to view all text". I tried and nothing works. Help!!!!
HM · January 24, 2009 - 10:00 EST #24
What a piece of junk software! It took over all of my PHP script software. How do I get my system back?
R Chua · March 10, 2009 - 21:45 EST #25
I know this is a bit of a long shot, but I had the original PSDC on a mac a long long time ago and had created a bunch of stuff with it. Since then, something has happened to the application file and I can't get it to reinstall anymore. I have all the other necessary file (graphics, etc, etc), but I just don't have the application itself. I'm REALLY hoping that there's a kind soul there who can help me. Thanks in advance!
R. Stanbridge · September 12, 2013 - 06:39 EST #26
I too have this problem of files changing to Broderbund quick prints types. I don't know how to convert them back to the original files Half - Fold Card Type. Can anyone Help me out with advice on this? as I have had a computer tech spent hours with the problem . with no success!! Help, Help, Help!!!

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