Publisher used to be a powerful, business desktop publishing application in its own right, but since it became part of the Office suite it has languished, with only minor improvements to its functionality. While it’s still a very able tool, it hasn’t had the kind of investment some of its rivals or some siblings have enjoyed.
With Publisher 2007, things don’t seem to have changed. There’s no Ribbon here, to make the design of pages easier and more intuitive, no Live Preview to show how potential changes will look in your documents and certainly none of the new facilities from PowerPoint.
Click on WordArt in the Publisher toolbox and the same tired old Thunderbirds-style designs are on offer, giving your publication all the style and immediacy of a Showaddywaddy tribute. AutoShapes also follow the old design and there’s no attempt to introduce SmartArt. All the core features of the new Publisher are very similar to those in Publisher 2003.
At long last Publisher can produce a PDF documents natively, without the need for third-party converters, but even this is an Office-wide improvement, rather than something added specifically to improve Publisher. As with all the other Office applications, Microsoft’s XPS document format is also supported.
There are some enhancements in Publisher 2007, such as support for Pantone colour matching and an ability to print banners, if your printer supports them, without having to tile individual pages. You can better target e-mails to your customers and include personalised hyperlinks to steer them to specific pages which may interest them and benefit you.
The opening screen has also been rewritten, offering you easier selection of templates and page sizes from your documents. Templates are better used in general and you can re-purpose some designs from one type of document to another, such as from a business card to a return label.
Both the mail merge and e-mail assistants have been improved and simplified, but in comparison with the changes that have been made elsewhere in Office 2007 all this is pretty meagre fare. It all smacks of being a ‘Publisher 2005’, about halfway through its upgrade cycle and popped into the box because the new Office 2007 had to be launched.