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Desktop publishing at comm. college lets it economize, modernize.

Desktop Publishing At Comm. College Lets It Economize, Modernize

In the past, Dixie College in St. George, Utah, relied upon print shops to publish its manual of class schedules for the school's 2,500 students. Now the small community college has a desktop publishing system that not only produces inexpensive publications with speed and flair but provides students with a chance to use cutting-edge technology.

"We've watched the trends, even though we don't have a lot of money for state-of-the-art products," says Stan Plewe, dean of registration, printing and continuing education at the school. "We recognized that new desktop publishing software would allow us to eliminate steps, such as paste-up, in the publishing process. We could produce printed material quickly, but maintain a certain style."

The move to install a desktop publishing system started almost three years ago at Dixie, a 76-year-old school with five divisions on campus. Through articles in high-tech publications and exhibits at computer trade shows, it became clear to Plewe around that time that desktop publishing was a growing phenomenon with distinct benefits. But it wasn't until 1986 that he could act on this conviction.

Then, during financial cutbacks at Dixie, Plewe was given responsibility for printing college literature--everything from the annual catalog and the quarterly class schedules to recruiting brochures and flyers for the art, theater and drama departments. He pushed for a desktop publishing system to replace the use of a dedicated typesetting system and print shops both on- and off-campus. It was stipulated, however, that the desktop publishing package purchased would have to meet certain criteria.

The Selection Process

"We were looking for something that was pretty much WYSIWYG [what-you-see-is-what-you-get]," Plewe says. "We wanted a package that would allow someone who knows how to operate a computer to handle design and layout. We wanted to make it so many, many people on campus who wanted to use the desktop publishing system could use the one we bought. We looked for software that was not computer hacker-oriented but features-oriented, one that could handle tasks such as kerning and setting columns and graphics."

Another important criterion, he adds, was that the desktop publishing package could easily import word processing files and deal with large documents, because substantial cost savings could be realized over conventional typesetting. Also required was that the package be published by a stable firm capable of providing future upgrades.

Dixie College's high-tech committee looked at a number of options while slowly building the system with a limited budget of $20,000 for both hardware and software. An IBM-compatible Zenith Data Systems Z-200 was purchased first, along with WordPerfect word processing software. The desktop publishing package finally selected was Ventura Publisher, from Xerox Corp.

Ventura Publisher accepts text from and stores text back to standard word processing software, such as WordPerfect, Microsoft Word and any other word processing software that generates standard ASCII files. It also accepts graphics generated by AutoCAD, GEM Paint, Lotus 1-2-3, Symphony, Mentor Graphics CAD, PC Paintbrush, CAD DXF files, and Microteck and Dest image scanners.

A Hasty Transition

The Xerox software was installed in May 1987, one week before the Fall class schedule catalog had to be produced. Plewe's son, Brandon, a sophomore in electrical engineering at Brigham Young University, started work on the catalog immediately. Input came from Dixie's VAX minicomputer, which contained all the registration information and the course master.

"We made a disk out of the ASCII file, transferred it to WordPerfect, then brought it into Ventura," recalls Plewe. "There were a few problems with tabs and hard returns. But, basically, it was really easy." Because the software could print using the college's Compugraphic equipment, pasteup film was acquired from existing hardware on campus.

After the 40-page Fall catalog was set up in the software, the document was printed out on an Apple LaserWriter in the computer science department at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Since then, Dixie College has purchased a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet printer and received Xerox Ventura Publisher Release 1.1. With the updated software, the system is able to download fonts.

Implementation Benefits

Plewe feels that one of the best features of Ventura Publisher is the easy access it provides to the WordPerfect files: "In WordPerfect, you have complete control of text editing. We can have on-campus, decentralized input at any secretary's desk and then bring it to a central place on campus where we can move it from WordPerfect into Ventura.

"This means people in the various departments can proof their own copy more easily," he continues. "I think that it's going to save money in terms of time to input information. If you eliminate the need to keystroke things twice, you save time and effort for workers."

The desktop publishing system has been used for numerous projects subsequent to that Fall catalog--which was completed on time. Plewe hopes to put the system into the graphic arts department for hands-on instruction. "As a small college competing with big schools," he says, "we have to compete technologically. If we can be on the cutting edge of this technology, we look that much better to incoming freshmen."
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Publication:T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Date:Mar 1, 1988
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