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Desktop publishing.

Would you trade eight bits for a byte? Do you want CAD or CAM? Will you swap some ROM for more RAM? The personal computer has added a host of new words, phrases, and acronyms to the office vocabulary. Less than a decade ago, the questions above would have meant nothing to most of us. Today, we at least recognize that they have to do with the technology that's transforming the way many of us work.

Not all the terms that have emerged in the last several years are cast in an alliterative mold. DTP sounds like a vaccine against childhood diseases. Actually, it stands for "desktop publishing," one of the fastest growing categories in the computer field. Desktop publishing means using a personal computer, in combination with text, graphics, and page layout programs, to produce publication-quality documents.

The name desktop publishing is somewhat misleading. Multiple copies of books, magazines, newsletters, or newspapers don't come streaming out of your desktop printer. The final products of a desktop system are reader-ready or camera-ready documents that can then be printed or reproduced by traditional means.

Every year, companies spend billions of dollars on printing and publishing. Desktop publishing can not only save a lot of those dollars, it can give users greater control of their publications or documents. That's why desktop skills are in demand. Check the classified adds. You'll find desktop or DTP or Pagemaker, Ventura, or Quark, (some of the different DTP software packages) mentioned in ads for a half dozen or more occupations. "Five years ago there was no market for these skills," says Sandy Mayer, vice president and Director of Corporate training for the Berkeley Corporation in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. "Desktop publisher is now a stand alone job."



Some people say it began when Paul Brainerd lost his job. Brainerd had been an executive with a company that manufactured publishing systems for newspapers and magazines. He was laid off in 1984. Rather than pound the pavement looking for work, he invested in an idea. He gathered a group of out-of-work engineers around him, used his life savings as a stake, and started Aldus Corporation, naming the company for a 15th century Venetian printer. Within serveral months they produced the Pagemaker program, the first software link between the Apple Macintosh and the Apple LaserWriter printer. In The Illustrated Handbook of Desktop Publishing, Michael Kleper, a professor of graphic arts at the Rochester Institute of Technology, writes, "Pagemaker was the first program to easily integrate text and graphics, thereby eliminating paste-up and incorporating the composition process in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) environment."

Brainerd coined the term desktop in 1985. Since then, the coins have grown into dollars. Aldus Corporation turned a profit within months after its first shipment of software. Currently, at least 20 different desktop publishing packages are available for the leading microcomputers. And the enthusiasm generated by the technology has prompted the producers of word processing programs to incorporate desktop capabilities into these programs.

BIS Strategic Decisions, a Norwell, Massachusetts information technology research firm, projects a U.S. desktop-related market of nearly $4 billion by 1993. Frost & Sullivan, a market research firm with offices in New York and London, forecasts $4 billion in European sales by 1994.

Placing a dollar value on the market is far easier than describing the applications, implementation, and penetration of the technology into a variety of markets. Virtually anything that can be printed can be produced using desktop publishing software. The list of materials ranges across nearly the whole alphabet--from advertising materials, books and business cards, and calendars, through magazines, newsletters and newspapers, to packaging, slides, and tickets.

Employers in the traditional publishing fields, such as book publishers and newspapers, use desktop technology. It is also having a dramatic impact on commercial and graphic arts, advertising, and public relations. But the market extends beyond these traditional communications-related industries. Printing and publishing costs represent a significant portion of a corporation's expenses, no matter the industry. Interconsult, a research company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, estimates that corporations spend from 6 to 10 percent of revenues on publishing.

Large companies and corporations are some of the big-gestures of desktop technology. In retrospect, one can see why this is so. Not only do these companies produce a wide variety of printed materials for both internal and external use but they already had sizeable investments in personal computers, which made it relatively easy for them to adopt the new technology. BIS Strategic Decisions estimates that 20 percent of desktop sales were to corporations with assets of a billion dollars or more; businesses with assets of about $100 million accounted for 25 percent; and companies in the $15 to $50 million dollar range comprised another 25 percent. According to a BIS source, the largest users are paper-oriented companies that provide business services, such as banking and insurance.

Michael Rollins recognized early on the advantages that DTP provides. He has been involved with it since its emergence. Rollins holds an MBA with a specialty in finance. "I got involved because I saw a business opportunity," he says. As president of Rollins and Associates, a desktop publishing consulting firm in Washington, D.C., he counts the World Bank and the Washington Post Corporation among his clients. Rollins says, "Essentially, companies become involved with desktop for two basic reasons--cost and control." Desktop enables users to control publication by bringing it in-house. Page layout, composition, and typesetting were traditionally done on the outside, costing extra time and money.

The experience of one of Rollins's clients illustrates these advantages. In the fall of 1989, the Publications Department at the World Bank made its first investment in desktop publishing technology. "We began with a single computer, two printers, and some software," says Carol Rosen, the department's managing editor. By March of 1990, the system was in full operation. In the next 6 months, the department produced 21 publications, ranging from bound books and manuals to policy papers and reports. The initial investment in equipment was $42,000. In 7 months, Rosen reports savings in production costs of nearly $11,000. "Beyond that, we've shortened production schedules and freed our staff for more substantive work. That shift increased our staff resources for editing by 25 percent," says Rosen.

Desktop technology has had an equal if not greater impact on graphics and commercial art. The speed and power of the technology enables users to do more work in less time at reduced costs. That's been the experience at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.

Arthur Cadeaux is the art director for the association. His department produces a variety of materials, from brochures and flyers to a monthly magazine, for association members. He now performs about 90 percent of his work on the computer and reports, "We've saved thousands of dollars in printing and production costs in the 2 years that we have been using desktop technology. We've taken on more projects, with more design flexibility, simply because the technology allows us to do more."


You may have learned in physics class that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That same principle almost holds true when new technologies are introduced in the workplace. In desktop publishing in particular, and computer-assisted publishing in general, the excitement raised by the technology in some quarters is matched by concern in others.

Desktop publishing simplifies many prepress operations such as typesetting and page makeup. For organizations, that means faster turnaround time and reduced costs. For prepress occupations -- such as typesetter, compositor, and pasteup artist -- it means fewer jobs. Despite the anticipated expansion of the printing industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistic projects little or no growth in the employment of hand compositors and typesetters through the turn of the century. BLS attributes this lack of change to the introduction of computerized equipment in the workplace.

"Everybody in the prepress business has been affected to some extent by desktop technology," says Bill Neyman, one of the owners of Adroit PrePress, a printing business in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. "But the effect on typesetters has been catastrophic. Their role is being preempted. In the last few years, we've gone from eight people doing typesetting and layout to one," he says.

Neyman has more than 20 years experience in the printing business. When he graduated from high school, he went to work into the printing business. Soon after, he became interested in production work and, since then, has worked as a typesetter, compositor and a pasteup artist. He came to Adroit to run the art department and now has a piece of the business.

From a personal perspective, Neymann recognizes the value of desktop. He's the chairman of a local Ventura users' group. As a businessman, he saw that survival meant adapting. While his company still does some traditional printing jobs, essentially it has become a service bureau that prints finished pages from a client's computer file. Neymann says, however, that many clients don't know how to prepare a file for printing. "Ignorance is rampant," he says. "Many people simply don't know what the software can do. We're getting more and more calls for support."

Others in the business tell similar stories. Bruce Robey used to run a typesetting shop in Washington. He, too, reports that his business has been devastated by desktop. And, like Neymann, he saw the writing on the wall and grabbed on the new technology early. He has a new firm, Alphabytes, that specializes in programming and computer consulting services with an emphasis on desktop.

While acknowledging desktop's advantages, Robey counters that the technology also presents some fundamental problems. "In the old system, the author dealt with content, the typesetter with form," he says. Desktop takes what used to be specialized tasks and packages them. Many users don't have the skills to put this package to good use. "Frequently, the results are an offense against typographical good taste," says Robey.

Good taste or not, the technology is here to stay; and, in the face of dramatic change, the only way to survive is to adapt. Those who do can find some promising prospects. "In a sense, the technology has given opportunities to more aggressive typesetters," says Rick Kauffman, a Philadelphia artist and designer. "They have moved into service bureaus and have even begun to take some design business away from designers and commercial artists." For example, the design capabilities of the technology enable typesetters to handle some of the simpler design and layout jobs, such as newsletters and flyers, that might have previously gone to design shops.

Graphic and commercial artists and designers are feeling the pressure, too. Kauffman, who is president of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and one of the principals of Artattack Studios, says that he feels the competition because clients' expectations have been raised. Aware of desktop's benefits, customers are asking for quicker turnarounds on projects. "But it's a double-edged sword," says Kauffman. The speed inherent in the technology presents the designer or artist with the dilemma. Desktop speeds up production but not necessarily creativity. "It may give you the chance to explore an idea more fully, but you have to have the idea first," he says. With less time allotted for a project, designers sometimes lose the chance to distance themselves from a project and return to it with a fresh perspective, according to Kauffman. These time constraints are even greater as designers are required to perform more production-oriented tasks, duties that used to be performed by prepress professionals.

Kauffman says that the technology also tends to blur the line between the designer and the production artist. "At what point does a $50-an-hour designer become a $10-an-hour production artist," he asks. "How do you log the differences between them for the client? Before you would log time against a job. But now there is a certain amount of research and development time that you must account for," says Kauffman. Who pays these charges, asks Kauffman? This is an issue that the profession as a whole must confront. Professional standards and practices as well as pricing guidelines, which were established before the introduction of the technology, will have to be examined.

Questions have also been raised about desktop publishing's effects on editorial positions. Desktop is blurring the distinction between writers, editors, and designers. Writers and editors may now make basic layout and production decisions before a designer sees the article.

Some editorial professionals do see changes occurring but say much depends on the setting. Jim Pennypacker is editor and publisher of Desktop Publisher, a monthly paper that covers the desktop market in the mid-Atlantic States. Pennypacker says, "We're a small shop, so everyone has a hand in everything. But, looking at the field in general, I see job descriptions changing, so it's realistic to expect the editor of the future to know something about design and graphics. But, right now, it's hard to find an editor who knows a lot about design."

Some people are more explicit on the need to preserve the distinctions. Meniscus, Ltd., publishes articles in biotechnology, clinical medicine, oncology, and pharmacology. Lois Trench-Hines, the company president, says, "The company began to use desktop in 1985, because it gave us control of type for charts, tables, and graphs. When staff members other than the designer experimented with the system, I learned the hard way that you must keep the functions separate. Writers write, and editors edit. They are not designers."


In their advertising campaigns for desktop publishing materials, producers tend to overplay the simplicity and ease-of-use of the technology and understate the need for basic skills and knowledge. Though the dust has yet to settle concerning desktop publishing, some clear ideas as to the kind of skills that a desktop publishing professional needs have emerged.

For example, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, one of nine colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology, has identified five major skills in the production of electronic documents: Design, typographic, system usage, production, and interpersonal. In a new book, Desktop Publishing Success, authors Maggie Lovaas and Felix Kramer group these skills into three broad categories: Computer literacy; publishing literacy; and an understanding of design concepts.

Desktop operations typically include a variety of hardware and software. The personal computer is the principal tool in desktop publishing. You have to know how to use it. That means you'll have to understand your computer's operating system, how it organizes data, and its applications. The numerous operating systems now in use include DOS, OS/2, Unix, and Windows.

As a desktop specialist, you'll also have to master several different software packages. Besides the DTP program itself, you may need to know programs for word processing, spread sheets, data base management, charts, and drawing. You may need to know how to work with files in each of these programs and you will definitely need to know how to integrate the files into a single file in the DTP program. You'll also have to learn about computer networks and understand how your PC operates other equipment, such as printers and scanners.

"The learning curve on software has grown longer and steeper in the last few years," says Rick Kauffman. "You have to stay involved and keep current with the updates," he says, because newer, more complicated versions of each of the software programs appear all the time. New hardware also appears at a steady rate. Kauffman says that changes have come so quickly that he and his partner now split the responsibilities. He concentrates on page layout packages and his colleague focuses on design and illustration software.

Sandy Mayer, vice president and director of Corporate Training for the Berkeley Corporation, agrees that the dynamic nature of the technology has made it difficult to keep pace with changes. She believes that "the competition between software manufacturers has driven the technical advances more than market demand." Mayer estimates that the average user is only employing about 40 percent of the technology's capacity. "Some computer pros might be using more than 60 percent," says Mayer, "buy they're few in number."

When the technology was introduced, the first users tended to be computer professionals who, while attracted by the technology, lacked the design skills and publishing knowledged to use it well. Mike Rollins asserts, "Despite the growing importance of the technology, you still need a solid grounding in the basics of design, layout, and publishing." Rollins believes that a person can learn the basics and develop competence in the technology in 6 to 9 months. "But learning good design principles takes longer," he says.


For those interested in learning desktop publishing skills, a variety of options are available. Many universities and colleges around the country have incorporated computers into their fine arts, design, or communications curriculums. Some schools are developing programs specifically geared to training students for careers in electronic document production.

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf plans to establish a High Technology Center in its School for Visual Communications. Michael Kleper, professor of graphic arts at the school says, "With the state-of-the-art equipment we'll have, we'll be able to train young deaf adults to enter the field immediately upon graduation."

The Center for Career Education and Workshops (CCEW) at The George Washington University recently established a Desktop Publishing Specialist Program. Kathleen McIntyre, who founded the program and now works as a desktop consultant in Washington, says, "The program combines teaching high-tech skills with traditional publishing expertise." Students can earn a certificate as a desktop publishing specialist by completing a 10-course curriculum.

At the secondary level, instruction in desktop technology is also underway. "We incorporated computers into our commercial arts program 6 years ago," says Judy Leer, an instructor at Eastern Montgomery County Vocational Tech in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. The program, which is designed for high school juniors and seniors, has four components: Computer graphic design, production, art director apprentice, and commercial photographer apprentice. Leer says that the technology has had a significant impact on the program at the school. "Right now we're reviewing and redoing our curriculum to reflect that impact," says Leer.

Leer also teaches evening seminars for adults, most of whom are commercial and graphics artists who want to update their skills. "We've even had requests from professionals to participate in the day programs with the younger students." says Leer. "But we don't have enough Mac's t go around."

Aside from these traditional centers of training, instruction in desktop technology is offerd by other sources, too. Software manufacturers, or vendors, produce tutorials for their products and new books appear with increasing frequency. In addition, private training companies often instruction.

The pace of change in the industry complicates the instructor's job. Mayer says, "It's difficult to define a 'desktop publisher' clearly." The present state of affairs is too fluid. "It's unrealistic for a single person to be a master of all the skills that desktop encompasses. There's too much in the pie for one person to know. And this is a pie that wasn't even baked five years ago."
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Title Annotation:includes related article
Author:Stanton, Michael
Publication:Occupational Outlook Quarterly
Date:Jun 22, 1991
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