SAN FRANCISCO (01/24/2000) - Consumer-level page-layout programs can be a mixed bag. While they aim to offer a wealth of tools for creating basic designs, some are unnecessarily difficult to master. Corel Corp. attempts to make things easier with Corel Print House 2000, a $79 entry-level page-layout program that includes a wealth of images, templates, and fonts (six CD-ROMs' worth), as well as Corel Photo House, a simple image editor. However, while the program is generally easy to use, its wizard-driven interface is inflexible when you work outside the program's templates.
Corel Print House 2000 functions best when you follow its prompting. When you launch the program, it asks you to select from a number of family-oriented projects, including greeting cards, calendars, certificates, and labels.
Clicking on a project type reveals a series of folders in the Notebook window.
These folders contain templates for the project you've chosen-for example, if you're creating a greeting card, the folders include templates for such occasions as birthdays, weddings, and Mother's Day.
Choose from among Corel Print House 2000's many family-oriented projects.
Once you choose a template, you can change elements, add words and objects, save your project, and print your work. Clicking on any of these options presents another series of choices. For example, if you choose to change an element, the program first asks which object you'd like to modify; then it asks which aspect of the object (such as its color, size, orientation, or line style) you'd like to alter. This hand-holding process continues until you complete your project. In addition to letting you print your graphics, Print House makes it easy to prepare them for the Web.
Regrettably, working outside the program's templates can be trying. The Notebook offers a Start From Scratch option that lets you use the Text, Draw, and Table tools to create customized forms and banners. However, if you go this self-directed route, you'll find that simple tasks can take quite a few steps to complete. For example, if you want to change the alignment of a block of text, you can't just choose a new alignment style from the Text menu. Instead, you must highlight the text, choose the Text & Table Settings option in the Notebook window, select the Change Layout option, and finally apply a new alignment setting. This kind of needless clicking through option after option is far too typical of Corel Print House 2000's "wizards run amok" interface.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Corel Print House 2000's interface is annoying but not so restrictive that you can't get some good results from it. The program ships with a rich load of images, is inexpensive, and requires little learning before your homespun projects are on their way out the door or onto the Web.
RATING: 3.0 mice
PROS: Inexpensive; lots of images.
CONS: Restrictive, hand-holding interface.
COMPANY: Corel (800/772-6735, http://www.corel.com).
LIST PRICE: $79.