Corel Ventura

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Ventura Publisher was the first popular desktop publishing package for IBM PC compatible computers running the GEM extension to the DOS operating system. The software was originally developed by Ventura Software, a small software company founded by John Meyer, Don Heiskel and Lee Jay Lorenzen, all of whom met while working at Digital Research. It ran under an included run-time copy of Digital Research, Inc.'s Graphical Environment Manager (GEM).

The first version of Ventura Publisher was released in 1986.

Ventura Publisher was distributed exclusively, worldwide by Xerox from its first shipment in 1986, until Ventura Software sold the source code to Xerox in 1990. The original Ventura Software ceased operations in February 1990, and a new Ventura Software Inc., an affiliated company of Xerox, was formed at that time. The developers from the original company worked with the new Xerox Ventura Software company to produce Version 3.0 Gold. This was released in late 1990. Besides DOS/GEM it was also available for Win16, Mac and OS/2.

The three founders of the original Ventura Software no longer worked on the product after November 1990.

Version 4.0 was released in 1991. The last version released by Ventura Software Inc. was 4.1.1 in 1993.

Ventura Publisher, while it has some text editing and line drawing capabilities of its own, was designed to interface with a wide variety of word processing and graphics programs, rather than supplant them. To that end, text, rather than being incorporated into the chapter files, is stored in, loaded from, and saved back to, word processor files in the native formats of a variety of word processors, including WordPerfect, Wordstar, and early versions of Microsoft Word. This allows users to continue using their favorite word processors for major text changes, spelling checks, and so forth. Paragraphs other than default body text are tagged with descriptive tagnames that are entirely user-defined, and characters and attributes that have no native equivalent in a given word processor are represented with standardized sequences of characters. When working with the files outside of Ventura Publisher, these paragraph tags and special character and attribute codes can be freely changed, the same as any other text. These tags look very much like HTML tags.

Because it was the first major typesetting program to incorporate the concept of an implicit "underlying page" frame, and one of the first to incorporate a strong "style sheet" concept, Ventura Publisher produces documents with a high degree of internal consistency, unless specifically overridden by the user. Its concepts of free-flowing text, paragraph tagging, and codes for attributes and special characters anticipated similar concepts inherent in HTML and XML. Likewise, its concept of "publication" files that tie together "chapter" files gave it the ability to handle documents hundreds (or even thousands) of pages in length as easily as a four-page newsletter.

The major strengths of Ventura Publisher, at least in its original DOS/GEM edition, are its ability to run, with reasonable response times, on a wide range of hardware (including 8086 and 80286-based computers), its ability to produce, by default, documents with a high degree of internal consistency, and its automatic re-export of text to word-processor-native formats. It also had the ability to print to a wide variety of devices, including PostScript, PCL, and InterPress laser printers and imagesetters, as well as certain popular dot-matrix printers.

The application was acquired by Corel in 1993. It was repackaged and soon released as Corel Ventura 4.2 without any major change in the application, other than to drop all support for platforms other than Microsoft Windows. The first real Corel version was 5.0, released in 1994, and made fundamental changes to both user interface and document structure. Because of this, and because of escalating requirements of the various Corel versions, the original DOS/GEM edition still has a small number of die-hard users.

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