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Product: Picture It! Platinum Edition 2001
Company: Microsoft
Estimated Street Price: $54.95
Review By: Julien Jay

Web Publishing

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: First Start & Touch Up Features
3: Publishing Features
4: Conclusion

    Who would have believed that a picture touch-up program can help you build a website? Well not me anyway! So Picture It! 2001 comes with several websites' templates that help you create nice looking websites in less than five minutes. Thereís no need to master neither the HTML language nor complex software like Adobe GoLive or MacroMedia DreamWeaver! Picture It! 2001 comes with everything you need to build your website from scratch: you simply have to put your contents into the template youíve chose. The build-in templates contain professional looking rollover buttons, predefined navigation bars, and more ensuring your site will look serious. Once your website is build you can add artworks, sounds to it before publishing it using the Picture It! 2001 web publishing wizard. You can even add some pretty cool DHTML effects in conjunction with transition sounds to spice up your site!

Microsoft Picture It! Platinum Edition 2001 WebSite Creator (click to enlarge)


Publishing Projects

    Picture It! 2001 Platinum features a homogeneous interface whether youíre editing pictures or creating projects. Integration between the picture editing module and the publishing applet is tighter than what we have expected! Both programs share the same tray area: so you can switch between an opened picture and an opened brochure quickly. But you can also drag and drop the picture youíve just edited in Picture It! 2001 to the bulletin youíre working on through the tray. Thatís really great to not waste time. If the integration between the two parts of the software is really great the workflow is substantially different which is a pity. The Task pane obviously provides tips on how to use the page layout feature youíve selected but here again the integration has been greatly worked out. Indeed from it, if you select a picture youíve put in your paper project, the task pane switch to the photo editing mode providing full access to all the picture features of Picture It! 2001. The project designer interface displays rulers (you can move the rulers on your screen) so you can accurately position your objects on your pageís layout. The paper project designer is more than rich! In fact itís almost as powerful as Publisher. You can add pages to a project and switch between them easily from the task pane. Pages layouts arenít fixed, so you can add background images or borders. Text formatting tools are complete, you can change font (with preview of the font in the list), alignment, line spacing, apply shadow or outline effects, change colors, add borders, duplicate text objects, and much more! When you create multiple text boxes for complex layouts youíll be glad to find the new linking feature that will youíre your text between the multiple text boxes. One cool and rare thing (for such software I mean) is that you have a multiple undo/redo feature so you can erase any mistakes you may have made without altering your work. But thereís another exceptional feature I didnít expect to find in Picture It! 2001! Indeed you can mail merge your address book to send a newsletter, a brochure or whatever you want to a list of friends: their addresses will be automatically added on each page with the flexibility of good word processing software! The mail merge feature let you retrieve data from the MAPI address book or from other data sources like Access, Works, Excel, Paradox, Dbase, etc. files. Then you can select the fields you want to add on the layout, select which contacts you want to send the paper, and finally preview the result of the mail merge. Itís also possible to create your own list of contacts directly from Picture It! 2001 and save it under the Picture It! format.

Microsoft Picture It! Platinum Edition 2001 Publishing Module (click to enlarge)

    The main toolbar lets you change the zoom level, so you can see the page at your convenience and zoom in or out to see objects in details or margins. Normally the software automatically adjusts the zoom level so the page you're working on fit in the screen workspace: for example if you work on a small project Picture It! will automatically zoom in. Copy/paste & cut features are also present in this version. Every objects of the page can be rotated as well as texts and you can bring them to the fore or background. As Microsoft wants to be sure you wonít ruin the love letter youíre writing to your girlfriend by making spelling mistakes, they have included a basic but efficient spell checker. You can add drawing and shapes from the main toolbar using a basic popup list. A ďsendtoĒ button will allow you to send your projects by email to friends or family and a publish to the web feature will allow you to publish your creations on your own website. Like in the picture editing module you canít print preview your projects before printing them. Itís a big regret. Finally you can scan pictures or acquire them from a digital camera using the two buttons of the main toolbar.

    The five CDs of Picture It! 2001 arenít useless far from that! They contain all the various projects Picture It! 2001 offer including greetings, calendars, photo collages, CD stickers, websites, origami, newspapers, brochures, banners, etc., those projects are dispatched in 16 categories themselves divided in more subcategories. Picture It! 2001 CDs come with 13500 templates 200000 clipart and 1500 animated greetings.

Microsoft Picture It! Platinum Edition 2001 Publishing Projects (click to enlarge)

    We must say that aside a few number of projects, 90% of the provided projects look great and will create highly impressive documents thanks to the partnership Microsoft has established with Madison Park Greetings. The projects let you send animated emails! A few number of templates let you create customized emails thatíll display animations on the recipientís machine. To do so the email youíll send will include a small *.EXE attachment thatíll be in charge of showing the animation (itís strongly advised you zip it so Outlook wonít block access to it).

Animated Greetings Preview (click to enlarge)

    If you create your own animation youíll like the speedy animation feature: draw or select an existing path so the object you want to animate will follow it! In less than one second the object youíve selected will motion the way you want. In the web integration chapter we shouldnít forget to say that Picture It! 2001 offers direct links in the interface to order hard prints of your pictures through the web (via Kodak or Fuji). Sure you can print yourself your documents using the somewhat basic print feature. If youíre in need of pictures to illustrate your ideas you can count on the new Clip Artist feature thatíll give a personalized appearance to each clipart. Picture It! 2001 is also great for collage! With it you can easily put your wifeís face on the Sharon Stoneís body (hmmm I didnít say your like doesnít look like Sharon!), turn your kids into space explorers, etc.



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