Macs and publishing

Started by Seamus, October 02, 2009, 04:35:19 AM

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I have been thinking of investing in a Mac later next year, but wanted to hear first hand what problems Mac's might present with publishing. I have a PC, but it has been nothing but problems. Much of it has to do with windows vista 64, but it also boils down to cheap hardware that kept failing. Macs have a good reputation on the reliability front, and that is what I want. Just spent too many nights stressed over losing files or getting set back a week because my hard drive seemed ready to crash (I have had two in a six month period). If Macs are truly better, I don't mind fronting the extra money. Anyone here have experience with them? Do they create difficulty with files sent from contractors? Are they really as reliable as I am told?
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Trevis Martin

I shouldn't think there would be too many problems.  A lot of publishing software started out on the Mac and is still going strong.  Both Quark and InDesign were Mac programs to start with.  Macs are still often preferred in design departments.

I myself have owned two starting with a PowerMac G3 in 99, and now I have a PowerMac G5.  I'm also on the verge of replacing my G5 (which is now 5 years old) with an iMac.  In all the time I've owned one the only real problem I had was a failed power supply in my G5 and that was only a few months ago, after 5 years of good service, and I replaced it with no problem.

I've never had any particular problems with any type of file, though I don't know if you're talking about some specific file type.  I've worked with most types of image file, pdfs and word docs with no trouble at all.  I work with video files all the time and haven't run into any codecs I can't deal with.

I like Macs.  They are more expensive, but I've always been happy with the machines I've owned.  I work with PC's every day also.  I prefer the Mac environment, but I won't claim that it's inherently superior, just a preference on my part.  Because of the small user base compared to PC it is also relatively secure at the moment.  Not to say it won't be attacked by viruses and malware someday, but at the moment, it's very rare. 

Is there a particular type of publishing file you are concerned about or hardware you are concerned about connecting to?

Eero Tuovinen

I've never used a Mac myself, so my experience is mainly from the other side: it's something of a pain in the ass to work with people who use a MacIntosh, because their materials are often in incompatible formats or follow completely alien workflows. This if, of course, only an issue if you plan to cooperate with PC users in your workflow. Regarding this, it seems that PC has been getting more common in culture industry during the last decade; chances are that a given professional will use a PC nowadays, it seems to me.

The above is the main reason for why I myself do not consider switching to a Mac. I'm comfortable with PC technology, though, and don't find doing my own tech support a chore. So I'm sure that mileages wary.
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I am just worried about art files and word docs sent from people using PCs. For example, if someone has microsoft word, and sends me a marked up document, will I be able to open it on a mac without a problem.

I should ad I am not much of a tech person. Back when I was using my old XP laptop I honestly had very few problems. But with Vista 64, I have to call tech support for every program I purchase just to get it on the machine. The other thing that troubles me, and I don't know if this is related or not to the problems I've had, is the materials appear light and cheap on the recent PCs. Maybe this is matter of investing in a more expensive machine, and not switching to mac though. As a little background I bought a new HP five months ago. One month later the fan stopped working so they replaced it. About four months after that, the hard drive failed. I returned it, and had to take an ASUS with equivalent specs in exchange (it was actually a faster machine). A week later that one suffered a display driver failure. So I brought it back. They exchanged it, but then the replacement suffered hard drive failure. Finally I got the machine I have now. After a week, the front panels on the bay drive fell off (this didn't interefere with performance so I kept on plugging). Then the hard drive started making odd noises. So here I am. The tech people at best buy checked the returned computers for viruses, and found nothing (my anti virus software was all as it should be as well). The diagnostics all showed hardware failures. This is obviously a rare number of catastrophes in a row. I even had my electricity checked to make sure that wasn't the source of the problem--but the electricity is fine. All I run on this machine is my anti-virus, INdesign, Microsoft Office, and Internet Explorer.   
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Nathan P.

I don't know anyone in the creative arts who doesn't use a mac. I just started a graduate design program at an art school, and everyone coming in (undergrad and grad) is required to have a fairly-recent-up-through-brand-new macbook pro. My computer is dual-boot so we can use some Windows only 3d modeling software, so I've been using the Adobe suite on both sides, and as far as I can tell the button layout and general workflow for both version is almost identical, except for some shortcut keystrokes.

In terms of opening files, Preview (the built-in Mac image/PDF viewing software) should be able to open any kind of image file or PDF. There is a version of Office for Mac, but it runs less well, in my experience, than it does in Windows. I use OpenOffice, which has a couple of Mac versions (I prefer NeoOffice), and can open and save as Office documents with no problems that I've ever had.

Apple products tend to be fairly stable, but if you're concerned they do offer a 3-year service plan that costs some extra, but usually means that if something does go wrong with your hardware they just send you a new computer. Also, the newer versions of the OS have a pretty well-integated backup management system called Time Machine, that is really easy to use to back up all your files to an external hard drive on a scheduled basis.

Full disclosure, I am a total Apple person! But, seriously, other than an iMac that got some mold on the hard drive (long story) I haven't had anything go seriously wrong with any of the, uh, 5 macs I've had in the past 10 years. There have been occasional power supply issues for laptops, is the most "typical" thing - they can wear out pretty fast.

Hope that helps!
Nathan P.
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I do all of my work on a Mac.

I use Indesign and Photoshop a lot.

But lately, I've begun to use smaller tools that I like. Mellel is a great Mac only word processor that is getting better in the graphic design department, though it is really good at laying out simple books. There are lots of other software pieces out there that could be useful without spending the money on the Adobe suite. Pixelmator is an affordable Photoshop-lite alternative. And then you can always get a copy of iWork, which includes Pages, a solid program for doing some layout stuff/word processing and what not.

Sharing files between PCs is no longer an issue, except if it is a Mac only program or PC only feature (like VisualBasic code, etc).

And if you aren't sure about it, you can always look around for a used Mac at an affordable price, even an old machine like a G4 Powermac - plenty powerful enough for most desktop publishing.
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Jasper Flick

Hi Seamus,

:) You might be about to make the most productivity-boosting and stress-relieving choice of your life. Haha! But, as with all changes, it needs some getting used to, and it isn't perfect.

- Microsoft Office is available for OS X, if you're married to it. A free alternative is OpenOffice (NeoOffice is a native port for OS X). But check out iWork too.

- InDesign is available for OS X. I don't know if there's a discount for "upgrading" to an OS X version. If not, you'll have to buy it again, which sucks.

- Internet Explorer isn't an option for OS X, but I would suggest you use another browser anyway. Consider using Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and of course Safari.

- Don't ever run antivirus or antispyware software on OS X. It's useless and can only screw up your system. Do not trust the antivirus companies on this issue.

- OS X comes with Time Machine, a backup mechanism that simply works. If you combine it with a remote HD, like a Time Capsule, you need not worry about losing files ever again, even if your Mac's HD fails.

Now, to wipe all your fears away in one fell swoop: You can install Windows on a Mac. That's right, you can put Windows on an Intel Mac, as a dual boot option. There's also software available that lets you run a Windows environment inside OS X, obviating the need for a reboot.
I confess this was the fact that pulled me across the line and made me go Mac years ago, a safety-net if you will. But I actually never installed Windows on my Mac.

From personal experience I can tell you that "If you go Mac, you won't go back." isn't just hot air.

Do peruse the Apple Mac website. It's not just bling, it has useful info too.
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Trevis Martin

Quote from: Seamus on October 03, 2009, 04:05:53 AM
I am just worried about art files and word docs sent from people using PCs. For example, if someone has microsoft word, and sends me a marked up document, will I be able to open it on a mac without a problem.

I have a pc laptop and I work with pc's at my job.  My main machine at home is a PowerMac G5.  I've never had any problems opening word files, nor have I had any complaints about word files I've sent.  I have both Microsoft Word and OpenOffice (the NeoOffice version for mac) installed as well as the iWork suite.  I send and use files between my pc laptop and my mac all the time with no problems.

I've  never had any problems with any adobe generated files (Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign.) either giving or receiving.

In my experience most of the claims of mac/pc incompatibility with files are outdated.  They come from a time when the Mac was running a very different OS.  Plus, as others here have noted, you can now dual boot your Mac to run windows as well, so if you do run into such problems you can boot into Windows to handle them.

Good luck.  I hope you like it.


Thanks. I found all these comments helpful.
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