MultiAd Creator Professional Worthy Contender in Battle for Newspaper Ad Design

by Kevin Slimp, April 2005

MultiAd Creator Professional Worthy Contender in Battle for Newspaper Ad Design
MultiAd Creator has always intrigued me. Since its release in 1989, itís been rare that Iíve visited a large daily newspaper that didnít use Creator for much of its ad design. While visiting lead designers at these papers, I noticed several similarities in their stories. They had tried QuarkXPress, PageMaker, FreeHand, CorelDraw and other illustration and pagination applications, but Creator allowed them to create more attractive ads in less time.

At a time when other applications were pretty limited beyond placing text and graphics on a page, Creator allowed the user to create starbursts, gradient fills and other special effects.

Creator was designed with the newspaper ad designer in mind, as is apparent when opening the application. When creating a new document, one can choose from column and page sizes based on SAU (standard advertising units), 50-Inch Web, and TMAU (television magazine advertising units). Want to create a 4 column (SAU) by 10.5 inch ad? Simply select 4 X 10.5Ē from the SAU new document settings.

While large newspapers jumped on the Creator bandwagon, itís been rare that Iíve visited smaller newspapers, outside the Midwest Ė MultiAdís home Ė that have even heard of the program. Sure, there are exceptions. But it has seemed like, outside the large newspaper market, Creator has been limited largely to the Midwest and other pockets of users around the U.S., Canada and Australia.

Instead of giving up, MultiAd continues to update and improve Creator. The latest version, Creator Professional 7.01, proves to be a worthy contender in the design market. Version 7.01 is a cross-platform application written on a platform-independent code-base, meaning Windows users have the same capabilities as Mac users. I havenít run into many Windows-based newspapers utilizing Creator, so most of my experience is with the Mac version.

Four new features stand out in the latest version. Like InDesign, QuarkXPress, Illustrator and FreeHand, Creator now has the ability to work with layers. Creator documents can have up to 256 layers, though I canít imagine ever needing that many.

The most impressive feature of version 7.01 is dubbed Creator Media Database Interface (CMDI). With CMDI, subscribers to AdBuilder.com (MultiAdís online art service) can search, retrieve and place images from AdBuilder.com onto the page. Many newspapers, both large and small, already subscribe to AdBuilder, meaning this function will work with Creator out of the box.

Basically, the CMDI palette displays a list of images found, which the user can download to a folder for later use or drag onto the document window for download and placement. For example, I opened the CMDI palette while in Creator and entered ďthunderbird.Ē Additionally, I selected an option to limit the search to ďauto stills.Ē In a matter of seconds, a dozen or so photos of Ford Thunderbirds appeared in a list. The CMDI feature alone makes Creator 7.01 a worthwhile upgrade for current Creator users.

Creator 7.01 supports OpenType fonts, which owners of Adobe Creative Suite and Quark 6.5 have enjoyed. The ability to work with these cross-platform fonts, developed jointly by Adobe and Microsoft, is quite advantageous.

Creator Professional 7 includes table creation tools, useful for organizing and presenting text and graphics. A table consists of rows and columns of cells, which can be formatted just like a text block. Users can create a table by specifying row and column count or by specifying column count and dragging to the desired size. While I consider InDesignís table creation more intuitive, I find Creator quite capable of creating attractive tables.

Creator Professional 7.0 is one of the few applications available today that operate on OS 9.2.2 or OS X (10.1 or later). Its requirements are very minimal, compared to other layout applications. MultiAd recommends OS X 10.3, running on a G4 with 512 MB RAM. The minimum requirements include a 300 MHz G3 with 256 MB RAM. The Windows version requires Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP running on a Pentium II with 32 MB RAM. MultiAd recommends a Pentium II, 300 MHz or greater, with 128 MB RAM. Some features, including CMDI and OpenType, do not work when running in Mac OS 9.2.2.

Creator Professional 7.01 is a free update for owners of version 7.0. MultiAd is running a special promotion in April and May. Creator 7.01 Professional is $299 (normally $499) US/ $389 CA/$999 AU. Upgrades from previous versions of Creator are $199 US/$299 CA/$495 AU. For more information, visit www.multi-ad.com (US), www.triotech.com.au (AU), or www.newsnet.ca (CA).