Your Life Will Never be the Same -

Written By Dave on Saturday, February 22, 2014 | 1:49:00 AM

If you know me, then you know I have a fetish for desktop publishing. While extolling the virtues of desktop publishing (and constantly teasing a tutorial in the coming weeks), I often maintain that Publisher is the best kept secret for educators who make their own publications and handouts (remember that piece I did on Paper Technology?).

If you read my blog often, you are also probably keenly aware of my propensity to work in the cloud. While championing Google Drive as the best solution (compared to OneDrive, Box, iCloud and Dropbox), I've found a collection of sites and apps that allow me to be extraordinarily productive from any computer, anywhere. While I typically rely on Google Docs, sites like compileOnline, comslider, Pixlr and a few others help to round out my productivity. 

But I just stumbled across the game changer.

Fans of Lucidchart may have been introduced to Lucidpress, a cloud-based desktop publishing venue. I do not believe I have encountered cloud-based software as elegant, potent, and user friendly as this one. 

It is intuitive to use (as far as desktop publishing software can be), has amazing collaboration tools, and - most spectacularly - has a wonderful interface for creating interactive media publications. That's right! Interactive!

It's difficult to articulate the impressive nature of the software, so watch this video (the best 60 seconds of your day), and see what you're missing if you don't use Lucidpress:

Happily, all the popular features of desktop publishing software (Microsoft Publisher and Adobe InDesign, for instance) are retained. And in the spirit of productivity, most of the keyboard shortcuts are present.

For desktop publishers, here is a screenshot of the working environment:

Snagit of Lucidpress in action.
It's easy to appear productive if you have desktop publishing software open on your computer.

And all the content is published directly on the Lucidpress server, so there is no need to find hosting solutions. In fact, publishing can be updated at any time, and the changes will be pushed out in real time. Currently it is free, though Lucid Software has mentioned a freemium model in the future. 

As an educator, imagine the possibilities. The ability to create any publication (for print - like handouts) from any computer (no need to scramble to find training or licenses for Publisher or InDesign) is there. The ability to make interactive "yearbooks" for sport teams is simple. Perhaps a public speaking class can have one page of a "book" dedicated to each student - a bio, some photos, and a YouTube clip of their speech on each page. Flipped classrooms can now create brilliant, aggregated documents with multimedia.

The publication below took me about 45 minutes to create (although I had the assets already, and I am pretty proficient with Publisher and InDesign). It's only one page, but showcases some of the abilities of Lucidpress. Just as an aside, this document is about 10 megabytes, but I used some pretty high resolution photos in the slider.

That's it for this week. I can't persuade educators to learn how to use desktop publishing software, but I can encourage it. Please, please, please, look at breaking into desktop publishing. It is a hundred times more powerful than simple word processing, and - although difficult to learn at first - is well worth the time invested. Even if you elect not to use the interactive elements (which are eye-popping), the content can be exported as a PDF (and stored directly to your Google Drive!).

Update [February 11, 2015] - if you haven't seen Canva yet, you must check it out. It is a dream for people who want to design eye-popping publications. The tools are great, the interface easy to use, and the workflow is seamless. Definitely keep your eyes peeled for a blog post of this in the next few weeks.

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  1. I've long been a fan of desktop publishing software, and this is, simply put, awesome. Leaving the technical discussion of *how hard and challenging* this software must be aside, this service ties together some of the tenants of what is needed with desktop publishing:

    -Design software
    -Collaboration tools
    -Ability to include rich media from a number of content sources
    -Infrastructure to support distribution using both push and pull modalities

    These are all important today. Desktop publishing software from yesteryear was not truly publishing software; rather, it was software that allowed you to print a proof to send to a remote coworker for approval or to take to Kinkos for copies. This new iteration of software truly means "desktop publishing". Without leaving your seat, you can reach an audience of unlimited size with a document made with a keyboard and mouse, containing active content derived and located all over the world. And all it takes is the click of a mouse.

    If this innovation does not change the landscape of desktop publishing software, it has at least raised the bar for technical competency for what can be done through a web browser.

    1. Agreed! The technical ability of Lucidpress has, indeed, raised the bar of cloud-based productivity. And I suspect that production phenoms charged with design tasks will undoubtedly migrate to Lucidpress sooner or later. I recommend sooner.