Cloud

Desktop publishing from the browser: Lucidpress

Lucidpress moves publishing from the desktop to the web allowing flexibility and collaboration.

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Print isn't dead - not by a long shot. Business owners still print promotional flyers. Performing arts venues still provide printed programs to concert-goers. Organizations still distribute printed newsletters and newspapers. (Personal confession: I still read the printed issue of the New York Times every morning, even though I can read the same content on my laptop, tablet or phone.) Print on paper persists.

Until recently, desktop publishing required desktop software. As of November 2013, the two most widely adopted web suites lack powerful page layout capabilities. Google Docs still supports only a single column of text. Microsoft Publisher still exists only as an installed desktop app.

Lucidpress

Lucidpress provides page layout for the web era in a web app. There's nothing to install. Just open a desktop web browser and login. Importantly, Google Apps administrators can add Lucidpress from the Google Marketplace. This makes the app available to people within the organization without an additional login. (Lucidpress is free as of November 2013. Pricing will be determined next year, and is expected to be similar to Lucidchart, which ranges from free to around $50 per user per year for enterprise features. A free level of Lucidpress that includes access to most of the service's features will remain available.)

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Lucidpress can be added to Google Apps via the Google Marketplace and connected to Google Drive

All the basic page layout tools and templates you might expect are available. Choose your document page size and orientation. Add, insert or move pages. Insert text or images anywhere on the page. Create multiple text boxes, and then link the boxes together to allow text to flow easily across multiple boxes on multiple pages. You might think of it as a web-based alternative to Microsoft Publisher.

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Lucidpress provides many project templates

Lucidpress works well with content from the web. Write an article in Google Docs, and then insert the text of that article directly into Lucidpress. Images work similarly: connecting Lucidpress with your Flickr, Facebook or Dropbox account allows you to insert images stored on those services into Lucidpress.

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Lucidpress imports text from Google Docs and images from Dropbox, Facebook, Flickr and Google image search

Lucidpress goes beyond simple page layout, though. It also works well to create content native to the web: you can add links to other pages or the web. You can insert scrolling areas that contain long-form text articles, embed YouTube videos, and create image galleries of up to 15 images. A sales document or annual report doesn't have to just be text and individual images: it also could include videos and sets of photos.


Also read: Five Apps for better desktop publishing


Lucidpress also supports multi-user, real-time editing. As with Google Docs, each collaborator can be allowed to view, comment or edit. Document collaborators may also chat in real time, just like in Google Docs. When a user selects an item, such as a text box or image, the item is outlined in a distinct color assigned to the user, much like the colorful flags displayed in Google Docs.

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Like Google Docs, Lucidpress supports multi-user editing and chat. A bold line displays to indicate which user has selected an item.

Completed Lucidpress projects can be exported, published or embedded. For print, export your project to PDF format. (Lucidpress also supports exporting to PNG or JPEG formats, which can be handy if you want to use it to create an infographic.) For web-native digital projects, your document receives a unique Lucidpress link, much like a Google Doc. Digital projects retain their layout and display well on laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Bottom line

For organizations moving to web apps, Lucidpress offers a solid page layout solution that addresses print and digital document creation needs. More importantly, Lucidpress transforms publishing from a serial to parallel process (i.e., from one user working on one document on one desktop at a time to many users working on one document from any browser at any time). Desktop publishing is no longer restricted to the desktop, it's moving to the web.

About

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

3 comments
bernardmorey
bernardmorey

Looks nice but there's a major, deal-killing problem: it can't import Publisher documents.  I use a number of Publisher documents in my business and they were time-consuming to create.  Further, they pull data from an Excel workbook.  I'ts unproductive to re-create these in Lucidpress.  I'll stick with Publisher.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

What desktop publishing tool solution do you use? Is your organization ready to make the jump from locally installed publishing software to a browser based solution?

dbmarketing
dbmarketing

@Mark W. Kaelin We use CS5.5 at my workplace, and are avoiding moving into the cloud only infrastructure of Adobe since we'd fail all of our security audits if we did that! This is a neat little tool, and perfect for companies that are just starting out and in need of a quick and easy to use document tool. Also, if your company is almost entirely Google driven - this is a godsend, I don't think Google Apps has a "publisher" equivalent (though I could be wrong on that!)

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