Ready, Set, Go! for DTP & typesetting

This DTP software has a long history, going back to the days of the Mac Plus, and was a contemporary of Aldus Pagemaker. RSG has been compared, in terms of interface & approach, to Quark Express.

RSG! is available for Mac OS X 10.x at (both demo and full function versions) Price: $175. (There is also a version for OS 9)

We used RSG! at my rural weekly newspaper (16 to 24 pages tabloid size) and printshop for years on various Macintosh stations running OS 7 thru 9 for preparing camera-ready copy. The typographic functions of RSG! were a bit unique for DTP software available at the time, as it adhered quite faithfully to the classic standards of leading, kerning, quad measures (em & en), etc. It is still quite a superb piece of work, and I feel it is nicely priced and perfectly suited to personal publishing needs.

This particular app fell into obscurity during the merger/acquisition upheavals, but was finally given a stable home at Diwan Software Ltd. in England, who competently support RSG! and have recently released a version for Windows.


Blast from the past! I used Ready, Set, Go! all through those years and was loathe to let it go–it seemed to me that using it was simplicity itself–and much better than how one had to work in the emerging Quark at the time. But when I had to drop RSG, I then held on to a version 3 of Quark until I ran that into the ground – actually, it still runs on Classic mode on my Mac with only a few anomalies. Now, I use InDesign, which, while I still struggle with certain things about it, has the virtue of being supplied to me by my work.

Now, I hate to knock an old war horse (because there might be Greeks inside), but…

I don’t quite see how the new RSG! can make a go of it in the current day, though. These kinds of apps depend on print shops having the software. If every print shop didn’t have Quark and InDesign, then they would not work for your pro printing needs. Adobe got in because they just had enough clout to enter in a big way. Could this Diwan, Ltd. make such a push? I doubt it.

For home printing use, I am guessing that most people would be better off with Pages and saving money to boot!

When I started a silly newsletter in '85, I called up Aldus and asked if they’d send a freebie for me to use in exchange for a mention in each NL. They laughed. I called RSG, talked to the president, and had a copy by FedEx the next day. A year later Aldus called back and offered a free copy and $500 if I’d switch to PageMaker. I actually had grown to love RSG, though, and wouldn’t switch. Plus, Apple had just sent me a freebie first-in-Texas LW+ to use with RSG.

Had to switch to XPress later, of course, when I started working at a newspaper. I enjoyed most bits about XPress except their horrid customer support. I ended up beta’ing InDesign for a year before release, and I’d never look back. In terms of typographic control, ID is simply great.

But I don’t think RSG would have a big problem with print shops not owning a copy. Almost all the print shops I work with today prefer .pdf files over raw ID. As long as RSG does pdf, the shops wouldn’t care about what program was used.

RSG! actually beat PageMaker to the market, but PageMaker was more solid and offered more features – so that was the way I went with the Fat Mac (with the extra RAM an upgrade added between purchase of the 128 KB and delivery). Diwan software, a subsidiary, I believe, of an Egyptian company, bought RSG! a long time ago – maybe 10-15 years ago now. They kept the ordinary Mac version going and also produced a really first rate, top drawer program, RSG! Global, for Mac which was aimed firmly at the multilingual market with a big emphasis on non-European languages.

However, they made the fatal mistake of going with Apple’s much vaunted type system de jour, I’ve forgotten what it was called now, which required you to convert your PS fonts and which died in about 0.0367 seconds when Adobe sneered at it. That was the end for RSG! Global and that gave Diwan a long term headache.

To help recovery, they developed a Windows version. RSG! looks pretty good now (still). I wonder whether the Windows version is superior to the Mac version. It certainly isn’t just a port either way.

Personally, now I have moved to OS X, I do all my DTP with Canvas, which the amazingly myopic ACDSystems has just stopped developing in the Mac version and with which it seems to be just marching on the spot in the PC version. But it is such a great program – everything integrated for input, raster, vector, type all edited on the page. Single or multiple pages, master pages, presentations, books, magazines, brochures, animated gifs, websites. Its type handling is not as good as InDesign or PageMaker (if it comes to that), but with the books I do ( and the marketing materials I do ( the integrated interface makes it king. See the samples of “Success in Store” on my site – a book illustrated and laid out exclusively in Canvas, then PDFed out of Canvas with its own PDF filter and printed from that. Incidentally, I built the MarketNOW website entirely in Canvas except for a few very minor tweaks to the HTML (produced by Canvas’ own filter) in PageSpinner (adding keywords and better titles to the headers and doing a find and replace to remove unnecessary “br” things from the text).

I have the last version, Canvas X, which has four obvious bugs which we all know how to work around (sigh). The original developers, Deneba, carbonised it at v.8 and did such a good job – about 12 months ahead of Adobe carbonising its products – that it still runs fine on X.4.11 (and probably Leopard; I’m still on X.4.11).

That PDF output, incidentally, is the complete answer for print output. Forget the printer having “the program” and sending native files – no way. You talk with the printer, then send PDFs to meet their specs. :mrgreen: