PROS / Superb typography tools make laying out long articles in VivaDesigner a joy.
CONS / This program lacks templates, art assets and graphic design tools for novice designers.
VERDICT / People wanting to take on professional design projects, including newsletter, brochures and other business-related publications, will love this software, but it is not well suited for at-home projects.
Viva is a German company that specializes in professional printing and publishing software for major print houses. Its desktop publishing application, VivaDesigner, is packed with a powerful and competitive set of layout and typography tools that could stand toe-to-toe with Adobe's InDesign, and may be just what you need if you're planning to create text-heavy, professional publications. Yet despite being marketed as a desktop publishing product, when it comes to at-home projects such as invitations, business cards and labels, VivaDesigner has little to offer.
There's no denying that the product has its strong points. As professional page layout software, VivaDesigner offers helpful features like master pages and CMYK optimization, which make assembling and printing out quality documents much easier. Master pages, which are similar to master slides in PowerPoint, let you define elements that appear on every page of a publication – think page numbers or persistent graphics. CMYK optimization, meanwhile, lets you prepare colors in such a way that your printer can output a better overall product, close to what you see on-screen.
You can use Viva's integrated word processor to write and edit articles directly in the application. You can apply formatting styles, flow text between columns and pages, adjust kerning and even create tables, all within the program. It's an impressive set of features we'd expect from the best desktop publishing software around.
However, as a desktop publishing package for home use, VivaDesigner lacks most of the non-typographical tools you'd want. Where other programs offer hundreds of new fonts to help spice up your documents, Viva has none. It also lacks the plethora of templates and art assets that most of the programs in our desktop publishing reviews are equipped with. As such, this software is designed for people who want to create high-quality, professional documents from scratch. If you're an experienced graphic designer or have access to stock photos and imagery, this is a program you will want to consider.
Support options are also limited with this program. Contact with the manufacturer is limited to email. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of online help at the website. Even professionals would appreciate more of a support system, but for more novice users, it is essential.
VivaDesigner is a solid product in its own right. It offers a wide variety of powerful typographical and layout features that make it great for school newspapers and corporate newsletters. But despite marketing itself as a desktop publishing program, VivaDesigner's at-home usability is very limited. Its lack of project templates, fonts and even clip art make it best suited for people who have graphics and professional layout skills.