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Poll Results: What was the first layout program you used?

Hey folks, it’s time once again to review the results of a poll and launch a new one.

This past month, we asked what was the first page layout program you used.

The results show that InDesignSecrets community has plenty of seasoned veterans who have been doing this kind of stuff for many years. The number one response was PageMaker, with just over 34% of the vote, followed by QuarkXPress at 22.5%. Less than one quarter of respondents started their page layout careers using InDesign. And less than 9% of respondents started with a Creative Cloud version of InDesign—about the same number who came from Microsoft Publisher.

Here’s a chart showing the results.

poll results for the question "what was the first page layout program you used"

New poll: Do you grid?

Now it’s time to vote in our new poll (on the right side of the window), which asks how often you use a grid-based approach to designing page layouts. Let us know if you’re a grid guru, gridophobic, or somewhere in between.

Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and Author of courses on InDesign and Illustrator. Husband. Dad. Dog walker.
Mike Rankin

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12 Comments on “Poll Results: What was the first layout program you used?

  1. I replied XPress (3.31!), but actually, I am wrong.

    The first ever layout design software I used was at my father’s work, late 80s, and it was the one installed with the Xerox Documenter computer. Does anyone recall the name of the software? There was a “Paint-like” software as well, and I design my first logo. I was about 12.

  2. Does anyone remember “displaywrite”? I used it in 1996, I think. It ran on a xt or AT from IBM.

  3. I’m surprised that the list didn’t include one of the oldest and, for long, and complex documents, still one of the best. That is Adobe’s Framemaker. It was my first page-layout program.

    The only distinction between it and the others actually tilts in FM’s favor. It does not force you to deal with pages as such. For instance, you don’t put a graphic on the upper-right of page 48 and be forced to move it should more text be added. You place the graphic in the flow of the text and tell FM to place that graphic on the upper-right of the next page, whatever that might be. For any document, that avoids a lot of niggling around. For long and constantly changing technical documents, that’s a dream.

    FM also illustrates how epub should be done. The constantly changing page/screen size of epub documents should deal with graphics as intelligently as FM does, giving the person doing layout control over pages/screens. FM is reflowable text down well. Epub is reflowable text done stupidly.

    I am not sure how old FM is, but I do know that it was around in late 1980s when I was doing tech docs for Boeing. Even then it was an impressive product. It deserves more respect and its features need to be copied more.

  4. Has anyone heard of MagnaType? This was an MSDOS-based code-driven page layout program requiring a minimum of 512K of RAM (that’s K, not MB). It’s amazing that most of the features of the program, to this day, surpass those offered by InDesign. It’s true that over some five years of use it ended up costing me about $15,000 for the software and updates, but it was well worth the investment because at the time, it trounced all other competitors.

    Before that, I did typesetting on a Compugraphic phototypesetter. Although intended to be a paragraph-by-paragraph composer, using tricks such as xy coordinate shifts and connecting horizontal and vertical line segments made “page layout” typesetting possible.

  5. Being from Britain, we were slightly behind the US with most typesetting programs and systems but I trained as an Apprentice Hot Metal Compositor for a Book Printer, however, their first phototypesetting system was a Photon 713 model. I later went on to use a Compugraphic Universal II, Addressograph Multigraph and Linotronic systems before the advent of the Apple Mac.

  6. My first layout program was PageMaker 1 ( beta ) on Windows 1 in 1987. Followed by Ventura Publisher on DOS/GEM also in 1987.


    • I was just slightly behind you, Uwe. I don’t remember the versions, but I first used Pagemaker on an MS-DOS machine starting about 1990 or so. Everything on the computer ran in MS-DOS, except Pagemaker. When I would start Pagemaker up, a standalone Windows shell would boot up first. My experience on a (56K) Mac in college, and working in Pagemaker using that Windows shell made me the in-house expert when the entire company transitioned to a Windows environment in about 1992.

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