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A Review of Discus
CD Labeling Software

By Ted Bade

 

While searching for the best CD label software, I was lucky enough to learn about Discus. If you want to create truly phenomenal labels and don't own a high end desktop publishing program for the Mac OS, you need to seriously consider Discus. It offers every tool I have ever wanted to use to create a label and a few more I hadn't even considered. It is well worth the $39 price.

Perhaps I am a bit over excited about this program, it is only a label formatting and printing program after all. But when you consider other similar programs, Discus outshines them all. The people who created this program surely considered the needs of a person creating a label, what they might like to print on a label, and some of the problems they might encounter.

Once the program begins you decide what type of label you are creating, three types of disc labels (regular, mini and business card), as well as jewel case base, lid or booklet. Once this is done you are offered a window with five tabs, each for working with one aspect of the label creation process, the canvas, paint, photos, text, and printing. 

Within the canvas tab you can create or insert a background image to place the rest of the information upon. The CD comes with almost 560 images for this purpose. It is difficult to describe the variety offered. They cover a wide range of artistic tastes and subjects.

Just in case one of the offered images doesn't suit your fancy, the paint tab offers a number of tools to either create your own background image or touch up one of those included (or for that matter, touch up a photo you import from within the photo tab).

The paint tools include the paint brush, spray and fill can, solid polygon, solid and hollow oval, arc, rectangle, stamp tool, and line tool. Each tool can be customized in some way, making for many more options.

For instance, the there are several pages of numbers and symbols that can be used by the stamp tool. You can also control size, angle, spacing, and the darkness/lightness of the image you stamp. When you select a particular tool the options for this tool are displayed below the tool palette, for easy selection. The color of what each tool draws can also be manipulated. Lines can be colored or even patterned. Solid rectangles can be filled with a solid color, color gradient, or colored pattern, while a hollow rectangle can have a line color, a special border, or a colored pattern. One could spend hours just trying all the possibilities.

The biggest disappointment with this program is that one must work in 256 colors. If you import a high quality JPEG image, you will see it displayed in 256 colors. The good news is, this program prints in 24 Bit color, so your output will look great. There isn't a lot you can do with the photo you import except increase the size of the image or move the image across the face of your label.

Text formatting offered in this program is superb! If you are using Toast (or Jam) to burn Audio CDs, the track-title list of a CD you are burning can be imported directly into Discus. Or you can type the text in yourself. You enter your text into a text field and manipulate this field. With the text you want to use entered, you then have a number of ways to format it. There are all the standard things like selecting a font and size, font color, make bold or italic and justify, as well as several extra useful options. You can manipulate the letter and line spacing. The text can be displayed vertically either in a vertical column or in a line reading up or down. Finally, you can have the text form a curve either convex or concave! I am a big fan of using curved text on a circular label.

The printing tab assists with printing your label. Due to variations in printers and label forms, this can be a difficult task. With Discus you first choose one of the 23 label types, then select which position your label will print on. Since most label sheets contain more then one label, a check box in each position lets you tell Discus whether or not to print that position. Most people print only one label at a time. If a form has only a certain label available for use, Discus easily lets you move the image to be printed to any of the positions the label type offers.

Before you print it's a good idea to make sure the printer and the label line up properly. To help this process, Discus will send a Test Pattern to your printer, formatted for a particular label template. This test print prints an outline of the label template and provides some measurement marks. If printed on a regular piece of paper you can physically compare the test print to the label form. Discus lets you nudge the image left, right, up, or down to get it right where it should be. After setting up your computer and printer with a particular label form, you should get consistently good results.

As I mentioned before, there is a version of Discus included with Toast 5. This version has almost all the features of the purchase version. Most noticeable, you don't get the option for CD business cards or mini-discs. Next there are a limited number of graphics included; 50 Megabytes versus the 300 Megabytes included on the CD version. That is backgrounds, stamps, and gradients. As far as I could see, the other tools are there.

This package is an excellent choice for any Mac user who is interested in creating great labels for their CD collection. I highly recommend it. Magic Mouse offers a number of other graphic programs which are probably worth considering. Visit their web site at http://www.magicmouse.com. Specifically for Discus go to http://www.magicmouse.com/_discus.html. Discus retails for $39 and there is a 30 day trial version for download. It's a great way to try the software for your self before you buy!

Ease of Use :

5.0

Quality :

5.0

Over All Score :

5.0

 

 


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Mac OS X for Dummies, by Bob Levitus

Mac OS X Black Book : The Reference Guide for Power Users, by Mark Bell

Mac OS X Clearly Explained, by John Rizzo

Mastering Mac OS X, by Todd Stauffer

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Mac OS X : The Complete Reference, by Jesse Feiler

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Special Edition Using Mac OS X, by Brad Miser

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"when you consider other similar programs, Discus outshines them all"