Corel Ventura

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Corel Ventura
Initial release1986; 37 years ago (1986)
Final release
10 / 2002; 21 years ago (2002)
Operating systemGEM, OS/2, Windows, "classic" Mac OS
Available inEnglish
TypeDesktop publishing
LicenseCommercial proprietary software

Ventura Publisher was the first popular desktop publishing package for IBM PC compatible computers running the GEM extension to the DOS operating system. The software was originally developed by Ventura Software, a small software company founded by John Meyer, Don Heiskell, and Lee Jay Lorenzen, all of whom met while working at Digital Research. It ran under an included run-time copy of Digital Research's GEM.


The first version of Ventura Publisher was released in 1986, with worldwide distribution by Xerox. Xerox would later purchase all rights to the source code from Ventura Software in 1990.

Ventura Publisher had some text editing and line drawing capabilities of its own, but it was designed to interface with a wide variety of word processing and graphics programs rather than to supplant them. To that end, text was stored in, loaded from, and saved back to word processor files in the native formats of a variety of word processors, including WordPerfect, Wordstar, and early versions of Microsoft Word, rather than being incorporated into the chapter files. This allowed users to continue using their favorite word processors for major text changes, spelling checks, and so forth. Paragraphs other than default body text were tagged with descriptive tagnames that were entirely user-defined, and characters and attributes that have no native equivalent in a given word processor were represented with standardized sequences of characters. When working with the files outside of Ventura Publisher, these paragraph tags and special character and attribute codes could be freely changed, the same as any other text. These tags looked very much like HTML tags.

Ventura Publisher was the first major typesetting program to incorporate the concept of an implicit "underlying page" frame, and one of the first to incorporate a strong "style sheet" concept. It produced documents with a high degree of internal consistency, unless specifically overridden by the user. Its concepts of free-flowing text, paragraph tagging, and codes for attributes and special characters anticipated similar concepts inherent in HTML and XML. Likewise, its concept of "publication" files that tie together "chapter" files gave it the ability to handle documents hundreds (or even thousands) of pages in length as easily as a four-page newsletter.

The major strengths of the original DOS/GEM edition of Ventura Publisher were:

  • Its ability to run, with reasonable response times, on a wide range of hardware (including 8086- and 80286-based computers)
  • Its ability to produce, by default, documents with a high degree of internal consistency
  • Its automatic re-exporting of text to native word processor formats
  • Its ability to print to a wide variety of devices, including PostScript, PCL, and InterPress laser printers and imagesetters, as well as certain popular dot-matrix printers.

The original Ventura Software ceased operations in February 1990, and a new Ventura Software Inc. was formed at that time, an affiliated company of Xerox. The developers from the original company worked with the new Xerox Ventura Software company to produce Version 3.0 Gold. This was released in late 1990. Besides DOS/GEM, it was also available for Win16, Mac, and OS/2.

Xerox Ventura Publisher running on GEM

The three founders of the original Ventura Software no longer worked on the product after November 1990.

Version 4.0 was released in 1991. The last version released by Ventura Software Inc. was 4.1.1 in 1993.

The application was acquired by Corel in 1993. It was repackaged and soon released as Corel Ventura 4.2 without any major change in the application, other than to drop all support for platforms other than Microsoft Windows.

The first real Corel version was 5.0 (released in 1994), which made fundamental changes to both user interface and document structure. Because of this, and because of escalating requirements of the various Corel versions, the original DOS/GEM edition still has a small number of die-hard users.

The application was rewritten for the Win32 platform and was released in 1996, labeled Corel Ventura 7 (instead of 6) so that it would match the version number of CorelDRAW. Corel Ventura 8 was released in 1998. The last published version was Corel Ventura 10 in 2002 (last updated in February 2003); it reportedly runs in Windows 10 under compatibility mode with some functional limitations after workarounds, and on Linux via Wine (verified in April 2020).

As an application with strengths in more structured documents, its main competitors were FrameMaker, QuarkXPress and later InDesign.


  • Desktop Publishing Using Ventura™ on the IBM-PC. Don Busché, Saddleback College, with Bernice Glenn, Desktop Publishing and Design Consultant. 1989 Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632. Paperback, 270 pages; includes monochromatic illustrations and 5 1/4" floppy data disk. ISBN 0-13-202235-4
  • James Cavuoto and Jesse Berst (1990). Inside Xerox Ventura Publisher. Ventana Press. ISBN 9780940087613.

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