NWP fronts up as fine for the future, being in RTF format. In fact, RTF has been around for a long, long time. It has been upgraded, but the previous format could be read by the new. The new was basically the old with some more stuff stuck on top of it.
You won't find a better format for longevity in my view. MS changes its .doc format from time to time, but that's marketing -- they want to force people up the ladder (they even refused to supply a translator between the new form and their own old formats back in the 90s until a court ordered them to do so) and to make it difficult for people to communicate with them.
Nisus, being small, has gone for one of the most solid, most interchangeable formats -- the opposite direction -- because it wants its customers to be able to interchange with the maximum number of bigger players for the longest possible time.
As for PageMaker -- I'm an old PageMaker hand myself (v.1-v.7) who hasn't upgraded to InDesign despite the fact that I'm now on an intel Mac and PM won't run any longer. I believe it CAN, though, using Sheepshaver. I haven't tried it and I won't -- my DTP is more limited and spealised now and I do it all on Canvas X -- an integrated graphics program which is ALSO a legacy product on Mac, but at least it is Carbon and can run on OS X.
If you friend is on PC, she can continue to use PageMaker 7 -- Adobe still sells it, there are tens of thousands of users around the small publishing world, and I still sell an occasional copy of "Publication Production with PageMaker 7" by Gordon Woolf, a PM guru. In fact, just before I came to look at this forum, I was getting quotes for instant printing of another 50 copies. So PageMaker is still alive in the PC world.
Another possibility, if your friend is a Mac user, is to either run Windows on her Mac and run PageMaker on that, or to get a Windows machine just for PageMaker work. It doesn't have to be the latest or greatest; PageMaker doesn't demand that much in terms of computing power.
And then there is the switch to InDesign. An old Aldus engineer, Ole Kvern, now works for Adobe and he developed the PageMaker-like elements available with the latest InDesign version to make the switch easier. Ole is a bloke who is a user himself and is in touch with users -- he was the author of the "Real World Freehand" series and DTPed them in FREEHAND (talk about putting your money where your mouth is -- we're talking 864 pages in that book). Also, "Real World InDesign (before he succumbed to being hired by Adobe so he could eat more regularly.)
I know him as a long term participant in the PageMakr (sic) email forum, a great contributor, and a resolute advocate of unwooded chardonnay (he convinced me!). Your friend can find that forum at http://www.makingpages.org
. Some of its members still use PageMaker, most have switched to InDesign. They can give serious help on conversion and acclimatisation questions -- they have been there and done it or are doing it. And they are PageMaker and InDesign experts. (Gordon Woolf, mentioned above, is one of the Listmoms.)
The thing is -- so long as she is on Mac, about the only way forward is with InDesign. Quark Xpress is there, but it is further from PageMaker than is InDesign -- which has taken a significant turn back from the dark side with Ole's input. On PC, there are a couple of excellent smaller publishers, one very PageMaker-like, at very reasonable prices. Can't remember the name(s), but it's easy to find them. Oh -- on Mac, Ready,Set,Go! is still around but it really doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
The other possibility at present is Pages. The question is -- will Apple develop it so it becomes a full-on, professional DTP program? I suspect they might -- at least low-end professional -- but I wouldn't like to bet my buttons on it.
Given the current upgrade price from PageMaker to InDesign with the PM-like extras, going to anything else really is an extravagance. I'm even thinking of upgrading myself, just to have it on hand.
But do suggest to your friend that she get on to the PageMakr list and talk about it there. She will find herself among friends.
Publisher, Editor, Business Writer
The Worsley Press
Get "Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes?" to deliver your words with real zing; and "How to Start and Produce a Magazine or Newsletter" to learn to step safely in the publishing minefield. Amazon or http://www.worsleypress.com