What's the best desktop publishing software to use with databases?

I have to lay out a nice catalog from a huge database and I need to use something that will let me import from a database. I have never used Pagemaker and I suspect it’s what I’m looking for but is there a cheaper alternative that will allow me to do that?

It is usually straight forward to get the output from a database into excel format, so any desktop publishing software that can do a good job with excel formatted data should be fine. I must state though I know nothing about desktop publishing, just lots about moving data from database to database and database to displayable formats.

What platform and what database? If you’re in FileMaker, most people go with Quark (even though it’s outrageously expensive :() because you can generate AppleScripts from within FileMaker to auto-generate the Quark documents, specifying the size, the bleed, trim, and safety margin-lines, the images, their resolution and orientation, text boxes including content, font, color, size, & placement, and so on. Quark is so AppleScriptable its almost scary.

I’m using Windows and it wil be Access. I have Quark but when I looked at xtensions to use with databases they were all extremely expensive. Even more than Pagemaker 7 which has it built in to do database publishing. I am toying with the idea of doing each page in Excel with the fonts I want, and then just importing them page by page into my Quark project as objects but it seems like I will spend so much time doing it that way that I may as well get Pagemaker. I just wonder if there is some obvious and cheap alternative that I don’t know about.

Just curious, can you define “desktop publishing” to me?

…and InDesign is so AppleScriptable that it makes Quark look downright retarded.

InDesign also has facilities to build pages from XML data, although I haven’t played with it. Quark is so 90’s…