Star product: QuarkXPress 2018

By Simon Eccles, Monday 26 March 2018

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New features boost type capabilities and output flexibility of this long-standing DTP app.

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What does the software do?

QuarkXPress 2018 is the latest annual update to this long-established computer layout program dating back to the 1980s. It introduces a range of new features and controls for type, PDF creation, web/mobile creation and scripted automation.

In general, QXP allows the creation of multi-page or multi-component designs for print or web/mobile and interactive/video. It has sophisticated typography and shape tools plus basic but non-destructive image editing.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

QXP 2018 was officially announced on 1 March with shipping due on 16 May. Users are mostly professional designers, marketers and publishers who need to create layouts for print, web/mobile or both. 

How does it work?

It’s software for MacOS and Windows that enables users to create print and digital layouts including text, images and interactivity such as animation and video. 

According to Matthias Guenther, Quark’s global director, desktop business unit: ‘You can use it to create advertising, brochures, magazines, catalogues, e-books, and even Web, iOS and Android mobile apps. No other page layout software gives you more control. You can directly convert any PDF file into editable QuarkXPress objects. Content can be exported in formats from print quality PDFs to native apps, HTML5 and e-books.’

How does it differ from previous versions?

The user interface has been tweaked, with an improved and extended Measurement Palette that controls all object attributes.

Recognising the dominance of InDesign, QXP 2018 can import and convert native IDML as Quark layouts.

A big new feature is Colour Fonts, also available in the 2018 updates to Photoshop and Illustrator. This allows the creation of colour (RGB) and complex graphical effects within type, to be resaved as new fonts in the formats SVG, SBIX or COLR for use in print/PDF and some browsers.

The OpenType controls have been made easier to access and font listings are clearer. Automatic hyphenation now has five levels of strictness. Footnotes can span multiple columns. Automation tools gain JavaScript v8 support and GREP styling (automatic character styles also used by InDesign) via JavaScript. 

The PDF exporter adopts the Callas PDF Print Engine, with Adobe’s own PDF libraries. PDF/A (archiving) export joins existing PDF/X-1a, X-3 and X-4 options. 

Print output can now be scaled from 10 to 1,000% (with enlargements useful for signage and vehicle graphics). 

Web/mobile related tools are extended: Android apps can be created (iOS was possible before) and HTML5 and ePub export are improved. 

Options, add-ons and integrations with other Quark products?

QXP works as a standalone program, but also features as the layout part of the Quark Publishing Program for multi-user collaborative publishing such as newspapers or magazines. 

It can also create design templates for Quark’s Content Automation Platform, an enterprise system that can automate much of the content lifecycle from creation and management to publishing and delivery.

What is the USP?

Guenther says: “It’s professional design software with no monthly subscription. It features superior typographic controls, non-destructive image editing, conversion of PDFs into editable objects and copy-and paste from Excel, Illustrator or PowerPoint into editable objects. You can also create unlimited iOS and Android apps for free and convert print layouts to interactive HTML5 publications.”

How easy is it to use?

Depends on your level of experience. “Students consistently communicate to us that QuarkXPress is the easiest professional design tool to learn,” says Guenther. If you’re experienced with previous versions of QXP, you just need to learn the new features. If you’re experienced with InDesign, switching is straightforward.

What training and support is on offer?

Resources include free videos on the QuarkXPress YouTube channel, Lynda.com courses, QuarkXPress for Dummies and training centres.

How much does it cost?

It costs £725 new, with upgrades from £159 (discounts may be available to pre-order). You can switch from InDesign, CorelDraw or other competitive products for £349. Anyone who buys new QXP 2017 before 16th May gets QXP 2018 for free.

What is the sales target? What is the install base worldwide and in the UK?

Quark and Adobe have stopped revealing relative market shares. Quark’s sales are likely a small fraction of InDesign’s. Apart from technical merits, Quark is attractive to people who don’t want to sign up to Adobe’s perpetual rental model. 


SPECIFICATIONS

Platforms MacOS or Windows

Import formats Can place graphics formats including TIFF, JPEG, plus text TXT and DOC/DOCX. Will exchange text seamlessly with Quark CopyDesk and the Quark Publishing Program database

Export formats Native QXP, PDF up to 1.7 including PDF/X up to X-4

Price £725 new, upgrades from £159

Contact Quark 020 3318 4862 www.quark.com 


ALTERNATIVES

Adobe InDesign CC 2018

Creative Cloud dominates graphic design with a suite of programs that cover most aspects of print, video and web. It is only available on subscription and prices are being raised on 16 April.

Platform MacOS, Windows

Price £59/month (all apps, business), £10.10/month (photography apps only, individual); £20.22 per month (other individual apps)

Contact Adobe UK 0800 028 0148 www.adobe.co.uk

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017

This is a Windows-only multi-program suite that competes at some levels with Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s available either by subscription or with a perpetual licence. CorelDraw is the layout component. 

Platform Windows 7 to 10, Intel 13 or later CPU

Price £599.99 (new); £299.99 (upgrade); subscription £16.67/month for annual account

Contact Corel 0800 0260663 www.coreldraw.com 


USER REVIEW

“What I love most is the increased capability of converting print layouts to digital layouts (and vice versa). This, together with Quark’s unmatched typographic control and the new OpenType functionality, gives me complete flexibility to produce high-quality designs for both print and online publications.” 5/5

Julie Foster Beta Tester, FosterHough freelance design and production, UK 

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