Star Product: QuarkXPress 9

Simon Nias
Thursday, February 24, 2011

The program that sparked the DTP revolution is revamped for the iPad age

What does it do and who is it targeted at?
QuarkXPress 9 is the latest incarnation of Quark’s eponymous desktop publishing software, the very first version of which was released in 1987. It is aimed at creative professionals involved in the production of page layouts for print, online and mobile platforms and at printers looking to offer value-added marketing services to their clients, such as the ability to output not just the printed publication, but also to provide digital editions for a variety of platforms.

QuarkXPress 9 will ship in April 2011 and will be available through authorised Quark resellers and through the Quark Store. App Studio for QuarkXPress – which enables publishing to the iPad – will be available as a free update to QuarkXPress 9 users within 90 days of shipping.

What’s its USP?
Making digital publishing easy and cost-effective for creatives. According to vice-president of marketing Gavin Drake, "nobody else is currently doing that, either in terms of making it easy or cost-effective". Drake claims the software is unique in enabling designers and creatives to create digital publications for the iPad, Blio e-reader, and for ePub, without having to get development companies and programmers involved. "Right now, there are a large number of apps that you’ll find on devices like the iPad, but in most cases it’s not creative professionals that have been able to put that content together," says Drake. "They’ve had to hand that over to somebody else to program and code for them."

As far as cost-effectiveness goes, Drake highlights the fact that there is no additional charge for creating or publishing digital editions using QuarkXPress. "For the Blio e-reader and ePub you can output those with no additional cost with us and if you look at our model for the iPad, customers only pay for the content that they publish," he adds. "There’s no revenue share with Quark, there’s no charge per download, there’s no monthly subscription, it’s a one-off cost to, for example, publish an issue of your magazine."

What improvements have been made on the previous version?
The feature improvements are in three major areas: digital publishing, design-driven automation and productivity features. For digital publishing, Quark has added the ability to create, edit and output content for the iPad, Blio e-reader, and export to ePub. Meanwhile, under the banner of "design driven automation", Quark has added another level of automation to QuarkXPress 9 with Conditional Styles, Bullets and Numbering, and Callouts. "Anyone that’s doing the kinds of documents that are impacted by those features is going to save huge amounts of time," says Drake. Further layout enhancements have been made to allow users to do things like apply style sheets without affecting local formatting, or break tables across multiple pages with repeating headers and footers, even when they’re anchored in a story.

How easy is it to use?
Quark has sought to make digital publishing easier by allowing creatives to produce content for digital platforms from within a tool they’re already familiar with: QuarkXPress. "They already know how to work with text, with layouts, with colours, and therefore the step up from that to being able to apply interactivity in a very easy way – to say, I’d like a slideshow here, or I’d like a video here – is very straightforward in QuarkXPress 9," says Drake.

Furthermore, the company did an ROI study for QuarkXPress 8, comparing it with earlier versions for ease-of-use on common tasks, which quantified the productivity improvements across the evolution of the software. "One of the reasons so many creative professionals use QuarkXPress is its ability to make some of those common design tasks very easy," says Drake. "I’ve had numerous conversations with educators and others that will say that for someone learning professional page layout, QuarkXPress is the easiest page layout tool to learn from scratch."

QuarkXPress 9 includes several features that are focused on ease-of-use. For example, the ability to selectively apply style sheet to a paragraph while maintaining bold and italics that have been applied manually inside that paragraph is a big time-saver. The new Bullets and Numbering tool uses preset styles, so it’s simply a case of selecting the text and picking one of those styles, although at the same time the software allows much greater control for designers who want to get more from the features.

What training and level of service support can users expect?
In addition to a dedicated support page, Quark launched the knowledge base, an online self-service support portal, last September and has also set up a YouTube channel featuring tutorials and other videos. Drake says that the software developer has always tended to invest in training, both direct from Quark and via third-party providers. "We have a number of third-party training providers that have come on board early with QuarkXPress 9, that are involved in our pre-release program, that are developing books and video training," he says. "We also have a very extensive training pack called QuarkEd that we develop, which covers everything from A to Z in QuarkXPress. So that includes sample files that customers can work through, as well as step-by-step tutorials."

SPECIFICATIONS
Platforms
Mac OS X 10.5.8 or 10.6.4 or later, Microsoft Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or 3), Windows Vista 1.0 or Windows 7
Price
New Licences: £779
Upgrades: £279
Education: £99
Contact
Quark 0808 101 7082

ALTERNATIVES
Adobe InDesign CS5 Adobe launched the fifth incarnation of its Creative Suite, CS5, in April 2010. Like previous versions, it is comprised of several separate software packages, including After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator and many more. Adobe’s most direct rival to QuarkXPress is InDesign CS5, which allows users to design and publish documents for print, online and mobile devices. Like QuarkXPress, the software has tools to add interactivity, including animation, video and sound, to page layouts. InDesign CS5 also incorporates one of the most requested features in any CS upgrade: the ability to handle multiple pages of different size and orientation in one InDesign document.
Platforms
Mac OS X 10.5.7 or 10.6
Microsoft Windows XP (Service Pack 3)
Windows Vista (Service Pack 1; Service Pack 2 recommended), or Windows 7
Price
New licence: £595
Upgrades: from £159
Education use: £476
Contact Adobe 0800 0280148 www.adobe.com/uk

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