Quark Gives You Ten Reasons Why

Recently we’ve noted that Quark, Inc, publishers of electronic layout stalwart QuarkXPress, has rolled out a new campaign extolling the benefits of the new QuarkXPress 7. Adopting the top-ten approach and apparently appealing to QuarkXPress laggarts still working with QuarkXPress 6.x and earlier, the campaign lists the top ten reasons to upgrade to the current version.

What are they? We took a look.

The Ten, In Order

1: Outdesign the Competition: “Outdesigning the Competition” here refers to leveraging three of QuarkXPress 7’s new graphics-effects features to eliminate the need to switch to another application to apply them: opacity control, automatic drop shadows, and alpha channel support, to obtain workflow efficiency improvment.

2: We Know Your Type : This one throws a spotlight on another definite XPress improvement: Quark’s improved OpenType® and Unicode® support and its improved glyphs palette, which they tout will reduce the need for the QuarkXPress designer to memorize keystroke combinations or use third-party applications.

3: Reduce Palette Clutter: This accentuates the benefits Quark’s interface improvments obtain for the user. The new Measurments Palette, with it’s tabbed context-sensitive behavior, is a definite improvment, Quark-wise; it brings more controls to the table than before. And in V7, QuarkXPress now has sophisticated palette grouping behavior added to the interface as well as workspace customization.

4: Synchronize your Content: Highlights the improved content synchronizaton quality of QuarkXPress 7, which now extends to box attributes and content as well as text and pictures alone.

5: Come Together. Right Now: Emphasizes the role of Quark’s Compsition Zones technology in adding the dimension of collaboration to the QuarkXPress experience.

6: Show Your True Colors: Defines the place V7’s color management tools in providing accurate and dependable color-correct output

7: Achieving Output Perfection: Explains that QuarkXPress 7’s expanded list of output formats (now including the PDF/X standards, XHTML and XML amongst others) and Quark’s new Output Styles feature allows better multi-format publishing and better control over those formats

8: Open Doors With Open Standards: QuarkXPress now groks the open Job Definition Format (via Job Jackets) and the industry standard Personal Print Markup Language.

9: Avoid Workflow Drama: This is about one of the strongest features of QuarkXPress 7, the Quark Job Jacketsâ„¢, which can be created at the beginning of a print job and travel with that job everywhere, defining and reinforcing project-wide settings.

10: Put Your Ideas In Motion: The advent of Quark Interactive Designer touts Flash® authoring capabilities within a consistent and familiar interface style.


We think it a fair question to pose, in the light of the coming of Adobe’s multiplicity of CS3 editions, that are these truly upgrade-worthy reasons–are they compelling?

From the point of view of the QuarkXPress 6.x-and-before user, they seem to be subjective from a certain point. The ten reasons are, to a certain degree, dependent each on the needs, environment, and skills of the individual XPress user: not every Quark user will need to create Flash content, many freelancers probably fly straight and level without needing to output XHTML, and Job Jackets in V7, while commendable, have a famously non-intuitive interface.

Personally speaking, as a designer who uses QuarkXPress v6.5 in the workplace, there’s much to like in XPress v7, and as someone with a foot in both worlds, given the choice between upgrading and not upgrading, I’d go with the upgrade. Still, returning to the abstract, and given the continuing rivalry between Quark, Inc and XPress and Adobe InDesign, it’s hard not to imagine two points of view here.

To the seasoned QuarkXPress user, Quark’s Top Ten will prove a compelling case for upgrading. QuarkVista and PSD import were like a breath of fresh air in version 6.5, and the cited improvements do bring some long-needed functionality to the quondam electronic layout king-of-the-hill. The debut of Quark Interactive Designer is a definite feather in Quark’s cap, giving Quark designers the ability to author interactive mobile content without having to have Adobe Flash.

To the InDesign user or convert, however, the case is less compelling. Adobe’s Creative Suite 3 line is bringing major juice to InDesign, including many in-application graphic styling functions that Quark added to XPress in v7. Not only that, the seasoned InDesigner may well find that the improved Quark interface (which is to Quark’s credit), seems to be…well, InDesign-y, which grouping of palettes and a powerful context-sensitive measurements palette cleaning up palette clutter (which, ironically, was a historic QuarkXPress benefit–the lack of palette clutter in XPress versus palettes for everything in InDesign). Moreover, the grouping of functions under the XPress umbrella and the addition of an allied Flash authoring application (which Quark desicribes as creating Macromedia® Flash® content, despite the Macromedia brand being extinct for more than a year) suggest that Quark is beginning to see the light of a sweet Suite approach.

The Bottom Line

Quark makes a strong case for upgrading to v7, and, as a matter of fact, the top ten list is a good picture of the admirable strengths of the newest XPress. If you’re a v6.5 and earlier user, look out: Quark’s out to get you, and in a big way.

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12 Responses

  1. regina jenkins says:

    I need to know where i can find a comparison between in-design and quark. WE use quark 7.0 for our graphic designers but recently got some outsourced designers tell my boss that in-design is better and that noone uses quark, I need a backup story on why to promote quark vs. indesign and what % of graphic designers use in-design vs. quark, etc. can someone help?

  2. Paul Chernoff says:

    The best thing to do is to download a copy of InDesign and use it in demo mode for 30 days, though I would also advise buying a good book. There are 2 good books out there for moving from QXP to InDesign. They take different approaches but both show you differences in philosophy and how to do what you want in ID based on QXP experience. I also learned new stuff about QXP while reading the books (Of course the comparison is between QXP 4-6 and ID CS2).

    Before we switched to ID we found it almost impossible to get any interns because the applications we got had only ID experience because the colleges were only teaching ID. So I suggest taking a survey of local colleges and see the current situation. You might find that there are a fair number taking QXP courses. You really want to know the local situation for this, not national.

    Which is better depends on a number of issues, including what you design. I am finding ID having basic features that QXP lacks that are important for magazine publishing. People creating ads will have different criteria than me. For example, our staff that works on ads do not care about style sheets and master pages, but these two features are critical to our staff working on the editorial side. And even within an expertise there will be differences of opinion. Concentrate on what people doing similar work are using.

  3. Mjenius says:

    It all depends. I personally prefer Indesign, but that’s my preference. It’s not true that “no one uses Quark”. It all depends on what you do. Most creative designers lean more towards Indesign, while I think desktop publishing is still strong in Quark. For the most part I think freelancers prefer Indesign because it’s already part of the creative suite and had been burned by Quark in the past. On top that they won’t have problem finding jobs with Indesign since it’s widely used now. Assuming that you already have creative suite try using both. Keep in mind that not everyone will like the switch to Indesign. You can debate if it’s worth making the switch all you want, but the obvious answer is that it’s probably best to be able to use both programs.

  4. UNIV says:

    The first thing to do is go to a more impartial site, If you want hard facts, it’s very hard to get from this site, more of an Adobe backed marketing tool, so very good for getting details on the CS suite but not for DTP tool market comparison.

    look at data from both Company sites, look at what large Agency’s and publishers are doing, as this changes based on your location, while Europe is switching back to XPress as a standard the US is still very much split.
    Quark has the Speed and the technology and InDesign has some of the features. Mjenuius is correct the only reason freelancers like InDesign is becouse it’s free with the suite, and most haven’t used Quark or not since 5 at least.

  5. Curious says:

    Europe switching back to QXP? Do you have any data to back it up? I know a lot of print houses are tied to Quark, but only because they still use “ancient versions” and don’t want to upgrade due to costs, but publishers and big printing houses are all into InDesign, at least here.

  6. UNIV says:

    I have been working in publishing for the last 25 years and work for one of the largest groups in Europe, last year we stopped the global rollout of InDesign and many of our houses and Agency’s have gone back to Quark, Adobe screwed our Dutch office, offering support if they switched and then skipped out on them after getting a press release.
    The general arrogance of Adobe in Scandinavia is playing back into Quark’s hands, and Quark is doing a good job of coming back, better customer service, good strong technology and delivers on there word. All new for Quark but it’s working. The industry is very small people talk, and nobody will tell Quark but there on the way back, they can’t get away with anything again but, better the Devil you know is the general consensus.

    It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Quark is the innovator and Adobe the follower in this case. Job Jackets, Composition Zones, Layout Spaces, Shared Layouts, Colour based transparency. Real industry innovations in the tools, production driven.

    From what I see the US is behind in seeing this due to the Adobe marketing machine, this website is a classic example. Only provide the information needed to get the result you want, and that’s the results that is the most profitable for the individual. They look for where there pay day is coming

  7. Curious says:

    Thanks UNIV for providing extensive reply. I’m just hobbyist myself. I find QXP to be very light on resources and much more responsive on my system, however I prefer InDesign to work in. It’s integration with other applications and features are rather fantastic. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s great. I haven’t worked in multi-user environment to see any (dis)advantages it has over QXP. For one user projects, it’s great.

    I just asked you to clarify a bit because this is something new to me. Of course, I have been reading all kind of sites, but admittedly they are usually pro-Adobe so this type of info would most likely be disregarded.

    I know that major magazines here use InDesign. I also heard major UK Publishers moved to ID as well (and portfolio of mags published with it is enormous) as well as some book publishing houses in the US, so your comment surprised me. I’d assume that stopping migration process and returning everything to old would cost more and be more time consuming than actually finishing started migration to new product.

    I’ll take your word for it though. I’m in no position to provide realistic situation. Adobe is playing European customers with its pricing. I wouldn’t be surprised if CS3 adoption is slower than expected here. Then again, Quark does exactly the same to us. Regarding support – thankfully I never needed it myself. It would be knife in the back for Adobe to neglect corporate users and provide them with mediocre support. Quark’s iconic reputation for bad/arrogant support is probably the main reason that drove people away form it. I’d suspect that Adobe would know otherwise.

    I wouldn’t call Adobe copycat. They are innovators after all when it comes to publishing. The most crucial technologies used in that area are conceived in Adobe. the fact that both software (QXP and ID) are adding same/similar feature is always tricky. One can claim one is copying other, but it’s totally irrelevant to end user who had it first. I think the areas ID lacked behind were more or less matched/surpassed with CS3 (PDF/PSD) support…). For current Quark users, 7 is major update and it’s nice, but it offers nothing attractive to current ID users, IMO.

    You are certainly right about marketing though. It’s a powerful tool (just look at Apple). In the end, I doubt any rational person would invest their money solely on hearsay. Both software can be tested and you can decide to make a purchase based on your own experience. In corporate environments this is probably hard/impossible, but still…

  8. Curious says:

    Please disregard my grammatical mistakes. I can’t believe that after all these years I mistype some very basic things.

  9. UNIV says:

    Are you a CS2 or 3 user?

  10. Curious says:

    I’m CS2 user. I have trial of CS3 installed for testing purposes.

  11. UNIV says:

    Interesting comment about It’s integration with other applications you made, Photoshop support was far better in Quark until CS3 and now they are about the same, I think feature to feature they are much the same it’s just a matter of preference.

  12. Curious says:

    I agree with you. They do things pretty much the same. Each has its own (dis)advantages. I just hope Quark keeps improving XPress and start taking on Adobe more aggressively. More competition between the two means better products for end users. It all comes down to preference which application you prefer to work in.