QuarkXPress 7: Early Returns From Two Experts

The first impressions of QuarkXPress are in, and they’re already mixed.

QuarkXPress 7 is finally released into the wild, and the design community has finally begun to exhale.

While not necessarily representative of the creative reaction to follow, two early opinions are notable due to thier sources and what they say. Sandee Cohen and Galen Gruman are two names who should require no explanation; both are acknowledged layout application experts with deep experience (and published how-to books) about how to use InDesign (in Sandee’s case) and QuarkXPress (in Galen’s). Each professional’s reaction is as different as it is unexpected.

Sandee Cohen: Impressed by XPress 7

Sandee’s reaction is overall very positive: her initial impressions, published here at CreativePro.com, see the improvments (Composition Zones, transparency control, Job Jackets) timely and promising, and something that will keep Quark in the game (though she does agree that XPress is no longer the king of the mountain):

Will QuarkXPress regain its overwhelming dominance of the page-layout market? I think those days are over. Too many companies have already switched to InDesign. I don’t believe a company that switched to InDesign will switch again to QuarkXPress 7. There are just too many considerations and complications. And it’s not just InDesign’s own features that have made it attractive; it’s the integration between all the Creative Suite products.

But will QuarkXPress whither and blow away? Absolutely not!

Galen Gruman: We Waited For This?

Galen Gruman’s reaction (readable here at Macworld), however, seems as underwhelmed as Sandee Cohen’s was upbeat.

Taking a look at the same improvments that Sandee did he found them, while needed, unimpressive and largely counterintuitve. Job Jackets anc Composition Zones are good features but of limited appeal and, at best, counterintuitvely implemented. Most of the rest of the new features are “me-too” improvments matching InDesign’s functionality, though transparency did get high marks for being better than InDesign’s.

Overall, it didn’t seem worth the wait. As Gruman himself says in his review:

Unfortunately, XPress 7 does not represent a significant leap forward. The new release combines primarily me-too additions with some still-evolving original features that have limited appeal for Quark”™s broad base of print designers. Most of QuarkXPress 7″™s truly new features target workgroups, making collaboration easier.

However, that choice will likely disappoint many rank-and-file designers, especially if they”™re at smaller firms that don”™t work in large teams.

Two acknowledged experts. One celebrated workhorse application. Two differing opinions. Let the reviews commence!

QuarkXPress 7, reviews, analysis

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49 Responses

  1. woz says:

    I would agree with Sandee Cohen. Once you switch your studio to InDesign there’s no going back even if you wanted to. There’s simply no way for Xpress to open the InDesign files. (Except for Markzware’s plugin, but it’s not prefect and compatible with the latest versions of InDesign and/or Xpress).

  2. Good point, woz.

    BTW, I want to point out that I was tipped off to Sandee’s colum by woz, who made a link in the last one of the last comments he made her. Tip ‘o’ the cap to you, woz; good call.

  3. woz says:

    No problem.Happy could contribute something usefull.

  4. Aris Batsioulas says:

    Does “transparency” in QXP7 mean just “opacity”? I have been looking for blending modes but see nothing. How can one cope with the absence of Multiply?

  5. When people speak of ‘trasparency’ in XPress 7 they are indeed talking about what the applications calls “Opacity”

    There is a real reason why XPress 7 does not include Multply as a blending option but it’s a bit beyond my ken to explain why.

  6. Damo says:

    I think if Quark continues to get “bagged” by designers, publishers and print houses in favour of the single user interface that Creative Suite products offer the DTP industry will within 5 years be looking at an Adobe monopoly.

    The day (if God forbid it should happen) Adobe drove Quark into the grave would be the day they will charge us whatever they like and offer decreased product support in keeping with the lack of competition within the DTP marketplace.

    I find it amusing to see so many people in the industry who only seem to know the Adobe user interface with its various toolbar and palette congested applications. If confronted with a workplace that uses Quark they are like ducks out of water. I was taught a long time ago its best to learn all relevant software “just in case” you ever work in a studio that favours one or the other.

    Meanwhile what does the future of DTP hold for us? Microsoft (that giant company) has had 2 rumblings this year that may turn into tidal waves. Microsoft intends to release it own version of pdf called metro and its own version of jpeg. Apparently metro will advance the Office suite and Publisher to the next level… making them print ready. Would anyone ever be naive enough to believe Microsoft would stand idle while Adobe took a stranglehold on the graphics industry with its pdf workflow.

    Microsoft the next big player in DTP and graphics file formats? Get ready coz its coming.

  7. A time ago I wrote to Quark’s wishlist that they should give Quark 7 for free to all remaining users and come up asap with Quark 8 , with all the features of IDCS2 and the expected features of IDCS3 already included. With that Quark would have an application worth to pay for. As a convert to ID this is still my opinion.

  8. woz says:

    The way I understand it, blending modes are not possible in Xpress 7. It’s just the transparancy, ehm opacity.

  9. Seigmar:

    I guess the “new, friendly Quark” doesn’t extend that far, neh?

    Seriously, I’ve noted the various strategies that Quark has implemented to get 4.x users on board, and as a 6.5 owner I feel like we’re just expected to upgrade without getting an incentive.

    They seem more concerned with getting the laggards to play catchup than to keep faithful customers current. I’m not saying they should give away the store, but I think it’s rather unfair not to give the faithful at least something for being faithful.

  10. swiss says:

    Quark 7 looks nice on first sight but I really expected more … much more of it. I am looking forward to InDesign CS3 to kick XPresss’ 7 pASSport. The only really cool thing is that you can make a gradient from a color to transparency (I do miss such a function in Indd)…

  11. woz says:

    Blend your color to white and set transparancy to multiply doesn’t do the trick for you?

  12. swiss says:

    nope … at least not when there is an image behind the gradient ….

  13. Pj says:

    I’m just curious if any of you are familiar with the printing seps and the use of transparencies? What you see isn’t always what you get. It’s great if you want to use it for the web, but when it comes to printing and sending a file thru a RIP… good luck with using white at 0 trans. :)

  14. Ted Moon says:

    I have updated to Quark 7 tonight and did a cursory tour of the program, so be aware of this when reading.

    I absolutely agree that sharing and other collaborative functions found in the new version of Quark is attractive, but useless for most small designers. And the features that Quark implemented was to “catch-up” with Adobe’s InDesign. However, this is not why I am excited about Quark 7. It is because Quark finally caught up with InDesign, sort of.
    Because I use Quark at work, I am forced to use use and master it. Personally, i use Adobe’s InDesign. Why switch? because there are two factions of desktop programs, it is safe to learn and use both. In the end, it’s about using what the client wants and what the print vendor can output. So yes, pdf improvements, layout improvements, font improvements, really I’m talking back to basics and more importantly, it’s about making money. So there should no argument about which is better, InDesign “pushed” their way in the market and will not go away. Fine, learn it, use it, charge more for it. In the end, isn’t that what design all about? Communicate and show me the money.

  15. swiss says:

    who cares about the designers preferences when it comes to database driven application such as brand management systems?
    there is some developers that NEED to find out which one of the two is more suitable for they app and which of the two is worth the risk when thinking of the future. and when you finally find out that it is much faster and thus cheaper to produce pages in this or that app that you have your money aspect. I do not know what cumulus+quark will bring up but I know that there are quite a few sexy InDesign+InCopy database-apps around …

  16. tim says:

    Ted, why would you charge your clients more for using InDesign? It’s not about what software you use to get the job done. It’s about the end product! If you charge more just to do something in InDesign you are digging yourself a corporate grave.

  17. Ted Moon says:

    I am not saying to charge more because the designer uses InDesign. I am saying that because designers now have to learn both programs, this increases costs for both the designer and the client. If I have to learn both programs, buy both programs, then I have to make sure I can recoup my costs and investment in time. Obviously this might not hold in the free market, but isn’t everyone tired of losing projects just becuase they don’t know one or the other program?
    Perhaps I was being too literal in my last posting.
    I appreciate both programs equally but now I must keep up with both of them as well so I can in turn, hold my value to both clients, and to the company I work for.

  18. woz says:

    Most designers at my company design using a pencil and a marker. After that they create ‘presentation-ready’ artwork in Illustrator and or InDesign. Me and my collegues will take care of the rest. We’ll take over with the final text, picures and details. In the end we’ll create the proper certified PDF’s. We talk the printer-lingo. They can focus on the design and artwork, and I wil focus the tecnical part of the job. (If nessesary, they’re just one door away). So far, Illustrator and InDesign makes it far more easier for them to realise your ideas. Both the designers and the DTP-ers dreadded the change from Xpress at first, but now? If they can’t use InDesign and or Illustrator they get mad. Really…

  19. woz says:

    By the way:
    “nope … at least not when there is an image behind the gradient ….”
    There’s nothing wrong with an image behind a transparant gradiant. Don’t know how or where you got that idea? Problems can happen with spotcolors and transparay because some people use blend-effects combined with the spotcolors and that’s not ‘a good idea’. (understatement).

  20. canty says:

    i am a pro photographer and use the cs2 creative suite and have tryed to use quark, but still like indesign because you can use all the same short cut keys,drag and drop .ai and PSD files and donet have to create eps files
    indesign rocks!

  21. damo says:

    In Design is aimed at people who like one user interface. ie – the simple. Its not about whether that user interface is the most speed efficient or appropriate for that software. Its just that everything is right where you expect it to be in the “Adobe World”. When you open your Adobe product your pulse slows and your heart stops pounding… the stress leaves you… ahhh everything is right where it should be… nobody messed with your perfect Adobe world. The fact that you are buying 3 programs which run the same user interface which btw also share a multitude of other features… as a bundled package seems to slip your mind. Wow. thats awesome! What great value for money!! (are you serious?)

    Meanwhile the company Adobe is full steam ahead with anti-competition buyouts of its opposition like Macromedia. Ignorant people bury their heads in the sand not knowing the true cost of allowing any one company to monoplise an industry.

    If you relish a single graphics software user interface so much perhaps you will also relish the monopoly adobe will have soon and relish the free reign they will have over price and quality of service / support once that happens? The fact is Adobe was forced into its current position by competition. But once the competition is gone…

    Do you seriously think they would not raise prices the moment they have the marketplace to themselves? Do you think bundled products would remain bundled in a non-competitive industry? Have you ever known quality and customer support to increase during a monopoly?

  22. Tony Morse says:

    I fail to see the point you’re making. Are you suggesting that we should use Quark 7 solely so Adobe doesn’t end up with a monopoly on the business? Sorry, I’ll continue to choose the software I use based on ease of use and quality of features.

  23. damo says:

    Use both is what I’m saying obviously. Unfortunately this site is an altar at which on In Design is worshipped as though that product has no short comings.

    I am fortunate enough to know all the relevant print graphics software. CS2, Freehand, Quark etc. Unfortunately most educational institutions are now predominantly only teaching Adobe. That will without a doubt lead to a solely Adobe purchasing community of young print designers and users within 3 years.

    Sites like this with its strong emphasis on Adobe are in no way helping to avoid a monopoly outcome. Actually I find the name of this site to be a lie. As frequently what is being compared is not Quark and In Design but Quark and CS. A bundle of graphics products which we all know Quark is not going to be capable of producing.

    You should come clean and call this site Quark bashing by CS users.

  24. woz says:

    Haha. Everything you say ‘might happen’ has already happended. Exept not with Adobe but with Quark Inc. And we should reward them for it by giving them our money for their ‘catch-up’ ‘one tick pony’? For examle: There is no real competion for Photoshop. In your view Adobe must stop development because there’s no competition, right? Well just looking at Photoshop the last years will show you the product contineus to grow with usefull features. Oh and the last thing I want is a ‘one program that can do pixels, layout and illustration’. Dear God, let’s keep things seperated o.k.? And I don’t think it’s Pariah’s fault there’s so much new stuff going on at Adobe and not much real news at Quark.

  25. woz says:

    By the way, if this site is so pro-adobe why haven’t I read the ‘This is your brain on InDesign article here’?
    (Origionally posted in the Adobe forum)
    1) InDesign is cool; use InDesign.
    2) If you do not use InDesign, you are not cool. Be cool, use InDesign.
    3) The further existence of the human race depends on InDesign; use InDesign.
    4) I like InDesign. You should like InDesign too. No creative output can be made without InDesign. Use InDesign.
    5) Without InDesign the earth as we know it will cease to exist. Use InDesign.
    6)Nobody doesn’t like InDesign. Use InDesign.
    7) I am a vegetable. Even vegetables use InDesign. Use InDesign.
    8) The spirtual centers of all major religions and about a dozen minor religions agree that InDesign is pleasing to their diety/god (even Mighty Cthulhu). Use InDesign.
    9) InDesign does not cause flatulence. Use InDesign.
    10) Four out of five dentists recommend InDesign. Use InDesign.
    11) Osama Bin Laden does not use InDesign. Use InDesign.
    12) InDesign pairs well with any food. Use InDesign.
    13) InDesign has twice (2x) the stain fighting action of the leading national brand. Use InDesign.
    14) InDesign has the ability to beat the s*** out of your dad. Use InDesign.
    15) InDesign will pull your finger. Use InDesign.
    16) InDesign will not stain most fabrics. Use InDesign.
    17) InDesign works better with the ladies than Barry White. Use InDesign.
    18) InDesign is less filling and tastes great. Use InDesign.
    19) InDesign was given to humanity by the aliens that crashed near Roswell. Use InDesign.
    20) InDesign. Use InDesign. Please.

  26. Chris says:

    I use both InDesign and Xpress from their beginnings. I have never changed between them due to features. I switch between them when I run into bugs. For me that’s the ultimate killer feature – No Bugs. InDesign 2.02 had serious bugs inthe PDF generation. X4.11 had bugs too. I just upgraded both, IDCS2 for $169 and X7 for $249. Interesting that X7 still costs more. Adobe is a very ethical company. They have had mahor market share in many areas for years, and their pricing is always fair. Even if Quark dies, Adobe will not chage their prices much. They can’t, the market won’t allow that. People just won’t buy the upgrades. Ask Microsoft about that, they have 99% market share with Windows, but when they try to charge too much people don’t buy. Competition or market willingness to pay, both accomplish the same thing. Adobe has had major problems getting exisitng customers to keep buying upgrades. Most software ends up competing against it’s older versions far more than other brands.

  27. woz says:

    Good point. Adobe saw what happened to Quark. Overhere in Europe they now advertise with ‘the most important update since 3.3’. Wow, why did I buy 4, 5 and 6?

  28. Woz: That list is hilarious. Made my day.

  29. TIm says:

    Never choose to have only one choice.

  30. B says:

    I agree with one of the above posters that Adobe is cheating users by bundling software that contain the same or extremely similar features and calling them seperate products. I don’t really think of it as immoral use of power, more of the idea that there is still the option to buy each program seperately, why spend more money and alienate more users thatto make an all-in-one application? How would it alientate? Some people want Photoshop and are scared of Illustrator… If they were crammed together in an obvoious fashion, some new users wouldn’t buy it. (I beleive in time, this will not be the case and Adobe will offer a limited all-in-one app, however there needs to be more modulation between the Macromedia takeover and Adobe’s own limited upgrade features).

    As far as which one I prefer, not that it matters- I use both. Which ever one allows me not just to get the job done, but to get the job done faster and with less worry… That’s the one I’ll use. I give a rat’s @$$ about how pretty something is. Give me the functionality to make what I need happen, happen.

  31. woz says:

    “Give me the functionality to make what I need happen, happen.” True. Bot often people don’t know what they want until they see it. PSD import, transparancy, layer-effects, PDF, Open Type support, etc. You would have to agree that all this comes from Adobe’s kitchen. Not Quarks. They did nothing to push productivity. Just collect cash…

  32. Peter says:

    woz,

    whoc cares who invented it?
    Do you drive a car? Which model?
    Wheels = Egyptians; Car & Engine = Germans.

    And boxes, pt leading, multi-ink colors etc. (in page layout apps) = Quark.

    WHO CARES?

    The better one makes the show.

    Peter

  33. Kevin Newell says:

    I think it is silly to think that Adobe would raise it’s prices once it dominates the market. They dominate the vector graphics market with Illustrator now that Freehand is all but gone. They didn’t hike up the price for Illustrator. Photoshop has always been the raster manipulation, and photo editing standard it is still very fairly priced. They own the .pdf market place and Acrobat is still reasonable as well and Reader being free.

    Adobe is a good company, and just becuase there is no direct competition doesn’t mean they become an evil empire. They have and all ways will be a fair software comapany. Microsoft is always going to be there and even if it wasn;t I feel they would stay fair.

    Adobe CS is attractive, and prived to compete with just Xpress. Offering top to bottom graphics, layout, and printing solutions. To be in the same price range with all of that vs. Quarks Layout app just goes to show you that Adobe is good people.

  34. damo says:

    Vector graphics is hardly a monopoly. You’re waaaay off track right there.

    Furthermore anyone who thinks In Design will stay same price of cheaper after Quark is gone “because the market won’t allow it” lacks basic economic understanding. The market will pay what a company that has a monopoly charges – its simple. “The market won’t allow it”??? Haha thats the funniest thing I’ve read on this site to date! In a monopoly there is no market dictating prices. Some people posting here seem to miss that glaringly obvious fact.

    When competition no longer exists the market can get stuffed. To the monopoly experts – please inform me of a few monopolies of late where prices, products and service actually “improved”??

    Insane.

  35. damo says:

    Oh yeah and thanks for the top 20 woz.

    Don’t give up your day job and definitely don’t expect any phone calls from the Letterman Show re: vacancies for the “Top Ten” job.

    I can tell that took you some time and effort and for that you should be applauded – by someone… somewhere

  36. Martin says:

    Here’s another one of these articles “Why InDesign can make your coffee taste much sweeter than Quark”:

    http://www.layersmagazine.com/indesign/

    Very unbiased, neutral article…. wait, strange, these guys make money with Adobe products. Hm, why does InDesign win here I wonder???

    When do people finally realize and see that there is no neutral study? Wake up and test yourself. Any study, any consultant will make a study in the favor of the person paying for it or becuase he/she sees a way of makign money with consulting after having advertised a certan direction, something “completely new, only we know about us. Ask us, we help you!”.

    Hang in there
    Martin

  37. woz says:

    @Damo: RTFP. Ik wasn’t my list. I stumbled upon it in the Adobe forum and re-posted it here. Who knows, maybe it was your boss’s list, and he doesn’t like Quarkheads, hmm?

    @Peter, It’s not about who inveted it. It’s about what company actually INVENTS. It’s far more likely to expect new/better things from Adobe then from ‘that other page layout company’.

    @Martin, ofcourse. It’s the way the world works. But most people here are pro’s and have used or will use more then one single program. We can see through (most of the) ‘smoke and mirrors’ from Adobe, Quark, and others. Even if we don’t we will find out soon enough when using the program. Anf because of the internet the world will know if we think it sucks! (This was the main reason Quark closed it forum shortly after the release of Quark Xress 6). LOL…

  38. Peter says:

    woz,

    if “It’s not about who invented it. It’s about what company actually INVENTS. ” was true, then you should rave for Quark, as they invented precision (boxes, leading in pt sizes), made transparencies useful (attribute-level, not object level) and gave advantage by implementing PS-functionality in a layout app.

    By the way all things Adobe did copy (into PM) or will copy (e.g. boxes, granular transparencies and Photoshop effects) into CS3.

    But still I somehow doubt you will now critize Adobe ;-)

    Greetings
    Peter

  39. woz says:

    Well I have done just that. One of my posts referred to ‘Adobe: The fish rots from the head first, article on http://www.daringfireball.net. Pariah decided to write an entire article about it. Read it for youreselve: http://quarkvsindesign.com/news/archives/2006/05/enough-whining-about-the-adobe-macromedia-merger/

    I’m not a ‘Adone-is-the-best-screw-all-the-rest. In fact, on my site http://www.macmojo.nl you can read several articles about Adobe products like Distiller with crazy self-heal functions, InDesign with not optimal transparancy flattening standards that can cause major problems, ‘hidden’ but very important pallets in Illustrator, stupid translations for the old ‘overprint’ and the newer transparancy functions, Adobe’s desicion to split Acrobat into several products (Pro, and all that), Adobe’s choise for non-standard ISO ICC overhere in Europe, letting SWOP be the default for colorsync in Photoshop in Europe and ‘what not’. But it’s in Dutch. I’m thinking about translating the articles in English. A lot of the info is for European standards, so I don’t know just how useful it might be in English…

  40. Martin says:

    Did anyone use Quark 7 yet in production?

    That’s maybe more interesting than “experts” telling us…

    Print on
    Martin

  41. Well, if I read my copies of X-Ray Magazine right, that staff has been using QXP 7 for production since 7 was in beta.

  42. Martin says:

    Samuel,

    that’s interesting to hear, do you have any feedback from their side?

    Martin

  43. Martin:

    They’ve been pretty thrilled with the way QXP7’s been working for them., and I take that as a sincere sentiiment; QXP 7 is, I feel, a great improvment over QXP 6.x. A Quark user would be very pleased with the improvments on this.

  44. Comparison between Xpress & Indesign will be endless, as long as there are differences in the way artists think & work, a flurry of infinite differing opinions will ensue. Suffice it to say that no single company can provide “everything” what so enormous a crowd of users (with varying ideosyncracies), would ever need or want. As simple as that. But let me congratulate both: Adobe for what Indesign now stands for and is capable of doing; and, of course, Quark, for coming up with such a laudable upgrade that for sure will keep it at the front of graphics industry in many years to come. I, myself, use both, and enjoy both. I think that’s gonna be that way for many years to come; as long as both strive improving features at their own backyard — prices will really not matter, bundling & other marketing tactics won’t make much of a dent. It’s always the new tricks & features that will thrill buyers & users. So instead of exchanging fuming words & rantings, why not Quark & Indesign users try to outshine one another with a piece of artwork or article that will inspire the world for noble ideas. So we may attain the true purpose of ART, which is greatness.

  45. woz says:

    Indeed.
    ‘nough said.
    Show me the art! ;-)

  46. damo says:

    Both software are already doing that (creating inspiring artwork).

    Its just that one “company” is screwing the marketplace while their users are too busy congratulating each other to notice. Adobe & Macromedia was bad – real bad.

  47. Paul Chernoff says:

    Our magazine switched from QuarkXPress 6.5/QPS 3 to InDesign CS2/K4 5.5 just one year ago and we never looked back. I spend much less time fixing technical problems (I’m the IT guy) and our designers are much happier with InDesign.

    I spent a lot of time looking at QuarkXPress 7 betas before the change. While the interface is much improved and there are many improvements in the program, I was disappointed that features that are core to magazine production were not improved (and I lobbied Quark for a long time about these issues). Style sheets are much weaker than InDesign and I found that designers tended not to use them. I find since switching to InDesign designers make much better use of style sheets due to InDesign’ allowing to build sytle sheets on one another, the ease in modifying stylesheets and the preview capabilities. Likewise InDesign master pages are way superior to QuarkXPress’. Inheritance is a major factor.

    And Quark still has not released QPS 4 yet, meaning that my magazine could not even use QuarkXPress 7 since there is no workflow soultion for it.

  48. NK says:

    I’m a bit fed up with people whining that they’re scared of Adobe becoming a “graphics monopoly”… come on, Adobe pioneered this industry! Quark was the only real publishing application for a long time, and the competition for top spot in this area has been pretty fierce, but what about the rest of the DTP world? What competition has there really EVER been for Photoshop? PhotoPaint? Fireworks? how about (spit on the ground as I type this) Paintshop Pro? Don’t make me laugh.
    What competition has there even been for Illustrator? Corel Draw & Freehand? Don’t make me hurl my cookies, pa-leease! (although, to be fair, Corel Draw does deserve second place). The point I’m making is that it would be no exxageration to say that digital imaging as we know it was basically invented by Adobe; Adobe is king of the hill at the moment because they’re a brilliant company that produces brilliant, visionary software—not because the “competion” from all the other also-ran companies has been keeping them on their toes (snicker).

  49. Mjenius says:

    You make a good point. I think we use the term monopoly too loosely. And as much as I love Adobe, a little competition never hurts. Adobe maybe king of the hill, but there tons of other software that meet certain needs. For example Painter is preferred by by illustrators and for video editing I like to use Final Cut Pro HD. I applaud Adobe for Lightroom, but it’s long overdue, many photographers hate photoshop. Freehand and Fireworks has it’s bright sides too, when you’re working with mulitimedia. And there’s Flash, which Adobe never had a chance against. Well… until they bought Macromedia. Hey, if Quark still has it’s base, I think all these other guys deserve to be around.