Markzware's Q2ID Plug-In Converts Quark 5 and 6 Files to InDesign
Q2ID brings QuarkXPress 5.x and 6.x document conversion to InDesign.
More and more lately I find myself reviewing products that are powerful but simple, applications or plug-ins that answer broad sweeping needs unassumingly. Markzware’s Q2ID is one such plug-in. And, like all the great plug-ins, less is more.
InDesign 2.0, released when the latest version of QuarkXPress was 4, could automatically convert and open QuarkXPress version 3.3 and 4.1 files. InDesign CS, released when the latest version of QuarkXPress was 5, could automatically convert and open QuarkXPress version 3.3 and 4.1 files. InDesign CS2, released when the latest version of QuarkXPress was 6.5, could automatically convert and open QuarkXPress version 3.3 and 4.1 files.
Every new version of InDesign inspired a new throng of convertees from QuarkXPress, many with libraries of XPress documents waiting to make the switch with them. Yet, as each new version of InDesign appeared, it did not bring aid for the latest XPress documents. Four years and two versions after the release of XPress 5.0, InDesign cannot open documents created in XPress 5.0 or the later, and much more popular, XPress 6 and 6.5. The official Adobe recommended conversion procedure is to open XPress 6.5 documents, and save them back to version 5.0-compatible; open the saved back documents in XPress 5.0, and save back to version 4.1-compatible; finally, those may then be opened directly into InDesign.
The official procedure is labor and time intensive, and a pain in the neck with its requirement to maintain installations of several versions of QuarkXPress solely for a stair-stepped conversion process. Markzware’s latest offering fills in the gap, enabling the Quark-to-InDesign migration in the form of Q2ID.
Q2ID is a simple filter plug-in. It has no user interface. There are no options. It has one specific job, and it does that job well.
Once installed, simply open a QuarkXPress or QuarkXPress Passport layout with InDesign’s File > Open command to begin the conversion--just like using InDesign’s built-in XPress converter. In fact, Q2ID will take over the job of opening XPress 3.3 and 4.1 documents as well. To really speed the job, convert multiple documents at once just like opening INDD files--select sequential files by clicking on the first, then SHIFT-clicking on the last. CMD-click non-sequential files to select them.
The big question is: Does it work? You bet your baseline it does.
Of course, Q2ID doesn’t convert everything perfectly. Because of the difference in text engines between QuarkXPress and InDesign, converted text will reflow between the two. Moreover, if text snugly fits within its box in XPress, it will almost certainly overset when it lands in InDesign, requiring a reduction in size by .2-1 pt. Both Q2ID and InDesign’s own filter expose the text rendering discrepancy.
Other issues not handled by the filter are spelled out in the Q2ID release notes:
- All Frames will be centered. The reason for this is a highly accurate position can be maintained. Polygons will be framed inside.
- A runaround for a picture box might not flow on the left side. The solution is to manually adjust the left side of the picture box within InDesign.
- A Blend angle is not supported.
- If a Blend does not appear on the Swatches palette, select the object until the color appears on the Color palette and drag it to the Swatches palette.
- A Gradient used in a single Table Cell will not fit entirely within the cell since InDesign spreads the gradient across an entire row of columns.
- If left of right Table Cells use the same color they will overlap on the inner rows.
- Linked Table Cells are not supported.
- InDesign does not support Skewed text in a Table Cell.
- A rotated Table Cell should be in increments of 90 degrees or it may not be visible.
- Feathered arrows are not supported.
- Sometimes Tables will not be fully displayed due to overflow. In this case simply adjust the height of the text box until the Table fully appears.
- A Runaround offset for a Picture Rectangle will convert only as an Outset.
- Points/Inch is not supported by InDesign 3.
- If any item is locked in a Group, the item will become unlocked and the Group itself will be locked.
- Subscript, Superscript and SmallCaps will use the Vertical value if the Horizontal value is not 100.
- Justified Center or Right Drop Caps not supported.
- Rules Above and Below for Drop Caps will not be positioned correctly. Rules are displayed in InDesign even if the paragraph has no Paragraph Return.
- If any single Guide is locked then all Guides will becomes locked.
- All Trap settings are ignored.
- PDF Preferences and Color Management Preferences are currently not converted.
- Multi-Inks are not currently converted.
- Table of Contents and Indexes are currently not converted.
- Hexachrome colors are converted to CMYK Process Coated EURO may convert to CMYK. For InDesign 3, Metallic and Pastel colors are converted to LAB.
- 1-Bit images may loose their transparency, especially if the image is missing. The solution is to locate the image and ensure it contains the desired clipping path, or manually set the clipping to “Detect Edges” in InDesign.
- Layers set for Suppressed Output will be converted to Show Layer turned off.
- Forced Justification will be converted to “Justify with last line aligned left.”
- The Outline typeface is supported by converting the text to a stroke of .25 pts with a fill of None. The Shadow typeface is not supported. (Note that Shadow could be emulated by manually duplicating the text, placing it underneath the original text, setting the tint to 60% and offsetting its position.
- Only Nonbreak Hyphens are supported by InDesign.
New updates are released every few weeks to address conversion issues, so the list may shrink before long. Because of the frequency of revisions, it’s difficult to even ding Q2ID for suffering under any issues. During the course of my testing, for example, I noted inconsistent text wraps resulting from converted runarounds, but the 1.4 update released last week resolved the issue.
One thing that really impressed me is the recent addition of a feature to preserve the z-order of objects. During conversion, InDesign often changes or even reverses the z-order of objects--background frames wind up in front of foreground objects. Using Q2ID, simply hold down the SHIFT key while opening files for conversion, and object’s original z-order will be preserved. Alone, this is a tremendous time saver.
The only real complaints I have are not about functionality.
Despite the frequent patches, Q2ID will not update itself, nor does Markzware.com publicize the release of updates. One must log-in to the user area of the site (and navigate through a crowded list of updates for all Markzware products) to locate new versions of Q2ID.
The other gripe, of course, is that Q2ID is Mac-only. Like InDesign itself, Q2ID will convert XPress documents created on either Mac or Windows, it will only run within InDesign on OS X. Windows-based designers are out of luck--for the moment. According to Markzware’s Robert C. Claborne, the Windows version of Q2ID will be available in just a couple of weeks.
If you need to convert a few XPress 3.3 or 4.1 files here and there, save your money. Use InDesign’s built in conversion. If, however, you’ve made the switch to InDesign--and don’t intend to go back--while holding a library of XPress documents, Q2ID will pay for itself in no time.
I consider few plug-ins mandatory for any business. If your business is an InDesign-based service bureau, ad agency, periodical, or any other shop that takes files from clients for incorporation or repurposing into other documents, Q2ID is one of those few.
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