QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age

QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age

By Admin 28 May 2011 0 comments
  • QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age

QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age logo
Improved styling and design automation, plus iPad output give QuarkXPress a new lease of life; but there are snags.

Only 10 years ago, QuarkXPress dominated the professional publishing industry. However, Quark seemed more interested in electronic publishing than in print, and allowed Adobe InDesign to seize its market.
Now, with the advent of the tablet, the age of rich digital publishing has truly arrived, and Quark is determined its flagship package should reclaim the crown.

QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age : Core Improvements

This time, Quark hasn`t forgotten its print-based bread-and-butter. The core market for QuarkXPress has always been high-end publishing houses producing regular publications, and here the efficiency, productivity and consistency offered by style-based handling are key. In version 9 that`s been improved, with much greater control over how stylesheets are applied so that, for example, you can now preserve local overrides or remove them.

More usually, you can also automatically apply the next style in a predefined list. This option is useful for applying multiple styles – a heading followed by an introductory paragraph, followed by body text, for example.

QuarkXPress 9`s new Conditional Styles let you take the idea further, offering more advanced control. You can, for example, use the tool to apply an introductory paragraph style, set its first sentence to small caps, go to the end of the story then back to the last tab, and then apply a byline character style from there to the end of the paragraph. Conditional styles are a bit of an effort to set up, but will help automatic regular design workflows.

Another major boost to efficiency and consistency comes with QuarkXPress`s style-based handling of bullets, numbering and outlines. These let specify factors such as character formatting, the type of numbering, and distance from the following text. Outline styles are particularly powerful as they let you define up to nine indent levels, each with its own numbering style. Crucially, the new styles and indents can be applied directly, much as you`d use them in Word.

Handling of tablets, which is useful for managing longer lists, has also seen an overhaul, with the old fixed-grid limitation consigned to history. Now, you can flow anchored tables across multiple pages, complete with repeating header and footer rows. You can also import tables from Excel in the latest XLSX format.
Callout Styles, meanwhile, allow you to finely control how boxes are aligned. This new tool allows you to align a box not just to its anchor, but to its containing paragraph, box, cell, page or spread. This allows you to create a whole host of important design effects such as graphical icons or explanatory notes that float next to the text.

QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age : Added power

QuarkXPress plugs another significant hole with the introduction of a Story Editor. This lets you view the copy of your current story in a word-processor-like view, away from the distractions of the current layout and typographic formatting. With all overset text indicated by a red background, it`s much easier to cut your copy to fit the layout, but the lack of a live word count and spell-checker are disappointing.
QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age picture 2

The Linkster XTension helps you divide text in linked boxes into separate stories. Previously this could cause reflow problems, but now you can select a box in the middle of a flow and split the story before, after or both, and even relink the 2 surrounding stories in the process. You can also quickly link multiple boxes to create a new story flow.

Another addition is the Cloner, which is primarily used to copy selected items or pages to new locations within the current publication. More advanced capabilities here include the ability to clone items or pages to new or existing layouts and publications.

The last 2 new tools include the ImageGrid dialog, which enables advanced grid-style picture layouts, and ShapeMaker. The former lets you create galleries quickly and easily: set how many rows and columns you want, how images should be sized and fitted, and whether titles should be added, then pick a folder of images to create your gallery.

ShapeMaker, meanwhile, quickly creates a wide range of regular and irregular shapes and saves them as reusable presets. The real power of this feature is that you`re not limited to outputting your shapes as graphics, but can instead output them as rules, text paths or as text and picture boxes. The number of possible uses – star-shaped image masks, spiral text-on-a-path, undulating textboxes – is extraordinary, and should help users make their work more eye-catching.

QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age : Digital Publishing

All these new capabilities are welcome, but QuarkXPress 9`s main selling is undoubtedly its ability to output for smartphones and tablets. Tablets are particularly suited to reading, and users cycling out for content, the potential is enormous. It`s a watershed moment and Quark has come up with a suitable slogan: Digital Publishing 2.0.

That may sound modern and exciting, but the first of QuarkXPress 9`s 3 new publishing options – support for the ePub format – is anything but glamorous. Essentially, you design your rich layouts as normal, then select text and picture boxes and add them to the Reflow View. Switch to this and you`ll now see your content entirely stripped of all the layout and formatting that you`ve worked so hard to apply.

Using the new Reflow Tagging panel, you then go through your unformatted text by applying a few set tags with preset formatting to indicate headings and captions, and to control the size of images. Add some metadata to describe what your ebook is about, ensure that your articles are in the right order for the optional Table of Contents, and you`re ready to publish. The resulting ePub file isn`t exactly design-rich, but it`s fully accessible and pretty much universal. The ePub format can be viewed on smartphones, the iPad and Sony Reader devices, and you can submit it to Amazon for publishing to the Kindle.

Potentially more interesting for the professional designer is QuarkXPress 9`s support for the Blio – a richer eBook platform that encompasses a reader application, online store and alternative file format, and supports colour and more advanced layout features.

To set up your Blio publication you again produce your print design, then rework it using the basic tools in QuarkXPress 9`s Reflow View. Unlike the ePub version, however, your rich page-based design is also exported via XPS. Readers can switch between the two views in the free Blio ebook reader.

There`s also the option to take your Blio ebook beyond the traditional flat page. An interactivity panel lets you add support for simple slideshows, MP4 video and embedded HTML. The result is a more involving, dynamic publication.

QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age : iPad output

Blio promises great things but, for the moment, it`s only a promise. It`s all-important reader application is currently available only Windows, with Android support due in a few months and Windows Phone 7 and iOS support at an unspecified later date.

What the core QuarkXPress userbase of major of major publishes is really crying out for is the ability to deliver rich, branded content to the all-important iPad, as it`s here the real money lies.

This is exactly what Quark promises with App Studio. This will let users create the same mix of reflowable and rich design as they can for Blio, but with the result wrapped up in a native, standalone iPad app. Crucially, this app can hold multiple titles, each of which can contain multiple “issues”, with new issues served up to the app via a web-based service hosted on the publisher`s own website. In other words, App Studio will enable publishers to deliver subscription –based iPad magazines with downloads and purchases all handled directly within the app.

It sounds ideal, especially with Android support promised for later in the year. However, there`s a snag: QuarkXPress 9 doesn`t actually include the App Studio; instead, it`s promised as a free upgrade “within 90 days”. After so many years, waiting a couple of extra months to finally get your hands on a way to get real money from electronic publishing might sound a minor inconvenience. However, there`s at least one good reason for Quark to put some distance between the launch of QuarkXPress 9 and its major attraction.

Previously, with its PDF, HTML and Flash-based delivery, the unspoken assumption was that rich electronic publishing would effectively be free for the publisher. In fact, this isn`t going to be the case. As soon as you come to publish your app you`ll have to pay Quark a fee, starting at 218 euro for a single issue. In addition, to access the App Store, you have to take account of Apple`s 30% commission.

QuarkXPress 9 and the Tablet age : Verdict

This will certainly come as a shock but, on reflection, most publishers will accept it – after all, 70% of something is better than 100% of nothing. And since the initial 218 euro issue cost is relatively low (for the big publishing houses, at least), QuarkXPress 9 looks to be a key release that promises to open up a crucial new market, which may yet prove as significant as print.

If QuarkXPress 9 was the only publishing application to break the iPad app market, this would almost certainly help restore its former dominance. However, with Adobe promising similar features in InDesign, it may be wise to wait and see how the two approaches compare before committing yourself either way.

This article was taken from PC Pro and was written by Tom Arah. All credits go to them. He rated QurakXPress 9 as follow:
Ease of Use: 5/6
Features: 5/6
Value for money: 4/6
Overall: 5/6
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