I originally started this as a response to Blind Energy’s comment on my earlier post Quark: Adobe’s Best Friend. I’m very passionate about this topic–if you had to use Quark and/or InDesign day-in and day-out for years, you’d be passionate about the topic too–and I realized it was a little longer than a comment should […]
I originally started this as a response to Blind Energy’s comment on my earlier post Quark: Adobe’s Best Friend. I’m very passionate about this topic–if you had to use Quark and/or InDesign day-in and day-out for years, you’d be passionate about the topic too–and I realized it was a little longer than a comment should be. Hence I’ve given it a post of its own.
Blind Energy’s comment (see the original Quark: Adobe’s Best Friend post for what inspired it):
Quark has a lot of inertia behind it. Don’t underestimate that. That’s is what made the Y2K bug so much of an issue–companies resisted change for as long as possible.
That, added with InDesign’s significant issues with printing (which is vital to the *printing* industry) is going to make it an uphill fight at best.
I don’t underestimate Quark’s inertia; Quark, Inc. overestimates its invulnerability to its own folly.
I wouldn’t even really call it inertia; rather I’d call it roots. Quark is rooted within the industry, but those roots are rotting. Look at Quark’s own forums. Shops are defecting in droves.
No one likes dealing with Quark’s Technical Support and Customer Service divisions. Now consider the extremely foolish statements by Quark’s top brass: The Mac is dying? Quark doesn’t care if anyone switches to InDesign because such a switch would be suicide? The allusion that Quark is throwing in with Microsoft technologies, in the case of XDocs, over the established PDF standard? Now add in the software facts: QuarkXPress, 18 months after OS X is released, is not carbonized and the company will not even assure users that the next version will be; the assertion that the XPress interface and base feature set has worked for ten years, so it won’t change, regardless of what users ask for; it still doesn’t have important features like transparency, easy and cross-product compatible color management system, OpenType support, the ability to handle native PSD and AI files, requiring users to maintain two copies of files (original and TIFF), multiple undo/redo, full preflight including ink management, paragraph-level composition, hanging punctuation, import of competing layout program files, and integrated PDF output (without having to purchase Acrobat seperately); and, InDesign ships with a user guide without charging an extra fifty bucks. Now factor in the price and the user frustration level with the company. Sum it all up and you’ve got a one-product company hell-bent on self-destruction.
Yes, InDesign has printing issues. Not so much in 2.x as it did in earlier versions (if you look closely, many of its printing issues are actually printer driver and OS compatibility issues, especially on OS 10). InDesign’s printing issues are almost moot: InDesign has built in advanced PDF output; if one can’t get a native InDesign file to press, take a PDF.
If one is dealing with a service bureau or press house that is still running systems too old and inefficient to handle PDFs, do it the old fashioned way with a .PS output.
Quark has already lost the magazine industry to InDesign. Even Quark admits to that. What they’re trying to save–incidentally do you think the Quark Publishing System will live up to its billing?–is the newspaper industry’s dependency on QuarkXPress.
Quark is dying, fast. The thing that’s keeping it alive at this point is the inherent nature of the relevant markets: Switching such an integral tool within a fast-paced, tight-margined production workflow is costly in terms of licenses, training, and lost productivity for learning. In this arena InDesign has the upshot of being very similar in user interface to already established tools like Photoshop and (especially) Illustrator. While that fact doesn’t do much for layout-only artists, it does help significantly with migration expenses and issues with artists who use multiple products.
Designers are switching to InDesign in droves. They’ll drive the service bureaus to switch or at least adopt InDesign in addition to Quark. InDesign’s superior features and easier interface, combined with InCopy and its custom implementations, are driving magazines and catalogs to InDesign. Quark still holds sway in newsprint, though, because that industry operates on such a tight timetable and profit margin (the production and editorial departments, I mean) that switching is difficult. I think what will largely decide the turn in newsprint is how well QPS does against InCopy (again, with its workflow-specific implementations from system integrators). The other major factor in the newsprint industries decision will be cost: If Quark and Adobe both maintain their current policies–the former nickel-and-diming, giving terrible support and service, etc., and the latter giving an expectedly complete package backed by good support and service–the prodution department’s cost of maintaining the status quo will eventually outweigh the cost of switching.
I honestly feel Quark is dying, more by its own efforts than by Adobe’s. Adobe just had good timing.
There isn’t even the nostalgia value in Quark that PageMaker inspires to save it.
I’d like to hear comments on this, both for and against (against is more interesting) my assessment of the Quark/InDesign battle.