‘Innovate or Die’ Has Become Quark’s Mantra

2005
Feb
20

With the PSD Import Xtension and QuarkVista Quark began innovation that must continue for XPress 7 to provide an alternative to InDesign. In response to “First Look At QuarkXPress 7,” layout artist and occassional Quark VS InDesign contributing writer Samuel John Klein observes: “ It’s past time Quark supported OpenType. Good decision, but like migration […]

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With the PSD Import Xtension and QuarkVista Quark began innovation that must continue for XPress 7 to provide an alternative to InDesign.

In response to “First Look At QuarkXPress 7,” layout artist and occassional Quark VS InDesign contributing writer Samuel John Klein observes:

It’s past time Quark supported OpenType. Good decision, but like migration to OS X native, somewhat behind the curve, to say the least.

As I said elsewhere on this site, Quark playing catch-up will do no more than slow the erosion of staunchly loyal markets (pre-press, newspaper, etc.). It will enable Quark supporters and those for whom switching is too difficult or expensive a proposition the temporary safety to hold out a little longer; they will gain the ability to do what InDesign has been tempting them with for years (transparency, OpenType support, etc.).

Such near feature parity will not inspire anyone to switch from InDesign to Quark; it will simply allow them to delay the decision to switch–perhaps indefinitely, if Quark continuously meets InDesign head-on after a reasonable period. Such a stalemate will not benefit Quark. It will slow but not prevent market erosion; with Adobe’s dominance in all other areas of professional print design–PostScript, PDF, Photoshop, Illustrator, fonts–San Jose will eventually push back Denver, even if the advance comes only in inches. Simply striving for feature parity will only slow Quark’s inevitable loss of this war.

For Quark to stand its ground and begin winning battles it must innovate. Which it did with 6.5.

Until Adobe releases InDesign 4, Quark 6.5 stands proud as the victor on the field of native image manipulation–as both Samuel and I observed in our respective reviews of the XPress 6.5 QuarkVista and PSD import features. InDesign CS (version 3) cannot meet Quark’s ability to style images. Even with ALAP’s InEffects plug-in, InDesign cannot style photographs as well as XPress 6.5. Whether it holds the field in that area in a few months will depend on how much effort Adobe puts into image manipulation in InDesign 4; they may not have had time to catch up.

With image-styling Quark innovated, and that innovation won the battle.

With PSD import, Quark played catchup with InDesign. The fact that XPress 6.5 could place native Photoshp PSD files was ho-hum news to those familiar with InDesign’s years-old ability to do the same. However, Quark didn’t stop at simple placement. They took it further, beyond InDesign, by enabling selective layer activation in PSDs. Not only was this terrific innovation, but it was a black eye for Adobe; Quark now does a better job with Adobe’s flagship Photoshop documents than does InDesign. Innovation won the day.

If Quark intends to make any converts, it must do more than survive against InDesign. It must first meet InDesign head-on with features–including those we know 7 will not have, like multi-line composer–but it must go further. It must innovate, adding features and support InDesign does not. Quark 7 must give designers a reason to question whether InDesign has everything they need, not just a choice of which user interface is preferable.

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