X-Ray Magazine Shows Its Fangs

2005
Nov
04

The latest issue of the official magazine of QuarkXPress beats up on InDesign and berates XPress naysayers. Guest editorial by Jeremy Schultz X-Ray Magazine, Vol. 4, Issue 3, September 2005 The September issue of X-Ray Magazine, the magazine devoted to Quark and QuarkXPress, has an interesting article by Roger Black, “A Closer Look At 3 […]

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The latest issue of the official magazine of QuarkXPress beats up on InDesign and berates XPress naysayers.

Guest editorial by Jeremy Schultz

Cover, X-Ray Magazine

X-Ray Magazine, Vol. 4, Issue 3, September 2005

The September issue of X-Ray Magazine, the magazine devoted to Quark and QuarkXPress, has an interesting article by Roger Black, “A Closer Look At 3 Documents.” In it Black, whom I admire quite a bit for his work with publication design, compares QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign side-by-side as they are used to design an advertisement, catalog, and magazine. But I was not struck so much by the positive portrayal of QuarkXPress but the negativity toward InDesign, which was brought up over and over again. The numerous, unfriendly mentions of InDesign plus a comment by editor Cyndie Shaffstall made this issue a diatribe against InDesign and those stupid enough to think QuarkXPress isn’t the better product.

I use XPress in my day job and InDesign for my freelance business. I’ve actually used XPress longer. If I had the authority to switch to InDesign at work I would, because my experience with both of them has convinced me that InDesign is superior (though I’m very interested to see what Quark brings in its coming upgrade). Earlier this year I had the opportunity to review InDesign Magazine, which I found to be a good resource with a positive vibe. I recall hardly a mention of the competitor. The writers were too busy playing with InDesign and showing you what you could do with it. It was a fun read.

Then I read the current issue of X-Ray Magazine and was bombarded by accusations against my favorite application: “…bewildering by comparison…” “…palettes really crowd the screen.” “Users who switch to InDesign must invest several weeks in training.” “[Quark] seems more stable.” “You can enter some metrics easily–but entering others is not so easy.” “It’s not always clear what is happening.” “…the [Quark to InDesign file] conversion stumbles.” “…professionals add shadows to silhouettes in Photoshop.” I also noticed in the “A Comparison of Features” on page 43, the InDesign features are in small print while the QuarkXPress features are in large print with better readability and presence on the page.

I don’t mind product comparisons; I actually think they’re some of the most useful articles in our trade publications. However, this one seems so biased and generalized that I couldn’t put much faith in it, especially when it went against my own real-world experiences with the two applications. I am thankful that InDesign will convert QuarkXPress files (Quark doesn’t grant InDesign the same courtesy) and the conversion is usually quite good. Moreover, my experience with Quark’s stability is not a good one at all.

My point is that X-Ray Magazine and its content is very different from InDesign Magazine and its content: X-Ray is more biased, more negative, and has real fangs sometimes. And that strikes me as being bad for the industry. I get tired of the us-versus-them anger surrounding these two applications.

Don’t talk to Cyndie if you don’t know Ready, Set, Go!

Cyndie Shaffstall wrote this to open her letter from the editor on page three:

The [rants] I enjoy the most are from other applications’ users wondering about why I would start a magazine dedicated to software that–in their opinion–has seen its heyday and is on its last legs. I think it is likely that they’re new enough to all of this that Ready, Set, Go! is the phrase used at the race starting line instead of a major contender for the desktop-publishing market.

Ready, Set, Go!, for those who don’t know it, was a desktop publishing application that was widely used in the late 1980s and early 1990s, competing with PageMaker (then owned by Aldus) and QuarkXPress in its early years. RSG was a pretty cool application and I used it on a friend’s Mac Plus.

I have a real problem with Shaffstall’s statement. It’s negative not to InDesign or some other desktop publishing application, but to the people who use them. Now I wouldn’t say myself that QuarkXPress is on its last legs and should be put down, but if others have that opinion then that’s their right. And if I was in Shaffstall’s position I wouldn’t joke about their perceived lack of background in desktop publishing, and I especially wouldn’t do it on page 3 of X-Ray Magazine. It just seems petty and angry.

Do cheerleaders at football games raise the home crowd’s spirits, or badmouth the opponent? Both X-Ray Magazine and InDesign Magazine are cheerleaders, each one promoting their teams. But while InDesign Magazine is positive and upbeat, X-Ray Magazine can sometimes be dour, negative and demeaning. Who does a better job of cheerleading?

Jeremy Schultz (www.jeremyschultz.com) specializes in graphic design, web design and illustration and has been active in the design profession for six years. He is the editor of Designorati:Photoshop, and his designs have been featured in national publications including Dynamic Graphics and SBS Digital Design, and he is the recipient of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals’ Guru Award, inclusion in the 2005 American Corporate Identity annual, and the First Place Winner in Quark VS InDesign.com‘s Celebrate InDesign Postcard Competition.

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