What’s the first thing you think about when you see the name QuarkXPress? If you’ve worked in publishing for a very long time, you might think “ground-breaking layout program.” Quark was there at the birth of desktop publishing in the ’80s, and grew to dominate the industry. Or, you might think “ancient history” if you were among those users who grew frustrated in the early ’00s and made the switch to Adobe InDesign. Or, if you’re a bit younger, and have only used InDesign or other tools for page layout, you might think “what’s QuarkXPress”? But no matter which group you fall into, if you’re a creative professional interested in making top quality print and digital publications, you should check out QuarkXPress 2016.
Full disclosure: Yes, I am the editor of InDesign Magazine, and InDesignSecrets, and the author of several Lynda.com courses on using InDesign. But for years I made a living (and learned to love page layout and publishing) using QuarkXPress. And I’ve just completed a brand new course for Lynda.com, QuarkXPress 2016 Essential Training. So while writing about InDesign is my “day job,” I have spent months using QuarkXPress 2016, putting both old and new features through their paces. And what I’ve found is a powerful application that is once again pioneering important publishing features. If you haven’t seen QuarkXPress in a while (or ever) this version chart can bring you up to speed on all the most important features the application offers. So without further ado, let’s get right to the best new stuff.
In HTML5 publications from QuarkXPress 2016, you get live text, navigation page thumbnails, hyperlinks, animation, slideshows, scrollable content, pop-ups, audio/video, and more. For adding all these features to your layouts, QuarkXPress sports an HTML5 palette, packed with options that will be familiar to InDesign users.
There’s also a button in QuarkXPress that allows you to preview and test the look and behavior of your HTML5 publication in your default web browser. By comparison, InDesign lacks the ability to export a layout in this manner. However, InDesign users can export to Adobe’s Publish Online service, or use a third-party tool like in5 from Ajar Productions to get richly designed web publications with interactive features.
If you’re looking to deliver content in ebook format, you can also export QuarkXPress layouts to fixed-layout or reflowable EPUB.
Convert Imported Items to Native QuarkXPress Objects
QuarkXPress 2016 features an amazing new capability to convert imported items like PDFs, Adobe Illustrator graphics, and EPS files into native objects. And even more importantly, the conversion is a good one. Text is grouped in logical text boxes and retains the correct formatting (assuming you have the necessary fonts active). Bezier paths retain their shape and the placement of points. Colors are added to the Colors palette. Raster image content is embedded in the XPress file (you can unembed it by exporting the image and relinking).
Furthermore, you can also limit what gets converted to native objects simply by cropping the content in the picture box before converting it (only visible content is converted).
There are a few things that won’t come over, like masks and transparency blend modes. But by for the most part, you get a clean conversion that allows you to work with items as if you’d created them from scratch in QuarkXPress. This could be incredibly valuable in a scenario where you only have access to a PDF version of a document or graphic that needs to be updated, animated, etc.
Paste as Native Objects
Along with the ability to convert imported content to native items, you also can paste as native items directly from Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft applications. Simply select the content you want in Excel, PowerPoint, Preview, Pages, iBooks Author, Adobe Illustrator, and even InDesign (on the Mac), and in QuarkXPress choose Edit > Paste as Native Objects.
Like with the conversion feature, text formatting is retained, but styling information is not (you’ll have to create/apply paragraph and character styles to text if desired), and colors are added to the Colors palette. This feature could save a huge amount of effort if you’re often faced with the task of re-creating charts and graphics created with Office so they can be professionally printed.
With both the Paste and Convert to Native Objects features, QuarkXPress 2016 makes it easy to bring content from a wide variety of sources into your layout as live, editable items suitable for professional publishing.
Multi-Color Gradient Blends and Color Picker
Here are a couple examples where QuarkXPress is playing catch up to InDesign. Until QuarkXPress 2016, you could only make simple two-color color blends. But now, you’re free to craft any kind of gradient with as many colors as you like.
You can also assign specific transparency values to each color stop (something you can’t do in InDesign). Unfortunately, you can’t save multi-color blends in the Colors palette, but you can still reuse them by copying and pasting the blend from the palette menu, or using an Item Style (similar to InDesign’s object styles).
QuarkXPress 2016 also has new color picker functionality built into the Colors palette. With the color picker, you can click anywhere in a layout to sample the color at your cursor. The color is added to a set at the bottom of the palette (which persists even when you switch to a different layout). Double-clicking a sampled color will open a dialog box where you can edit, name, and save it. There’s also a button on the right that allows you to quickly add one or all of the sampled colors to the list in the palette.
Other new features of QuarkXPress 2016 include:
- Advanced footnote and endnote formatting options
- Cross references to footnotes, endnotes, and numbered items
- Support for OpenType stylistic sets
- Spellcheck enhancements: return to previously skipped words and restrict spellchecking to visible layers only
- Touchpad support for pinch and zoom (Mac only)
- Search and replace non-breaking spaces and characters
- Additional dynamic guides for textbox columns
- Fit textbox to text
- Word count enhancements: you can now count total number of words in all the text boxes in a layout.
- Streamlined and efficient UI on both Mac and Windows
- Ability to increase size of measurement palette
- Text wrap with content variables
- Support for ICCv4 Profiles
System Requirements and Licensing
QuarkXPress 2016 runs on Mac and Windows and you can read all the system requirements here.
The full price of a perpetual license for QuarkXPress 2016 is $849. But if you’ve ever owned a license for QuarkXPress, you can take advantage of a generous upgrade policy to save money. Upgrading from versions 3-10 costs $349. Current users of QuarkXPress 2015 can upgrade for $179. Free trial versions for both Mac and Windows are also available.
QuarkXPress 2016 is a powerful application that can help you efficiently produce and deliver great-looking content for print and digital publications. It is stable and speedy, and the modern UI is (for the most part) a pleasure to use. Yes, InDesign users will notice some limitations and features that are missing in QuarkXPress. But there are also significant things that QuarkXPress can do that InDesign cannot. The fact that InDesign CC is now available only via subscription and increasingly integrated with a growing set of Creative Cloud services like CC Libraries, Typekit, Behance, and Adobe Stock makes a direct head-to-head comparison to QuarkXPress rather complicated. It’s like buying your favorite movie on Blu-ray vs. subscribing to Netflix. But if you’re interested in a standalone layout program that comes with a perpetual license, offers direct HTML5 publishing, and gives you the ability to convert content from a variety of sources into editable items, then give QuarkXPress 2016 a look.Tags