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    Russell Viers is a Transition Expert in the publishing world. Since 1997 he has helped newspapers and magazines adapt to changes in the industry. Read more...

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  • Archive for the ‘QuarkXPress’ Category

    Quark 8: First Impression

    Friday, September 12th, 2008

    Well I give Quark credit for finally admitting the software they’ve been peddling for the past decade was garbage. They may not have used those words, but the new behavior of Quark, which is more like InDesign now, says it all.

    As a Quark survivor, in full remission, I can tell you that my first launch of Quark 8 raised the question: “Will I be sucked back into this dark world in which I used to live to create my documents.” Well the answer is “no” but I can say that as an InDesign user, it’s easier to use Quark now than ever before.

    From the beginning, on of my favorite things about InDesign was the liberation from Quark’s text box/picture box structure. As a user, I was forced to create a box before I could put anything on a page. And worse, I had to decide in advance whether it was going to be a Text Box or Picture Box.

    No more. Now you can place text or pictures directly on the page and Quark creates the box for you. Just go to File> Import and choose what goes on the page. Better.

    Notice I didn’t say “Just like InDesign does….”

    Nope, it’s a ways away from being like InDesign. First off, you’ll notice Quark doesn’t offer the loaded cursor, which means that when you import text into XPress it just fits the page or column pargin…boom. Now I have to resize it. If I import a photo, it fits the page width. Yep…and I have to resize it, too. I much prefer InDesign’s approach which give me the loaded cursor and I have the option to click on a page, click over a frame or drag a frame the size I want my soon-to-be-placed photo.

    And another thing Quark trails InDesign on is the multi-place functionality. Yep, being able to select multiple items, even mixed format like a couple of text files, a few jpegs and a psd, allows me to build an entire page very quickly.

    Nope…Quark doesn’t have it.

    Another improvement in QX8 is that you don’t have to have your cursor in the text box to place text. That ALWAYS annoyed me. I’ve got a text box selected with my item tool, hit Cmmd. + E to Get Text and it barks at me. “C’mon” I used to scream at my screen. “Put the text in the box, already!”

    Now in the Ocho, you can select a text frame with the item tool, select File> Import (or your favorite shortcut) and boom…you can place your text in there.

    So even though XPress 8 has a long way to go to catch up with InDesign, I’ll accept Quark’s apology and be glad they are making strides to fix the product…although not enough for me to go back.

    Quark 8: Install Log Entry 1

    Monday, September 8th, 2008

    Okay, here I am loading yet another version of Quark XPress I may never use except for testing and evaluation. But I’m keeping an open mind.
    Here’s my plan: If Quark is saying this is new and exciting and the best software they’ve ever released, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ll install it and give it a fair shot.
    My main objective here, of course, is to compare it’s functionality to that of InDesign and Creative Suite.
    Like so many users, I bailed from Quark a long time ago. I think I did it earlier than most — I converted the day InDesign was released in 1999.
    The question isn’t just “is this good software” when evaluating Quark…the question has to be “is this software good enough for me to switch back to Quark?”
    If you have yet to convert to InDesign and Creative Suite, maybe you have to ask yourself a different question: “Am I better upgrading to Quark 8 or converting to Creative Suite?”
    So we’ll see.
    In this article, I want to share my experience so far…and so far I’ve almost installed the software. We’ll talk about functionality in future articles.
    My phone experience with Quark customer service was delightful. Bobbie spoke English, knew all the answers to every question and took my order as I would expect. I ordered the Quark 8 upgrade and gave her my credit card information which is: 422…wait…maybe this isn’t a good idea. Just trust that I gave her my credit card information.
    The software arrived as promised and I eagerly opened the package. I must say, I like the new look of Quark, but then I’m partial to greens. It IS exciting and new and I think it looks good. Right off the bat it says “this is not your father’s Quark.”
    I was disappointed there wasn’t a manual this time. When I ordered Quark 7, I got a rather heavy box and was pleasantly surprised by a one inch thick manual in there, ready to answer my every question.
    What’s funny about it, though, is that I never opened it. Nope. Just like 90 percent of software buyers out there, the sight of it was a great relief, like a safety net under my dangerous work, there just in case.
    But I never looked at it.
    I guess, then, I have no reason to be disappointed that Quark 8 ships with a PDF of the manual I won’t read on the disk instead of a printed version — saves trees, shipping costs and shelf space, I guess.
    Now here is where it gets tricky. I purchased the software while in the U.S. this summer and didn’t want to carry anything more than what I absolutely need back, so I opened the box and exhumed only what I needed to take with me, which was a card with a disk attached and a sticker on the back. On the front of the card it read “See back of card for information required at installation.”
    Okay, that’s pretty clear…let me turn it over…it reads US68…wait…maybe this isn’t a good idea. Just trust that there is a long number on the back.
    After several attempts as entering various numbers, I decide to go to the Quark website, quark.com, and see if I need to download a NEW validation code. I only wonder because when I installed Quark 7, I was able to use old serial numbers and it worked fine. Times change.
    Keep in mind that we’re not talking about small numbers here. We’re talking about 47 digit codes that are straight from the CIA code book. I did the math: if every human on earth (based on an estimated world population of six billion) owned 492,534,069,091,280,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 copies of Quark, they would finally use all the combinations.
    Except, and this is too much math for my brain, add the combination of a unique serial number that goes with the with validation code and you can have even more computers.
    Wow…Quark is really planning on selling LOTS of copies…good for them.
    Back to my install…
    So I enter the number on the back of my card, which is all I’m going to need for installation, so they say, and I enter my arm’s length validation code and it begins the install…good.
    Now I’m cookin’.
    I watch it do its thing while I think of other things to do. When its done, it asks me to Activate it. No worries, let’s activate using the internet, which is the recommended method.
    No luck. I’m rejected. My serial number is no good.
    What does this mean? There is only one number in my possession. How can it be wrong. I check it again and, yes, I entered it correctly. What am I missing?
    Let’s go through it again: I entered the number on the card on the website and it gave me a validation code, I entered the number on the card and the validation code and it installed…but it won’t activate because I have the wrong serial number. Shouldn’t it have told me that when I entered it on the site instead of giving me a validation code?
    I think Bobbie misses me and just wants a reason for me to call her back. I hope my wife doesn’t find out.
    I am now running the software for 30 days in demo mode until I can get this resolved.