QuarkXPress 4.1: Little Steps, Safer Steps

When I received my QuarkXPress 4.1 upgrade disk in the mail, my first thought was to throw it out, since I had mistaken it for a junk AOL disc. Fortunately, I caught myself in time and was instead treated to a plethora of freebies from Quark and other third-party developers, as well as a solid update to QuarkXPress 4 (read Macworld's

4.0 mice
review ).

The upgrade to QuarkXPress 4.1 is free to all registered owners of version 4, though if you haven't gotten it yet (or if you didn't catch that the "junk mail" piece was actually from Quark), you can download the 18.7 MB file from Quark's Web site. While there's little doubt that it's worth your time to upgrade, I encourage you to make a copy of your current version of QuarkXPress before updating it -- every now and again I hear from someone who's life was made miserable by a botched install, or conflicts between version 4.1 and some other software they're running.

The XTension's the Thing

Quark's primary impetus for this upgrade was to solve some of the more annoying problems with version 4.04:

• A number of crashing bugs were fixed.

• XPress will no longer apply a clipping path to a TIFF image just because it has an embedded path.

• You don't get that annoying "Do you want to save changes?" dialog box if you only open the document, print it, and then try to close it.

• The AppleScript scripting dictionary is more robust (though many old scripts still need to be rewritten to work).

However, Quark also threw in a number of fun new features that can make life easier. These new features all appear in the form of XTensions. Here are some of my favorites:

PDF Filters. You can now import and export Acrobat PDF files more easily. I still don't trust importing color PDF files into XPress, though some people have reported success with this workflow. Also note that the current version can't import PDF documents from Adobe Acrobat 4 or Adobe InDesign 1.0 (they've promised an update that can).

Scissors. QuarkXPress's Bézier drawing tools are now more complete with the addition of a Scissors tool that lets you cut paths or boxes open at an arbitrary point.

HTML Filters. Quark now lets you import and export HTML text in a single text box. On the other hand, you still need to buy a commercial XTension to export page geometry and pictures.

Grids and Guides. The Guide Manager is a powerful XTension that lets you place guides on your pages; unfortunately, it's marred by a cumbersome interface.

QuarkLink. The most innovative feature in XPress 4.1 is QuarkLink, which lets you easily e-mail Quark tech support or customer service, receive daily or weekly headline news from Quark (in the Headlines palette), and jump directly to Quark's knowledge-bases.

Cool Third-Party Stuff

Better yet, the QuarkXPress 4.1 upgrade disc includes a number of great XTensions from third-party developers. For instance, Badia FullMeasure XT lengthens your Measurements palette so you can quickly control more paragraph formatting. DavidsPlace 1.5 lets you place graphics and text with a single click, or by drag-and-dropping from the desktop. FontWizard lets you embed fonts into EPS documents. And Meadows Information Systems' FontCollector can copy all your document fonts into a single folder for you. There are more, too, so make sure you search through the 3rd Party folder on the disc.

The Last Word

Ultimately, there is little reason for XPress 4.0 users not to upgrade to version 4.1. It's free, it's easy, and it gives you more functionality. While this version only removes a few items from my long Quark wish list, it's a step in the right direction.

DAVID BLATNER is the author of The QuarkXPress 4 Book and others from Peachpit Press. You can reach him at david@moo.com.

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