We ask, Quark answers

Last week, in this space, we noted that Quark hosted an Expo session in which it was looking to talk to media, customers, and partners about its new Quark Interactive Designer. In the spirit of dialogue, we posed a couple of questions we wouldn’t have minded hearing the answers to.

We didn’t have to wait long for Quark to get back to us with answers. Here are responses to each of our questions, courtesy of Jürgen Kurz, Quark’s senior vice president of desktop products. (His italicized answers follow our questions.)

• Since QID looks very similar to QuarkImmedia, how much of QID’s code is actually derived from QuarkImmedia, and will QID support QuarkImmedia files or assets, such as buttons, animations, and so on?

It is true that QuarkImmedia, a multimedia application that might have been years ahead in its time, inspired us to develop Quark Interactive Designer. While we reused algorithms and UI concepts of QuarkImmedia, the code base is built from scratch, leverages modern technologies (such as Unicode), and seamlessly integrates with core functionalities of QuarkXPress, such as composition zones, shadows and transparencies. Quark Interactive Designer does not support old QuarkImmedia files.

• If users import a SWF file into a QID file, will it work properly inside the SWF that QID exports?

Absolutely. Any SWF from version 6 to 9 can be imported in Quark Interactive Designer. It will play as intended in the final SWF file exported by Quark Interactive Designer. Depending on the kind of SWF you import, Quark Interactive Designer might also be able to control it from the outside, such as Play, Pause, or Stop functionality.

• Since there are so many things that Flash can do that QID cannot, won’t this turn off designer/developers?

Customers don’t always want the product with the most features—they usually want the tool that is the best fit for the job. So, if I’m a designer looking at a massive list of features and programming tools in Flash that I just don’t need, it’s the integration and ease of use of Quark Interactive Designer that will attract me.

That said, our scripting capabilities are very robust and there are areas where we do have features that Flash Professional just doesn’t offer: you’re getting the entire layout and design features of QuarkXPress, and you get a page-based way of designing, which is a much better fit for projects like product tours, web ads, and so on.

• Considering that Adobe cancelled LiveMotion (its Flash development tool) before the Macromedia acquisition, why do you think that Quark will do better, or be able to keep QID up to date with Flash technology?

We cannot comment on why Adobe canceled Live Motion. However, our customer research shows that multi-channel publishing is vital for most of our customers. So we created Quark Interactive Designer as a design tool that is seamlessly integrated inside QuarkXPress and lets creative professionals easily design for multiple media channels: print, Web and interactive. In other words, not as a standalone, isolated coding environment.

• Will we someday be able to export QID files to other formats, such as Microsoft’s WPF or (eventually) WPF/E (Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere), Microsoft’s cross-platform Web presentation technology, which is currently under development?

We are always evaluating for what media our customers would like to design, regardless of whether the media publishing technology comes from Adobe, Microsoft, or is Open Source. Flash was the highest on their wish list, so that’s what we support today. Tomorrow is another question. We will be prepared to respond to the needs of our customers.

• How does QID fit into Quark’s product strategy for the future—is it part of an effort to expand beyond QuarkXPress itself, or is it a continuation of XPress add-ons in the spirit of QuarkCopyDesk?

We developed Quark Interactive Designer as part of our multi-channel publishing strategy, which offers the ability to easily create derivative work for different media channels: print, Web and interactive output. In that sense, Quark Interactive Designer takes another step in expanding beyond print.

• There have been many attempts by various vendors to combine print and Web design and production tools, but none have been successful. Does Quark believe that’s because of technology limits, product designs that did not work in the real world, or fundamental differences between print and online media that require a nearly independent creative effort for each medium (and limiting sharing to basic content re-use)?

The challenge when offering creative tools for different output environments is to not compromise one authoring environment to the limitations of another, while at the same time still leveraging the benefits of offering these authoring environments in an integrated way.

QuarkXPress’ core technology is based on linking different authoring environments (we call them “layout spaces,” which we introduced in QuarkXPress 6. For instance, you could simply make one design or content change to simultaneously change not only your postcard, but also your brochure and poster. With Quark Interactive Designer that change could (if you wish) also replicate inside your interactive tutorial. These are great advantages for people who are concerned about their company’s brand consistency.

With Quark Interactive Designer we spent a lot of energy in creating a tool that is both simple to use and incredibly powerful—even if the users wouldn’t care about working in an authoring environment that integrates with QuarkXPress. We categorically refused to compromise its design functionality just so it could run within QuarkXPress.

We thank Jürgen for taking the time to answer our questions.

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