capsule review

MarkzScout

At a Glance
  • Markzware MarkzScout

Workflow management is the current rage in graphics software, as developers look to automate various aspects of print and Web production. MarkzScout 1.0 takes a unique approach to workflow automation by providing customizable tools for inspecting, sorting, and processing graphics files. If you deal with large volumes of files and are willing to spend some time learning the program's intricacies, MarkzScout could be the ticket to greater productivity.

MarkzScout consists of small programs called Checkpoints and Actionpoints that can look inside PostScript, PDF, and HTML files, as well as native files created in most popular graphics programs. A Checkpoint inspects a file for a certain attribute, such as embedded JPEG images, then returns a yes or no depending on whether that attribute is present. An Actionpoint performs an action on the file, such as generating a list of spot colors. You can also use Actionpoints to launch an application, run a Photoshop Action, or perform preflight operations with Markzware's separate FlightCheck software.

Graphics Pipeline MarkzScout lets you sort and inspect files by linking Checkpoints and Actionpoints in a customized layout.


By linking Checkpoints and Actionpoints within a MarkzScout layout, you can easily sort files and generate useful information about their contents. Creating a layout is easy: you add Checkpoints and Actionpoints, then drag a connector to link them. It's also easy to create basic Checkpoints and Actionpoints, but for complex points you'll need to master MarkzScout's built-in scripting language. For example, you would have to write a MarkzScout script if you wanted to determine whether to set a QuarkXPress document for color or gray-scale printing.

MarkzScout scripts can include the full range of programming expressions such as variables, arrays, and conditional branches. The commands allow nearly complete access to a document's contents, including information about type styles, colors, and print settings. However, aside from its support for Photoshop Actions, MarkzScout provides very limited built-in features for modifying a file.

The MarkzScout reference guide lists every scripting command, but the skimpy descriptions offer no examples of how to use the commands in a script. The program also lacks support for AppleScript, which would make MarkzScout more valuable by letting you automate QuarkXPress operations in addition to Photoshop Actions.

January 2000 page: 58

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Customizable features for inspecting and sorting files
    • Works with native file formats

    Cons

    • Poor documentation
    • No AppleScript support
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