Quark targets XPress 5.0 in Seybold keynote

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Quark was the first of the large Mac companies to deliver a keynote address at Seybold San Francisco. Jurgen Kurz, vice president of Product Management spoke to the assembled crowd about XPress 5.0, showing off many of the applications features.

"I talked to people all over the world to try to understand the key issues facing publishing. And, the key issue is profitability," said Kurz. He continued by saying that advertising rates are down thirty to seventy percent, publishers are not launching new publications and that publishers are mostly focusing on their primary publications and cash cows. "Now is the time to re-use content," said Kurz, "and Quark's strategy is to provide the ability to re-purpose content automatically."

Kurz pointed out that many publications have fewer staff and are requiring more from existing staff members. One of the top design goals of Quark XPress 5.0 is to provide familiar tools that designers understand; tools that can create, manage and deliver content across a variety of formats and medias -- most notably the Web. "XPress 5.0 will give you better tools for print and familiar tools for Web," said Kurz.

Kurz then introduced Brett Meuller, XPress Product Manager, to show off the beta version of XPress 5.0, which is available for download from Quark's Web site.

Meuller began with brief statement saying that Quark decided to come to Seybold after the 9/11 attacks because it was now time to return to "business as usual." After that, Meuller said that the main goals for XPress 5.0 are productivity and efficiency. "You will do more with existing tools and staff with no additional training," said Meuller.

First off, 5.0 will provide a host of performance and speed optimizations. There will also be many enhanced print design tools, some of which will be more intuitive and easier to use color management, support for multiple layers -- each of which could store images, text and formatting for the same document to easily be re-purposed for multiple media -- and support for almost every major media file format.

Meuller also demonstrated some of 5.0's more specific new features. The new version can quickly convert text to a table. The new table tool easily allows images and other graphic elements to be added to that table without the use of a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel. Additionally, when a table is exported to HTML, Quark 5.0 creates a clean HTML table. Meuller made a point of demonstrating 5.0's ability at true print to Web. "Quark will export all cascading style sheets and graphics in a wide variety of image files and creates clean HTML," said Meuller. He then went on to quickly take a page of an existing publication, make a few design changes and convert it to HTML. Meuller then showed off the source of the created web page to applause.

XPress 5.0 will support other media formats beyond PDF and HTML. For example, Meuller showed off how XPress will rapidly convert content to ebook files -- both PDF based and Microsoft's .lif formats. "The goal is media independence," said Meuller, "you can move from print to other media without adding staff."

One future feature that Meuller demonstrated was exporting content to a future Web standard, .SVG or Scaled Vector Graphics. With this format, users can zoom in and out of a Web page without the images and text becoming pixilated. While the demo didn't quite work as planned, Kurz pointed out that this was a future feature and is not on the 5.0 beta CD or download.

After the .SVG demo, Kurz said that Quark's goal is to "do everything we can with our own tools. We are increasing the number of standards supported by Quark XPress and we are not tied to any specific standards. This is our strength over Adobe," said Kurz. Adobe controls a number of publishing media standards, most notably PostScript and PDF.

Next, Scott Moore, Product Manager for the Quark Digital Media System (Quark DMS), gave a demonstration of the Quark DMS. The purpose of the DMS is to minimize the amount of time managing files. Moore showed off how the DMS can automatically re-purpose content for a variety of media. For example, he uploaded a number of pages of the Aspen Times to the server, and the DMS automatically converted them to HTML. He then dragged the converted files to another folder, and they were automatically posted to a Web site. "Instead of us doing a lot of things with the software, the software is doing a lot of things for us," said Moore.

Moore finally introduced Dan Lohse, Product Manager for the Quark Active Publishing Server (QAPS). QAPS was first shown off at Seybold Boston, but Lohse demonstrated how all of the designing elements of Quark XPress could be used via the Web. He showed off how QAPS can quickly manage workflow across the web and can rapidly create documents that take advantage of dynamic media. In his demo, he created, with just a few clicks, a site that grabbed data from a live database and posted it on a Web site. While the setup beforehand would have been a bit more involved, the audience applauded his demo and was impressed with the ease of his creation.

Kurz ended the keynote by saying that Quark is twenty years old, ancient for a software company. "While we are not public, we are extremely healthy and will be around in another twenty years," ended Kurz.

This story, "Quark targets XPress 5.0 in Seybold keynote" was originally published by PCWorld.

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