QuarkXPress 7 comes out swinging

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If you needed to pick an appropriate location in New York’s SoHo district to launch the latest version of a page-layout application, you couldn’t wind up with a more fitting setting then the Puck Building. Designed in the late 1800s for the German-language magazine Puck , the historic building served as a fitting backdrop for Tuesday’s launch of QuarkXPress 7. Maybe if desktop publishing had been around back then, Puck wouldn’t have met its demise in 1916.

Attendees at Tuesday’s Quark event weren’t really concerned with the past, however; instead, they were focused on the future and how the new features in QuarkXPress might help with their work. While the morning kicked off with a presentation about QuarkXPress 7 from Quark senior vice president of desktop products Jurgen Kurz, this wasn’t just an event for the press. Quark customers and XTension developers were also in attendance, with much of the day occupied by hands-on training and more in-depth looks at new features of the software.

A room set up with dozens of Intel-based iMacs served as the event’s training area—designers got an opportunity to use the new features first-hand led by a Quark trainer. Quark representatives said these sessions were sold-out, suggesting a great deal of interest among users about what QuarkXPress 7 has to offer.

The event also featured a “Partner Kiosk” manned by third-party developers showing off QuarkXPress-associated wares. Participating vendors included GretagMacbeth and Pantone, who were showing off monitor color calibration software. Image Source and Kodak Creative Network were on hand with stock photo offerings. Other displays included data publishing software from Em Software, printing and postpress add-ons from Heidelberg; and Gluon’s XTension offerings. Canto demonstrated how its Cumulus digital asset management software works with QuarkXPress 7, and Extensis showed off new releases of its font management software for version 7.

Throughout the day, Quark also provided 45-minute training sessions on integrating QuarkXPress 7 in production and design environments. Presenters ranged from Martin Stein, Extensis’s Director of Product Management, to Canto founder and CEO Jennifer Neumann, with subjects including color management, production automation, and digital asset management.

Many of those in attendance Tuesday were QuarkXPress stalwarts who haven’t been swayed by the inroads Adobe has made with its competing InDesign software. Quark may have been preaching to the choir, but there was still plenty of upbeat conversation during the lunch break. Attendees were abuzz with discussions on technology like Job Jackets and Composition Zones added to the latest version of QuarkXPress.

What was perhaps most remarkable was the sense of pride evident in the Quark employees and executives. They’ve worked very long and hard to get QuarkXPress 7 ready for prime time, and they’ve conducted the largest public beta test in the company’s history. They’re convinced that this one’s a winner, and they hope that Mac users will think the same.

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