Extensis’s QX-Tools Pro, a collection of 12 XTensions for QuarkXPress 4 and 5, can be extremely useful for dabblers and pros alike, but its practicality depends on the version of XPress you have, the XTensions you’re already using, and the nature of your XPress work.
Three new components in QX-Tools give the program its Pro status. The new Import component converts Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint files into EPS files and imports them into XPress. One problem with this feature is that it doesn’t convert Microsoft Word or Excel tables into native QuarkXPress tables. And if you seldom import Excel or PowerPoint files, you can convert them yourself using Adobe Acrobat or Illustrator or Macromedia FreeHand.
Collect&Send, another new feature, lets you use an online preflight service from within the program and collect fonts for preflighting (something XPress 4 doesn’t do). But while some of the preflight alerts are helpful, the service completely missed a screen-angle conflict in a multi-ink color.
These first two features are rather cool, but the Shortcuts component is disappointing. Instead of giving you a way to customize shortcuts, it provides only a shortcut palette. It doesn’t even list menu commands that don’t have keystroke equivalents, such as Fit Box To Picture. But you can create a set of commonly used shortcuts and keep them in a separate palette.
QX-Tools mainstays include the Styles, FindChange, Scaler, Viewer, and Layers components. The Styles component adds object styles, which make it very easy to perform global changes on items you have assigned the same style to. With the FindChange component, you can search for object attributes such as stroke color or background color and then change all of them at once. The Scaler component gives you more control over scaling objects. The Viewer component offers a preview palette for your document. And the Layers component means that you don’t need to upgrade to QuarkXPress 5 to use layers.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
In terms of features, QX-Tools Pro is a beneficial product for QuarkXPress 4 users who don’t already use QX-Tools 4, and first-time QuarkXPress users starting out with XPress 5 will find that most of the XTensions (aside from Layers) are useful. But the three new components in this collection are not reason enough to upgrade from the previous version, QX-Tools 4.