Choosing the best package of QuarkXPress XTensions is tricky, and sometimes you get only one or two useful features in an entire set. Fortunately, A Lowly Apprentice Production’s newest collection of XTensions, XPert Tools Pro, provides more than enough useful features, including tools that let you quickly format objects, as well as a find-and-replace tool for object formatting. Although it’s billed as being especially for XPress 5, the product is just as useful for XPress 4.
Previous XPert Tools packages included 11 of these XTensions, but the new ones in the Pro package — XPert ItemStyles, XPert Find/Change, XPert Guides, XPert Align, and XPert PageSets — justify an upgrade.
Easily Define Attributes
XPert ItemStyles alone is reason enough to purchase the package. This XTension lets you save all the attributes of a text box, picture box, or other page object as a style sheet. In addition to defining obvious attributes such as size, shape, frames, and background color, you can also choose the position and size of imported images. You can even automatically center and fit images within a picture box — something the similar XTension in Extensis’s QX-Tools Pro (Reviews, July 2002) doesn’t do. With eight different tabs, the Edit Styles dialog box may overwhelm new users. However, you can also define an item style by formatting an object to use as an example.
Once you’ve defined an item style, you can easily apply it to multiple objects with a single click, instead of wading through many different XPress dialog boxes. Even better, if you make any changes to the item style, all objects to which you’ve applied the style automatically update. This is an incredible shortcut for anyone who needs to modify many objects in multiple-page documents.
Not everyone is disciplined enough to define styles ahead of time. That’s where the powerful XPert Find/Change comes in. It lets you search for and replace item attributes.
XPert Guides gives you much more control than XPress provides for placing guides in exact positions; copying and mirroring guides; and automatically creating grids, rows, and columns. Instead of struggling to position a guide by hand, for example, all you need to do is enter a precise numerical position.
XPert Align lets you not only align objects to one another, but also align and space objects in relation to page edges. This is something the regular Align feature in XPress can’t do.
Once you change the dimensions of a new document in XPress, you lose the previous page settings, but XPert PageSets makes it much easier to set up and save complicated document settings. Then you can easily choose the correct layout from the Document Preset menu.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If you’ve moved to QuarkXPress 5, previous versions of the various XPert Tools packages won’t work, making XPert Tools Pro a must-have upgrade at a reasonable price. If you’re still using QuarkXPress 4, the five new Pro XTensions are well worth the upgrade price. And all users will find that this product is an excellent way to increase productivity and avoid tedious formatting.