Apr 27 2009
By: Rick Yaeger
Looking across the spines of the books on the shelf in the Mac section at my local bookstore I see numerous volumes on various graphics applications. There’s Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand and Procreate Painter among others. Thanks mainly to Peachpit Press, I also see one particular word that seems be a favorite in the titles of these books Ã³ “Wow!” ….Photoshop has a Wow! Book, Illustrator has a Wow! Book, Painter has a Wow! Book…there seems to be a lot of reason to be Wow’d these days.
We all want to be Wow’d and it just stands to reason that we might also like to Wow others Ã³ if we didn’t, Peachpit wouldn’t keep making these books. Recently I have started offering my own graphics techniques here at MacMerc in our Graphics Tip of the Week section. I had hoped to offer a tutorial every week that would Wow our readers to some degree. Rather than limit myself to one application, I decided to just take the ideas as they came regardless of which application they utilized Ã³ let the creative spirit flow. It soon became apparent that certain applications, like Photoshop and Illustrator, lent themselves to Wowing people, while others did not. QuarkXPress is without the ability to Wow Ã³ it may try but it doesn’t have it in it.
“So what!?” you say “QuarkXPress is just a layout program. It’s not supposed to be exciting. It is there to do the job of laying out and it does it just fine.” Quite true. Perhaps QuarkXPress is secure enough that it feels no reason to draw attention to itself with all the flashiness that Illustrator or Photoshop use. It’s just not that needy.
But this is the graphics industry after all. An industry whose very nature is to be flashy and call attention to something in some way and that is exactly why Freehand and Canvas, among others, have been equipped with the ability to Wow. They also do the job of laying out and no Mac forum is complete without a thread consisting of various diehard users of various diehard applications extolling the virtues of their app of choice over the shortcomings of the industry standard, QuarkXPress.
With Quark, the Wow does not come standard. Many Wow-inspiring features that come standard in most competing applications, are either unavailable for QuarkXPress users or can only be utilized with the help of third party XTensions that, while they are quite well made and useful, really should not come as an extra cost to consumers who have already paid for Quark’s hefty $800 price tag.
Another issue that is often brought up is that QuarkXPress is not conducive to creative expression, that its interface is clunky, non-intuitive and “old” Ã± it sucks the Wow right out of you. Many have pointed to InDesign and its familiar, standard Adobe interface as the “Quark killer” and have predicted a coup d’Ãˆtat that will unseat XPress on the throne of industry standards and replace it with the day’s favorite.
Quark has long been criticized for being slow to release updates and lackluster when it does. For instance, it wasn’t until the late 90′s that Quark introduced the ability to enter type on a curve in version 4.0 and now, years after that addition to the program, many users have returned to Illustrator to achieve that same affect the same way they did in version 3. One has to wonder if the sparse new features of QuarkXPress 5.0 will soon lose what little novelty they have and be similarly ignored.
Users have felt disregarded when they contacted Quark with feature requests and betrayed when Quark not only disregarded their ideas but took the page layout application in directions few had need for. A prime example of this is QuarkXPress 5′s ability to translate documents built for print into HTML Ã³ basically allowing a Wowless print piece to become a Wowless web site. The addition of this feature has caused more than a few diehard QuarkXPress users to shake their head in confusion. “Why do I want this and why should I have to pay for it?”
Ultimately, Quark’s own lack of customer appreciation and customer service and its failure to innovate, much less keep up, may have put the company and its flagship product in the “catch-up” position against Adobe’s upstart, InDesign. We may be shocked to find that Adobe InDesign isn’t as much the “QuarkXPress killer” it was touted as being, since it may be revealed in the last few pages of this murder mystery that Quark itself is holding the smoking gun over the bleeding XPress and muttering in disbelief, “I didn’t see THAT coming…wow!”
Are You Wow’d by QuarkXPress? …vote here
And don’t forget to speak out in the Forums