Quark Systems Ltd. was quick to deny that companies are increasingly switching from its QuarkXPress desktop publishing system to Adobe Systems Inc.’s rival InDesign system, despite a number of high profile organizations announcing recently that they are making the move.
The latest of these was BBC Magazines, which late last week announced that after a successful trial of Adobe InDesign on It’s Hot! Magazine in March 2003, it will be ditching Quark and has purchased 350 licenses, transitioning the majority of its 40 publications to InDesign software, including EVE, Olive, Good Food and Good Homes magazines. The company expects to complete the migration of all its titles by October 2004.
Quark’s UK marketing director Gavin Drake, however said that, There is no question that a small number of customers have or are switching to InDesign for various reasons and we wish them every success in this. However you have to put this in context, which is that this represents a very small percentage of the UK market and is certainly not a trend.
Some analysts have noted that Adobe’s InDesign may have a number of advantages over QuarkXPress, with XPress not yet supporting the likes of transparency and certain types of feathering, and also being claimed to have less tight integration with Adobe Acrobat, which is a key tool in the average designer’s toolbox when it comes to sending completed pages to a printer. It is also argued that InDesign is better able to do picture editing directly within the package.
Quark’s Drake, however, said that Quark would soon close any perceived gaps in functionality: Quark is releasing QuarkXPress 6.5 this year. This will be a free upgrade for existing QuarkXPress 6 users and includes several new features including image editing capabilities in QuarkXPress for the first time. This enables the most common image editing features that QuarkXPress users would typically do to be performed directly inside of QuarkXPress. A huge time and productivity saving.
As for integration with Acrobat – which of course comes naturally to Adobe since it is the publisher of both Acrobat and InDesign – Drake said, QuarkXPress 6 has direct PDF output for the first time, no longer requiring users to purchase Adobe Acrobat as well (although you can also output QuarkXPress pages as PDFs via Acrobat if you wish). Some customers have told us that they believe the PDF output from QuarkXPress 6 is even better than that of InDesign so it would be untrue to suggest that the PDF support in InDesign is better.
Various web-based bulletin boards have for some time been rife with user comments about privately-held Quark’s allegedly less-than-accommodating attitude towards its customers. This, too, has changed, according to Quark’s Drake. Firstly we are getting closer to our customers to ensure we are developing tools to make them more productive and creative and secondly we are responding to customer feedback. Since Quark appointed a new CEO at the beginning of this year there have been a huge number of changes, Drake said.
Quark has tripled the number of field staff including a 600% increase in the UK team, and re-launched our QuarkAlliance program to enable output providers, training centers, XTensions developers and other partners to work more closely with us, Drake continued. We are opening our first London office in September. This follows on from new offices in Hamburg, New York and Paris. Quark has increased its support staff and phone lines by 30%, is attending six times as many events as it did previously, working proactively with its channel partners. Quark is changing fundamentally and customers will benefit from this
Meanwhile Julian Adams, publishing systems manager at BBC Worldwide, explained the company’s move to Adobe InDesign by saying that, We adopted Adobe software in response to the needs of the business. Adobe’s software not only enabled us to produce our publications with greater efficiency but the support Adobe offered was also a key factor in our final decision.
Adams added that a key reason for moving to InDesign was because Apple was about to cease support for OS9, and running the existing Quark version 4 software would have meant running on Apple OSX in ‘Classic’ emulation mode. At that time Quark 6 for OSX had not been launched: the latest version available does run on OSX natively, however.
He noted though that, The integration between InDesign and [Adobe] Photoshop and Illustrator, and some other InDesign features such as transparency, feathering and so on means our designers can do so much more in InDesign without having to switch to another package and back to Quark XPress.
Quark’s Drake insisted that Quark has by no means lost the desktop publishing wars, saying that, QuarkXPress 6 has been the fastest selling upgrade ever for Quark and QuarkXPress sales of both upgrades and full products are extremely strong and increasing.
Both companies, meanwhile, are a little behind the times in terms of platform support, since neither yet has a version of their desktop publishing software that runs on Linux. Both run on Mac and Windows, while Quark XPress also runs on Sun Solaris.
An Adobe spokesperson said there were no imminent plans to launch a Unix or Linux version, but that the company would consider doing so if customers requested such a version. The majority of the desktop publishing world has historically used the Macintosh platform. Empirical evidence suggests, meanwhile, that Adobe is seeing greater take-up of its InDesign software in the magazine publishing world than the newspaper publishing sphere.