InDesign chips away at Quark's
by Alan Zisman (c)
First published in Business in
, Issue #656 May 21-27, 2002 High Tech Office column
With its newly updated page design program InDesign
2.0, is trying
to snatch users away from long-time leader Quark XPress (see
last week's column ).
Quark, however, is trying to maintain its market share
with its long-awaited new version 5.0 (about $1,500, or
upgrades from earlier XPress versions).
On paper, the two products have a lot of
similarities. They are sold in Mac and Windows versions, add
long-needed tools for working with tables
and layers and enable users to design for both print publication and
Mac users looking to migrate to OS X will be
unlike Adobe's new product, the new XPress lacks native support for
new operating system. XPress 5 will run under OS X, but more slowly
under the older OS 9. Quark promises the next version will run directly
OS X, whenever that might be released.
Quark's new Web-design tools are more comprehensive
But where InDesign allows users to create a single design and export
print and Web versions, XPress projects must be dedicated to a single
Text and graphics from a print project have to be awkwardly copied and
to a separate Web-focused project.
XPress's type tools are little changed from previous
versions, and have been surpassed by InDesign's new features. XPress's
user interface, too, offers little change, though this will be a relief
to users who have learned on earlier versions. InDesign supports
multiple languages within a
single document. Quark only offers this to purchasers of their much
Quark XPress Passport version.
InDesign also gets the nod for graphics support.
it can work with native Photoshop and Illustrator files, perhaps no
given their common Adobe heritage. Graphics-heavy documents, either
or exported to Acrobat format, produce significantly slimmer file sizes
InDesign as well.
Many owners of previous XPress versions expanded the
capabilities with extra-cost add-in extensions. Some of those features
now built-into the new version, but owners who have invested heavily in
extensions should check whether they will work with the new version.
InDesign offers built-in support for Adobe's popular Acrobat PDF
XPress owners will need to purchase Acrobat (about $400) from Adobe to
The new XPress comes out ahead in several
comparisons. For example,
while both products offer layers, in XPress's implementation, text
wrap around objects on hidden layers, which can mystify and frustrate
users. XPress provides more powerful features for working with
projects. And its Web-design options allow for creation of fancy
such as rollovers and image maps, where different parts of a picture
to different Web pages. (Web pages created with either program will
need fine-tuning in a dedicated Web-page creation application.)
Other points in Quark's favour: Because of its long
the standard publishing application, more users are already skilled at
XPress and professional service bureaus are used to working with that
quirks. While the new version of XPress is inevitably bulkier than its
it is much faster than InDesign on older hardware.
Users with the need for pro-level page design tools
the new InDesign offers more power than the new XPress. It will be
welcomed by owners of new Mac or Windows hardware, adopters of Mac OS
and graphics professionals proficient in using Photoshop or
with which it shares a common interface.
Users of older XPress versions (and there are many
may prefer to make the more modest change to that program's new
or may decide the best choice for now is to stick with what they're