The Quark Question
"My god, the sky is falling," joked Slade Wentworth, imaging manager at the Miami Herald, which boasts a daily circulation of 350,000. He said that the prospect of Macs that do not boot into Mac OS 9 would lead him to suspend a large part of the newspapers regular hardware-upgrade cycle.
The newspapers production workflow, he explained, is based on a number of applications that he termed "9-reliant," from pre-flighting software to ad-management utilities to custom AppleScripts for importing information from databases. In addition, Wentworth said, the paper has to be able to accept copy and art from a range of clients; making a technological leap could lock out business.
"We need to be as outdated as our clients are," Wentworth said.
And then theres Quark. Macs are the standard for production and design at most print publications from daily newspapers to monthly magazines. And a large majority of these publications rely on one application, QuarkXPress from Quark Inc., for layout and other production purposes. For better or worse, the publishing industry depends on the strategies of these two companies, which dont always work to the same purposes.
To date, Denver-based Quark has not produced a version of XPress that is tuned to Mac OS Xs Carbon APIs to run "native" under the new OS.
XPress 5.0, the current version, runs either in Mac OS 9 or in the Classic environment. Even more complicated, most publications also depend on third-party helper utilities—XTensions—that plug into XPress and expand its capabilities, from adding graphics widgets to siphoning in data from outside sources.
Although Wentworth said he has heard reports of a Carbonized XPress 6.0 that might be ready as early as January, hell need even more to switch to Mac OS X. Quark told eWEEK this week that XTensions will also have to be recompiled and reinstalled for compatibility with the new application.
Wentworth said that he cant afford for one piece of the complex chain of software that runs the Heralds production chain to break, as early indications suggest may happen if the newspaper runs Mac OS 9 software within Mac OS Xs Classic environment.
Still, Wentworth said he can understand Apples no-9 move. "It would be a bold statement to drive the agenda for software developers," he said. However, he added, "we have to wait until all the software developers deliver. Until all pieces fall into place, were not making the move."
This reluctance could be costly for Apple. Wentworth said that like most newspapers, the Herald buys new Macs every year, rotating out up to one-third. "We have a capital plan for new Macs in January," he said, "but if they dont boot to Mac OS 9, we wont buy except for a few machines for testing and development."
"It all looks like a race," Wentworth said, referring to the situation with developers. He said that even if QuarkXPress 6.0 is out in January to accompany no-9 Macs, hes still going to have to wait until every XTension and every other piece of software he bases his work upon is ready to go to Mac OS X before he can recommend the Herald, too, makes the jump.
Wentworths position probably typifies the industry, said David Dray, the executive director of the Society for News Design, an organization comprising more than 2,500 members.
"I dont know of any newspapers using Mac OS X because theres no version of QuarkXPress for it," he said, noting that of the 32 papers he recently polled, 28 used that application. In addition, Gray said, its not just Quark; theres a "whole raft of stuff" that remains incompatible with Mac OS X and faces problems when run in Classic rather than native Mac OS 9 mode. He noted that any foot-dragging among publishers would hurt Apple especially, since his statistics showed that Macs are used at 85 percent of publishers.