Quark Reveals Features of Mac OS X-Native XPress

The company still hasn't announced a ship date for the revised page-layout program, the last major Mac OS X holdout among key Mac applications.

Quark Inc. on Thursday took another step toward Mac OS X compatibility for its flagship page-layout application when it unveiled some key features of QuarkXPress 6.

However, the Denver company declined to specify a ship date or pricing for the upgrade, the last major Mac application to make the move to native compatibility with Apple Computer Inc.s Unix-based OS.

Quark said Version 6, which will run on Mac OS X 10.2 or later as well as Windows 2000 and XP, will feature interface enhancements, better table handling, and new output and multipurpose publishing options.

According to the company, XPress 6 will introduce a new feature called "layout spaces" that will let users share attributes and information in complex projects that include multiple versions of print and Web pages in varying sizes and orientations. Layout spaces will let users share style sheets, colors, hyphenation settings and lists among layouts.

A new Synchronized Text feature will let users share content among layouts; changing synchronized text in one area will update corresponding text elsewhere in the project.

When it comes to creating tables, XPress 6 will let users control content flow by linking text cells within a table, linking tables to each other, or linking a table cell to a text box. Tables can contain transparent cells and gridlines, and users can define tabbing order. Users will be able to convert tables into grouped boxes that can be moved, rotated and reshaped independently.

XPress 6 will build on the Web-page conversion features introduced in Version 5 of the package. Qyark said the upgrade will include enhancements to rollovers, menus, hyperlinks, font-family management, and preview and export controls. It will also allow users to create XML documents without first having to create an XML document type definition (DTD); new color coding makes it easier for users to identify tagged content. The upgrade will tap the Xerces engine to parse XML, Quark said.

On the print-output front, Quark has taken steps to improve XPress ability to take advantages of features of Adobe Systems Inc.s PostScript and Portable Document Format technologies. XPress 6 users will be able to output PDF files directly from QuarkXPress. Support for the DeviceN color space will let users output blends, multi-inks and colorized TIFF images as composite color while retaining spot-color information for in-RIP separations. Publishers can now retain spot colors in PDF files, for example.

A new As Is color space feature lets print and pre-press staff control how color space conversions occur, allowing them to optimize output on PostScript composite color devices. A Layers tab in the Print dialog box will make it easier to output specific layers as well as track ink use.

Other enhancements will include support for multiple-undo and -redo support, more undoable actions, and full-resolution previews of on-screen images.

Although current, Mac OS 9-compatible versions of XPress run within Mac OS Xs Classic environment, Apples core market of publishing professionals has cited the lack of a Mac OS X-native version of XPress as a key factor slowing their migration from Mac OS 9.

Although Apple in September announced that new Macs wouldnt boot into Mac OS 9 after January 2003, the company later modified that deadline for a few models until June—apparently largely at the behest of major XPress clients torn between buying new hardware and waiting for a Mac OS X-native XPress release.

Meanwhile, the slow pace of XPress development has provoked increasingly sharp criticism from Apple. The Cupertino, Calif., Mac maker in September announced a joint promotion with Adobe to promote XPress archrival InDesign. At Januarys Macworld Expo/San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took an oblique dig at Quark from the keynote stage: "The Mac OS 9 transition is basically over," Jobs told attendees. "Weve got a few laggard apps—we all know which one were talking about," he said, provoking laughter from the crowd.

In a conference call the following week to discuss Apples $8 million first quarter loss, Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson specifically cited the lack of a Mac OS X-native XPress as a top reason for lackluster Mac sales.

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