IDML import in use: why this is huge

Quark Inc is introducing IDML import as a beta feature in the January free upgrade to QuarkXPress 2017. It doesn’t import .INDD files, and it doesn’t import every feature — table structure comes across but not contents. Footnotes, indexes and other internal references don’t import. Nonetheless, there are three reasons why this is absolutely huge.

First off, what is IDML? Since CS4, InDesign has been able to save its files as InDesign Markup Language, an XML format which can be written and read by external applications, as well as by different versions of InDesign. It is not the same as InDesign’s native .INDD format, which is proprietary. Markzware can convert Quark’s .QXP files to .INDD and .INDD to .QXP, but other software cannot. However, given that there are many different versions of InDesign still in use, templates available from print vendors and template suppliers often come as .IDML rather than .INDD, and the ability of external applications to write them means that formatting a database can be achieved before InDesign is opened, saving time and minimising error.

Reason 1: Templates

Let’s look at a template downloaded from a site called StockInDesign. You could find lots of other templates out on the web, as InDesign has always been promoted as a strongly templated application.

IDML template example

This is a straight import. To do so, go to File—New—Project from IDML. You’ll be asked if you want to continue with the beta. Click yes. There really is no danger to you at all in doing so, it’s just that Quark likes to preserve a high degree of finish with its production features. In all my tests, I’ve never seen this actually go wrong. However, some features in ID will not be imported, as noted at the top. In a very few seconds, the conversion is complete and the document appears.

Now, you may have already used QX2017 or QX2016 to import a PDF file and convert it to native objects, as the basis for a template. You can still do this, but the IDML import does much more. As you can see from the screen shot, all of the guidelines are imported. Master pages with their objects come in as well, and so do stylesheets, although the character styles will be implicit in the paragraph styles (you can easily save them out if you want to). In terms of taking a published template, your job is pretty much done.

Why would you want to do this? It’s fair to say that the world could use a lot less templated documents in general. I groan inwardly whenever I see a PowerPoint presentation done from one of Microsoft’s standard templates without any thought for how it matches an organisation’s brand. Microsoft’s formatted letter templates are ridiculously complicated, and they give an impression of a different kind of company from the one actually sending the letter. When people start mixing different Office templates, the results are just higgledy-piggledy.

But, many print companies now provide templates in IDML format. One of my favourites, Zwartopwit print  in Belgium offers IDML and PDF templates for all of its different formats, complete with the correct number of pages and instructions. For an A4 magazine you might find this a little obvious, but when it comes to unusual sizes and folds, it can save you a lot of work and ensure that you’re not introducing mistakes. IDML templates are much richer than PDF templates, and you can get a lot out of this.

Likewise, although I would want to warn everyone against blindly accepting templates (look at all the identikit WordPress sites out there), the IDML templates you can download from template companies like StockInDesign tend to be more sensible than the Word templates, and it’s also a lot easier to conform them to your brand using QuarkXPress’s features.

Quark’s IDML import is not yet production ready to save all your ID files as IDML, cancel your Adobe subscription and then carry on seamlessly—it needs to import table content, cross references, lists and indexes first—which is why it’s a Beta feature. But it does support pretty much everything a decent template will support. Whether you are trying to get rapidly to a polished result from nothing, quickly mocking up a document for a client, or simply trying to ensure you work to the printer’s exact specifications, the new feature is golden.

Reason 2: Direction

I should say at this point that I don’t work for Quark, and I don’t have confidential access to their roadmap, so what I’m going to say here is an outsider’s observation. The second reason why IDML import is huge is because what it says about Quark Inc’s intentions. When InDesign was first released, it was aggressively promoted with free versions, and the promise was very clearly made: “InDesign can import your QuarkXPress files”. Now, this was never entirely true. InDesign could import up to QuarkXPress 4.1 files, but InDesign 2.0, which was the first production-ready version, came out only a few days before QuarkXPress 5, and InDesign has never been able to import Quark version 5 files or above. This is therefore the first point since 2002 that QuarkXPress or InDesign could read each other’s files. Native import of PDF files, introduced in QuarkXPress 2016, was an enormous step forward, because it meant that Quark was now the first (and still only) DTP application capable of natively editing ‘foreign’ layout outputs reliably. IDML import takes this a massive step forwards.

Reason 3: upgrade versus subscription software

Over the last years, Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative applications have moved from a pay-to-own, pay-to-upgrade (PTOPTU) model to one of continuous upgrades via subscription (CUS). Other software is attempting to go the same way, such as Strata 3d, Type DNA and Ortelius. The upside of PTOPTU is that you own the software, and you only spend money when compelling new features or operating system upgrades persuade you or force you to. The promise of CUS is that you get all of the latest upgrades straight away, for a lower initial capital cost. One of the crucial arguments for CUS is that software houses are increasingly reluctant to introduce free, intermediate upgrades offering new features, so that PTOPTU is no more than CUS under another name.

Now, Quark has been aggressive in fixing bugs and in issuing new releases to make it compatible with operating system changes and upgrades, but this intermediate upgrade with a flagship new feature, albeit in beta, should push users to re-evaluate the benefits of the CUS model.

Subscription software has sometimes lagged when it came to operating system compatibility, famously in the case of Mac OS X High Sierra, which left some CUS users floundering to restore their systems to Sierra in order to work at all. In this sense, the subscription model has not fulfilled its promise.

IDML import as a free, intermediate upgrade, takes us into new territory. Between Word for Mac 2011 and the current 2018 Office 365 subscription version of Word for Mac 2016, there were only six new features, all of them interface related, and four enhanced features. QuarkXPress introduced 16 major new features and 16 enhanced features in its 2016-2017 upgrade alone. Annual upgrading in QuarkXPress already costs less than paying a subscription for its competitor.

If Quark is trying to demonstrate that PTOPTU offers better value for money than CUS, then the inclusion of IDML import as a free intermediate upgrade is a very strong argument in its favour.

 

Martin Turner is the author of Desk Top Publishing with QuarkXPress 2016, Desk Top Publishing with QuarkXPress 2017, and presenter on the video series Desk Top Publishing with QuarkXPress.

Mac users: Oct 2018 some of your applications might not work anymore (but which?)

Last Friday Apple reminded everyone that “the last macOS release to support 32-bit apps without compromise is macOS High Sierra”:

https://developer.apple.com/news/?id=12012017a

What does that mean?

It probably means: When you upgrade to the next version of MacOS, which Apple will most likely release end of September 2018, that some or all of your 32 bit applications will not work correctly. Or will not work at all.

As Apple has not shared more detail than what you can read above, it’s hard to predict how much 32-bit applications will be affected. Currently we just know that they will be affected.

What are your options?

So if you still have 32-bit applications that are crucial for your workflow, you have three options:

  1. Stay on your current version of MacOS:
    As Apple typically provides security patches for the current AND the last two previous version of MacOS, you will be safe using Sierra or High Sierra for 1-2 years from Oct 2018 onwards. Then you need to revisit the other two options:
  2. Virtualize your current MacOS:
    Use a virtualization service to install your current version of MacOS in a virtual machine that you can launch. Three examples are Parallels, VMware Fusion or Virtual Box. Downside of course is the additional overhead and the performance impact.
    And you should not connect the virtual machine to the network/Internet once Apple doesn’t provide security patches for it anymore.
    Virtualization might be the only way though if you are using applications that your clients still use. Or where the application is not further developed and there’s no alternative on the market.
  3. Upgrade your 32-bit application to a newer version being 64-bit or use a different application that’s 64-bit:
    For example, upgrade QuarkXPress 9 to at least QuarkXPress 2015. Or upgrade Photoshop CS5 to at least CS6. Or switch to a different image editing application like Affinity Photo.

You still have until September 2018 to make up your mind. Just don’t wait until the last second.

How to find out which of your applications are still 32-bit?

To find out which applications might be affected, you need to find out which applications are not yet 64-bit. Here’s how to easily find out:

  1. Hold the option key, go to Apple menu and choose the first menu item (now called “System Information…”)
  2. In the sidebar of System Information navigate down to “Software > Applications” and select it.

  3. Wait for a few seconds (time depends on how many applications you have installed)

  4. You will see all applications installed. Click on the column “64 Bit” to sort for “No”

Now you will see ALL applications that are not yet 64-bit as well as – further down – all applications that are already 64-bit.

Which version of QuarkXPress is 64-bit?

QuarkXPress 7, 8, 9 and 10 are not 64-bit.

QuarkXPress 2015, 2016 and 2017 are 64-bit.

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people.

Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software.
Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark’s interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark’s Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.

Largest community college newspaper is designed with QuarkXPress

Campus News, the largest community college newspaper in the world, is designed using the professional desktop publishing software QuarkXPress.

It’s a wonderful program,” publisher Darren Johnson, who also is a college communications faculty member, said. “I teach Adobe InDesign, but prefer QuarkXPress in my professional life. It’s faster, more intuitive and creates a perfect PDF. Campus News wouldn’t have survived for so long without it.

Campus News is an award-winning publication that hits 37 campuses in the Northeast, proving print isn’t dead among younger people.

https://i1.wp.com/cccnews.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/campus-news-layout.jpg

Continue reading here please:

https://cccnews.info/2017/06/20/happy-birthday-quarkxpress-campus-news-offers-its-advanced-design-software-to-students-faculty-and-staff-for-only-99/

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people.

Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software.
Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark’s interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark’s Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.

Are you using a dongle? – Are subscriptions the new dongles?

Back in 1997 QuarkXPress introduced a dongle. A dongle is small piece of hardware that controls the legitimate use of the software. It wasn’t a good idea. Therefore Quark stopped using dongles in 2002.

And legitimate users hated dongles, as didn’t appear to be fair. The main reasons probably were:

  • If your dongle broke or there was any technical issue with the connection, you could not use the software anymore.
  • If you didn’t have the dongle, you were locked out of your work, what you created, what you own. As the software wouldn’t start anymore.
  • If there were technical changes in the environment, e.g. when Macs and PCs changed to USB, you could not use your software anymore.
  • If years later you wanted to access your archive, you probably couldn’t, as there was no way to connect the dongle anymore.
  • If you lost your dongle, years later you could not open your work anymore, as the software vendor didn’t offer new dongles anymore.
  • If you switched machines, you had to take your dongle with you.

 

Nowadays several software vendors praise subscriptions (basically a rental model) as the best model for users.

 

Is there a difference between subscriptions and dongles?

A software subscription seems to do have the following issues:

  • If your connection to the internet brakes or your computer has other issues connecting to the subscription server, you cannot use the software anymore.
  • If you do not have the subscription anymore (e.g. as you switched to a better, different product) and you want to access your work (what you created and own), you cannot open the files.
    You are locked out (sure, you could just renew your subscription)
  • If there are price changes in the future, e.g. double the price for the subscription, you are forced to accept. Even if there are no additional features.
  • If years later you want to access your archive, you need to pay the subscription again to open your work.
  • If the software vendor (offering the subscription) decides to discontinue a product, you are locked out of your work and have to learn a new product.
  • If you switch machines, you have to log on to a new machine. If you logged on too many times, you cannot use your software. And probably your EULA says that if you use the software with several people on the same machine, every user needs to have a license.
  • You need to continue to pay, even if the software that you are using is in maintenance mode (and doesn’t get any additional new features).

 

What’s your take please: Are software subscriptions today’s dongles?

 

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people.

Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software.
Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark’s interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark’s Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.

The Non-Rental Suite for Creative Pro’s

Many people have asked me whether there are high-quality tools available for Creative Pros other than the rental suite of Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

I leave it up to you whether you prefer renting a software suite or whether you like to keep/own your tools (the license that is).

Though for me the model of “software vendor adds features and time savers into software – user decides whether it’s worth the purchase/upgrade” just feels to be more fair than “continue paying vendor as long as you use software and if you stop paying you can’t open your work files anymore.

So here are my personal recommendations for high-quality tools that do not force you to rent:

  • Illustrations:
    Renting: Illustrator
    Perpetual: Affinity Designer, CorelDraw (Win only), Gravit Designer, Sketch (Mac only)
  • Image Editing:
    Renting: Photoshop
    Perpetual: Acorn (Mac only), Affinity Photo, Photoline
  • Motion Graphic:
    Renting: After Effects
    Perpetual: Apple Motion (Mac only), Fusion
  • Music Production:
    Renting: Audition
    Perpetual: Garageband (Mac only), Waveform
  • Page Layout/Design:
    Renting: InDesign
    Perpetual: QuarkXPress
  • PDF Touchup:
    Renting: Acrobat
    Perpetual: pdfToolbox
  • Prototyping:
    Renting: Experience Design
    Perpetual: Sketch (Mac only)
  • RAW Editor:
    Renting: Lightroom
    Perpetual: Capture One, DxO Photolabs, ON1 Photo
  • Video Editing:
    Renting: Premiere
    Perpetual: DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut (Mac only)
  • Web Design/Web Animations:
    Renting: Muse
    Perpetual: Hype (Mac only)
  • Web Editor/Websites:
    Renting: Dreamweaver
    Perpetual: BlueGriffon, Hype (Mac only), PineGrow

And of course this is just a personal preference, there are many others.

Which tools are you recommending and using?

 


Continue reading “The Non-Rental Suite for Creative Pro’s”

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people.

Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software.
Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark’s interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark’s Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.