My Christmas Wish List for QuarkXPress 8

Just to be fair, there are many things I don’t like about a lot of programs — things that I just wish worked differently. Programs will always be a work in progress. Take Illustrator for example. How come every time I use the shortcuts for zoom it always zooms into the center of the document, regardless of what I have selected. That is just annoying.

I can only dream of a day where the program can think faster than me. 10 years ago that was a dream, but today it seems like a very near reality. Memory getting ever cheaper, faster and more capable. Hard drives are dirt cheap. That’s why I look forward to the software engineers catching up to the hardware’s capability.

Before I paint the picture of my dream of QuarkXPress 8, I want to first thank Quark for all the great features that QuarkXPress has, that InDesign does not. And an even bigger Thanks for all the great leaps Quark made in version 7.

  • Thumbnail Drag – This is the ability to look at two separate documents in thumbnail view and just drag as many pages as you like, to wherever you want in another document. And the elements appear exactly as they did in the previous document, as long as they are the same sized layout. Even in InDesign CS3, you can’t visually drag pages from one document to another.
  • Layouts within a Project – This one was ingenious! The ability to have different document sizes within one file. So far no other program has been able to match this one, other than the now-deceased FreeHand.
  • Job Jackets – Finally! At long last, a company like QuarkXPress has blazed the way for designers to take some kind of responsibility for what happens when documents are sent to the printer. It has given graphic departments a powerful tool to control what is being used in their documents.
  • Orthogonal Line Tool – I’m huge fan of this tool. Imagine a world where you no longer have to hold Shift to get a 45- or 90-degree line. Incredible! I leave my line tool set to this all the time.
  • Shared Content -There are so many levels of greatness to this one. From sharing a part of your workspace so someone else can work on part of your layout, to putting a live QuarkXPress document into another QuarkXPress document and skipping the task of making PDFs or EPSes, sharing both text and images, and making changes to those objects universally by changing one instance… In a lot of important ways this is more useful and more powerful than InDesign’s Object Styles.
  • Tool Presets – Set a tool’s preferences, and the tool will always work like that. Tools have a tendency to change in InDesign.
  • Borders – Frames (borders) are so easy in Quark! Command + B (Windows: Control + B) type a number, press Return (Windows: Enter) and you’re done. In InDesign, you have to enter a value into the Stroke panel, pray that you have a color, or then bring the stroke to the foreground, pick a color in the swatches panel, hop three times on one leg (just kidding). Never mind the fact that InDesign always aligns a stroke to the center. That means as you change the thickness of a border in InDesign, if you aligned the box to a guide, you have now broken past the guide and have an extra step of aligning the stroke to the inside – and then possibly having to rearrange everything inside the frame. Sorry if you can’t follow that… that’s just how complex InDesign is.
  • Measurements Palette – It is so nice to make just about any of the changes you would otherwise find in either the Format or Modify dialog box – directly in the Measurements palette. I’ve almost forgotten some of the shortcuts to get to some of these items, because I find myself using the Measurements palette more and more.
  • Drop Down Menus – Drop down menus off palettes in QuarkXPress 7 let you do things like make a paragraph style from your selected text, instead of going to Edit> Style Sheets. Or insert new pages from the Pages palette. This is a great enhancement from previous versions of QuarkXPress. Just click on the double-arrow at the top right of any palette.
  • Glyphs Palette/OpenType – In QuarkXPress 7 you have full use of OpenType Fonts and a handy Glyphs palette so you can view every character in a font, and save your favorites for easy reuse.
  • Transparencies – From drop shadows, to placing a transparent colored box over an image, these great features were added in QuarkXPress 7. I am so happy I no longer need to use Shadowcaster. :-)
  • Full Resolution Preview – I can’t tell you how many editors looked over my shoulder while I was laying out pages in Quark 4 and remarked, “Those images look awful” – then I had to explain that these were low res previews. It was so nice to see Quark fix this issue in QuarkXPress 6, so that you could then turn on a Full Resolution Preview and truly see how the image would print.
  • Import and Edit Photoshop Files – Full-res previews of EPS, TIF, JPG, and even Photoshop files. Not only that: you can make major changes to those Photoshop files directly in the context of the page layout. This is unmatched by any other app.
  • Cutting & Pasting Images – Cutting and pasting an image from one existing picture box to another existing picture box is so easy in Quark. In InDesign this simple task requires at least 3 more steps.
  • Master Page Items – Thanks for not automatically locking items on Master pages. That’s an annoying default in InDesign.
  • Klingon Jabberwocky – I always jabber in Klingon. Why wouldn’t I? Anyone can Lorem Ipsum. One of the best little features in Quark. Just go to Preferences> Jabberwocky to change it from Latin to Klingon. Or English. Then change Prose to Verse. There’s nothing as funny as seeing Klingon in verse.
  • Measurements Palette – Shows image percentage all the time. No need for the Direct Selection tool like InDesign. For even more info, use Quark’s free XPert ImageInfo XTension (Window> XPert ImageInfo). Its window shows effective resolution after scaling, takes you directly to the image file on your hard drive, and much more.
  • Images – Working with images in InDesign is clunky. The whole Section Tool/Direct Selection tool is counter-productive. XPress has it right.
  • Text Controls – Most people don’t know it, but Quark copied the text formatting tools from Microsoft Word. (Same keyboard shortcuts, same names, same everything.) That way, even a Word user can format text in QuarkXPress. Try throwing a Word user into InDesign!
  • Customer Service – I never imagined myself saying this, but Quark’s customer service is awesome! They are friendly and courteous, I can understand them, and they always stay on the line until the problem is fixed.

Now for my wish list…

Dear Santa,

Please make sure the programmers at Quark print out this list and hang it in their office.

  • Option Drag – You should be able to hold down the Option key (Windows: Alt) and make a copy of anything in Quark. Badia has a free XTension for this, but it should just be built right in.
  • Bullets and Numbering – It’s about time Quark had this feature.
  • Item Content Tool Toggle – Double click the Item tool and it becomes the Content tool. And vice-versa.
  • Pen Tool – Shortcuts, shortcuts, shortcuts! Quark needs to add one feature to make its already superior pen tool to into a workhorse: you should be able to hold down the Option Key (windows: Alt key) to adjust one side of a control handle, so that you don’t have to go to a menu.
  • Fake Bold and Italic – And also Shadow and Outline. Get rid of them. They have no business being in an application of your stature. Leave that to Word. Just show the main font name and have another box under it that shows all the styles it contains.
  • Select all Unused Colors – Yes, your free XPert Tools has XPert FindChange, but it needs to be built into the application.
  • Zoom – Command + and – (Windows: Control + and -) for zooming in and out should work while you’re in a text box, not just at all other times.
  • Object Styles – To expand what I said above, just build the XPert Tools right into QuarkXPress 8. But enhance the ItemStyles feature by allowing paragraph styles to also be included. Or, better yet, in the Shared Content palette, allow another setting for both images and type that synchronizes content attributes only.
  • Apply Next Styles – Yes, I can make Next Styles, but I should also be able to apply them to selected text.
  • Eyedropper Tool – A tool that can sample colors, and can also copy and paste text attributes.
  • Quark Layouts in Layouts – You should be able to just import a Quark document into another Quark document and then the Collaboration Setup window should just pop up.
  • Composition Zones – There needs to be a way to bring a composition zone back into the page and break the link, not just break the link and have it appear as a separate Layout in the Project.
  • Table Styles – People use tables; let them save that table as a style so they can apply those attributes to the next table they import.
  • Document Presets – Your free XTension XPert PageSets lets me save a new document preset directly in the New Layout dialog box. Build it into the program.
  • Library – Library items should remember x y values. That way when you drag in a Library item it will always appear in the same spot is was in when you dragged it in. This way, instead of applying master pages for different layout setups, you could save different layouts in a library.
  • Nested Styles – The ability to nest Character styles inside of Paragraph styles.
  • Paths from Illustrator – Copy and paste from Illustrator and keep simple paths, or import an EPS that is still editable.
  • Map Word Styles – There should be more control in importing a Microsoft Word document. You should be able to map the Word styles to your Quark styles you want, regardless if they are named the same.
  • Clear Guides – Add clear guides right under guides in the menu.
  • Place Multiple Files – Pick more than one file and drop it into any existing frame.
  • Keyboard Shortcut List – Bring back the keyboard shortcut thing you can put above the keyboard and ship it with Quark 8.
  • Hidden Quark Alien – Expand the Quark alien animation. How about on the 6th time a bigger badder alien comes out and eats the other alien?
  • Vertically Justify Text – Let vertical justification on a text box work as expected, regardless of whether an item above it has a runaround assigned to it. And you’ll be one up on InDesign!
  • Fill the Frame – Add one more box-fitting option for pictures: Fill the box with the image and don’t stretch it – just let some hang out on the bottom or the right side.
  • Linking Text Boxes – Let me link text boxes that already have text in them.
  • Hanging Indent – Add a checkbox to the Tabs dialog box for making a hanging indent.
  • Build a Font – I’m really stretching on this one… Put a font builder right into Quark! I’m dreaming – but wouldn’t that be cool? There’s already a Kerning pair editor, so you’re part way there already.

Twas the night before the release of Quark 8…

And all the Graphic Artists were laying in bed with visions of a better pen tool dancing in their heads…