Quark’s new Quark Labs website has a new free XTension for QuarkXPress 7 that displays a helpful Welcome Screen each time you launch XPress.
It lists your seven most recently modified Projects (clever: 7 — get it?) as well as buttons to create a new Project or Library. It also has live links to movies that explain the new features in version 7, as well as a movie for users who are new to QuarkXPress.
The Resources section of the Welcome Screen links to three things:
- X-Ray Magazine’s website — a fantastic source for hardcore Quark info
- Sources for additional training
- Our website: Planet Quark. Wow, thanks, Quark!
When I clicked on Additional Training, I discovered that it linked to the Training page on Quark’s website, which has a wealth of free training materials from Quark, third-party books and videos, and other training sources. I was curious about the Lynda.com link, so I clicked it and was taken to a new page that lets you watch the movies that Quark includes in the box with QuarkXPress. Those movies were authored and presented by yours truly, which should give everyone another reminder that once you release a video into the wild, it could show up any place at any time.
I think it’s cool that Quark includes links to other resources. Many users don’t realize the extent of the community that supports QuarkXPress.
The Welcome Screen also has a link to a surprisingly valuable PDF booklet of “250 Essential Tips and Tricks” for QuarkXPress, and a link to Quark’s online technical support and user forums.
Many of the features of the Welcome Screen require an Internet connection, so if you aren’t currently connected to the Web, the Welcome Screen changes to this:
The Flash animations go away, and and the training resources are limited to what’s on your hard drive.
Of course, you can use the Project-related features at any time. However, in my brief testing, the Welcome Screen listed only the most recent projects that I worked on before launching XPress. Those from my current session weren’t there. I guess that makes sense, because the Welcome Screen appears only when you first launch QuarkXPress. However, the Welcome Screen can be invoked at any time by choosing Window> Welcome Screen, so I think it should refresh those recent projects whenever you open the Welcome Screen. The way it works now is just plain wrong if you open the Welcome Screen again during a session.
The same is true for the Resources items: if there’s no Internet connection when you first launch QuarkXPress, the Welcome Screen won’t look for one again until you re-launch XPress.
As Quark points out, Quark Labs is where they put their first-out-of-the-gate releases of new technologies, so these tools are bound to have limitations. For example, this version of Welcome Screen works only on English-language versions of QuarkXPress 7 for Macintosh. If you use a different version of QuarkXPress and want a Welcome Screen, be sure to politely tell Quark — there’s a link to a Quark Labs forum in the upper right of the main Quark Labs page. That’s how they’ll know whether to continue to develop any of these tools.
One final thing: the Welcome Screen has space for two Flash-based animations, which are currently populated with an announcement of new Quark releases and a link to a survey about printing. I’m guessing that Quark uses its own Quark Interactive Designer XTension for QuarkXPress to create those Flash animations. It’s fun to see examples of how QID can be used in the real world.
Jay Nelson is the editorial director of PlanetQuark.com, and the editor and publisher of Design Tools Monthly. He’s also the author of the QuarkXPress 8 and QuarkXPress 7 training titles at Lynda.com, as well as the training videos Quark includes in the box with QuarkXPress 7 . In addition, Jay writes regularly for Macworld and Photoshop User magazines and speaks at industry events.