Back in 1999, I was invited by Quark to see a demonstration of how easily “any user” could apply XML tags to items in a QuarkXPress document, and then export it to XML format. The idea was that this structured content could then be arranged and formatted in an unlimited number of other ways, automatically.
It was an intriguing proposition, and an impressive demonstration. I have to admit that my brain doesn’t seem to absorb certain kinds of structured thinking — CSS is still baffling to me, for example. So I wasn’t too surprised when “avenue.quark” seemed beyond my abilities. I assumed that other people with different skill sets would know what to do with it.
It turns out that some did, and some didn’t. And that created an opportunity for third parties to create XML solutions for QuarkXPress. Among the most successful is a company named In.vision Research Corporation, whose assets today Quark announced they have acquired.
In.vision has been quite successful with their Quark-to-XML solutions, which span a range of products from input to output. For example, they have an add-on for Microsoft Word (Xpress Author for Word) that lets Word users apply tags to content — much like style sheets — that are understood by Quark’s products. Quark has now renamed this product Quark XML Author for Microsoft Word.
“Quark’s products”? Yep. Many people think of Quark as a one-product company, but they actually have quite a number of products. Earlier this year, they released Quark Dynamic Publishing Solution (DPS), which uses Quark Transformation Engine to convert content from many different sources to XML, and then render it to multiple channels. Now, Quark XML Author for Microsoft Word will allow Word users to create tagged content for either QuarkXPress or Quark DPS — resulting in automated document production.
So that’s the “input” solution. The “output” options are equally intriguing. Here’s a quote from Quark’s press release:
“As part of this acquisition, Quark also gains products that support industry standards such as DITA (widely used for documentation) and SPL (Structured Product Labeling, an initiative of the U.S. FDA), which helps Quark access other markets and applications. In addition, In.vision will enhance Quark’s ability to connect to enterprise content management systems, especially Microsoft SharePoint.”
Okay… so now Quark DPS can automatically generate government-approved product labeling and documentation, and tap into other content management systems. What does this mean for QuarkXPress users?
What This Means For QuarkXPress Users
I think there are two benefits for QuarkXPress users:
- It’s possible that a QuarkXPress user may find herself in the new role of laying out documents from XML-tagged content. The content comes in pre-tagged for text styles and also tagged with information about which text belongs with which pictures.
- A more robust Quark (the company). Similar to how Adobe’s bottom line is bolstered by its sales of Acrobat, PostScript, and PDF Print Engine technologies, Quark’s income may be improved by offering these new XML technologies. And the QuarkXPress development team will benefit from that income.
For More Information
I’m sure there will be other pundits punditing on the value and meaning of this acquisition. The first I’ve seen is this one by Ann Rockley, at CMS Watch. Quark also has an area of their website dedicated to the acquisition: www.quark.com/invision.
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.