QuarkXPress 8: Importing Without Boxes

Way back in the 1980s, QuarkXPress began as a box-creation tool. You drew a box, then put another box inside that, then another, and another. Then you imported either text or a picture into each box. (Does anyone remember the Parent/Child Constrain Box concept that the first versions of QuarkXPress required us to follow?)

Well, with QuarkXPress 8, Quark has thrown that concept completely out the window. You can now drag almost any content, from just about anywhere on your computer, directly onto a QuarkXPress page. No existing boxes required. Quark also dramatically improved the way we interact with boxes as well — with smarter tools and smarter behaviors.

For a quick illustrated overview of what I mean, have a look at the story below, courtesy of X-Ray magazine. (This is an excerpt from “QuarkXPress 8: a Suite Response“.)

BOX RELIEF

QuarkXPress — pick any version — is a box-dependent application. Everything you want to add to a page resides in a box. From those tiny little icons in the tool palette, you had to choose the appropriate box that would come to contain your content. In QuarkXPress 6, you no longer had to delete the text box you just dragged out because what you needed was a picture box. You could convert one box type to another box type. In QuarkXPress 6.5, Quark added in the ability to have a box with [gasp!] no content. You could use a box to add a background color and not be bothered by the pesky X running through the empty picture box, or risk random type showing up because you inadvertently added text inside the text box that you used for the background.

As I remember it, the only real change that boxes have seen in the last two decades is the introduction of blue handles to indicate that a box contained shared content or was a composition zone, and in QuarkXPress 7, a bit of polish in the form of finer lines.

QuarkXPress 8 moves us forward decidedly. You no longer have to draw a box at all. Yes, you read correctly: you do not have to draw a box. QuarkXPress 8 will draw it for you (they’re not gone, it’s just that you are no longer required to draw them). While there are three separate tools (the text content tool, the picture content tool, and the box tool), they are interchangeable in that it does not matter what type of box you draw, you may put anything into it.

The process is, or can be, the same:

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1Choose a box tool from the tool palette (rectangle, oval, or starburst).

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 2Click and hold down at the position where you want to establish the starting point.

3Drag in any direction.

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 4If using the box tool, press and hold down the T key for a text box or the R key for a picture box (these are known as modifier keys) and release the mouse button.

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 5Release the modifier key.

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 6Add the appropriate content (type, drag and drop content, RIGHT CLICK + IMPORT from the contextual menu, or choose FILE > IMPORT).

What if you don’t want to draw a box? Easy enough:

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1Choose FILE > IMPORT.

 

— or —

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1CONTROL + CLICK (Mac) > IMPORT (choose text or image content) or ALT + CLICK> IMPORT (Windows) (choose text or image content).

— or —

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1Drag and drop content onto the page (more about this later).

When you select a file to import from the file menu or contextual menu, you will be presented with the appropriate importing options within the dialogue box. While you’re limited to a single file (text or picture) to import at a time, you can import multiple files simultaneously using the new drag-and-drop feature.

EASY CHANGES

What if you have a picture on the page and decide that the box is actually better off with text? It couldn’t be easier:

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1Select the box.

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 2Choose FILE > IMPORT.

 

— or —

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1CONTROL + CLICK (Mac) > IMPORT (choose text or image content) or ALT + CLICK> IMPORT (Windows) (choose text or image content).

— or —

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1Drag and drop content into the box (yes, yes, we’ll get to this soon).

Having said that, you will need to exercise a bit of caution when importing. If you have a text box selected and you import or drag and drop a picture, the text will be replaced by the picture — without warning. Of course, you’re a quick-and-easy undo from getting it back, but it’s momentarily shocking to see your layout undergo such a dramatic change when you’re not expecting it. (In fact, the reduction of scary warning dialogues to only those actions that cannot be reversed with undo was planned.)

That’s a simple enough concept, so let’s step off in a slightly different, but related, direction.

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1Draw a box with the box tool (by default this content is none).

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 2Select the text content tool.

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 3Double click the box.

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 4Begin typing (or paste copied text).

You have just converted a box with none content to a box with text content, without manually converting the box type. The same is true of lines. Draw a line, double click it with the text content tool, and begin typing. This sort of intuitive behavior is partially how Quark was able to reduce the number of tools in the tool palette.

The box behavior described above is true of pictures as well. If you have a box of none content and you import, paste, or drag and drop a picture, the box becomes a picture box.

If the box already has picture or text content, double clicking the box will not change the content. If it’s a picture box with picture content and you double click it with the text content tool, QuarkXPress 8 makes a guess at your intent and assumes that since you have already defined content for the box that you must want to modify that content. Since the content in our example is a picture, you are automatically switched to the picture content tool — ready for picture positioning. Imagine the opposite if you start with a text box and double click it with the picture content tool.

Unlike typing, the import, paste, and drag-and-drop features impose a change on the box type and import the content you have chosen.

BOX DRESSING

Remember the part where I talked about easier access? Take a look at this new option of the measurements palette. Do this:

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1Draw a rectangular box (any content type, with any tool).

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 2Go to the measurements palette.

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 3Click to choose from the CORNER ICON drop-down menu

(shown in figure 28).

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 4Optionally type a corner radius value.

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Figure 28

The corner shape and radius have been added to the measurements palette.

[Sadly, I discovered there’s no ticker here. For me, the radius of my rounded corners is usually a visually chosen setting, so a ticker here would have been just as welcomed.]

BOXING IN YOUR INTENT

Another changed behavior, due to the change in the tool set, is what happens when you select the text content tool to draw a box. If you do this, when you release the mouse, you have a rectangular text box and you can (without changing tools) begin typing and text appears in the box.

To be clear, you are drawing a rectangular text box with the text content tool as opposed to the box tool (the box tool allows you to draw various-shaped boxes without predefined content).

Now, with the text box and the text content tool both selected (and text in that box), when you drag through the text, QuarkXPress does not expect that your intent is to draw another box (even though you drew the first box with this same tool), it expects that you want to select the text and edit it.

The key here is whether or not the text box is active. If it is active, QuarkXPress expects that your intent with the text content tool is to edit the text. If the box is not active, QuarkXPress expects that your intent is to draw another text box. …with me? Okay, maybe not, but give it a couple tries and you’ll start to see what I mean.

DUPLICATION SERVICES

It seems to me that with every new release, QuarkXPress morphs more and more into a one-stop application. First came the Bézier pen tool and QuarkXPress started behaving like a vector-drawing application, then came web layouts, and QuarkXPress became an HTML editor, then Quark Interactive Designer, and QuarkXPress became a multi-media and Flash-creation tool, so could they go from here? I’m glad you asked.

Taking cues from other applications, QuarkXPress 8 has adopted new item behaviors. My favorite? So simple — it’s drag to duplicate. Here’s how:

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1Select an item and keeping the mouse button down, begin dragging.

 

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 2Before releasing the mouse, add OPTION (Mac) or ALT (Windows).

A duplicate item is created without affecting the position of the original.