One of the most valuable “hidden weapons” for publishers in the past 18 years has been Em Software’s Xdata, and now it joins the ever-growing stable of XTensions that have been updated for QuarkXPress 8.
Xdata lets you automate the building of pages by using placeholders and then importing data from an external file — perhaps from a database. The result can be as simple as an old-fashioned mail-merge (name, address, etc.) or it can involve numerous if/then relationships between sales history, variable images, prices, and other calculations.
You create a QuarkXPress “template” that defines how you want the information to look, then Xdata imports and automatically formats data you’ve exported from a database or spreadsheet. In addition, Xdata can import specific pictures that are cited in the template and the data file. It can manipulate text from inside individual data fields and create “directory-style” headers and footers on each page or spread.
Xdata is also fantastic for creating lengthy documents containing lots of similar items, such as:
- financial and legal reports
- conference guides
- real estate guides
- trader and swap magazine
- classified advertising
- phone books
- course listings
- TV guides
To see an example of Xdata in use, check out Cyndie Shaffstall’s article in X-Ray magazine.
Version 8.4 adds full QuarkXPress 8 support, tables with auto-fitting, anchored text boxes with auto-fitting, a new format() function for numbers, per-import preference settings, and more. Xdata costs $400 and comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
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.