The Faces of Quark: Joshua Duhl on Dynamic Publishing

It’s no secret that Quark in recent years has been expanding dramatically into the world of enterprise publishing. (Boy, I dislike that word: “enterprise”. The only place I want to hear Enterprise is in a Star Trek franchise. Come to think of it, I don’t like “franchise” either. The creative part of my brain attaches both words to Big Business and brings up images of white men chasing immediate profits. I digress, but I’ll get back to this in a minute.)

So why is Quark tackling enterprise publishing when other solutions already exist? That’s the question I put to Joshua Duhl, Quark’s Director of Enterprise Product Marketing. Oddly enough, his answer got me thinking about Apple. 

If Apple has a success model, it’s that they identify a market that’s being woefully underserved by clumsy and complicated products. Then they create a smarter and more elegant solution for that market (witness the success of the iPod, iPhone, iTunes, Mac OS X, etc.). 

Quark appears to be doing the same thing with enterprise publishing. Their strongest user base suffers under an unnecessarily complex and support-heavy mish-mash of products cobbled together to facilitate the relatively straightforward task of storing assets and publishing them to various media. Kinda like what Apple saw with digital music a few years back.

But Quark’s focus is on creating software that make it easy to publish pictures, text, layouts, and stories in newspapers, magazines, websites, Flash presentations, catalogs, directories, guide books, brochures, sell sheets, advertisements, (shall I go on?) — in multiple languages. So what if they automated some of the process and called it “Dynamic”? That’s right, Dynamic Enterprise Publishing. And hey — now that this label has three words, it can be an acronym: DEP. Ah, that’s better: DEP fits in alongside CMS, DAM and XML, which is much more comfortable for people who love acronyms. I am not one of those people.

I’m making light of all of this because many creative people I know hate acronyms and run screaming from terms such as Enterprise. But here’s the deal: Enterprise Publishing becomes really sexy when you add the word Dynamic to it. Seriously! As a designer, wouldn’t it be great if you could be assured that:

  • The corporate image and branding that you worked so hard to create will be uniformly applied everywhere the company exists in visual form?
  • The graphics and clever slogans developed to work seamlessly within one campaign will be used as intended, even within other, unforeseen campaigns?
  • When you change a graphic, slogan, caption, name, location, or any other vital bit of information, that change ripples through all campaigns, everywhere, instantly?
  • Your team was freed to engage in more creative projects, instead of babysitting and correcting projects mangled by those who just don’t “get it”?

Do I have your attention yet? I hope so, because that would mean that maybe I’ve done half as good a job introducing Quark’s Dynamic Enterprise Publishing direction as Joshua Duhl did in explaining to me. Joshua is Quark’s Director of Enterprise Product Marketing. In a recent interview, I asked Joshua about why he came to Quark, where he came from, and what direction Quark is taking with Dynamic Publishing.

Before joining Quark earlier this year, Joshua spent more than 20 years in the industry, with 10 of them as an analyst for International Data Corp. (IDC). While there, he wrote several seminal reports on market segments, including the first market analysis of Dynamic Enterprise Publishing. For further details, you can read Quark’s biography for Joshua below.

It’s clear that Joshua is an expert in the dynamic publishing market. As a result of his experience, he’s come up with a simple rule of thumb when evaluating enterprise publishing solutions:

  • Does it solve the problem?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • Is it scalable?

He’s studied the main players for many years: Arbortext, Adobe, Quark, StreamServe, eXstream, and other XML authoring software packages. I think it says something important about Quark’s vision that when Joshua met with Ray Schiavone, Quark’s CEO, he came away excited enough to spearhead Quark’s direction in this area. Joshua said the meeting convinced him that only Quark has products that fulfill his three requirements.

The Quark Publishing System (QPS), with QuarkXPress as its user interface, fits the bill. Based on open standards (heck – it’s written in Java!), QPS can work within existing publishing workflows, taking advantage of existing content management systems (CMS) and digital asset management (DAM) systems. Its scalability extends from QuarkXPress at the desktop to small workgroups and on up to large worldwide enterprise uses. 

What is Dynamic Publishing?

Dynamic Publishing can mean a range of things, depending on its use. Quark focuses on four key ideas:

  • Content first: Focus on authoring the content first, independent of the context, formatting or media in which it will ultimately appear.  Today most content is written for a specific media (e.g., Print, Web, etc.) often with the formatting included. This makes it difficult or impossible to repurpose without significant additional manual work.
  • A single source of content: one large database of smart text components, graphic elements, and other files related to projects. Uniquely, this repository contains your active projects as well as your archived projects and elements.
  • Multiple output channels: only Quark’s solution guarantees consistency in branding and messaging across all publications, media and languages. It also allows simultaneous publishing to multiple media – for example, newspapers may publish to the Web first and then to the print edition; or marketing departments that need both printed and PDF brochures, and also need the same content on their website.
  • Automation: generates documents with minimal human interaction, customized for different audiences, markets or media. This is now a common need when disseminating information, in one or multiple languages.

How And Why It’s Useful For Designers

Imagine being able to create designs that can be quickly or automatically populated with appropriate information for a specific audience or media or geography – designs that maintain brand consistency while allowing contextual variation.

Imagine being able to immediately find the current version of any text, picture, caption, or combination (“story”), and instantly pull it into a project. Not just in QuarkXPress, but in other applications as well.

Then imagine that later, “downstream” users such as marketing departments could reuse the pieces of your projects in their own projects. And they always grab the current version. (!)

What Makes Quark’s Solution Successful

According to Joshua, designers, publishers and corporate communications people have similar needs, often within the same company. Earlier in this story, I mentioned designers and publishers, but corporate users have different challenges:

  • Delivering consistent internal communications to workers
  • Communicating with customers, outside dealers and partners
  • Localization of content, either regionally or internationally
  • While appearance is certainly important, the sheer volume of information flow creates a different kind of problem for tracking and consistency
  • Scalability is key because of potential growth factors
  • In regulated industries, product labeling and product statements need to be universally controlled and tracked

He points out that from his meetings with publishers and corporations worldwide, Quark’s solution is being chosen over other products for several reasons:

  • Quark has a vision that is clearly understood because it aligns with the needs of companies.
  • Quark’s Dynamic Publishing Solution (Quark DPS) engages at a higher level in the organization – a strategic level that encompasses broader aspects of the business.
  • Quark’s solution can be easily integrated into existing solutions such as Microsoft Sharepoint – far more easily than competing solutions.
  • Quark’s solution can output to a wide variety of formats, not just Adobe’s formats or Microsoft’s formats. For example, Quark can output to Flash and SilverLight, PDF, Microsoft Word, XML, HTML, DITA (widely used for documentation), PRISM, NewsML and SPL (Structured Product Labeling, an initiative of the U.S. FDA).
  • In contrast, Adobe’s solution focuses only on publishing: newspaper, books and magazines.
  • Content can be authored in Microsoft Word. Earlier this year, Quark acquired a company named Research Corporation so that users can author XML in Microsoft Word for immediate use in Quark Publishing System. According to Joshua, this produces completely structured XML, not just the formatted text that Word 2007/2008 is capable of exporting. In essence, it provides XML authoring for average users, in an add-on for Word named Xpress Author. (Note to Quark: since you’re all about brand consistency, why not uppercase the P and make it XPress Author?)

Surprises For The Future

Given the flexibility and openness of Quark’s software, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ventured into even greater territory with it — vastly greater territory. They’ve already embraced Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, PDF, Microsoft SilverLight, Word, and XML authoring… watch for some news next week that will put this story into a very different perspective. ;-)

Joshua Duhl, Director of Enterprise Product Marketing

Joshua Duhl, Director of Product Management
Joshua Duhl, Director of Enterprise Product Marketing

Joining Quark in early 2008, Joshua Duhl guides the product direction and marketing of Quark’s enterprise products. Duhl comes to Quark with over 20 years of marketing, product management, market analysis, software engineering, and consulting experience. He was most recently Vice President of Product Management and Strategy at ClearStory Systems, a digital asset management (DAM) software vendor, where he led the company’s product strategy, roadmap and rollout. Duhl was Director of Research for IDC’s Content Management and Rich Media software service, covering the content management, DAM, authoring software, dynamic publishing and digital rights management markets. He was selected by IDC’s clients as one of three 2003 Global Research Advisory Council Analysts of the Year. Prior to 2003, Duhl ran Stillpoint Consulting, an independent consultantcy providing strategic marketing, product planning and positioning guidance to a variety of software companies. He holds a bachelors degree in Computer Science from Haverford College