Monday, April 22, 2013

InDesign 5.5 vs. QuarkXpress 9.5

I made a big mistake. When I upgraded my trusty now four year old iMac to OSX 10.7 I opened the door to losing about two-thirds of all my software. Some still worked, Quark 7.5, my trusty layout program, worked against all odds. However, when the hard drive died, so did Quark. I couldn't believe that it worked before on the old hard drive but not on the new one. I dug in my heels and refused to pony up the $300 to upgrade to QXP 8.

Since I lost all of my Adobe products as well, I decided to get the suite that included InDesign 5.5. I figured, well, it can't be that different and everyone is making the change. Oh, how sorry I was and am.

After battling it for several months (including fits and yelling at my screen) working on a clients price list, I proposed that we simplify the layout. You can imagine how I cringed over that. But, I gave InDesign a try and let me tell you, if InDesign was the only program for desktop publishing, cold type and hot wax guns might still be in every magazine and newspaper office in the world. Like Dreamweaver, another horrible program, things happen in sudden and maddening ways. It mystifies me how a company that has such a wonderful, intuitive photo program could have created this monster.

It wasn't always this way. Quark came out after PageMaker back in the 90's and soon became the de facto standard around the world. PageMaker was soon relegated to inhouse law offices and such while Quark did the heavy duty publishing work. It was everywhere and did amazing things. There were upgrades every now and then and everyone was happy. Well, everyone but Adobe. So they came out with InDesign and the first two releases were awful. Slow, nothing worked right but they kept plugging away.

Then after Apple came out with OSX, Quark stumbled. They were not ready for the new operating system, not once but twice in their own upgrades. We had to wait several years to get a program that ran natively in Apple's OSX, a stable Unix based software operating system. Adobe pounced and was fully ready. While still not all that great it integrated easily with other Adobe products. Slam dunk. Quark never recovered.

Now at 67 it could be said that I am an old fart that doesn't learn new things well. And that may be true but I know that when I create a type or photo box it better remain both a box and stay at the exact same size as it was created. Like Dreamweaver, InDesign suddenly grows and wrestling it back to the correct size is frustrating.

So, I did bite the bullet and ordered Quark 9.5. Installation was a nightmare. After two hours I was in an endless loop. It would say installed and then when opened start the installation process all over again. Frustrated I said I wanted my money back and wrote an email to Quark saying that. However, my tech person, a wonderful and patient women sent an email and asked that I try additional steps. It didn't work either. Then she called me and after several tries we met again online and on the phone and finally, it installed. Oddly, the installation on my laptop took minutes. Not one gulp! It is very a rare event today to find people this dedicated and I will have to applaud Quark for being so persistent and helpful. I have several projects already planned and you can imagine my relief. In the few small things I have already done, it went exactly as I planned.

So, I am again a relatively happy camper. The old commands work but I am finding many new things I don't understand and sadly no one is writing third party books again. I learn visually and so I will miss my QuickStart books for this program. Now, if only Quark would get someone to write a manual and post it online as a PDF. I would be really happy!


  1. I’ve been using Quark Xpress for over 20 years and recently upgrade from 6 to 9 in the hope of being able to design and sell iPad eBooks. I could never understand why Quark lost so much marketshare to Adobe as I always found QE to be very elegant. Granted, there were things I would’ve designed differently in the program, but overall I thought it was a great tool. As I search for tutorials on using QE9 and App Studio to create eBooks, I am just flabbergasted that a great program was allowed to be run into the ground. I can’t even get a simple huperlink to work no matter what I do. The two ‘spokesmen’, Dan Logan and Matthias, drone on and on without explaining things well and so many user questions are never even replied to (“1 of 1”) on the forums. No books seem to exist. Changes that should’ve been made long ago are still not addressed ten (!!!) years later. And on and on.

    WHAT A SHAME!!!!!!!

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  3. From one old fart to another (turning on 64), I find myself in the process of transforming from InDesign to QE, because I'm not happy with Adobe's subscription policy. In the relatively brief period I've been working with QE I've been trying to figure out QE's interface, but I feel I am gradually able to achieve what I want. I create graphic rich educational material and find that QE 2016 is less refined compared to InDesign in some respects, but there are work arounds, even if they cost time. But the spurn against Adobe's approach still has the upper hand.