Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Using Quark 10.02

Quark used to be the premier desktop publishing software in the world. Since it lagged behind Adobe after Apple changed operating systems - going from 9.0X to the new Unix based 10.X, not once but twice with software running on OS 9.X, they gave Adobe with their creaky PageMaker the opportunity to come back with their "new" InDesign, actually a glorified PageMaker. The difference? It could run on Mac's OSX software.

The first few iterations were terrible. But it meant to designers that they didn't have to have two operating systems running on their machines tying up memory. Finally, when Quark launched QuarkXpress 6.0 it was already too late. Because desktop publishing used PhotoShop and Illustrator anyway, and they were already Adobe products, the integration of InDesign was just too good to pass up. In just two years Quark was toppled.

They haven't gone out of business and have continued to upgrade. First 7, then 8, then 9 and now finally 10.02. I stayed with 7.5 until I upgraded to Apple OS 10.8. It stripped all of my older, non Intel based software. I lost two thirds of my software in that move and had to spent a thousand dollars to replace it. Adobe, MicroSoft, even Apple products. I was furious. Quarks solution was to have me buy version 8 at the time for $349. I dug in my heals and bought an Adobe package that included PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign and others I would never use.

My year with InDesign was not happy. I hated it. Then I inherited a project that someone designed for a client and I literally pulled out what little hair I had left. I got it done but not by what you would call good desktop publishing standards. It was ugly anyway and I proposed a total redo. I decided there and then it would be done on Quark.

I broke down and bought Quark 9.5. Installing it was hell. It took over two weeks to get it up and running. The customer service rep for Quark, bless her heart, tracked me all over Southern California trying to help me. Finally, I was home, sitting in front of my computer when she called and after an hour or so isolated the problem and got it installed on my iMac. It loaded on my laptop in a heartbeat. The difference though is I would rather work on a 24" screen rather than one 15".

I am sure it can do lots of wonderful things but I didn't have time to watch a bunch of videos to find out what I needed to learn. They don't even have a PDF version yet! Luckily the commands I knew still worked but unless I stumbled on it, I didn't learn one new thing. You see, no one is writing third party books about Quark anymore. That is how far they have fallen from grace.

When I upgraded to Apples's 10.9 Mavericks, the same thing happened to Quark. It wouldn't work. Everything else did, just not Quark. I entered the seven circles of hell again and after multiple (and still) calls, I got 10 installed. Its hell. Each and every time I load it, weird things happen and just as I am about to reach for the phone, it finally loads.

When I say loads, do you remember Windows 3.1? You could run to Starbucks, mail a letter and fill up the gas tank in the time it took to load. Now granted, I don't have the newest iMac, its only a dual core Intel chip, but I can measure the minutes it takes for Quark to load... 4 - 5 minutes on average. On a quad core laptop it takes about the same time. So its not the processor. Its Quark.

As a visual learner, I loved the QuickStart books because not only did they explain steps of using a software program with words, they had screen shots for us visual learners. I loved those books and buy them when they are available. There hasn't been one for Quark since maybe version 7. In 10 they changed the screen around yet again and oftentimes don't even know where anything is. Commands have been changed as well. In correcting a project yesterday, I suddenly had a pale blue box that covered the entire top of the screen not allowing me to look for commands. I finally had to shut the program down, re-launch (got in a short nap) and continued on.

As a computer user, older but certainly experienced, I don't understand the need to constantly replace things. If it works, leave it alone. I know, I know. Money turns the crank. If you beef it up you can change for it all over again. People have this need for the latest thing. I have learned that isn't always the best tact to take. I regret going to Apple's 10.9 OS, I literally hate iOS 7 for my beloved iPhone. Things worked well. If new things needed to be done, that is fine, but why mess with how it worked before? Anything new can be an option AND clearly explained.

Adobe is trying to get everyone to go into the cloud with their software. You pay a monthly fee and never own the software again. Their argument is, Microsoft started it, that you will ALWAYS have the latest and greatest versions. What if you don't want that? Now, and I only have Office 2011, every single time I load Office there is an update. Every time! That 5 minute letter is now 15 IF you are lucky and the update is small. Besides I hated 2011. Everything I knew about Office changed and I poke around all the time looking for things. If I had my way, Word 5.1 would reign supreme.

But back to Quark. I really don't know what to do. The documentation is at best minimal, there are no third party books to explain things and so, I guess I will learn to hate it just like InDesign. I hope someone from Quark is listening. Get your documentation done, give us clear instructions, not silly videos, on how to use your product. Sit down with your users, give them a task and watch what they do. Software people literally are so close to the trees they can't see the forest!

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