Quark 5 Gets Thumbs Down from AAN Designers

InDesign "spanks its little bottom"

To upgrade or not upgrade? Whether Quark 5 ’tis nobler than InDesign? Those are the questions posed by Carlton Swift, graphic designer of the Charleston City Paper, on AAN’s Design and Production listserv.

What followed was a look into the minds and the toolboxes of the artists who give alt-weeklies their cutting edge.

Swift writes, “Hi folks. Is anyone running OS X? Or Quark 5? InDesign? What are your experiences with any of these programs? Is anyone planning to upgrade to any of these programs?

“My boss [City Paper Ad Director Blair Barna] is tossing around the idea of upgrading to Quark 5. I’m tossing around the idea of saving that money and waiting to see if InDesign catches on over the next year. Right now, I’m a little concerned about the lack of new features in Quark 5 as well as the lack of OS X support. (I have to agree with [Barna] on his earlier comment. ‘Never be the first to switch and never be the last to switch.’)”

Mike Spain, advertising art director, Arkansas Times, replies, “We’re not planning an upgrade to Quark 5. As you said, it is the lack of new features. No plans for OS X — it would require too many software upgrades. I’m using InDesign 1.5 and 2 on several projects. I use both Quark and InDesign daily, and — to put it bluntly — InDesign just spanks Quark’s little bottom. I’d hold out for InDesign, Carlton.”

Susanne Teichmann, art director, Monterey County Coast Weekly, says, “Carlton, I understand that the upgrades in Quark 5 mostly revolve around Web integration. If this is not relevant to the production of your paper, I don’t see a need to upgrade. Instead, spend your money on a high-end digital camera or new fonts or a new graphics program (I would rather buy Illustrator for us, because it offers a true alternative to Quark). In making your decision, focus on your objectives: Quark 5 will not make your paper look better or facilitate the workflow, and isn’t that what counts?”

Jonathan Marcus, production manager, San Antonio Current, says, “I am running OS X on my production machine, with Distiller and Quark in Classic, and Acrobat and Photoshop in X. I have so far been very pleased, though we need to get font management software that’s compatible with OS X (ATM is up and running in Classic). Other than that, the integration is very smooth, and the display quality of X is invaluable for image prep and PDF preflighting.

“Re: Quark vs. InDesign — We are working on the switch to InDesign. It will involve a little pain of learning, but the functionality is so much improved over Quark — native Photoshop files, easy PDFing, color management, hi-fi previews, multiple undos, killer typography, etc. — that it’s a no-brainer. But I agree with Susanne that there might be better ways to spend your money right now.”

Eric Almendral, art director, New Times Los Angeles, says, “It still seems a little early for most production departments to make the jump to OS X. Though I use it at home, there are still too many compatability and software issues to make it feasible. Aside from having to upgrade to native software to get the most out of it, there are still numerous problems with drivers for scanners, CD-ROMs, printers and so on. I frequently have to make the jump back to OS 9 (not Classic mode). If you’ve got the budget for a software upgrade just burning a hole in your pocket, think of moving up to Photoshop 7. The $150 upgrade will pay for itself in a matter of weeks.”

Ellen Meany, creative director, Isthmus, says, “This is great info. I am working on my budget requests right now for a few new tools in my department. Two questions: What makes Photoshop 7 so much better than 6, and how about Illustrator 10 vs 9? Oh, another thing, we are looking at an HP scanner — the Scanjet 7490c — any thoughts or recommendations?”

Marcus responds, “Upgrading from Photoshop 6 to 7 is not as important as getting out of 5.5. One might get a used license for 6 cheap and be very happy. In 7 they’ve improved the painting and brush-making, added a nifty healing brush, made color management a bit easier, and made the app run in OS X. The same kinds and quantities of improvements make Illustrator 10 different from 9.”

The AAN Design and Production listserv is private. AAN News obtained permission to publish these e-mails. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of AAN or individual papers.