Rational and irrational opinions on the design industry.

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The honeymoon is over, and the love affair is in danger of being soured. I’m admitting it: my head has been turned, complete with illicit thoughts and ideas of passionate creativity, by another. Yep, Adobe InDesign – considered the DTP soul mate for many designers – has a rival on the scene, and Adobe had better start checking wallets for strange receipts and phone bills for unusual calls.
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InDesign is facing the return of the ex – and my, is this previous flame done up to the nines. QuarkXPress, a DTP partner that I had long since ditched, has shaped up and is looking at winning back the hearts of designers everywhere.
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Maybe it’s my fault? After a few years dallying with InDesign, and finally setting up home with InDesign CS, familiarity has set in. After the first bloom of love, when everything it did was wonderful, InDesign’s quirks have started to grate. 
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Like discovering your partner trims toenails in the lounge or leaves underwear lurking beside the bed for days, little things are magnified and prove irksome. As much as I love my time with InDesign, I still fumble around with the dual selection tools, and the fact that typographers quotes are a little hit-&-miss within InDesign means I’m easily tempted by something new.
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QuarkXPress 7.0, on the other hand, offers the naughty promise of DTP on the edge. If everyone is moving to InDesign, then surely swimming against the tide could put the passion back into the pasteboard.
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I’ve been secretly playing around with the public beta of QuarkXPress for a few weeks, and admit that it’s a guilty pleasure. These late-night rendezvous, usually at my place, have been an eye-opener: it has many of the familiar features of InDesign – transparency, OpenType, the ability to work with Photoshop native files, and improved tables all make for a better lay(out). 
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Yet it also offers more. Its uncluttered interface, with an intelligent measurements palette that condenses many palettes into one, context-sensitive resource, that seems alluring. Maybe InDesign is suffering from middle-page spread?
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Add in the promise of a collaborative relationship, with more than one designer working on the same file at the same time, automatic runarounds on drop shadows, shared content where nearly anything can be synchronized across a document, and image-editing effects within the application, and Quark is onto a winner with QuarkXPress 7.0.
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The fact that Quark even released a public beta of an application that took aeons between updates is a sign of a more dynamic, customer-focused company that is taking the DTP fight right back to Adobe’s door. 
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Metaphors aside, I’ve often been baffled at Quark’s actions with its DTP tool, and felt that InDesign would see off the once DTP king over the next year or so. Seems like we all underestimated Quark: QuarkXPress 7.0 is the make-or-break release for the company, and it has worked hard to match or exceed InDesign in nearly every way. Maybe it’s time to make out with Quark, even if it’s just for a cheap layout thrill…
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