QuarkXPress 5 is now available as a free beta download, according to Quark, although pricing and a final shipping date are still to be set. Users who download the beta application will be asked to send feedback via email to Quark, as it bids to extend the life of what many see as an increasingly ageing application.
New to the beta version is a new Tables feature that lets users create table-based design elements or organize data. The company says that both rows and columns will be able to contain graphics and text boxes, with complete typographical control.
Version 5 also sees the adoption of layers - a move that sees QuarkXPress brought into line with most other mainstream design tools. It will additionally be able to accept XML data, and automatically turn TIFFs into JPEGs and GIFs for Web export.
Enhanced PDF support features, as do contextual menus and improved colour management. It's also more Web savvy, says Quark, able to create rollovers and attach hyperlinks, plus it will offer support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG).
However, Quark and DTP-centric forums have lit up with critisim of the release, with many users complaining of a lack of new features considering development time, and many indicating a future move to rival package Adobe InDesign.